For the first time we asked participants at the 2015 IMISCOE annual conference to give us feedback on the organization and content of the conference. Some forty percent of the participants filled in the online survey. The average score out of 10 for the conference as a whole was 7.7 points. We also asked for written feedback and we received many helpful suggestions for the future.
The IMISCOE conference has seen an increase in the number of participants each year. In Geneva there were 470 participants, again a further increase compared to the Madrid conference, which had seen the largest attendance at an IMISCOE conference since the network was established in 2004. The online survey shows us that there is a core group of people who have been coming to IMISCOE conferences over the past ten years. But also surprising to us as coordinators, the online survey showed that for the majority of the participants this was their first IMISCOE conference. The aim to also attract people from outside of the IMISCOE network thus has been successful. Furthermore, the IMISCOE conference attracts a new generation of scholars, who make up about half of the conference participants.
Overwhelmingly the local team in Geneva was praised for its efficiency in all aspects of the organization of the conference. Regarding the scientific aspects, the workshop panels received the best ratings. We are very happy with this result because we, as coordinators of IMISCOE, see this part as the heart of the conference. The stricter selection of panel and paper proposals may also have contributed to the evaluation of the quality. It is during panels that people get a chance to exchange ideas and panels often result in publications and further collaboration between scholars. Many participants advocate for more time for the panels and fewer parallel panel slots.
The newly introduced poster sessions were not highly rated. In the written comments people especially complained about the inconvenient time slot for the posters. We are brainstorming how to improve on this by gathering best practice examples from other conferences.
We also got important feedback on the plenary panels. The panels were evaluated very differently by people: some aspects were really appreciated whilst others were rated as disappointing. The critique that people generally shared was that the panels where too long and that they took time away from the workshop panels. We will take this critique into account now that we have started planning the next IMISCOE conference in Prague.
As well as comments and evaluation of the three main building blocks of the conference, we also received valuable suggestions on numerous logistical aspects of the conference and on the conference dinner. We wish to thank everyone who took part in the online survey.