September 18th, 2006
Guidelines for Preparing an Offer to Host an International Paleolimnology Association (IPA) Symposium
Starting in the 1960s, the international paleolimnological community has hosted very successful and enjoyable symposia. With the establishment of the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA), and the adoption of slightly more formal procedures to propose future symposia, a few suggested guidelines might be useful.
There are no set rules or formats for suggesting a future symposium venue. Below are simply listed a few ideas that one might consider when developing a proposal. In the past, we have had very successful and enjoyable meetings at venues that ranged from university campuses, to hotel resorts in country settings, to an urban conference centre, to an abandoned monastery!! All have worked out extremely well. However, putting on a symposium does take some planning and, at a minimum, the following points should be considered well in advance.
SOME POINTS TO CONSIDER:
1) Location: Where will the proposed symposium be held? Are there any problems with travel? Is it an easy location to travel to and leave from? If not, have you developed a plan to bring people from a central arrival point to the symposium location using a bus shuttle or other service? What are the cost implications?
2) Conference facilities: What facilities are available at the proposed site of the symposium? (Keeping in mind that plenary lecture rooms will need to seat all attendees, and that recent symposia have reached ca 250 participants, and even more participants may be attending future conferences).
Concurrent sessions will require multiple meeting rooms. Are these rooms close enough together to allow efficient mobility between sessions?
Scientific papers presented as posters have become a major part of the IPA conferences. How will poster presentations and other displays be accommodated? Another important factor to consider is how much space will be available for each poster presentation (realizing that many paleolimnological studies often include a large amount of graphic material, and so larger poster allocations are certainly desirable).
3) Dates: What dates have you chosen for the Symposium, or range of dates, that may be most suitable? Are there any other major (related) scientific meetings proposed that may conflict with your chosen dates? N.B. Many conference facilities need to be reserved well in advance (2-3 years in advance is not an unreasonable time line, so book early).
4) Accommodations: Are accommodations available that are reasonably priced? Or is there a choice of accommodation available (e.g., a student residence hall, etc.) within a short distance from the venue?
5) Costs and funding: What will be the likely costs for registration, accommodations, meals, etc? As IPA has no budget of its own, it is important to remember that IPA symposia are self-supporting and are the financial responsibilities of the hosts.
Although it is often difficult to generate external funding, there may be some opportunities to obtain funding to help offset some symposium costs. Possible sources of this money may be your host institution, local or federal governments and grants, and/or private industry. Is any such funding potentially available?
6) Internet Facilities / Website: Are internet facilities available to support a conference web page and related communications? Furthermore, recent conferences have realized that on-line registration, electronic abstract submissions and payment of fees (using credit cards) are efficient ways to manage a conference and collect fees from participants. Are these facilities available and are there any additional costs that should be budgeted for?
7) Social events: Are you proposing any social events, such as a banquet dinner or any other events?
8) Excursions: Are you proposing any mid-meeting excursion that might be part of the symposium package and/or optional pre- and post-congress excursions?
9) Other points of interest: Are there other points of interest (both scientific and cultural) near the symposium site that may attract participants and accompanying persons?
10) Organizing team: Do you have a group or can you call upon a group of people to help organize the conference?
OVERALL PROCEDURES FOR PROPOSING A SYMPOSIUM VENUE:
The overall procedure for suggesting a site for the next IPA symposium will be for each prospective host to make a small presentation at the annual Business Meeting. A very short PowerPoint presentation (e.g., 5 minutes) may be useful. If more than one proposal is presented, then the participants will vote on the selection of the next symposium site.
Although completely optional, prospective hosts may also choose to discuss their proposals ahead of time with the IPA executive (as the IPA executive contains members who have had experience hosting previous symposia, they may provide important advice and suggestions). The IPA Executive may also choose to be proactive in encouraging submissions from regions where symposia have not yet been hosted.
Prepared by John P. Smol (March 2006)