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GenomeWeb Feature: The Best Conferences

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – GenomeWeb recently surveyed its readers about the best conferences for researchers and found that one conference in particular, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Biology of Genomes meeting, gained high marks across the board.

Other conferences also favored by our readers included the annual meetings put on by the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Human Genetics. But Biology of Genomes was top-ranked for its "bang-for-the-buck," speaker quality, networking opportunities, and more.

To assemble these rankings, GenomeWeb emailed a link to an online survey to registered users in late August and two follow-up emails in September. Some 155 respondents from universities, biotechs, instrument manufacturers, and elsewhere answered questions on their conference preferences — cocktail hours were well liked while evening sessions were not — and which conferences they recommended.

While Biology of Genomes at CSHL was an overall favorite, survey respondents also indicated a liking for certain conferences, broken down by category. For example, for a general genomics meeting, respondents said they are partial to the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting, and when looking for a technology or instrumentation meeting, they would turn to the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities meeting.

Broadly, this year's results correspond to what respondents said the last time this biennial survey was conduct in 2011. For example, people still indicated a preference for smaller meetings and meetings that last between three and four days. Additionally, in 2011, nearly 37 percent of respondents said they spent between one hour and two hours looking at posters and this year about 39 percent said the same.

Both this year and in 2011, most people said that they spent between $1,000 and $5,000 a year on attending conferences, though the high end of spending — more than $15,000 — was reserved this year for only 7 percent of industry respondents. In 2011, a few government and academic respondents also claimed that budget.

Respondents, especially those working for government agencies, seem to be focused more on attending a handful of conferences. This year, 87.5 percent of government workers indicated that they attend between one and three conferences a year, as compared to 63.6 percent saying that in 2011. Academic and industry respondents exhibited a more moderate increase in this category.

Finally, while people tend to go to meetings where a poster or an abstract from their group will be presented, they also pay attention to the topics and invited speakers.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

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Most- and least-important factors when deciding whether to attend a certain meeting

Most important
• Relevance of subject matter
• Chance to hear about new tools/technologies

Least important
• Location (availability of other activities in the area)
• Quality of exhibit hall/vendor demos

Most- and least-liked conference characteristics

Most liked
• Having scheduled networking opportunities (e.g. cocktail receptions)
• Having scheduled meals with conference attendees

Neutral
• Having a substantial amount of free time
• Having one lecture track for all attendees

Least liked
• Having evening sessions

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Datapoints
66% of total respondents indicated attending one meeting to three meetings per year
47% of total respondents reported an annual conference budget between $1,000 and $5,500
4.5% said they spend more than $15,000 to attend meetings this year

Top meeting types by likelihood of attendance
1. Large biomedical meetings
2. Meetings with a specific scientific focus
3. Meetings focused on diagnostics, pathology, or clinical lab issues
4. Technology/instrumentation meetings

Most recommended meetings by category
Large biomedical meetings
1. AACR: American Association for Cancer Research
2. ASBMB: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
3. ASHG: American Society for Human Genetics
4. AMP: Association for Molecular Pathology

Technology/instrumentation meetings
1. ABRF: Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities
2. ASMS: American Society for Mass Spectrometry
3. PITTCON
4. Lab Automation

General genomics meetings
1. AGBT: Advances in Genome Biology and Technology
2. Future of Genomic Medicine (Scripps Health)
3. Biology of Genomes (CSHL)
4. HUGO: Human Genome Organization

Model organism/plant and animal meetings
Tie: 1. DOE JGI: US Dept. of Energy Joint Genome Institute User Meeting
Tie: 1. PAG: Plant and Animal Genome Conference (Scherago International)
3. Plant Biology (ASPB)
4. International Mammalian Genome Conference (IMGS)

Bioinformatics/IT meetings
1. Genome Informatics (CSHL)
2. Bio-IT World (CHI)
3. RECOMB: International Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology
4. PSB: Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing

Specialized scientific meetings
1. Keystone Symposia
2. Gordon Research Conference
3. Next-Gen Sequencing Congress
4. HUPO: Human Proteome Organization World Congress

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