The Future of Annual Meetings and Scholarly Societies (New Report From Ithaka S+R and JSTOR Labs)
From Ithaka S+R
As the pandemic recedes into memory, scholarly societies find themselves at a crossroads. For the past several years, the decision to hold hybrid or virtual meetings was dictated by outside forces: it is now a matter of choice. Overall, the virtual meetings of 2020-22 were much more successful than anticipated. Though they mostly failed to provide the rich social and networking experiences that in-conference meetings provide, virtual and hybrid conferences were more accessible to a much wider, and more diverse, community of scholars. As the public health situation improves, societies will need to make difficult decisions about the future of one of their most important activities.
Today, we are excited to release findings from a research project on the future of scholarly meetings. In partnership with 17 scholarly societies, Ithaka S+R and JSTOR Labs led a series of strategic discussions and design-informed workshops to explore the challenges facing scholarly conferences and opportunities for change. Together we examined potential financial models for virtual and hybrid meetings and how to best work with governing boards and meet member needs.
Our report highlights key findings in four areas:
- Scholarly societies have long traditions of hosting conferences, yet too often convention rather than purpose drives decisions on content and format. Experiments with conference design should begin with a clear articulation of purpose.
- The structure and content of meetings send strong signals about an organization’s priorities and values. Decisions-making about conferences should be calibrated to reflect a society’s mission and goals.
- Making significant changes to meeting formats involves risk, but new conference modalities provide even greater opportunities to increase the impact and accessibility of scholars, build and empower diverse research communities, and improve the sustainability of societies.
- Hybrid conferences are already here, but hybrid is best envisioned as a changeable cluster of possibilities rather than a single format.
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Dylan Ruediger, Jessica Pokharel, Alex Humphreys, Laura Brown, Lindsey Potts
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.