Instructions and Suggestions for the Organising Committee for ASA Scientific Meeting

(Latest revision 26 Jan. 2014)

This long set of instructions is intended to give meeting organisers a starting point when planning their meeting. It looks intimidating, but hopefully it is useful.

Any amendments or additions are welcome - (ASA Secretary)

Index

Initial Planning to host a Future ASM
General Format - Sample Program, Lengths of Talks
Organisation and Committees - LOC, SOC
Reporting to the ASA Council
Choosing the Location
Bookings and Venue Requirements
Financial Arrangements
Web Pages, Registration and Invoicing
Programme Details
Media/Advertising
Other Arrangements - Signs, Bags, A/V, Badges and More!
After the Meeting
Publicity for Meetings - by Helen Sim



Initial Planning to host a Future ASM

From 2013, the deadline for submission of bids to host the ASM in the following year will be 31 January of the previous year - e.g. bids for the 2015 ASM must be received by 31 January 2014. This gives Council time to adequately consider any competing bids and suggest improvements, allowing an announcement at the AGM in July.

A Proposal for a future ASM should include:

  1. Any special reasons for your University to be host.
  2. Proposed venue for ASM and HWWS; include any choices if appropriate (institutional or external venues).
  3. Proposed dates for the meeting. Preferred dates are the University common week (early in July) or the end of the University vacation period (later in July - 2 weeks later). The preference is to alternate between years, but the choice is up to the proposers.
  4. Any proposed program themes.
  5. Organisational arrangements (possible use of professional conference organisers, key LOC and SOC members)
  6. Preliminary costings (e.g. what registration charge is likely if lunches and coffees are included; are the theatre and poster venue provided free-of-charge; etc).
  7. Any lowish-cost accommodation possibilities for students.
  8. Dinner location venue possibilities.
  9. Location for other ASA events held that week (e.g. Harley Wood Public Lecture, ASA Council Meeting, NCA Meeting, Department Heads Meeting).

Much more detail can be found below.

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Registration cost calculation: (provided for use in preparing budgets, based on data from the 2013 ASM)

  Early Late
member  $415  $465 
student/retired  $315  $365 
non-member  $465  $515 
student/retired non-member  $365  $415 
prize speakers  No charge  No charge 

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2013 Attendee Demographics:

Timeline:

These Instructions may be read in conjunction with the Timeline for Organising the ASA Annual Scientific Meeting and Harley Wood School.

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General format

There are perhaps two main ideas behind the ASM:

The ASM now attracts over 200 people. Of these, around 40-50% are usually students.

The program for a meeting is best judged by looking at recent meetings. Web sites for some recent meeting are still available on-line - see the ASM web page.

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The lengths of oral presentations has varied over the years. In 2013 the majority of attendees chose 15 minutes as the shortest reasonable talk duration (with 10 minutes a close second). 5-minute talks were trialled in 2012, but there is little support for such short talks, and anecdotal evidence suggests they offer little value to the program.

In 2008 there were 30 minute invited talks and 20 minute contributed talks. There was some feeling that this too long because it restricted the total number of talks (especially student talks).

So-called "sparkler" sessions, in which poster presenters are given around 1 minute (and no more than 1 slide) help to break up the oral program and give poster presenters an additional chance to publicise their presentation. In 2011 the meeting was increased to 4 1/2 days (Monday to midday Friday) to meet the increased demand for talk spots. There is little enthusiasm for going any longer. Adopting a few parallel sessions during the meeting can significantly ease the pressure for talks slots, but must be planned carefully to work well. It is also essential that the session chairs keep their sessions striclty to time.

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Organisation and Committees

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Reporting to the ASA Council

Any ASM is clearly an ASA meeting and therefore ultimately the responsibility of the ASA Council. Council delegates the LOC and SOC to make the arrangements and run the meeting.

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Choosing the Location

In recent years the ASA meetings have been held at the hosting university. This provides a venue with meeting facilities, a lecture theatre with appropriate projection equipment, areas for posters and internet facilities. However, costs in universities have risen in recent years as they increase charges for facilities.

The contrary view that held sway some years ago suggested that the most successful meetings are held away from major cities - at least away from significant concentrations of astronomical institutions/universities. This discourages attendees from dropping in and out of the meeting. This may increase the costs, but leads to a better environment for the meeting.

LOCs should consider both options and select whichever offers suitable facilities at a reasonable cost, within the overall budgetary constraint and subject to other logistical restrictions.

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Bookings and Venue Requirements

The main requirements are the lecture theatres and a nearby area with adequate space for poster papers. Ideally, poster papers must be in the same place (or as close as possible) to the morning/afternoon tea areas, and if split over multiple rooms, should be accessible and clearly signposted. Other venue considerations include

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Financial arrangements

Local organisers are expected to use existing institutional financial accounts and facilities, or open special accounts if necessary. Beware of universities charging hefty service fees (up to 15%) for any funds that are processed through their accounts.

The financial planning should begin with the budget from the previous meeting, together with any comments from the last LOC. Recent budgets have been approximately $100K (2013) and obviously depend strongly on venue costs.

The ASM is self-funded and the objective must be to cover costs. Any profit from the meeting must be returned to the ASA.

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Web Pages, Registration and Invoicing

The web page serves as the primary public "face" of the meeting. It is important to have a clear, logically arranged, attractive and comprehensive web site for the meeting.

Meeting announcements, including reminders of registration deadlines etc. should be circulated via the ASA email list AND any other instituional distribution lists that are available. The objective must be the widest possible distribution of information about the meetings.

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Programme Details

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Media/Advertising

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Other Arrangements


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After the meeting

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Publicity for Meetings - prepared some years ago by Helen Sim

Publicity should be considered by the meeting's organising committee from an early stage, as it needs resources: people, money and equipment.

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