June 2005 (Volume 5 Number 2)

The main news this month is the publication of the preliminary programme for ETSG 2005, Dublin. As a result, most of the Newsletter concerns details of the organisation of the conference.

ETSG 2005, Dublin:

The annual conference has grown in size every year since its inception in Rotterdam in 1998 however the huge increase in submissions this year took everyone by surprise. We received over 300 abstracts before the deadline (and a few after that—which were not accepted). This number challenges our established policy of accepting all papers that fall within ETSG’s area of competence.

Our solution has been to increase the number of parallel sessions from five to six and adjust the timing of sessions to admit an extra set of papers each day. This comes close to allowing us to accept all papers without reducing the presentation time allocated to each. As a result, we have 274 slots, but slightly more papers than this. (The list of accepted papers is here.) We are confident that, given the inevitable drop-outs, all of the papers listed will be accommodated in the programme. It is vital, however, that accepted authors register for the conference, otherwise your paper will not appear on the final programme.

Clearly, we cannot continue to accept every paper in future years if numbers continue to grow. Should we experience a similar increase in submissions for ETSG 2006, we shall have to introduce some sorting mechanism. The Scientific Committee will be asked to discuss this over the next year so that any system that is brought in does not undermine ETSG’s goal of being as accessible as possible to all researchers.
The surge in submissions has prompted two further changes in the organisation of this year’s conference.

Advance Registration:

In Nottingham, we face the continuing problem of a small number of authors not turning up at the conference. This creates serious problems for us. The programme has to be rigidly adhered to, so that participants can jump between sessions. If someone doesn’t turn up, we end up with awkward gaps in the midst of sessions. In order to minimise the re-occurrence of this problem we need to ensure that presenters are truly intent on turning up.

To that end, we now require everyone who plans to attend the conference to register in advance. This includes those who have submitted their papers for the conference. Indeed, if your paper has been accepted onto the programme and you do not register, we’ll drop your paper from the conference and re-allocate your slot! Please go to the conference registration page (which will be activated in the near future) and submit your details before the deadline of 26 August 2005. Should you subsequently have to withdraw from the conference, please just let us know (and we’ll keep a list of who doesn’t turn up without telling us).

Peter Neary has alerted us to the fact that there is a big sporting event (the All-Ireland Hurling Final) taking place in Dublin the same weekend as ETSG. So, it would be a good idea to make your accommodation bookings as soon as possible and then confirm this by submitting your registration.

Registration Fee:

It has been ETSG’s policy from the start to operate a very lean and efficient administration. We decided not to have annual membership fees and have not charged conference registration fees. The local costs of each conference have been paid by the local organisers who have marshalled together funding from their institutions and other benefactors. The almost 50 percent increase in projected numbers this year makes undue burdens on the local organisers (and makes it harder for us to find hosts for future conferences).

As a result, and not without some reluctance, we decided that it is appropriate to ask participants to contribute something towards covering these costs. We are, of course, very conscious of the difficulties that might confront some participants if they had to pay fees comparable to those charged by other conferences. Consequently, we have arrived at a figure of €50 per participant. Clearly, this comes nowhere close to covering even the marginal cost of each person so no-one is getting rich out of this! We hope that this token contribution will not be an insurmountable barrier to anyone’s attendance. No exceptions or exemptions to paying the fee will be made, so please don’t ask.

The fee will be collected at the registration desk at the conference site. In exchange for €50 cash (cheques other than those drawn on an Irish bank and other currencies cannot be accepted), participants will receive a name badge, entry to all of the ETSG events, and a receipt for the registration fee.

ETSG 2006, 2007, and beyond:

We have gratefully accepted offers to host the conference in Vienna in 2006 and Athens in 2007 and have begun to think about the location of the conference in 2008. If your institution has an interest in being a host to ETSG, please contact us, either by email to Ian Wooton or at the Dublin conference.