A scientific conference ( symposium , from ancient Greek συμπόσιον sympósion "banquet", "table society") is a conference for scientists at which they can present their work and findings and discuss them among themselves. Scientific conferences, together with scientific journals, represent one of the essential communication options in the scientific community.
A few months before the conference there is often a call for papers inviting people to write or submit papers for the conference, either as a lecture or in a poster session . Well-known experts are often invited to Invited Papers for overview presentations at large conferences .
As a rule, research work is presented in short, factual presentations of around 10 to 30 minutes in length, which are usually followed by an opportunity for discussion (usually 3 to 5 minutes). Usually, this work was previously peer-reviewed , mostly an abstract was assessed. As an alternative or in addition to the oral presentation, there is often the option of presenting a poster . Often sponsors (e.g. scientific publishers or manufacturers of measuring instruments) can show small exhibitions, which sponsor the event in order to reduce the sometimes considerable conference fees.
At the opening of a conference and for an introduction to specific subject areas, plenary lectures (keynotes) of about one hour are given by recognized experts in the respective areas. These plenary lectures (see also Invited Papers ) are usually specifically advertised in advance of the conference and can contribute significantly to the attractiveness of the conference. In addition to plenary lectures, there are also session keynotes , i. H. those that do not serve as the sole lecture, but as the opening lecture of a so-called session and usually have twice the length of the normal lectures.
The conference program and abstracts of the presentations are usually announced to the conference participants in the so-called " Book of Abstracts " before the start of the event . Prepared publications are often published after the conference in negotiations (proceedings, conference proceedings ) or in a scientific journal.
Scientific conferences that take place on a small scale are often referred to as workshops . In the case of larger conferences, it is at least partly customary to offer series of lectures at the same time (so-called parallel sessions ) in order to be able to handle the scope of the program within a given period of usually only a few days.
The symposium (or specialist meeting) is a conference on a specific topic. Comprehensive conferences that cover a wide range of topics are often organized by specialist societies such as the German Physical Society at regular intervals (e.g. annually) and, apart from their scientific function, also serve as a communication medium for association members.
Scientific conferences have recently become an integral part of the scientific community and are common in all individual sciences and serve researchers in particular to establish and maintain contacts.
In most specialist disciplines, the participants present current and unpublished specialist articles in order to increase their profile and to receive helpful comments and criticism. As a rule, the authors mention the conference with thanks in the acknowledgment of an article published later.
In some disciplines, however, especially within computer science and electrical engineering , conference contributions count as full scientific publications. In the run-up to the conference, the participants submit a manuscript which, in the event of a positive assessment, will be presented at the conference and then published in the conference proceedings. Contributions to selective conferences are as important as articles in high-ranking magazines.
The scientific conference differs from the trade fair , which focuses on the commercial interests of the exhibitors. However, the conference participants are happy to see specialist company exhibitions, which can also be as large as small trade fairs for larger events.
For this reason, specialist conferences are often organized as part of industry trade fairs so that participants can experience both. One example is the Systems telecommunications trade fair in Munich. Modular solutions are also widespread, such as the Jazzahead music fair in Bremen, where in addition to the economy module, the festival and scientific conference modules are offered side by side.
Frequent additional events are also:
- Public or forum discussions or sub-conferences on topics of science and research policy or on future research priorities
- Adoption of resolutions on these topics, establishment of scientific services
- Annual meetings of commissions and working groups on the conference topic
- Company presentations on partial aspects of the conference
- Workshops on special topics, software or technical developments
- Technical excursions to companies, cultural and natural monuments in the area
- Social program, concerts or balls at large congresses.
Many conferences today are hosted through a web-based system such as B. Converia , EasyChair , amiando , Regonline or OpenConf , which supports the workflow for submission, peer review and the compilation of the conference proceedings. Furthermore, today's web-based solutions offer integrated payment options, i. H. Conference attendees can pay easily and directly online (including credit card).
Numerous professional congress organizers offer the organizers extensive services. You can take over the entire organization for the organizer, including participant administration, hotel bookings, process organization and the supporting program. By maintaining contacts, they often also facilitate the search for sponsors and the implementation of an accompanying industrial exhibition.