August 9, 2015

ICPhS Behind the Scenes: Timing ICPhS

Posted in icphs tagged at 1:24 pm by mariawolters

In this series of blog posts, I would like to take you behind the scenes of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) in Glasgow. All posts are written to be accessible to both phoneticians and non-phoneticians.

Having created the oral and poster sessions, there was the small matter of timing. The key constraints are the same for both oral and poster presentations: available space, available time, and coordinating with plenaries and Discussant Sessions.

For the oral programme, we had far tighter temporal and spatial constraints than for the poster sessions.

The first constraint was space.

The maximum number of sessions that could be accommodated was fixed at a very early stage – in mid March, when we decided how many papers could be accepted as oral presentations. The number of rooms available provided an upper limit on the number of oral papers and therefore also the number of sessions.

In order to accommodate the large number of high-quality submissions we received, many sessions had be housed in split rooms with a capacity of less than 100 people. On Wednesday, all oral sessions had to be in the low-capacity rooms in order to ensure we had enough time slots, on all of the other four days, we managed to secure at least one large room per oral session slot.

Next, time came into play. First, we used the overall schedule to work out the number of three-paper and four-paper sessions that we could fit in. These numbers were used to determine the allocation of paperes to sessions.

Once all sessions had been created, we slotted them into space. We started with author requests, and we were fortunate to be able to accommodate all authors who contacted us with scheduling requests before early May. Next, we tried to place sessions near thematically related Discussant or Plenary Sessions.

We also worked hard to avoid session conflicts. Working from the author names as originally entered during submission, we identified sessions with coauthor conflicts and ensured that these sessions were not placed in parallel. This took care of almost all of the conflicts; the few remaining ones were settled by hand-scheduling time slots.

Finally, we tried to ensure diversity in each slot of 6-8 parallel sessions, so that no two sessions about the same topic were in parallel.

This was the basis of the preliminary schedule that was released to everybody in June.

Finally, in order to decide which sessions should get the honour of the larger spaces, the committee voted, and lo and behold, rooms were assigned.

Last but not least, once all changes, last-minute withdrawals, and session corrections were finished, each paper was assigned a final time slot. At this stage, we also balanced those sessions where we had unwittingly required two people to be in the place at the same time, or where one person was heroically going to give two papers in the same session. (Both issues were thankfully very rare.)

Et voilà – a programme.

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