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COMBINE 2010 Exit Survey Results

Following COMBINE 2010, the organizers conducted an anonymous electronic survey to assess what worked and what didn't work. We wanted to learn lessons that could be applied to future meetings. This page presents the results of the exit survey.

Question #1: what could have been different?

Question #1 was: "If you had to pick one thing that you wish had been different about the meeting and could be improved, what would it be?"

  1. Very little to improve, it was an excellent meeting. The agenda could have been known a bit earlier, but that's all.
  2. Better organized breakout sessions
  3. The only thing that I think could be improved is to have longer breaks. But I think it was actually pretty ok as it was. There could also be a poster price and some more attention on the posters.
  4. More time to drink some whisky!
  5. Perhaps dedicated break-out times as they often clashed with the talks. Also, a dedicated break-out room would have been good as Skype discussions with non-attendees in a shared area didn't work at all. Perhaps also streaming sessions in a couple of rooms which would shorten the meeting and maybe lead to more focused groups. Also, I'm not sure whether prefixing a week long ICSB with COMBINE is that great an idea - wonder if people are put off by a 10 day trip.
  6. I would have liked more discussion time and less formal talks. This could have been encouraged by strictly limiting the amount of presentation time and having clear discussion points thought out before hand.
  7. Better explanation of what the breakout sessions were, and dedicated time for them.
  8. The break-out sessions were a little confusing. I was never sure if and when something else is going on and if that might be interesting for me.
  9. Maybe to include some workshops and discussions on some specific questions(topics). I liked the SBGN and libSBGN discussion. There were not enough breakout-sessions proposed, what it should be very nice.
  10. Each session only interesting to a small fraction of participants, perhaps could have mixed sessions or parallel sessions. Missed Saturday's session but would be good to have more provoking presentations on wider issues
  11. More time for discussions.
  12. Would have been nice to have more breakout sessions organized to chat about specific projects - the existing breakout sessions were a bit short. I realize that HARMONY will be all about that, but it's nice to have multiple opportunities to hack per year.
  13. A more intimate arrangement of seating so people could face each other during discussions.
  14. It would be nice if there could be time slots for breakout sessions independent from the main sessions. Some people are involved in so many projects that they want to be present in mostly all main session and can't spend time in parallel breakout sessions.
  15. I think the breakout sessions didn't work as most people attended most talks. It would have been better to have had dedicated "working" session for each standard that didn't overlap with other session and which discussion could have taken place.
  16. I think there were some interesting posters, but they didn't get enough attention. It would be good to designate a special poster lunch, so that the poster authors know when to be there to explain and answer questions.
  17. I thought the meeting was too broad to be productive. So I would prefer more focused meeting on specific topics.
  18. There was no "real" slot for poster presentation.
  19. Later start :) But seriously, 8 hours is about all anyone can take of talks/discussion anyway, so 10-6 would be just as good as 9-5 and better placed for going straight to dinner after (ideally without being kicked out of the building at 6).
  20. More discussions to find decisions about open questions: Present one problem followed by a short discussion and votes for decisions.
  21. I think it was a great meeting actually. I liked the short 20 min slots to get an idea on related efforts etc. The only thing I can think of is maybe a bit more time for discussions.
  22. I would probably include more scheduled time for break out sessions. The vast majority of presentations were interesting, and it was hard to get people to skip them.
  23. I do think the meeting worked quite well and brought together a really "nice mob" of folks working on complementary standards. One thing I might suggest is to keep the more central/more keynote-like sessions (i.e. the status updates on BioPAX, SBML, SBGN etc.) as is but run parallel sessions of the more specialized presentations of proposals, use cases, support and so on for each of the standards. This way folks can choose where they might like to listen to more specialized presentations. This scenario might also serve to shorten the meeting by a little, in the interest of everyone's time.
  24. The actual interaction between the different communities in the meeting could have been more, to really 'combine' the efforts. However, there was obviously not enough time. So, an additional day for real inter-community discussions could be an option.
  25. Ideally a slightly reorganised program would have been better e.g. SEDML was too far away from SBML. Also the SBML meeting felt a bit fragmented and it would be nice to have at least one full day reserved for it.
  26. Timing. I think it is now too long to be attached to ICSB.
  27. There were a lot of presentations and not a lot of discussion. I would have liked to see more time to discuss the topics that were being presented.

Question #2: what worked and should be repeated?

Question #2 was: "If you had to pick one thing that you think worked well about the meeting and you think should be done the same way in the future, what would it be?"

  1. Had the right size and the right people.
  2. Lots of time during breaks and lunch for individual discussions
  3. I like the idea of making movies of all talks.
  4. Great location, very good organisation, nice tourism information from Stuart!
  5. Online streaming is a nice touch, as is the collection of presentations and their immediate upload to the website.
  6. It was a great venue with well organised lunches and coffee breaks - the organising committee did a superb job. The general organisation was fantastic and I thought it was great how the slides were uploaded so quickly.
  7. The split into thematic sessions, covering issues shared by the different languages.
  8. I liked the organization of the talks in sessions about a specific topic.
  9. It was very well organized and an excellent atmosphere achieved, that makes the attendees motivated and very interested to get involved more and more. The discussions and the exchange of different works, gave a lot of ideas and overview of the current works. Very good organisation of the interesting themes for each day, and excellent presentators!!!!!
  10. Good opportunity to find out about other projects and make new contacts; good range of presentations
  11. All the arrangements, venue, etc. worked out well.
  12. The organization was excellent.
  13. Providing lunch/coffee so people didn't have to leave the venue.
  14. The perfect organisation (as well as before the meeting as well as in Edinburgh)! Thanks for that!
  15. It was a good opportunity to get to know more about the other standards and to discuss inter-interoperability.
  16. In general, the meeting was excellent! I think the break-out room was a good idea.
  17. Basically everything worked well, but I don't have a specific point that I could pick out.
  18. The coffee was not great, but still not as horrible as the ICSB's coffee!
  19. Lots of short talks is definitely the way to go.
  20. Putting slides online before the presentation is very helpful EVO broadcasting is an excellent meeting support.
  21. Breakout sessions.
  22. Keep it next to the ICSB - saves one travel to many of participants.
  23. Short talks.
  24. It was good to bring the various formats together and not be so rigid to a few specific formats.
  25. I think the organizing committee did a fantastic job in bringing forward their unique strengths to ensure that we had 1. a lively meeting where many were easily able to take part in the topics being discussed; 2. a well-organized meeting also broadcast to those who couldn't attend; and, last but not least, 3. a meeting where some of the local culture (the traditional scottish meal, fried mars bars and haggis) could be sampled.
  26. The concept of bundling all the different communities to one big 'family' is an excellent idea.
  27. The combination of the meetings worked well as it was nice to get exposure to other standardisation efforts, the organisation was superb and the venue worked well.
  28. I think the COMBINE concept worked, just.
  29. The meeting was well organized. I was happy with the abundance of outlets in the room for everyone, the quality of the wireless internet, and the ability to find slides and video of the presentations online so I could go back and view the presentations to remind myself of what was discussed.

Question #3: other comments?

Question #3 was: "If you have more time and the inclination, we would be very interested in any other comments you may have. Tell us about the good, the bad, and the ugly, in your opinion, about COMBINE 2010. Since this survey is anonymous, you can feel free to be as direct as you want to be. We won't be offended—we're asking for the feedback, after all. And although we can't promise to be able to act on the feedback, we will promise to read it all."

  1. As before, basically "well done, boys+girls"
  2. For me, the COMBINE meeting was very inspiring, very interesting. I learned a lot, talked to many people and got many ideas for my future work. Hence, from my perspective, everything was perfect.
  3. 3.5 days is way too small. We need more time. Also we need to recruit more actively people. There were very few from BioPAX (but more than I feared). Maybe announcement in scientific journals (Nature, Science) and websites (ISCB, would help. On the positive side, I think this was the most pleasing and uplifting meeting in this community for a long time. There is really a feeling of having achieved something, and rather than folding up, attacking a new summit.
  4. I got a feeling that everyone presented, and kind of, defended their work, but there was not enough questions. I'm sure there were some excellent opinions and ideas. :) maybe to give after each presentation or a day, a kind of short survey that everyone can address something or ask a question. The second thing, try to stay an open community, that you give a chance to the others to get involved easily. I liked this conference a lot, because it was between the nice and useful. It was not just nice, or just useful, or the worst(not the both), but it was the both in the same time.
  5. - People continuously checking email /internet is a bugbear, talking to a room of 50+ people of whom only a few are listening at time - ideally would suggest 2 rooms, one with wifi enabled for people to sit out of sessions and catch up on their email, 1 room with NO wifi for the presentations, people go and LISTEN to the talks properly that they are interested in. I've been to a conference where all talks were in wifi-less rooms and it makes a big difference. Speakers make more of an effort if they think the audience is actually listening. - Schedule needs more planning; more advance notice for speakers on who else is speaking; each organiser of a session I think should make more of an effort to coordinate the presentations, in order to make the sessions more fulfilling for attendees. - For breakout sessions might be a good idea for the project leaders to organise a little more in advance of the meeting - e.g., on fora, say, these are the issues to be resolved/outstanding, let's try to make a decision on this -> survey monkey best time for breakout session ( another reason to get speaker/talk details publicised a little earlier) -perhaps provide whiteboards & flip charts in poster area / coffee area for spontaneous communication - Would be good to have invited guest speaker perhaps from industry or other domains who've addressed the data integration issues currently being faced by comp sys bio community - maybe would get some fresh ideas and perspectives.
  6. Talks really should be more limited in scope and time. There should be more time to discuss things and breakouts should likely be organized if we keep so many groups together. Some general overview combined sessions with sub-groups discussing specific issues for each major topic areas would be great.
  7. In general, I had a great time at the conference. It would be nice to have some pathway bioinformatics sessions. This is a bit different from what the typical math/engineering/physics simulation crowd probably likes, but it would be useful to get the different sub-communities in the pathway space interacting more.
  8. I think that it was poor form to repeatedly state that this was the inaugural combined workshop when Catherine Lloyd had clearly initiated the effort last year in New Zealand. Although not called COMBINE, it introduced the concept of a collaborative workshop involving many of the groups contributing to the Edinburgh meeting.
    (Reply by Mike Hucka and Nicolas Le Novère): The statements were not meant to disparage the work that Catherine and the CellML group put into that particular workshop (which was a great workshop). We believe the statements made about COMBINE 2010 were generally that this was the first COMBINE meeting (as opposed to the first "combined" meeting). This was called the first COMBINE meeting because COMBINE as an organization and effort did not exist before 2010. Besides, if we bring up precursors to COMBINE 2010, then it must be stated that an even earlier super-workshop in Okinawa served as the inspiration for the Auckland workshop. Catherine is aware of that, and we even had email exchanges on this topic when the meeting was being planned.
  9. Just a minor remark: it would be nice to have an announcement board with a list to schedule and sign-up for break-out sessions. (Or was that already there and I just didn't realize it?)
  10. I think having talks and breakout sessions at the same time does not work because there will always be people that are interested in attending both.
  11. - an organized (self payed) dinner would have been nice - I enjoyed the spirit of combine - I missed the SBML shirts! - May be we can have SBGN shirts too (more graphical options here Image:icon_smile.gif ), a SBGN shirt that shows BIOMD0000000241 would be nice (but too geeky)
  12. It is great to bring several projects in the same community together but COMBINE should be more than only presenting updates and developments. It should be used to solve problems, to answer open questions, make decisions how to improve projects, to start cooperations, etc. Less presentations, more discussions.
  13. Organisation was great. Attendance was great. Food/drink was great. With the related efforts gaining more momentum, the schedule is getting longer and it is becoming hard to tack it on to the end/start of other conferences such as ICSB, which itself is quite a large chunk of time. I know you are discussing this situation, but I'm not sure there is a better solution. Should probably set up some discussion on a wiki to gather opinions... The only ugly there was me ;p You lot are all beautiful! Well done to you all...
  14. Finally, I'd suggest starting a tradition of announcing SGBN contest winners at each of the upcoming COMBINE meetings. Thanks for a terrific meeting.
  15. Although the COMBINE concept kind-of worked, there just wasn't enough time for discussing SBML. This time it was effectively one morning. I know that's probably just a one-off, due to the (largely pointless) "celebratory" talks in the afternoon this time, but even one full day probably wouldn't have been enough.
  16. Even though I agree that there is a lot of overlap between the different communities so a combined meeting is valuable, giving certain topics such as SBML just one day for presentations isn't enough time. Personally, I think that the meeting either needs to expand so that each topic can have more time, or the meeting may need to be split into two or more smaller but still combined meetings of groups that are maybe a little more related.

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