R2R Online Gains Positive Feedback

Participant feedback for the 2021 Researcher to Reader Conference, delivered online on 23-24 February, shows continued high levels of satisfaction with the event, with delegates rating both the varied sessions and the event overall very positively.

The survey, completed by over 70 participants, showed over 98% of respondents agreeing that the Conference was Relevant to them professionally and Valuable use of their time.  These sentiments are very similar to the results in the 2020 and 2019 feedback, demonstrating that the online version of R2R was as satisfying to the participants as the previous physical events.

The plenary sessions at the online Conference also received a highly positive response across the board. All sessions received an average rating of 3.1 to 3.5 out of 4 (2020 was 2.1 to 3.6; 2019 was 2.8 to 3.5). This consistent range of high scores shows that the vigorous curation of the programme is highly effective in ensuring all sessions are of high quality and are valued by the vast majority of participants.   

The interactive workshops were also generally highly rated, with two of the five workshop options receiving 100% favourable responses, and even the lowest-ranking workshop having 40% of the respondents saying it was ‘Great’.

The new lightning poster sessions, offered during the Conference breaks, were each attended by around 20-40 people. These sessions also received generally positive feedback, with average scores ranging from 2.8 to 3.2 (out of 4).

The overall content and structure of the Conference was positively reviewed, with almost all respondents giving very positive scores and comments on both the sessions and the overall timetable. The online ‘venues’ – the main event platform, the virtual rooms and the video-conference environment – were also rated highly, although a few people reported having problems using the online resources and struggled to switch between different online environments.  The event administration, which usually gets outstanding ratings, was marked down in 2021, primarily by people commenting that there had been too many emails from the organisers, announcing new initiatives (such as the pre-conference and lightning poster sessions) and selling the online features of the event.

A key proposition of the online version of R2R was that it would be the same quality, at the same cost, and the same price, as a normal physical event. The relatively high score for value-for-money of 3.1 (similar to the 2020 and 2019 figures) gives some encouragement that the promise was fulfilled, although some respondents still expressed concern about registration prices.

Participant comments in the survey were generally very positive, with responses that included:

great range of topics
fascinating speakers and perspectives
I appreciated the variation in presentation styles
the degree of interactivity was truly surprising
a true sense of community and contribution
thoroughly enjoyed the networking
the production was very professional
good use of technology
the platforms really helped, and were easy to use
this was a fantastic effort by all concerned
this was by far the best conference experience since COVID-19
almost as good as meeting in person

I would be keen to attend again

Overall, the survey results showed a continuing trend of positive feedback for the event, and strong agreement that Researcher to Reader was able to deliver a successful conference experience online. We also received many useful suggestions for improvements and innovations for 2022.

Mark Carden
26 March 2020