The Call for Proposals for the Researcher to Reader Conference is open throughout July and August.
The next annual Researcher to Reader Conference will take place in London in February. It is likely to be a hybrid event – offering participants a choice of whether to attend online or physically – and is scheduled for the week of 22-26 February 2021.
The Advisory Board is inviting proposals for presentations, panels, debates and workshops on the subject of international scholarly communications.
We are particularly seeking proposals from librarians, researchers, editors and funders, and from people based outside the UK. We are also strong supporters of diversity and inclusion, and actively welcome proposals from under-represented demographics.
Proposers are invited to provide an abstract (50-100 words) and a fuller description (100-150 words) by 31 August, using the form downloadable here: PROPOSAL FORM
The Conference organisers have used their best efforts to ensure that this downloadable form – which is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet – does not contain any viruses, trojans or other malicious code, but recommend that anyone downloading this file uses appropriate methods to protect their own systems. No responsibility can be accepted for any adverse consequences arising from the downloading or use of this form.
To make a proposal for participation in the Conference, please first read the guidance below and explore the R2R website for more information, then download, complete and return the PROPOSAL FORM.
Call For Proposals – Summary Information
The Researcher to Reader Conference is a key forum for discussion of international scholarly communications – exploring how academic knowledge is conveyed from the researcher to the reader.
The Conference takes place annually in London each February and is attended by around 150-200 participants from all parts of the scholarly communications community, including funders, researchers, research managers, editors, publishers, distributors, technologists and librarians.
Topics and Themes
The Conference covers the full life-cycle of scholarly communications, from the researcher who creates content to the reader who consumes content. We particularly value topics that are of broad interest across the diverse range of people and organisations that participate in scholarly communication, rather than subjects that focus on a particular silo. Our delegates are primarily interested in the interactions between the various parts of the scholarly communications supply chain, and how different people and organisations can work together more effectively. The Conference also values topics that are practical, informative or supported by evidence – we are interested in facilitating what could be done, rather than merely debating what should be done.
We are very open to a wide range of subjects that could be explored within this framework, and purposefully avoid being too prescriptive or theme-constrained, but some topics that our Advisory Board feels could be particularly interesting in the current climate are listed below. Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic is much in our thoughts at the moment, and while we don’t want the event to be dominated by this, there are some interesting implications for scholarly communications from this.
- Preprints and Peer Review – Is it enough to have scholarship communicated, or does it also need to be credibly communicated, having been judged, approved and rated? What has the rush to disseminate in the COVID-19 pandemic taught us about unreviewed information?
- Research Incentives, Behaviours, Integrity & Trust – How can scholarly communication be assisted or impeded by ‘the tenure track’ and other incentives? Does research culture need to change? How can early-career researchers resist destructive traditions and incentives?
- Research Data – What are the issues around collecting & recording data, authenticating & reproducing results, making information available while maintaining privacy, and preserving & archiving data, especially in an increasingly open and revenue-less world.
- Funding Sources, Methods & Mandates – What is the future of research funding if governments and institutions may be facing a COVID-induced economic meltdown? Why do funders seem to be indifferent to the real world of researcher incentives, challenges and independence, when they set their rules?
- Small & Society Publishers – Have they been sacrificed in the attacks on large and overly-profitable publishers, and the twin political appeals of open-ness and free-ness? What is the future for small organisations with ethical ideals which are facing the disappearance of subscription income and consolidation amongst technology suppliers?
- Public Communication of Science – Is it desirable and possible to improve public communication of scientific research? Has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, once again, that Publishers, Pre-printers, Press, Politicians and Public are all incapable of understanding and communicating scientific information responsibly? Are researchers and tenure committees also being beguiled or misled by unprofessional public reporting, hype or altmetrics?
The Conference has a variety of session formats, intended to give each topic an appropriate expression. Our programme is likely to include a mixture of: Keynotes, Presentations, Panels, Debates, Workshops, Poster Sessions and Lightning Talks.
Proposers are invited to offer topics and/or contributors. They may wish to:
- suggest a topic of interest;
- propose themselves or another person as a speaker, panellist, debater, facilitator or moderator, based on appropriate knowledge or skills;
- propose a panel, debate or workshop package, including a topic plus most or all of the other contributors.
Proposer Credentials and Affiliations
Proposals should be relevant to the themes of the Conference, and can be given by any member of the research, publishing and library community, whatever their institutional or organisational affiliation. Presenters who are employed by commercial organisations are encouraged to participate, but their presentations must be of general interest to the community and faithful to the event’s objectives, not merely corporate messages. Selling or demonstrating products or services as part of the programme, whether from a commercial supplier or a not-for-profit organisation, is absolutely unacceptable, except in a pre-approved Poster Session or Lightning Talk, and those with a promotional message to convey are encouraged to become sponsors of the Conference. Proposals prepared by marketing or PR departments on behalf of their corporate colleagues are not encouraged.
The most effective workshops are created through a partnership between a subject expert and a facilitator, and we have particular focus on the quality of workshop facilitation.
Proposers are encouraged to provide evidence of their experience or suitability, based on past successes and evidenced where possible by video-recordings, although this is not essential.
Call For Proposals – Guidance for Proposers
The information below provides additional guidance to help potential contributors to put forward proposal that are likely to be accepted by the Advisory Board. We recommend that proposers study this guidance carefully as it should be helpful in ensuring that a proposal is efficiently and effectively prepared.
The Conference has a range of different session formats, intended to give each topic an appropriate expression, and to provide a varied and interactive timetable for the delegates. This is likely to become even more varied as we develop a hybrid event for 2021, aiming to deliver a satisfying experience to both online and physical participants.
Proposers who are invited to contribute to the Conference will be provided with support to ensure that they are able to deliver their presentation, panel or workshop using the event’s online platform, in collaboration with our online production team. Our hybrid event plans mean that it should be possible for a contributor to participate either physically from the venue or online from a location of their choosing.
Contributors may also be asked to participate in a pre-Conference session during the October-January period, where registered delegates will be invited to join a short online seminar hosted by the scheduled speaker or facilitator. This will be an opportunity for contributors and delegates to become familiar with our online platform, and for the contributor to explore the topic they plan to deliver in February with a small group, prior to the event.
Our programme is likely to include a mixture of the following formats:
Keynote / Presentation
Our keynote presentations are normally given by a single well-known or significant speaker, in a plenary session at the start or end of the event, sometimes followed by Q&A. Keynote speakers are usually specially invited by the Advisory Board, but we are open to suggestions or volunteers.
Our regular presentations are given by a single speaker (or very occasionally a pair of speakers), normally within a plenary session comprising 2-3 presentations, followed by Q&A. As 2021 is likely to be a hybrid event, speaker sessions may be reduced from the typical duration of 20-30 minutes in previous years to a more online-friendly 15-20 minutes.
We find that the presentations most appreciated by our delegates are: not product pitches (commercial or otherwise); presented by just one speaker; delivered in a lively but not ‘evangelical’ tone; and supported by informative visual aids, not slides that appear to be merely the speaker’s notes in bullet-point form.
Panel / Interview
Our panels are a lively moderated discussion amongst knowledgeable and well-prepared pundits, which also involves the participants. Typically, a panel will run for around one hour, and have minimal formally-presented content and very high levels of engagement with the conference participants. We encourage active solicitation and management of delegate questions (often via Twitter or other tools), and we avoid so-called panels that turn out to really just be several long and loosely-connected presentations followed by a brief Q&A.
Similar in feel to a panel, an interview is where a well-known or significant member of the community is interviewed by a knowledgeable and well-prepared questioner, who may also include questions from the conference participants.
Our debate format has been used in both 2019 and 2020 with very positive results. This involves a challenging and divisive proposition argued for or against, in a formal setting, by two or four well-prepared debaters, coached and supervised by a strong moderator, who may also introduce questions from the floor. The conference participants vote on the proposition before and after the debate, to measure how the arguments have swayed their views.
The workshops at R2R are facilitated collaborative conversations, with very high levels of delegate participation and engagement. Each workshop discusses a clearly-defined question or problem, and attempts to reach a resolution. Delegates select a preferred workshop out of choice of parallel topics, and each has a total duration of about 2-3 hours, split over multiple sessions that reconvene during the conference timetable.
A workshop topic may build on the content of a Conference presentation, or cover other issues of relevance to the creation, supply and consumption of academic research. A workshop could be used to gather scoping or qualitative responses as part of an academic research project or be part of a standards consultation.
Workshops tend to function best when they attempt to discuss and reach resolution on a clearly-defined question or problem. The workshops are not breakout presentations, but highly interactive discussions. Some of our most successful workshops have been created and run by a two-person team comprising a subject expert and a facilitator. The subject expert will frame the question to be worked on, and provide expert knowledge during the workshop. The facilitator will summarise the topic, lead discussions, encourage broad participation and ensure that the outcomes are documented. The Conference has a particular focus on ensuring high-quality workshop facilitation, and is very open to matching topic experts with skilled facilitators.
Poster sessions, which are well-known at academic conferences, have not been used at Researcher to Reader before, but are likely to be introduced in 2021 as a more online-friendly form of communication, where a speaker can briefly present a topic and answer questions with a small group of participants who choose to ‘drop in’. We anticipate that each poster session slot might last 10-15 minutes. These sessions could potentially include presentations by people promoting products, services or other initiatives, as participants can choose whether or not to join the session – commercial organisations may need to be sponsors in order to participate.
Also new for R2R in 2021 will be lightning talks, that allow for a very brief presentation of a topic. This could also be a valuable part of an online-friendly agenda, allowing participants to enjoy a change in communication style, or to take a brief break. Lightning talks are likely to have a very short time limit of perhaps 3-4 minutes. These sessions could potentially include presentations by people promoting products, services or other initiatives, as they will be optional or very brief – commercial organisations may need to be sponsors in order to participate.
All contributors who are invited to participate in the programme (up to two people per workshop) may choose to have complimentary admission to the Conference if they wish, although we encourage contributors to volunteer to support the Conference by paying a full or concessionary rate on registration. Any other costs for attendance are the responsibility of the participant, although we are occasionally able to offer some support toward travel or accommodation, often with support from a sponsor.
Proposal Creation and Evaluation
To make a proposal for participation, please first explore the Conference website, and review recordings of past sessions at our YouTube channel. Then the potential contributor should download the proposal form, complete it carefully and email it to us.
We would be grateful if proposers would provide thoughtful and complete information in their proposal, within the specified word limits, as our Advisory Board has a challenging task of interpreting and evaluating numerous proposals to determine the suitability of the topics and contributors for our delegates. Probably the most important factors in the evaluation are the appropriateness of the participant-oriented abstract and the informativeness of the Board-oriented explanatory description, together with the credentials and experience of the potential contributor.
Titles, sub-titles, abstracts and biographies must conform to the style and length standards set out, to increase the probability that they can be included in our published programme with minimal editing.
The Advisory Board has complete discretion regarding which proposals are accepted for the Conference programme and the Board’s decision is final. The Conference accepts no responsibility for any costs incurred in the preparation of proposals, or for any consequences of acceptance or rejection.
Proposers may be invited to modify their proposals to meet the needs of the Conference programme. Proposers may withdraw their proposals up to the point of acceptance, or when invited to make modifications.
Proposers agree that, if accepted, their proposal may form part of the Conference programme and that any presentation and biographical content may be included in Conference materials, including potential distribution of slides, scripts, transcripts or abstracts, and any video, audio or photographic recording.