Every year, for more than a decade, we have run SpotOn events that aim to bridge communication between the publishing industry and researchers. These events initiate and further important conversations that help to advance thinking in global research communication by considering communication techniques, policy, technology and tools. This year's conference takes place on November 21st, and since we're focusing on connecting the global North and South, we'll be hosting it simultaneously in two locations: London, UK and Cairo, Egypt. Read on for more information about SpotOn19.
The SpotOn events have historically been run almost entirely from London, UK, with a few others held across the US. While we’ve striven to ensure global participation virtually—via live streams, social media #tags, video recordings, and the creation of scribe images that visually represent each session—it’s fair to say that we have not successfully facilitated interaction between virtual attendees and the face-to-face conference participants. Face-to-face participation remains unbeatable for networking, building relationships and dialogue, but we strongly believe we can do more to make these events accessible internationally.
A New Approach for SpotOn in 2019
With this year's SpotOn event, we have chosen to focus our agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals. Now, more than ever, we see the need for the conference to address global participation and dialogue. For research to truly begin to address challenges in the Global South, there needs to be increased dialogue across borders. But how to facilitate that? There is no getting around the fact that in-person, face-to-face meetings provide the best engagement. But we also want to stimulate dialogue between communities that might not otherwise get heard.
We want to try something we haven’t tried before: bring people together from more than one location to participate in the same global event, discuss shared issues, and hear a broad spectrum of views. But we also don’t want to lose that strong local connection and local dialogue that an in-person event can deliver. So that brings us to two physical locations, participating in one shared event. A hybrid, if you will, that offers local participants the opportunity to engage and network, but to also hear from speakers on the other side of the world, and to interact with the delegates at that event virtually.
Connecting the Global North and South
The programme for SpotOn19 will operate via a two-track approach as it has often done in the past, offering delegates the chance to choose the topics and sessions of most interest to them. But rather than the two tracks being run from one location, each location (London, UK and Cairo, Egypt) will offer a single track. The alternative track will be delivered virtually from the other location. To ensure this feels truly immersive, each virtually hosted session will have a local host and locally hosted Q&As with the live speaker. Throughout the day, there will be sessions run as single global tracks: a key note beamed into both locations and panels with speakers representing both locations. One event, but truly international in its attendance and speakers.
Alongside these two physical locations, we hope to secure a number of other satellite meetings across Africa, and for these participants to also join in via virtual Q&A in all sessions. We will strive to deliver genuine engagement via virtual tools, and we will endeavour to widen participation and accessibility beyond the day with recorded videos, slides and audio made freely available, as well as visual summaries where possible.
So whether you participate physically in Cairo or London, virtually on the day from any location in the world, or afterwards at your own convenience, we hope that SpotOn19 truly delivers greater global dialogue on research communication for sustainability.