RSECon 2019 Feedback Summary

 “An excellent conference, even better than last year in my opinion!”   

      “First time at the conference and was really impressed!”     

“ Good support before the conference for questions, and very friendly committee” 

In September 2019 under a clear blue sky, 360 delegates joined us in Birmingham for the Fourth Annual Conference of Research Software Engineering; a three day event of keynotes, talks, workshops, poster session and evening socials.  We were delighted to receive 174 feedback responses giving a very positive review, with 94% describing the event as excellent or almost excellent. A cheering 98% have said they will come back, too.

“Love the venue and happy to keep going back there.”

“Food was excellent, much better than last year.”

“Venue was great again – the main hall makes it. “ “.….and the Elgar Music Hall was great for the talks in there.”

The conference venue received some great praise for the rooms and the catering along with some interesting ideas for improvement. It has all been passed onto the conference coordinator there.

“The organisation was flawless – programme, communication, apps, slides prepared in advance, virtual machines, sticking to time…”

Three-quarters of respondents said the balance of programme content was ‘just right’, and 77% said they were happy with the balance of activities. Talks and the poster session received positive feedback. While the workshops were well received, they need more thought for 2020. All three social events received very positive responses and we’re glad that you enjoyed the food at each one and the opportunity to meet fellow RSEs.

 “Ben and Maggie have set a new bar for the Key note/after dinner.”

“ Ben Goldacre was very interesting and entertaining”

Our keynotes, Andy Stanford-Clark and Ben Goldacre received very positive feedback as did the after dinner speaker, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Although some people said they would have preferred to hear Dr Aderin-Pocock’s talk earlier in the evening so we’ll bear that in mind if we decide to have an after dinner speaker in 2020.

“I was particularly impressed by the vibrancy of the community.”

A high feedback rate is wonderful for us as organisers, as it’s really given us an insight into how people see the event and what can improve.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive too, with just a few issues that we realise we need to look at. These include organisation – generally highly praised, but with some frustrations with parallel sessions, long days and technology.

The sched app daily emails were really helpful”.

“Sched was fantastic.”

“Slido was great for questions. The speakers got through a lot more questions and I particularly liked the voting system.”

The wifi at the venue frustrated many attendees, and the and Sched apps split opinion with some people who loved them but also some frustrated users. The quiet room was very well received so we’ll make sure to provide that again in 2020.  We’ll think about a better way to do the conference photo next year as we realise that it wasn’t ideal this year.

“I really liked the amount of passion in the speakers…… I found it to be quite inspiring for anyone who might consider themselves to be an RSE. ”

We were pleased to see praise for the conference’s inclusivity, and for the networking opportunities that it offered. And for the weather, which we had worked hard to manage!

Rating our eco friendliness, 15% of people said it was excellent, 48% good, and a further 31% average. We were pleased to see such a positive response as it reflects the hard work we have put into making the conference as eco friendly as we can.  We also received a few suggestions that the food provided should be vegetarian, or largely so, on ecological and logistical grounds.

There were some interesting suggestions for organisations to invite along to future events. The most popular being funding councils and UKRI, Nvidia, GitLab, AMD, RedHat, BSC and Intel. We’ve taken note of all the suggestions and will contact these organisations in the coming months.

“Thanks for a brilliantly run conference!”

“You guys did amazing!”

“Thank you for a wonderful job organising this amazing conference :)”

The organising committee is incredibly grateful to everyone who took the time to respond, and we take your feedback very seriously. It will help us to plan for next year, and make sure it’s even better.

We asked for three words to describe your experience…

“Congratulations to the whole team – better than ever!!!!”

“Did I say thanks for all your efforts to create an amazing conference?”

Many thanks to all the committee and volunteers who made it such a great event for the RSE Community, in particular Ed (Andrew) Edmondson, RSE Group Leader at the University of Birmingham who gave tons of energy and many hours as Programme Chair.

Get involved! The call for committee members to organise the 2020 conference is open until the 6th January. Read about the roles, the commitment and join in!

By Claire Wyatt, Community Manager for Research Software Engineering, Software Sustainability Institute and Trustee (Conference Lead)