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Comments on the XIVth ISB Congress

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  • Comments on the XIVth ISB Congress

    Dear BIOMCH-L members,

    Some weeks ago at the BIOMCH-L Forum, I encouraged our subscribers
    to contribute to the discussion about the ISB Congress in Paris.
    The list of responses is appended. In some cases, at the request of
    the authors, names have been removed.
    I'd like to thank all contributors to this discussion. I appreciate
    your impressions of the Congress and ideas for future meetings.
    Hopefully you'll also find it stimulating and interesting to consider
    these comments, towards the improvement of our future congress meetings.

    Krystyna Gielo-Perczak
    Co-moderator BIOMCH-L
    ************************************************** *********************

    As a point for general discussion, and especially for consideration
    by organizers of future meetings, I would like to suggest that the
    purchase of printed abstracts be included as an option on registration
    forms for future conferences. Those who are unable to attend a major
    international meeting would have the opportunity to request, in advance,
    that copies of the bound abstracts be sent to them after the conference.
    A fee for printing and mailing costs could be charged, and meeting
    organizers could set an order deadline such that the additional copies
    could be printed at the same time as those for meeting participants.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance that you can provide.

    John P. Holden
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892 U.S.A
    ************************************************** ********************

    Since you have asked for comments on ISB, I thought that I would put
    in my 2 cents worth.

    1. I found the number of parallel sessions quite demanding, which I
    assume is a reflection on the large number of papers presented
    and the small number (5%) of papers rejected. Whilst it is
    encouraging to see the level of activity so high, I would rather
    see a smaller number of papers presented. The 400 papers of
    previous congresses would be closer to the mark. The overlap of
    multiple papers from some authors would suggest that a single
    paper incorporating the essential elements of all related papers
    could perhaps reduce the total number of presentations.

    2. It was difficult to follow the poster sessions, as posters did not
    stick to a timetable, and hence you could not jump from one session
    to another. The level of noise from ongoing discussions about previous
    posters also made it hard to hear the current speaker.

    Other than these limitations, I agree with you that the venue was well-suited
    to the Congress, the sessions were well organised thanks to the conference
    staff, the invited speaker and prize lectures were up to their usual high
    standard, and the banquet was SUPERB. I can't say that I envy anyone who
    organises such congresses, it must certainly be a huge task.

    Thanks for your time,

    Tim Barker
    Centre for Medical and Health Physics
    Queensland University of Technology
    Brisbane. Queensland.
    ************************************************** **************************

    You had a wonderful idea. Let me say the most important thing:
    in the list of the partecipants' addresses,
    not exist).

    This is very important. Please, if you post a summary, don't
    forget the "!!!".

    Second: Always describe in the calls for papers and in the
    announcement a way for non-participants to get the book of abstracts,
    and don't forget to include also the list of the participants' addresses.
    I mean: indicate the price, and where you should ask, and how you
    should send the money.

    That's all.

    Thanks again,

    Paolo de Leva
    Istituto Superiore di Educazione Fisica
    Biomechanics Lab
    P. Lauro De Bosis, 6
    00194 ROME

    Tel: 39-6-5743523
    FAX: 39-6-3613065

    e-mail address:
    ************************************************** *************************

    In general, I enjoyed the conference. However, I had the impression that
    the organizers were always looking for ways to get extra money from the
    participants. Examples are (i) it was possible to privately organize
    accommodation which was a lot cheaper than anything mentioned in by the
    organizers, and (ii) I visited the Louvre museum myself at a cost of 35FF,
    however, if I had bought tickets through the organizers of the congress, it
    would have cost me 285FF (i.e., more than eight times as expensive). I
    think this is ridiculous--the organizers should be able to organize things
    for LESS than the going rate for the public (since they could buy blocks of

    I thought the catering for the opening ceremony was sub-standard, as well
    as the offerings at the coffee breaks during the conference. Once again,
    the impression I had was that participants were being offered as little as
    possible for the money they paid. I must agree with you that the final
    banquet was very nice, but I think more effort could have made the rest of
    the meeting more enjoyable.

    Suggestions for future meetings:
    1. Ensure that organizers are on e-mail. (The situation with respect to
    abstract notification was also ridiculous. I don't accept the excuse that
    there were too many abstracts--that is an organizer's dream come true.)
    2. Never never never have a private company organize a meeting. They soak
    up all the profits.
    ************************************************** *****************************

    I think an open discussion on future ISB meetings is a great idea.
    I thought it was wonderful to see the recognition of biomechanics to
    the study of motor control and neurology. As Bob Norman had said some
    time ago, this is a substative issue for biomechanics and a number
    of biomechanists are involved in motor control research. My immediate
    suggestion is to continue the inclusion of this theme and the invitation
    of speakers who may not purely be from biomechanics, but have a vested
    interest and can exchange information about neural mechanisms, motor
    control theories, etc. Discussions dedicated to future directions in
    this area (i.e., tools, collaboration, funding, etc.) might be of wide
    I was somewhat disappointed by the scheduling of similar or same themes
    simultaneously during the past conference. I understand the difficulty
    that a large number of parallel sessions pose, however we must be careful.
    I am anxious to see what other comments you receive.
    Best regards,
    Brad McFadyen,
    Dep. de kinanthropologie
    PS. phone numbers and e-mail addresses in the participant list would be

    ************************************************** *************************

    My impressions are both positive and negative, but I will give you the negative
    ones only. They are not supposed to be typical for the congress. I enjoyed the
    congress and I think it was worthwile.

    The time for studying the posters was too short. Parallel sessions (up to 9 if
    I remember well) force the attendants to choose. I is normal for oral
    presentations, but it should be avoided to change posters four times a day.

    Parallel sessions require a strict time schedule and chairmen should stick to
    it. (I don't think I could.)

    The time schedule of the organisation before the congress was not
    perfect, neither for contributing nor for non-contributing attendants.

    The communications from the organisers to the attendants could have been better
    during the congress. They range from simple messages about the place of the
    restaurant and the availability of coffee to changes in the programme and the
    cancellation of a subcommittee meeting.

    Planning the buffet at the end of the congress favours those who wish to spend
    holidays right after the congress in the same city. Those who have to be more
    business-like or economical in time or money would probably prefer to have the
    buffet between congress days. They miss an opportunity to meet others and, in
    the case of this congress, they still pay for it.

    The hall for the general meeting at the beginning of the congress was not fit
    for the presentations given there for so many people.

    Some theatres for general meetings were too small. Projected slides on video
    sets in an additional theatre were not readable.
    ************************************************** ****************************
    ? Paris was my first ISB meeting, and may well be my last.
    ?Yes, the city was fantastic, the banquet sublime, and all
    ?that. However, I found the scientific side unsatisfying and
    ?the general organization of the meeting abysmal. I appre-
    ?ciate that the organizers got more submissions than ex-
    ?pected; I deplore the decision to *accept* more papers than
    ?could be reasonably accomodated in the facilities available.
    ?Not only was there significant repetition and overlap in the
    ?presentations (posters especially - in one session I tried
    ?to attend there were 4 nearly identical posters from one
    ?laboratory - one for the prof and one for each student), but
    ?there were too many concurrent sessions (nine on the first
    ?morning). Given that there were rarely more than 25 people
    ?in attendance at any session, this looks more like a venue
    ?for getting a publication credit than actually learning
    ?about current work or interacting with fellow researchers.
    ?From the organizers' side, it appeared that the reasoning
    ?went: "we want to get as many registration fees as possible
    ?and nobody will come unless their paper is presented".Now, I
    ?understand about gen erationg revenues - I am the Treasurer
    ?of the Canadian Medical and Biological E ngineering Society,
    ?and we need our conferences to stay afloat.However, there
    ?has to be a limit. I'd be interested to know how many, if
    ?any, submissions were rejected, and on what grounds (I saw
    ?some pretty flakey science in spots).
    ? I was scheduled for a poster; this is not a problem and can
    ?even be preferable as there can be more time to discuss on a
    ?one-to-one basis. I even liked the three minute presen-
    ?tation part (although I would have liked to know about it
    ?before I arrived in France). However, arriving in Paris
    ?without knowing WHEN or WHERE I was presenting, finding the
    ?allocated poster space SMALLER than the published guide-
    ?lines, having LESS THAN TWO HOURS to display (with 8 concur-
    ?rent sessions as competition), and then having to shout to
    ?be heard was very annoying. Had I registered the first
    ?morning of the conference instead of the night before, I'd
    ?have missed my session entirely!
    ?A few more impressions of things that were obviously inade-
    ? ONSITE: No dual projection of slides (now standard expec-
    ? No air conditioning, and security personnnel pre-
    ?vented opening doors
    ? Shockingly dirty toilet facilities
    ? Venues widely separated; hard to session hop
    ? Sessions on similar topics scheduled concurrently
    ? Program booklet an organizational nightmare
    ?BEFORE MEETING: Info on conference was EXTREMELY hard to
    ?come by; although I became a member in 1992, I never did
    ?figure out how to get an authour's kit.
    ? Acceptances were sent out much too late
    ? Some people were switched between
    ?poster/podium at last minute
    ? So much for the tirade. I won't even go into the cost. I
    ?assume that the whopping registration fee was to pay for the
    ?conference company which was supposed to do the organi-
    ?zation... there is always a danger in choosing such firms -
    ?a scientific meeting is quite different from a sales conven-
    ? On the positive side, I thought the exhibits were
    ?extremely well done.I also managed to meet many of the
    ?"names" by dint of attending as many sessions as I could
    ?fit in, and had good opportunities to ask questions and
    ?participate in discussion.
    ?On the other hand, by contrast with the extremely well orga-
    ?nized and run 3D Motion Analysis Symposium in Poitiers which
    ?preceded it, the ISB meeting was a mess.
    ?Carolyn Small

    .................................................. .......
    Carolyn Small, Associate Professor Phone (613) 545-2581
    Mechanical Engineering, Queen's University FAX 545-6489
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6
    ************************************************** *******************

    The congress was fantastic. Two considerations for future conferences:
    Ensure that all presentations (poster & podium) are held in the same
    building. It is difficult to go between sessions when you have to go
    down the block. 2) Extend the time periods for the poster sessions. The
    unique aspect of posters is the extended discussion period. They should
    remain in place for several hours, minimum. I look forward to the next
    conference. It will be a success even if my considerations cannot be
    acted on. Regards, Steve McCaw, Illinois State University, Normal,
    Illinois USA.

    ************************************************** *********************

    As I told you, the overall scientific organization of the congress was bad.
    For the main congress I'll say what everybody was saying: did they refuse any
    paper? In some area (especially mine, orthopaedic biomechanics) the scientific
    level of the presentations was low (sometime almost to the ground!). For the
    Montlignon meeting the things are different. The technical group for
    simulation in biomechanics gave to me the impression of a very well sorted and
    organized group working at a very high level on the computer simulation of the
    biomechanics of the movement. All others people (as me) showing stuff on bone
    remodeling, finite element analysis and so on were just went in the wrong
    place. And this was not only bad for them but also for the traditional
    attenders of the technical group, that found their traditionally small meeting
    grown up to the level to have parallel sessions. No good at all. At the
    offical meeting of the TGSB somebody said that a way to solve the problem would
    be closing the meeting to only those showing software. So what? All those
    bone remodeling people could bring their software but the problem woud still
    But the question is why all those people came to this small meeting? What they
    were looking for? Another congress? No we have plenty of them, even specific
    on finite element analysis in biomechanics (one is in Swansea, UK, every two
    years). So? I think that you got a very good idea to build up a real GROUP.
    Using the forum, these meetings and personal contacts, you were able to stay
    all tuned on the matter, exchanging data and info, and probably contributing
    sustantially to the growth of the specific argument.
    Here I see only two solutions. The first is just cleaning up the problem,
    refusing next year all those paper out of the theme. Here I see only a small
    problem you should change the name because also those other arguments are
    "simulation in biomechanics". Beside this, I think you are going to have the
    same problem on BIOMECH-L. And again should you call it MOVE_BIOMECH-L (sound
    too long!)? But clearly is not matter of naming, the question is: does this
    group want to become a big box for many arguments?
    The other solution that I see is to temporary guest two other technical group:
    cromputer simulation of tissue adaptation processes and computer aided
    structural biomechanics. the names are just a guess, but I am sure you
    understand what I am referring to. In this case, the parallel sessions would
    not hurt anybody becouse they would be on parallel arguments. You could
    mantain one single TG with three different branches of interest of eventually,
    after a couple of years of guesting you could to the ISB coucil to separate
    Activating this for the next year, when all will be guested by the world
    congress in Amsterdam could probably particularly easy.

    Marco Viceconti
    ************************************************** *************************