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05/09/2013

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Tuomas

This seems like rather short notice, at least for anyone coming from overseas; although it looks like it might work for myself, coincidentally.

However, I don't really see how you're going to effectively blind review the submissions. Given that the people most interested are likely to be fellow Cocooners, it may be quite easy to recognize each other. Besides, you won't be able to blind review anyone's paper yourself if you're the one that the papers are e-mailed to! So it looks to me that you'd really have to find external referees to make this work -- or do it on an invitation-only basis from a pool of interested participants.

Marcus Arvan

Tuomas: thanks for your feedback. If a lot of people think it's too short of notice, I'll think of pushing it back.

As for the blind review issue, I guess I'm just not sure. The Cocoon is averaging 1,000-1,500 hits a day lately. I would expect many submissions from people not known here as contributors. I also tend to hope -- especially given this blog's aims -- that people tasked with reviewing papers would do so conscientiously, without "google reviewing", and refuse to review if they knew the author's identity heading in. I would also take care to send out review requests to people I judge to be least likely to know the identity of a given paper's author.

What do you think of this? Ensuring blind-reviewing is always a problem -- even, as we all know, when it comes to journal referees. The moral imperative, I take it, is to do one's *best* to ensure blind review, given whatever limitations one faces. Do you not think it possible to do this without external referees? (I'm curious what other people think, too. This is my first time trying to organize a conference, so I want to get it as right as I can!).

Christopher Stephens

Hi Marcus,

Another possibility regarding the refereeing issue:

In my own sub field, there is a conference - ISHPSSB (International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology)- which is only refereed in a minimal sense - you submit an abstract and as long as it's basically on topic and sounds coherent, it's accepted. The Society for Exact Philosophy does (or did) something similar (I believe they get more submissions now so there's a semi-serious "cut"). Basically, the refereeing is just to ensure that "crazy stuff" (e.g., papers just in chess notation or papers that aren't at all philosophical) don't get accepted. But otherwise, everything else is pretty much accepted.

Part of the mission of ISHPSSB is to encourage younger scholars (esp. graduate students), and I think this feature of the conference has worked very well over the years (and this is at least one goal you share with ISH.)

Something to think about -

Best,

c

Dan Dennis

I like the way you just get on and do things, Marcus. If it were me I would have spent months thinking about whether it was a good idea or not!

For the Skype spots you could prioritise those with furthest to travel.

Will you broadcast all sessions live on the internet? If you do then after accepting questions from those attending in person you could also accept questions from virtual attendees, either patching in the individual questioner via skype or simply reading out the most interesting of the questions emailed in.

Given the conference is aimed at those who don’t have loads of money and many of whom don’t have travel grants it would be good to promote online participation. Then you can have the best of both worlds...

David Morrow

I think external reviewers would be better, if we can find them. I would be willing to serve as an external reviewer.

I also think the August date is probably too soon. Even with an aggressive reviewing schedule, it will take a while after the June 1 deadline to review the papers and choose which to accept. I don't think that would leave a lot of time for people to make travel plans.

Marcus Arvan

Chris: that sounds like a good idea. Thanks!

David: I know, but I still want to think it over. The summer is generally more open for people than the semester. I know it is for me. I think August still might be doable if, as you say, the reviewing is done quickly (perhaps in the manner Chris Stephens mentioned). Let's see what more people think. If there's a clear groundswell to push it back, we'll go with that. But I would prefer the summer.

Dan: thanks! Yeah, I do have a way of just getting on with things. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. ;)

Marcus Arvan

Dan: streaming talks live and taking email questions sounds like an incredible idea, if we could pull it off. I have no idea how to do that kind of stuff, do you? Does anyone else reading? It would be very cool...I just have no idea how to do it!

elisa freschi

Congratulations, Marcus, for the idea and the rapid realisation. To me, the notice is far too short to have a finished paper and to organise the travel (I do not know how representative I am, but whenever I organise a conference, most people seem to need at least 6 months advance). By the way, I am happy to help for the reviews, should you decide for external reviewers.

Justin Caouette

August is a bit too soon for me. With that said, I would be happy to review a paper or two if you needed an extra set of eyes regardless of when the conference takes place.

elisa freschi

A small addition: in order to achieve (also in this case) the best of two possible worlds, you might add in your call for papers that ideally the Cocoon conference will take place every year, around the same time, so that those who have now something ready will enjoy Tampa in Summer and those who have not will have the time to think about a paper for next year…

David Morrow

Elisa makes a good point. It's probably best for the conference to be at the same time every year. And I agree, Marcus, that summers are more flexible. So maybe we ought to go with your original timetable, knowing that the conference will likely be smaller this year than in the future.

Danielle Wenner

In addition to August being too soon for the conference, my initial reaction was actually that June 1 was too early of a deadline. I often write papers to be pitched at specific conferences and would want the opportunity to do so here.

Also, regarding your willingness to accept longer papers, I think this is great, and have a suggestion about how to make it work a little more smoothly: Many political science and political theory conferences I have attended actually ask presenters to post their papers to a central database or website in advance of the conference - maybe a week or two ahead of time - so that attendees interested in a particular paper or session can read the papers in advance. Then the presenters are given only maybe 10-15 minutes for "walking through" the paper, and more time is dedicated to the discussion and constructive feedback. I have found this format eminently more enjoyable and productive both from the perspective of presenter and that of audience member. The feedback and level of discussion is so much better when readers are given time to fully understand and digest the paper in question.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Danielle: thanks for your comment. A couple of thoughts.

In regards to the deadline being too soon, I'm a bit puzzled. I guess I figured that most people have papers "lying around" that they could really use some feedback on, and thus, that they *wouldn't* have to write an entire paper to submit it to the conference. Indeed, that was sort of the thought behind the conference (here we have a lot of early-career scholars who probably have papers they are trying to publish, and who could really use some help improving them). Am I wrong about this? Do people usually *write* papers for conferences?

On your point about 10-15 minute presentations with papers posted online, for my part, I've presented at some poli-sci conferences like that and didn't like them at *all*. I found the presentations much too short to be of much use, and most of the audience questions were very shallow and ill-informed (almost no one read the papers, and so most questions were based upon a 10 minute overview of the paper -- not nearly enough for people to go on). Anyway, that's just been my experience. Apparently, our experiences have been very different. Perhaps I could set up the submission process with an option for half-hour "workshop" sessions and standard hour-long philosophy talk. I'll give it some more thought.

Marcus Arvan

Hi David: there seem to me to be three options worth considering:

Option 1: move ahead with the CFP on the table, and expect this year's conference to probably be small (if it makes at all). [A small conference doesn't strike me as terrible, though if we had to cancel it from lack of participation it might look a bit bad --but we could always try again next year]

Option 2: push back the conference this year to sometime in late fall and then have future conferences (next year and thereafter during the summer). [You suggest it's best to hold the thing the same time every year, but I'm not sure it would be bad to run afoul of this the first year!]

Option 3: simply push back the conference to next summer. [This strikes me as the least attractive of the three options, as I'd like to do *something* this year!]

What do you all think?

elisa freschi

[Re. conferences where one has already read the papers]
I share Danielle's experience and always organise conferences in the said way (papers have to be available one month in advance and everyone is strongly adviced to read them in advance). It works fine, I think, if you can count on a strong community of people who will actually read the paper —and the Cocoon is such a community, I think:-) Outsiders who did not read the paper will avoid stupid questions and rather listen to the interesting ensuing debate.

[Re. the 1st of June deadline]
We all have several papers in the drawer, but aren't they usually unfinished or at least unpolished? And aren't we full of other commitments in the next 20 days? —At least, this is my experience (what is already finished and polished is sitting somewhere, waiting for the right issue of the journal/for the editors to finish the book/etc.).

[Re. the three options]
If I were at your (Marcus) place I would go for option 2 and announce at the same time the first and the second conference (perhaps with no location, but with an already settled date, so that people can put in their diaries).

Matt DeStefano

I vote for option (1) Marcus. Although it is a bit short notice, I think it would be a fun time and it's a lot easier to attend during the summer than once the semester has begun.

Jason Chen

I agree with Elisa. I think we should push the conference back a couple of months to give people enough time to be comfortable with their submissions. I would rather have a slightly higher attendance at the conference.

Dan Dennis

Hi Marcus

I am not sure how it is done technically, but do not think it is that uncommon nowadays. I imagine once you have a microphone and camera connected to the computer, all you need is the right software or website to then make it available to anyone who wishes to log in.

Have just found this company online which one of these liberty organisations was using for a seminar, though I did not attend so dont know waht it is like. It offers a free trial. People sign up in advance so you know who you are dealing with. But I suppose they probably ensure confidentiality which would not be an issue for us, so it mgiht be something else would be adequate.

http://www.gotomeeting.co.uk/fec/

I am opened minded about whether it would be best to have the conference on the dates you mention. Sometimes the best (putting it off until all is perfect) is the enemy of the good (having it then)...

Good luck

Dan

Dan Dennis

ps I think 'webinare' is the term to google...

Marcus Arvan

Although one or two people seem fine with keeping the proposal as-is, the consensus seems to be that it should be pushed back. On second thought, this probably is better for me, too (I have a book to write this summer, among other things).

So, here's what I think I'll do: organize our first conference for sometimes in October and then future conferences during the summer (e.g. beginning August 2014). Sound good to everyone?

David Morrow

That sounds fine to me, Marcus. When are you thinking about making the new deadline? The trade-off in extending the deadline is in giving people less time to make travel plans.

Marcus Arvan

Hi David: well, if we push back the conference to October, say, I was thinking a July 1st deadline. That would give people a month and a half from now to pull something together to submit, and then, provided we announce decisions on Aug 1st or thereabouts, people would have two months or so to arrange their travel plans. Which seems sufficient to me. Do you disagree?

David Morrow

That sounds reasonable to me, Marcus.

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