LISA Manual

Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC)

The Scientific Organizing Committee

  • is responsible for the content of the conference programme, including topical sessions; keynote, invited and contributing speakers; schedule; session convenors and poster papers
  • communicates with invited speakers
  • reviews the submitted abstracts and decides upon other speakers (contributors) and poster papers
  • determines conference fees (together with the LOC)
  • issues the first and second announcement as well as the call for papers (in conjunction with the LOC)
  • finalizes arrangements for publication of the proceedings

Typically, LISA SOCs consist of 10-12 members (see POC: Selecting SOC co-chairs and members). They represent a mix of librarians and scientists from various countries and with diverse expertise. While this number of members is quite high and the committee's composition varied (for various reasons), this does not have a negative effect on the SOC's work achievements and adherence to timelines as many decisions can be (and in practice are) taken directly by one or both of the co-chairs after brief (or no) consultation / information of the entire committee. The way the committee works can and does vary according to the circumstances.

Determine conference fee
In conjunction with the LOC (who has the exact knowledge of how much money is needed for local costs, for instance to cover rental of facilities, technical support, transportation, etc.), the SOC determines the conference fee, having in mind that the meeting should be affordable for as many librarians as possible.

See also: Funding

Announcements and Call for Papers
See: Publicity

Special consideration: conference language
English may be the official conference language, but it is not the mother tongue of a large fraction (if not the majority) of participants. Organizers should never, never underestimate the difficulties that will arise from this fact. In particular, non-native speakers may have varying degrees of difficulty understanding

  • meeting publicity
  • information on lodging and housing
  • information about the program
  • submission procedures for program presentations
  • oral presentations of conference speakers
  • conversations during social events

In addition, non-native speakers may be apprehensive about presenting papers at the meeting and may need help editing their papers for the published meeting proceedings. Before (not during when it is too late!) the meeting the organizers should do whatever they can to reduce the problems arising from (lack of) communication.

LISA conferences are so popular especially because they present experiences, approaches, and ideas from all over the world. Organizers should strongly encourage non-native speakers to give oral presentations. This will dimish the fear of other non-native speakers to present talks. At the same time, it will remind native English speakers of the language problems of many attendees.

Further possibilites that may help:

  • Throughout the meeting, session chairs need to remind presenters to speak slowly and clearly.
  • Presenters should be strongly encouraged to make good presentations (using clear Powerpoint or overhead slides)
  • Handouts for the audience
  • The program booklet may include full texts of papers instead of abstracts only (but this will lead to higher printing costs).
  • Mandatory use of wireless microphone

Conference program
Based on the conference theme, the SOC develops a list of possible sessions and invited speakers. If appropriate (and affordable), a keynote speaker can be chosen and invited (note that costs may be higher than for other invited speakers.) Letters of invitations are sent to the invited speakers and session chairs.

Session chairs' duties include:

  • introduce each speaker
  • carefully time each speaker making sure they have only the time alloted (tell them when 5 minutes left, 2 minutes left etc.)
  • choose questions from the floor for the speaker, and cut off questions when the time alloted has been reached

For panels it is very important that someone is assigned to take notes or 'tape' the conversations. These notes will later be transcribed and added to the proceedings

Related documents:

LISA III Letter of invitation to invited speaker (with honorarium) (pdf)

LISA III Letter of invitation to invited speaker (without honorarium) (pdf)

LISA IV Notification of funding subsidy

LISA V formal invitation (doc)

In cooperation with the SOC, the LOC distributes the 1st announcement and call for papers. After abstracts of proposed papers are received, the SOC reviews the abstracts and evaluates the contributions. Led by the SOC chairs, the committee then

  • groups abstracts into thematic units
  • decides which contributions will receive presentation time on the program
  • decides which contributions should become poster presentations
  • makes final decisions on session topics and titles

The SOC should try to find a good selection of papers, covering 'hot topics' as well as more traditional ones and providing content that is worthwhile for attendees from all levels. The general guideline should be that the conference is called 'Library and Information Services (and not Systems) in Astronomy.' No topic should be overrepresented in the programme. Suggested talks of (unknown to the SOC) speakers from the local university are to be reviewed particularly carefully; while it may be nice to have a local speaker as a courtesy to the hosting institution, these presentations may be too specialized and hence uncomprehensible to the general audience.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to

  • evolving and 'cutting-edge' technologies
  • developments in information retrieval
  • storage and preservation of documents
  • the changing role of librarians
  • traditional library problems including how to deal with outdated technology
  • history of astronomy
  • ongoing projects in various libraries
  • the situation in developing countries
  • national or international cooperations among astronomy librarians

The wide international distribution and the resulting variety in experiences and projects presented has always been one of the biggest assets of LISA conferences. For some attendants, it may be required to have their papers accepted in order to attend the conference, otherwise their home institution may refuse to fund the trip (at least partially). The SOC certainly should be particularly careful with regard to contributions submitted by this group of authors. However, it may be necessary for the SOC to turn down some papers, especially if several submissions were received from the same first author.

The programme can include all or some of the following presentation types:

  • welcome address (usually given by a high representative of the hosting organization)
  • keynote (often dealing with general library issues rather than specialized astronomy libraries topics)
  • invited and contributed talks
  • panel discussions
  • posters
  • poster review sessions
  • 'Birds of a Feather' sessions (informal meetings of special interest groups)
  • pre- or post conference tutorials

Poster review sessions were introduced during LISA IV and were extremely popular among participants. Two participants reviewed half of the posters each (grouped according to the posters' topics) and summarized their impressions in half-hourly reports. This not only gave posters a higher visibility than usual (they may be never mentioned during any oral presentation), but also increased the participants' interest to visit them personally. Some lessons learned are:

  • Depending on the total number of accepted posters, there may be too many to review them in just one session. Two short review sessions are better than one overwhelmingly long one.
  • Ideally, a poster review should be followed by a long break during which attendees can visit them.
  • If more than one review sessions is held, they should be scheduled on different days.
  • If possible, in a 3-day meeting review sessions should not be held on the first day (this wouldn't give the reviewers enough time to visit the posters) and not beyond lunch time on the 3rd day (otherwise participants will not find the time to look at them after the review.)

For each session topic, time has to be allocated for invited speakers (if there are any). The SOC makes final decisions about the contributed papers that will be presented in that session and allocates time for each contribution. Papers within sessions as well as the sessions themselves have to be arranged in a logical order.

The SOC then develops a daily schedule, including:

  • session times
  • scheduled times for attendees to review poster papers
  • morning and afternoon coffee breaks
  • lunch breaks
  • opening and closing times for each day

Examples of Conference programmes:

See also: Program booklet (LOC section)

Author notifications
All contributors have to be notified: authors of accepted papers as well as those whose contributions were rejected. Authors of accepted papers need to know whether their contribution is scheduled for oral presentation or as a poster. Those who were accepted for oral presentation need information about how many minutes they will have on the program, who is the session chair and which invited speakers will be in their session. They also have to be informed about the technical equipment available in the auditorium and should be asked whether they require any additional devices; the LOC may not be able to fulfil all demands though. Authors of poster papers must be informed about the exact space available for their posters (see also LOC: Meeting rooms and technical equipment.)

Further important information for meeting speakers and poster presenters includes:

  • suggested use of visual aids, e.g., PowerPoint presentations, overheads, handouts, etc
  • deadline and format for abstract submission
  • deadline for post-meeting receipt of manuscripts for published proceedings

Use of visual aids:
In order to help non-native English speakers, presenters should be strongly encouraged to use visual aids, in particular:

  • to prepare easy-to-follow ppt-presentations or viewgraphs (1)
  • to use legible font and avoid small numbers on slides
  • to provide handouts for audience

See also:

Deadline and format for abstract submission:
In coordination with the LOC, the Scientific Organizing Committee prepares a preliminary program and sets the deadline for receipt of the final abstract version. This deadline must be stated clearly in the second announcement. It will be determined by the LOC's time constraints for printing the program booklet (see LOC program booklet). The receipt of final abstracts has to be monitored closely (and acknowledged!) To make submissions more uniform, the SOC may provide an abstract template or instruct authors how to format their submissions, for instance

Abstract should be submitted according to the following guidelines:

  • Language: English
  • Number of pages: 1
  • Presentation title in CAPITAL LETTERS
  • Complete addresses (postal address, email and fax) of authors and co-authors
  • The main author's name should be underlined.

Related documents:

LISA V Letter of acceptance (presentations) (pdf)

LISA V Letter of acceptance (poster) (pdf)

LISA V Rejection letter

LISA VI Letter of acceptance (presentations) (pdf)

For further details on announcements, websites and other publicity, see Publicity.

Deadline for manuscript receipt:
see: Proceedings: Instructions for authors

Web photo gallery
If possible, the SOC should find a volunteer to set up a post-meeting Web photo gallery early on. The gallery will include

  • the official group photo
  • photos of all conference committees (SOC, LOC, FOL)
  • photos taken by attendees during and after the conference


LISA III web photo gallery
LISA IV web photo gallery

General arrangements
Upon arrival at the meeting site, the SOC reviews technical arrangements with the LOC. During meeting sessions, all aspects of the program have to be monitored in order to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Final arrangements for proceedings publication
The SOC finalizes details regarding publication of the proceedings, chooses the publisher and informs authors about deadlines and time frames as well as the allowable page length for invited, contributed, poster papers and write-ups of panel discussions. The SOC also chooses editors for the proceedings volume. The editors usually are SOC members.

See also: Proceedings

Related documents:

(1) What makes a good presentation? See for instance this document from [Note: in case you cannot access the document by doubleclicking, save it to your desktop first and open it from there.]