AMS/SMT Indianapolis 2010 Post-Conference Survey

This year’s post-conference survey was sent to about 1,500 AMS members following the Annual Meeting. We received 785 responses, so the results have little statistical reliability. Nonetheless, they reveal a number of interesting points for consideration.

Demographics. Age: 49% of respondents are 40 or younger. Gender: 51.2% female, 47.1% male. Residence: 89.7% of respondents are from the U.S., 5.1% from Canada, and 2.6% from the U.K. or Ireland. Prior meetings: 12.4% said it was their first meeting; for those who had been to earlier AMS meetings, 38.2% had been to ten or more; 25.6% had been to four to nine; and 22.7% had been to one, two, or three meetings. Employment: 51% of attendees are employed full-time at educational institutions; 32.5% are students; 5.1% are retired; 3.6% are fully employed but not by an educational institution. See details of statistics and demographics.

Responses to the question about having nine simultaneous sessions were mixed. Over 16% did not respond; 48% said “it was about right”; 13% said even more would be acceptable; and 22% preferred fewer. Respondents were lukewarm regarding poster sessions; only 11% said they would be interested in submitting a poster session proposal. 25% did not answer the question.

Many helpful suggestions were given in the comments fields of the survey. They sometimes conflicted with each other, as is to be expected. Some will be forwarded to appropriate people for consideration. Here follows a summary.

Forty-two comments from those attending committees were received. Five requested better communication regarding the committee meeting; four requested a meeting time change from 7 a.m.

Seventy-one comments on study groups were received. Many were specific to sessions, and complimented organizers for good work (LGBTQ and Music and Philosophy received the highest praise). Eleven commented negatively regarding the quality of research presented. Eight commented negatively on the 8–11 p.m. time slot.

The survey invited those participating as presenters or session chairs to comment on session timing and logistics. Most (91%) were satisfied with the 45-minute blocks. Only two of 183 respondents expressed interest in 45-minute papers and a longer time-block. 13% expressed interest in 30-minute blocks. 38% indicated satisfaction with three-hour sessions; 26% were amenable to two-hour sessions or a combination of the two. (The remainder did not respond to the question.) See all comments.

Most respondents said that the room size was acceptable (71%); equal numbers responded “too small” (14%) and “too large” (14%). Many reported the problem of sound bleed from adjacent rooms; 22% reported problems with AV.

204 respondents had suggestions regarding holding “green” meetings. No one thought the flyers and promotional brochures given to attendees were useful; on the contrary, dozens of respondents suggested doing away with them. Pros and cons on the tote bags were roughly equal. Some commenters were unaware of the recycling taking place already; many encouraged recycling, posting handouts online, electronic (“AMS ‘iPhone app’”) conference materials, and conscientious selection of hotels. A few commenters thought the concept “silly,” or pointed to the environmental impact of air travel.

133 respondents commented regarding our effort at making the meeting more accessible for those with disabilities. Thirty-three were positive and encouraged continued work in this area. Eleven were unaware that any special effort had been made. Thirty-two expressed comments about handouts or displaying examples via projector; a number were concerned with balancing the efforts required to make accommodations with the relatively small number of participants needing them (e.g. handout enlargements or reserved seats that were not used). Two drew attention to the needs of those who have special dietary requirements.

304 general comments were received. Ninety-seven offered favorable or complimentary suggestions. The most persistent concern (heard from forty-six respondents) concerned the problem of moving between two hotels; fifteen expressed concern over the high cost of attending the meeting; fourteen pointed out the sound bleed problem. A wide variety of helpful, and sometimes unusual, suggestions were made. The Committee on the Annual Meeting and the Board of Directors will take responses into consideration for future meetings. (Change is sometimes slow, since meeting venues are already booked through 2014.) The Committee on Communications will also consider how to continue the conversation regarding the best ways to move forward with the Society’s Annual Meeting. It is clearly one of our most important activities, and we wish to make it as effective and valuable as possible for members. Thanks are due to those who helped by completing the survey.

The following PDF files contain all the information garnered from the survey.

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