COMBINE 2013 Exit Survey

Question #1. If you had to pick one thing that you wish had been different about the meeting and could be improved, what would it be?

  1. Not enough integration and interoperability were discussed, probably due to the lack of participants from certain standards, such as BioPAX.
  2. More discussions, less presentations. Some sessions were almost presentations only. We discussed less the standards than in Harmony where we are not suppose to discuss them.
  3. a.) Would be better if the different meeting rooms and location for lunch would be at one single venue and not distributed in different buildings. The lack of information led to some confusion. b.) There where too many parallel sessions. A meeting of this size should mainly consist of plenary sessions with some slots for parallel breakouts.
  4. Ensure that there is a power supply available for everyone in the room. Personally, i unfortunately also felt that the time was really short, with hardly any time for discussion during the meeting. I guess the question is one about the identity of COMBINE, what do we aim to accomplish with this meeting?
  5. We need more time for break out sessions to get things done.
  6. Earlier announcement of the precise program -- in particular the scheduled talks. For speakers it is much easier to be prepared if they know earlier that they will have a talk. Also, the coffee breaks were a bit disorganized.
  7. The rooms should be closer together. And do not delete the agenda :-)
  8. There was a bit of confusion about what happened in what room at one point.
  9. Remove parallel sessions if possible.
  10. Agenda should be available much earlier.
  11. Practical sessions and use-cases for the Level 3 packages. Especially showing some working examples in the current-work flow of people using these packages.
  12. I would cancel parallel sessions.
  13. I think maybe scheduling of the sessions earlier would be good as it takes time to work out all the conflicts. I also wonder if we cannot make a connection with some journal to publish papers based on some of the talks somehow.
  14. Larger breakout room.
  15. Parallel, technical sessions should be organised as real working sessions, in appropriate rooms. Call for abstracts should be clearer. It was interesting to have talks not directly linked to formats, and we should probably keep this, but then have a slot for these presentations, e.g. the first day.
  16. Have the venue to be not as spread out into these different buildings.
  17. More involvement from the full range of COMBINE activities. And more leg room in the amphitheater :)
  18. I say this every year, but hey: the font for the names on the name tags needs to be HUGE, and the nametags need to include the city and country of the participant. It is a small thing that will make it more newbie-friendly. Also,the fact that I say this every year and nothing ever changes means that either a) you don't think it's a good idea, or b) you think it's a good idea, but there's no effective system in place to get it to the person who is actually designing and printing the name tags.

Question #2. If you had to pick one thing that you think worked well about the meeting and you think should be done the same way in the future, what would it be?

  1. The Day 1 (Sept 16) Modeling session.
  2. The singing at the end!! The SBML packages sessions were fine as well.
  3. Nice food for lunch.
  4. I quite enjoyed the first day workshop, I think that one went really well.
  5. The "modeller's day" on Monday was nice.
  6. Technical organization (internet transmission, slides, presentations).
  7. The discussions went more smoothly.
  8. Being able to download the slides just before each conference is a very good thing, but could be made even better (since not all were available in time and day 4 suffered a technical glitch).
  9. Have slides available, if possible, before presentations.
  10. Food is important and was good.
  11. Keep one general conference day with free attendance for anyone.
  12. Parallel sessions in smaller groups.
  13. The song by Lucian.
  14. I think maintaining a healthy amount of time for discussion is a good thing.
  15. Organisation and program.
  16. A first day with invited speakers and plenary sessions. Also, it was good to have posters (may compensate the fact that we cannot attend all sessions).
  17. The relatively focused sets of presentations and discussions that follow after is quite nice.
  18. The first day presentations.
  19. It didn't feel like we were trying to do too much this year, which was nice. And maybe it's just that I've been going so long now, but I felt everyone did a reasonable job of introducing their topics.

Question #3. Did you enjoy the keynote talks? Why or why not?

  1. I assume this is about the Day talks. I really enjoyed it. We should do it again in the future to make it more educational.
  2. Yes, they gave a nice insight in some showcases where COMBINE standards are important and what you can do with them.
  3. Indeed, I did. It was the right mix of standards and science to keep me entertained. Oddly perhaps the lack of power supply during the keynotes actually did work.
  4. Yes, I did. They provided a nice overview about different modelling approaches.
  5. Unfortunately, I could not (time constraints).
  6. Yes.
  7. Did not attend.
  8. I did enjoy them, because of the varieties of topics that were addressed.
  9. Did not attend those.
  10. Yes, a nice broad selection of topics.
  11. Yes, it was great!
  12. Yes. They provided some great great introductions to modeling activities with which I was unfamiliar.
  13. Sure. I, uh, don't remember them at all.

Question #4. How did you like the organization of the meeting, such as the parallel sessions?

  1. Parallel sessions didn't seem to work, because people often are involved in multiple overlapping efforts. I would suggest a breakout room (in addition to the quiet room where people can work), so people can have a spontaneous breakout discussion when they are not interested in the main session.
  2. There should be less parallel sessions and more plenary sessions. Two slots for specialized parallel sessions should be enough. Having at least 1-2 additional rooms for breakouts during the whole meeting in proximity to the main room is crucial though.
  3. I feel like splitting up the community into parallel sessions is a bad idea. So if possible I would not plan for parallel tracks. I end up always missing tracks I wanted to go to. However breakout rooms should be available in case an ad-hoc need would exist.
  4. I would like to reduce the number of slots for the main session and to have more time for break out sessions.
  5. Good.
  6. Overall it was good, some minor points: rooms could have been closer together -- breakout rooms were occasionally also booked for teaching, thus not available for us.
  7. Parallel sessions are always problematic, if possible this should be avoided.
  8. I only attended the first day, with no parallel session.
  9. Seemed good though a little more earlier planning of them may help to eliminate more conflicts.
  10. Generally good, parallel sessions are always an issue but should be kept to a minimum and preferably located near the main session.
  11. It is probably unavoidable to have parallel sessions, but then, it would be nice to have brief presentations of each topics covered by parallel sessions during the 1st plenary session. Also these parallel sessions should be "working sessions."
  12. It wasn't too bad. The program was fairly light so there wasn't much overlap in the parallel sessions.
  13. I thought the mix of one-track and parallel sessions worked out pretty well this year.

Question #5. How did you like the venue and its facilities and arrangements?

  1. It is fine. Parallel session rooms are too far, and too small.
  2. Location of the venue was good for evening activities, close to the city. However, it would have been better for socializing if the attendees would not have been scattered in so many different hotels. The distribution of the meeting rooms in different buildings led to some confusion and sessions that took not place in the main room usually where not well-attended. Also different locations for the lunch led to confusion. The food for lunch was good, nice insight into the French cuisine.
  3. I only visited the breakout room once. Unfortunately it was way too small to hold all people interested to attend the breakout. I know in the following days they managed to make that room larger.
  4. I liked it. It's a great place for such kind of workshops.
  5. Nice (however, Paris is a very expensive town).
  6. Plates and cutlery, and milk, would have been nice during coffee breaks/lunch.
  7. The breakout rooms were partly a bit small and initially difficult to find, but otherwise the venue was fine.
  8. Convenient location, comfortable venue and a well organized meeting.
  9. They were great.
  10. Nice location and arrangements.
  11. It was ok, although Paris is expensive, difficult to find a hotel.
  12. Great venue.
  13. It was fine; Paris was a little confusing to get around in but not overly so.

Question #6. What did you achieve during this meeting? (It can be more than one thing.)

  1. Collaborations were strengthened. Community building seems to develop better and better.
  2. Gleaned a better overview of other efforts; fixed a number of bugs, both in software and specifications ...
  3. The questions I had were solved or at least discussed.
  4. An update on other peoples work -- good feedback on my own work.
  5. Overview of current status of different standards and some tools; broader discussion about topics in the standards I'm involved with, networking and community building.
  6. Intellectual stimulation, oxygen for the brain. Informal exchanges with other participants (some whom I already knew, others whom I did not).
  7. I had several good discussions with people between sessions about several important things. I also think the discussions about comp, arrays, and dynamic were very productive and have helped pave a way forward.
  8. Lots of new ideas that hopefully will be implemented in the near future.
  9. Get closer contact with people and new perspectives for future developments.
  10. Kept up to date with various COMBINE activities; worked on specs; talked about software developments; got some feedback on some SBGN diagrams I've been working on.
  11. I got in touch with some users of my software, and I felt that the stage was set for some good forward movement on some packages I'm involved with.

Question #7. Tell us about the good, the bad, and the ugly, in your opinion, about COMBINE 2013. Since this survey is anonymous, you can feel free to be as direct as you want to be. We won't be offended—we're asking for the feedback, after all. We will read all of the feedback and act on as much of it as is practical.

  1. The good: Internet worked well throughout the meeting. The bad: It was too expensive to travel to the meeting. The ugly: I got violently sick (salmonella poisoning) the day I got back from the trip.
  2. Good: COMBINE community seems to grow together. Bad: BioPax community again was basically not present. After all, BioPax is one of the official COMBINE standards! Not optimal. Organizers were not always responsive.
  3. I still feel that COMBINE has an identity crisis. When going to the SBML Forum, I would know what I signed up for and what I got. With COMBINE I don't; is it a meeting to introduce the standards to new people? (In which case we failed due to the level of detail used, and lack of demonstrations.) Is it to resolve issues in existing standards? (In which case we mostly failed due to the lack of discussion time).
  4. 120€ is a bit lot (especially if dinner is another 35€). I can understand that it is necessary to charge a fee, but compared to earlier years the price is increasing rapidly
  5. +: interesting location +: networking, seeing that things move forward (new developments in standards, discussions) +: venue in walking distance to hotels -: payment did not work (I still do not know if the organisers received my payment, and I still did not get a receipt) -: Paris is quite expensive.
  6. Nothing bad or ugly, only good for the one day I attended. Of course, not all speeches were equally interesting, but that is to be expected in any meeting.
  7. In general these meetings are always very good. My only minor complaint is that scheduling could perhaps be worked on with a bit more lead time to resolve conflicts, but again it is a minor complaint and I actually think it ended up working out well.
  8. Other than the session rooms being in different locations (a minor triviality) this was a great meeting, thanks to the organisers.
  9. Some may dislike the lack of organisation, but personally I don't mind: it reflects some flexibility and also a lively community. But it should probably appear in the announcement of the meeting that the technical program is subject to changes, that e.g., mornings are devoted to plenary, more general sessions, whereas technical sessions are organised in the afternoons. It is nice to have a dinner in a restaurant, but a wine session (or beer or whatever) would be more convivial, facilitating new contacts.
  10. While difficult in the current financial climate, there really needs to be consistent attendance by all the core COMBINE standards and as many of the related projects as possible, otherwise the meetings will start to have the feel of SBML workshops. Not sure how to address this though, other than the current approach of encouraging specific teams and projects to send representatives.
  11. I have no strong feelings about this year's meeting. It was satisfactory; nothing particularly good or bad stood out this time.