In a world of seemingly endless ways and means to keep abreast of the latest research, and countless virtual channels through which to forge networks and relationships, it seems the traditional congress is still very much alive.
At a closed workshop held during CINP 2016, a number of the recipients of the Young Investigator travel award* were brimming with ideas about ways to enhance the congress experience, yet were unanimous that the tried-and-tested elements of the congress concept still hold great appeal for young scientists and clinicians.
Attending talks by experts, networking with peers, hearing the latest research-thinking and taking time out from the rigors of their everyday research work and clinical practice – to reflect on the broader aspects of neuroscience and psychiatry – are enriching experiences. According to the young investigators at CINP, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and being part of the community engendered by a congress.
But that’s not to say that meeting and congress organizers should be complacent, or that there aren’t opportunities to make the congress experience better.
The Millennial app- and twitter-savvy generation want congress plans at their finger-tips, and sharing on social media is a given. Young investigators appreciate that congress data may be new and embargoed information, yet can see that high quality facts, opinions and concepts are worthy of wider dissemination. During the workshop, young investigators used the example of TEDx talks – ‘ideas worth spreading’ – which keep conversations going long after an event as an approach congresses could adopt, and during the congress, they would be more than happy to use and share handles and hashtags to communicate congress ideas and messages. They just want presenters to realise that when a delegate appears to be on their ‘phone – it probably means they are tweeting pearls of wisdom from the talk!
Young investigators appreciate that short of a major culture change, their older peers may not all rush to embrace twitter, but they suggested that facebook and facebook pages have broader generational appeal and they think that medical societies could work, for example, with student helpers willing to be their social media whizzes (officers) who establish and run social media campaigns.
During a congress, young investigators find plenary lectures by thought leaders and poster sessions to be excellent learning and idea-generating experiences. Soaking up ideas and being able to meet and talk with other scientists and clinicians is something the CINP young investigators think should be a regular event in their calendars. While not averse to e-learning opportunities and catching up on missed congress events via post-congress webcasts, the up-coming generation would prefer a concentrated dose of real-time interaction with their colleagues.
* Jee Hyun Kim, Australia; Jiamei Lian, Australia; Daniel Quintana, Australia; Saddichha Sahoo, Australia; Giulia Treccani, Italy (currently working in Denmark)