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AFS Review: News

2013 Annual Meeting Wrap Up: Trends and Announcements

Friday, November 8, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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Attendance Trends

Who attended?

670 people registered for the 2013 Annual Meeting. Of those:

  • 12% came from abroad (78)
  • 28% were students (186)
  • 14% registered as independents (28), retired (31), new professionals (22) or low-income (20)

How did Wednesday work out?

This year, we experimented with freeing lunch and evening time throughout the meeting by moving two blocks of general sessions to Wednesday. According to available indicators, participation on Wednesday was encouragingly high:

  • 79% of 124 respondents to our 2013 Annual Meeting Participant Survey report that they attended the meeting on Wednesday (94% attended Thursday, 95% Friday, and 83% Saturday).
  • 62% of all onsite registrations were purchased on Wednesday (25% registered on Thursday, and 12% on Friday).
  • The registration desk staff report that the traffic was heaviest Wednesday morning, when many preregistered attendees checked in.
  • The chairs of about a third of all sessions have reported on attendance at their panels. Based on this partial data, the audience turn out for Wednesday sessions was good: though none of the reported sessions attracted audiences of more than 30, most had 15 or more, and only one had less than 10. (For the meeting as a whole: average attendance is 24; six sessions reported fewer than 10 audience members, and those sessions occurred on each day of the conference, and in each time block.)

Annual Meeting Entertainment Fund

Saturday night entertainment is a popular but pricey proposition that is not covered by annual meeting registration fees. In years past, the cost of such events have been covered by generous institutional sponsorship, or advance ticket sales that required gate-keeping and denied last-minute attendees. This year, the Saturday dance had an open door, while we asked for donations to cover the cost of the entertainment.

Unfortunately, because the event came together late in the day, many conference-goers didn't receive word about the dance or the fund, and the experiment broke down. Despite generous online and on-site individual contributions, donations covered only about half the cost.

If you like the idea of supporting local artists and free entertainment, it's not too late to signal your encouragement: you can still contribute to an ongoing annual meeting entertainment fund at

Annual Meeting T-Shirts

The remaining stock of 2012 and 2013 Annual Meeting t-shirts can be purchased in our online store at

Program Updates

This year, for the first time, AFS staff maintained an online program addendum, recording all reported changes and withdrawals, even during the meeting (see This information allows conference-goers to make informed decisions about which sessions to attend. For this reason, and to help ensure that the conference runs smoothly, we remind all presenters of the importance of reporting all changes to AFS as soon as they develop.

Withdrawal Policy

Presenters who must withdraw may remain on the program if they make arrangements for someone else to read their papers. In any case, those who withdraw after August 31 do not receive a registration refund.

This year, several sessions were affected by no-shows. According to long-standing AFS policy, those who withdraw without notifying AFS staff will not be considered for the next year's annual meeting; see Please note that it is not sufficient to notify only the chair of the session.

Participant Survey Results

Almost 20% of registrants have responded so far to our 2013 Annual Meeting Participant Survey, which asked about participants' experience in Providence, as well as preferences for future meetings.

Comments about the meeting as a whole were mostly positive; the most appreciated aspect of the meeting was the increase in free time in the evenings and at lunch. More specifically, 75% of respondents considered the new schedule successful.

On the other hand, the most frequently expressed concerns were that the meeting was too long, and that there were too many concurrent sessions.

The survey included a question asking attendees to express their preferences for free time at future annual meetings: respondents noted their first and second priorities, choosing between a later start, longer lunch, or late-afternoon break. A long lunch was the clear winner: 90% of respondents prefer a long lunch; 48% consider that their top priority. In the race for second place, morning and late-afternoon were both contenders, but late-afternoon won out overall; 64% rated late afternoon a first or second priority, while only 47% chose a later start. The advocates of a later start felt strongly about their position, though: 30% of the respondents ranked a later start as their top priority.

To see the full results, see

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