(…) But as the pandemic forced many conferences to adopt virtual formats, the option to attend from home—often with discounted or free registration—led to surges in participation. A survey by Science Careers of 10 U.S.-based meetings of scientific societies across a variety of disciplines showed that most saw higher—and perhaps more diverse—attendance than in previous years. The Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (commonly referred to as “CLEO”) and the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting—both of which offered free access—showed the greatest attendance increases, growing approximately fivefold to about 20,000 and 100,000 attendees, respectively.
But virtual conferences may not serve the needs of all scientific communities. The Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), for example, was smaller than it had been in previous years, despite offering a registration discount of about 70%. “Some might still value face-to-face interactions,” (…)