Ten Simple Rules for Curating and Facilitating Small Workshops

Greg J. McInerny, Scott Markel
<span title="2016-07-21">2016</span> <i title="Public Library of Science (PLoS)"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/container/ch57atmlprauhhbqdf7x4ytejm" style="color: black;">PLoS Computational Biology</a> </i> &nbsp;
As a participant, workshops are by far my favorite scientific event. Compared to conferences, the interactions can be more intense, discussions can be deeper, and the resulting collaborations are often stronger. Working with 10-30 attendees over a few days can lead to a more open and integrated event than a conference. At workshops, you are a participant in the whole event, and you can make many direct contributions to its goals. In contrast, at conferences, the aim is for a broad informational
more &raquo; ... in which you are part of the audience and contribute comparatively little content. As an organizer, workshops will present you with diverse challenges. You will manage the project and its logistics [1] , and you will also be the curator(s) by developing and negotiating workshop content. Possibly the least well recognized role is as facilitator(s), when you enable interactions amongst participants and workshop activities. In addition to organizational skills [1], a workshop will profit from your creativity, empathy, and mediation skills. These ten simple rules make links between these roles and aim to help you reach your goals whilst making an enduring contribution to your community [2] . There is no single formula for creating good workshops. In contrast to the fairly standard format of conferences (plenary, coffee, talks, lunch, talks, coffee, talks-repeat), workshops can take diverse forms, and indeed, they should to fit different goals. For example, different workshops are needed when exploring a single research topic, initiating a working group, developing interdisciplinary collaborations, or testing new methods and software (e.g., compare [1] to [3] ). Different workshop goals will then require different kinds of attendees, timetables, interactions, props, atmospheres, etc. The details of your roles as organizer(s), curator(s), and facilitator(s) will also differ between different types of workshops and will develop as your experience and confidence grows. Developing workshops can involve jeopardy. The organization, curation, and facilitation can, in places, go wrong. Participants' time away from their work and personal lives should be worthwhile (also see [4] ). Tangible outputs can also be hard to develop in a short period and may not always involve you. Most obviously, the workshop will divert time you would spend on research and other parts of your job. It is perhaps the wrong framing to see workshop organization as a "timeand energy-draining black hole" [5] . Like all worthwhile things, workshops will require your time and energy, but that needn't be draining. Instead, you can make it a rewarding and energizing experience. Your dedication and enthusiasm will reduce the jeopardy and increase the productivity of the workshop. You will find greater enjoyment in the whole process, too. PLOS Computational Biology |
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