The annual conference is intended to be a friendly and welcoming space, at which all attendees feel included and able to productively share knowledge and expertise. However, we know that this is not always the case for everyone, and that, particularly for those of you who are attending the conference for the first time, it can at times be an intimidating and overwhelming experience.
Here we describe a range of initiatives – new and old – undertaken both by us as conference organisers and by our Research Groups, that we ask you to engage with as a community of scholars. We know there is much more that is happening across the community on these issues too. We welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see also our guidance on:
Code of conduct
Read our code of conduct policy
All delegates have signed up to the code of conduct, and are expected to adhere to professional behaviours in the formal and informal (social) spaces around the conference. If you have any questions please talk to the conference organisers.
More details have been added on procedures for reporting incidents, sanctions and appeals.
Choosing a venue and accessibility
The conference takes place in London for two out of every three years. In the third year, it moves to a UK university outside of London. In recent years, it has taken place at Newcastle, Cardiff, Exeter, Edinburgh and Manchester. This year (2023) we are at the Society in London. When selecting a venue, we try to be attentive to:
how easy it is to reach for delegates, both those based within the UK and beyond
whether there is affordable accommodation located near to the conference venue itself
whether it has a range of suitable session rooms which are accessible, and located closely to one another
that there are appropriate catering options located near to the conference venue
Choosing an online platform
We select our online conference platform and programme with reference to the following:
Choosing date and time
The conference takes place immediately after the last Monday in August (which is a public holiday in the UK). We keep this the same each year, to help delegates plan ahead.
This timing is chosen for the following reasons:
outside of UK university term time, so that colleagues are not prevented from attending by teaching and other responsibilities
affordable accommodation is generally available in university halls of residence, close to the conference venue
avoids other major disciplinary conferences
outside of the main summer fieldwork season
We recognise that this may not be the best time for international delegates and that there may be conflicts with the start of the school year. We offer a crèche, and have now done so for 15 years. This caters for children from eight months to 11 years old, and is offered to registered delegates on a first come, first served basis at no cost to them.
The conference programme is both ‘top down’ – the lectures and panels convened by the Chair of Conference, and ‘bottom up’ – the rest of the programme, which comes in response to a call for sessions, papers and posters from the community, both by Research Groups and by independent session organisers. We encourage open calls for contributions by prospective session organisers, which are inclusive of a range of scholars and interests.
We work closely with the Chair of Conference on their programme of invited plenary speakers to ensure diversity and balance across these lectures, recognising that with just three plenaries there are limits on what can be achieved.
We also convene around 40 sessions from individual papers submitted under the open call (with a strong showing here by international delegates and newcomers).
We do our best to accommodate any requests for timetabling, special room set up and accessibility, and work with session organisers directly to facilitate this. Timetabling requests are particularly key now that participants may be joining sessions from multiple timezones.
We ask session organisers to proactively contact those in their sessions and ask them to share any and all such requests while the proposal is being put together. We also ask them to make use of these spaces on the programme submission forms. Changes can be accommodated at the provisional programme stage, but it is harder to do at that stage. Last minute changes to timetabling also happen – we do our best to accommodate these and to minimise disruption caused.
Food, drink and entertainment
We know that many of the social events at the in-person conference often include alcohol, which can exclude some delegates, whether they do not drink, or prefer not to on that occasion. They also generally take place in the early evening which means that some delegates will not be able to attend for a range of reasons. To address this, we are working to:
ensure that a range of non-alcoholic options are available at every reception organised by the Society and by exhibitors, and to encourage all delegates to drink responsibly
adding other social events and opportunities to meet colleagues throughout the conference day, such as afternoon tea and cake, over lunch etc
Name badges are printed with your name (first name/last name), and institution/country (as submitted by delegates during registration). We do not include titles.
The conference is run on a cost-recovery basis. The overhead costs of running the conference (including room hire and venue costs, online platform, staffing costs (across the organisers, online technical hosts, catering team, front of house, cloakroom team etc.), catering, and other costs) are distributed across the registration fees of all participants irrespective of duration of stay.
Subsidised registration fees are available for people who fall into specific categories, notably postgraduates, students, retired, and low-income. We also now offer reduced virtual-only registration fees for those participating only in virtual sessions.
We also operate the Research Group guest scheme to support attendance at the conference from those who might not otherwise be able to attend. This includes international delegates, those who are based in disciplines beyond geography, or who work outside academia in policy, third sector, the arts or more. Research Group guests receive complimentary registration for one or more days of conference, at the invitation of the Research Group and the conference organisers. Assistance with travel and accommodation costs is not included.
We publish an informal guide to the conference for those attending for the first time, aiming to make clear some of the often-unspoken expectations at an event of this nature, and to share good practice. We’ve drawn on existing guides from other similar events, to help shape the content. Feedback and suggestions for additional content are warmly encouraged. This will go live for 2023 shortly.
Conference attendance can present particular challenges for those with caring responsibilities, whether it’s childcare, parents, siblings, other family members and/or others.
We do our best to accommodate all reported scheduling requests around caring responsibilities. It is easiest for us if these are made at the contribution proposal stage, but we do what we can to accommodate later requests too.
For registered conference delegates a crèche service for children between eight months and 11 years old is provided at no additional cost. This is something that has been in place for the last 15 years. The crèche is provided by Little Hens Childcare, an Ofsted-registered provider. The staff are all first aid-trained, reference-checked, and DBS registered. The crèche will operate from 08:30 until 19:00 daily, allowing delegates to attend sessions with time for drop-off and pick-up at the start and end of each day. The crèche is located close to the conference session rooms.
Prospective delegates may make enquiries about the crèche to the conference organisers at email@example.com. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to delegates who have completed their registration to attend the conference.
We provide free conference guest passes for carers attending the conference, whether to support a delegates with disabilities, or to assist with childcare. Please contact us with any questions.