Conference Format

Note: this document is still in a draft stage. Any feedback may be sent to the General Chair.

General principles

Owning to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECML-PKDD 2020 will be organized as a virtual-only conference.

Details of the virtual conference format are described below. To determine this format, we have been inspired by experiences in a number of other conferences (most in particular by ICLR, who have kindly written down their experiences on what worked and what didn’t work).

Virtual conference format

Guiding principles:

  • All delegates regardless of their time zone must be able to participate.
  • The risk and impact of technical glitches should be minimized.
  • The interactive nature of a conference should be preserved as much as possible, and in some respects even enhanced.
  • Sessions should be kept sufficiently short to avoid fatigue and concentration loss, with frequent breaks.
  • Too many parallel sessions should be avoided.
  • One way-communication (i.e. presentations) should be asynchronous (i.e. pre-recorded).
  • The live meetings should be as engaging, dynamic, and interactive as possible.

Tools used

  • Whova, a virtual conference app, will be used as the central platform for all conference content and interactions. Whova has a rich feature set for conference agenda (in participants’ own time zones), Q&A boards, social networking and message board, zoom and video streaming integration, sponsor features and virtual exhibitor booths, and more.
  • Zoom webinars will be used for the live conference sessions. Zoom webinars can be seamlessly integrated within whova without the need for an additional logon or account. The webinar format diminishes the risk and impact of zoom-bombing.
  • Slideslive will allow pre-recording the vast majority of all presentations in the conference.
  • Additional tools will be used for backstage communications between the organizers, volunteers, and session chairs in the conference.

Virtual conference agenda

Workshop and tutorial days (Monday and Friday)

Workshop and tutorial organizers are given a large amount of freedom in determining how they organize their workshop and tutorial, including regarding the timing, pre-recording or not, etc. Those who wish to organize their workshop or tutorial in a similar way to the main tracks are offered the means to do so by the conference organizers (including zoom and slideslive pre-recording).

In any case, workshops and tutorials will also be scheduled in the conference agenda, accessible through the conference app.

Main conference days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday)

With all talks in the main tracks of the conference pre-recorded and made available prior to the conference for advance viewing, the conference agenda will only contain “Q&A sessions”. These should be considered a replacement for interactive conference poster sessions. There will be 2 distinct Q&A sessions per day (Session 1 and 2), each organized twice (Session 1A is repeated as 1B, and Session 2A is repeated as 2B). Each Q&A session will consist of 8 “Paper Q&As” lasting 20 minutes each, with a 20 minutes break in the middle. (We will refer to the 4 papers before and the 4 papers after the break as two session blocks.)

The sessions as described will be part of one of up to 6 parallel tracks. Thus, in total this gives us up to 6 tracks x 3 days x 2 sessions per day per track x 8 papers per track = 288 presentation slots in the main conference tracks, each done twice. The plenary talks (keynote talks, community meeting) will be scheduled between the normal sessions.

Time (in UTC+2, local Ghent time zone) Session and format Number of tracks in parallel
00:00 - 03:00
03:00 - 06:00 Session 1A
03:00 - 03:20 Paper 1A1
03:20 - 03:40 Paper 1A2
03:40 - 04:00 Paper 1A3
04:00 - 04:20 Paper 1A4
04:20 - 04:40 Break
04:40 - 05:00 Paper 1A5
05:00 - 05:20 Paper 1A6
05:20 - 05:40 Paper 1A7
05:40 - 06:00 Paper 1A8
Up to 6 parallel tracks
06:00 - 09:00
09:00 - 12:00 Session 2A
09:00 - 09:20 Paper 2A1
09:20 - 09:40 Paper 2A2
09:40 - 10:00 Paper 2A3
10:00 - 10:20 Paper 2A4
10:20 - 10:40 Break
10:40 - 11:00 Paper 2A5
11:00 - 11:20 Paper 2A6
11:20 - 11:40 Paper 2A7
11:40 - 12:00 Paper 2A8
Up to 6 parallel tracks
12:00 - 15:00
12:00 - 13:00
13:00 - 14:00 Plenary talk slot
14:00 - 15:00
15:00 - 18:00 Session 1B
15:00 - 15:20 Paper 1B1
15:20 - 15:40 Paper 1B2
15:40 - 16:00 Paper 1B3
16:00 - 16:20 Paper 1B4
16:20 - 16:40 Break
16:40 - 17:00 Paper 1B5
17:00 - 17:20 Paper 1B6
17:20 - 17:40 Paper 1B7
17:40 - 18:00 Paper 1B8
Up to 6 parallel tracks
18:00 - 21:00
18:00 - 19:00
19:00 - 20:00 Plenary talk slot
20:00 - 21:00
21:00 - 24:00 Session 2B
21:00 - 21:20 Paper 2B1
21:20 - 21:40 Paper 2B2
21:40 - 22:00 Paper 2B3
22:00 - 22:20 Paper 2B4
22:20 - 22:40 Break
22:40 - 23:00 Paper 2B5
23:00 - 23:20 Paper 2B6
23:20 - 23:40 Paper 2B7
23:40 - 24:00 Paper 2B8
Up to 6 parallel sessions

Note that each paper is thus presented twice (Paper xAy and Paper xBy), with a 12 hour time difference between both slots. This means that one of these slots may be at an inconvenient time for the speaker’s time zone. Yet, the organizers will do their utmost to take the time zone of the speaker into consideration in scheduling the Q&A sessions, and hope that any remaining inconvenience is a burden that is acceptable to the speakers, negligible as compared to e.g. conference travel and an associated jet lag.

Each paper session will essentially be a Q&A session, formatted as follows:

  • 0-1min: Introduction by the session chair.
  • 1-4min: the first 3 minutes (approximately) of the slideslive video, conceived as a spotlight presentation, will be streamed.
  • 4-19min: a live Q&A moderated by the session chair, and with input from the offline questions in the Q&A board for the contribution.
  • 19-20min: closing by the session chair.

From a technical perspective, the sessions will be organized as a Zoom Webinar. For each paper, the panellists will include:

  • The session chair.
  • The presenting author (or authors) of each paper in the 1h20 session block of 4 papers. All presenting authors are expected to remain present for the full duration of the block, and are encouraged to engage in the Q&A also of other papers in their session block.
  • Additional members from the conference who have been invited to join the panel by the session chair (e.g. based on their expertise, or based on questions they asked on the Q&A board).
  • A volunteer to provide technical support.

All participants in the conference will be able to take part in the Zoom Webinar via the whova app. They will be able to ask to be unmuted during the session (by raising their virtual hand), or to ask questions via the whova Q&A board associated with the contribution.