Scientific conferences and meetings have an important role in research, but they also suffer from disadvantages that are barriers to the open and inclusive nature that is the ideal of many scientists. In particular, they can have prohibitive costs (financial, time away from home, carbon footprint) and they are often viewed as exclusive by scientists and trainees on the outside of existing powerful social networks. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of many conferences, forcing the scientific community to explore online alternatives. The Neuromatch vision is to foster inclusive global interactions for learning, mentorship, networking, and professional development in neuroscience through online community interactions and events.

Earlier in 2020, there were two Neuromatch conferences that primarily focused on the computational neuroscience community. The events were successful and vibrant demonstrations of what can happen when the ideals of openness and inclusivity are used to rethink the conference experience. Following this, our partner organization Neuromatch Academy introduced a wildly successful global summer school experience. At the heart of these endeavors are the full exploitation of modern technology (including the Neuromatch algorithm, which links scientists according to text corpora analysis) to replace and enhance the most positive and beneficial aspects of interactions between scholars. Neuromatch 3.0 (running October 26 - 30, 2020) is a dramatically expanded version of this online conference format that includes the entire scope of neuroscience research. To cover our technical expenses, we are going to ask a nominal registration fee (in the range of $25) and it will be waivable by anyone who lacks the resources or the means to pay.

In Neuromatch 3.0, a key innovation will be to reduce the amount of editorial influence used to select which presentations are considered valuable to the community. To do this, we aim to minimize notions of prestige associated with different presentation formats and scheduling (e.g., single vs. multiple track slots). Submissions will only be rejected for obvious irrelevance to the neuroscience community. Submitters will self-select between talk and “poster” formats, which is fundamentally distinguished by the presentation length and willingness to be interrupted for conversation during the material. Presentation scheduling will be based on measured audience interest (aided by our matching algorithms and using blinded abstracts) rather than editorial decisions about what should be viewed as most important. In this model, the program committee only selects a small number of keynote talks for each technical theme.

We hope that these efforts will give a sustainable way to increase the openness, transparency, diversity and inclusivity in global scientific conferences both within neuroscience as well as other disciplines. Please take a look at abstract submission and key dates, registration, and agenda information. Come join us!

The team

Organizers · Dan Goodman (Imperial), Konrad Kording (UPenn), Brad Wyble (Penn State), Titipat Achakulvisut (UPenn), Tim Vogels (Oxford), Chris Rozell (Georgia Tech), Yiota Poirazi (IMBB/FORTH), Megan Peters (UC Irvine)
Career · Brad Wyble (Penn State), Ida Momennejad (Columbia), Maria Reva (EPFL)
Tech · Tulakan Ruangrong (Mahidol U), Titipat Achakulvisut (UPenn)

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Thanks all participants!

#neuromatch2020 is truely an international unconference. You can see the registration locations below: