Q: Why have a joint meeting?

A: Each year, these two vibrant meetings feature considerable networks research. While there is overlap, there is also distinct communities that have unique strengths and insights. We hope the joint conference allows researchers from each community to encounter they full range of methods, models, and findings they might not have otherwise seen. We hope it is an exciting and engaging opportunity for attendees of each meeting to interact with researchers across communities and become the brokers between these communities.

Q: How will this conference be different than a Sunbelt or a NetSci?

A: First, let’s talk about the ways in which these meetings will look the same: there will be preconference workshops in the Sunbelt tradition, and there will be satellites and a school in the NetSci tradition. There will be a three-and-a-half day “main conference” that will feature parallel session talks, plenary speakers, a poster and reception event, and a banquet. Interested speakers will submit abstracts (not full papers) in early 2021. In the Sunbelt tradition, there will be “hospitality” in the evenings. (Translation for NetSci attendees: “hospitality” is a place to sit and have drinks and conversations with colleagues.)

Now, to the differences: probably the most obvious difference will be the size. We anticipate between 1200 and 1600 participants.

The next difference will be the communities of scholarship that those participants represent - everything from digital humanists to neurosciences to epidemiologists to public health to sociology to physics. The steering committee and program committee (you can be a part of it!) will work hard to make sure that we aren’t running two meetings in parallel with one another, but that sessions feature speakers from both communities and intentionally mix approaches and traditions.

For a typical Sunbelt attendee, the biggest change will be that there will likely be a competitive abstract process. How competitive the selection is depends entirely on how many abstracts we receive. Whereas Sunbelt normally accepts most abstracts submitted, we think the acceptance rate will be lower for this conference. We have done two things to address this to ensure as many Sunbelt attendees can participate. First, we will have a large poster session that will be offered as a presentation venue for submitted abstracts. We will incorporate a number of online engagement features to this poster session that we hope will make it an exciting and engaging event. Second, we have reserved the final day of the event (Sunday, July 11) to run only parallel session talks (no plenary or other activity) for additional speakers.

For a typical NetSci attendee, there will also be a few differences. First, you will be asked to register for each individual satellite you wish to attend. We are asking you to register so we can get accurate headcounts and ensure there is adequate seating. The additional cost will not be high, around $15-20 for a half-day session. Satellites will take place over one and a half days instead of two full days. Second, there will not be as many plenary speakers as a traditional NetSci, and there will also not be a single plenary lightning talk session.

Q: What kind of presentation opportunities will be available at Networks 2021?

A: Very similar to both NetSci and Sunbelt, there will be opportunities for parallel session talks and posters. There will also be a number of invited plenary speakers. In the NetSci tradition, there may also be lightning talk opportunities. There will be a full panel of satellite meetings, which are part of the NetSci tradition. Satellite meetings are mini-meetings organized around specific topics and areas of networks research.

Q: I usually attend Sunbelt. Can I register for a “NetSci” satellite or School? I usually attend a NetSci, can I sign up for a “Sunbelt” workshop?

A: Yes, and we highly encourage it! We think both of these preconference activities are exciting parts of their respective meetings and we believe many people will find new communities and colleagues by exploring these events. Please note that in contrast to past NetSci meetings, separate registration will be required for all satellite meetings.

Q: Are there plans to make this joint conference a regularly occurring event?

A: No, not at this time. The two associations may decide to repeat this if this is all a smashing success. But at this time, we are only planning a single, one-time event. All the more reason to try it out!

Q: How can I stay informed about deadlines and what is happening with this meeting?

A: We’re so glad you asked! Sign up here for an announcement list. We will send you periodic updates as we release more pertinent information, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. You may also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Finally, you can email us at iuni@indiana.edu if you have any questions.

Q: Will you still run a hospitality suite in the Sunbelt tradition?

A: Yes! We will offer hospitality events within the hotel at least three nights of the conference, and we hope you will attend to meet old friends and make new ones. Included in your registration fees will be a set of drink tickets you can use, and there will be a cash bar open with drinks and refreshments.

Q: How much will this cost? When will you release registration fees?

A: We are working to keep registration fees as low as possible for attendees and comparable to NetScis and Sunbelts. We will announce the fee structure by fall of 2020, and will also announce any travel support or fee waiver opportunities we can offer.

Q: I don’t want to just attend this meeting. How do I get involved in the running of this conference?

A: We will have open calls for proposals to run workshops (in the Sunbelt tradition), Satellites (In the NetSci tradition), and special thematic sessions. Expect to see calls for proposals during the summer of 2020.

You can also volunteer! Fill out this form and tell us about what you are interested in doing. We will need people to volunteer as program committee members to review abstracts and proposals for sessions.

Finally, we anticipate offering a set of registration fee waivers for students who are willing to volunteer for the conference to assist with registration, handling Q&A microphones in plenary sessions, keeping time in parallel sessions, and working shifts in our conference office during events. We may also recruit volunteers to assist with social media outreach before and during the conference. We will announce more details about these opportunities in summer 2020, but you are welcome to show your interest now and we will be sure to contact you with those details.

Q: Tell me about your venue and why I should want to stay there.

A: Washington, D.C. (Called “the District” or “D.C.” locally), is an exciting city that is home to the iconic buildings that hold each of the U.S.’s three branches of the federal government. D.C. has much to offer a visitor, so if you steal away from the conference in the evening or daytime, you will not lack for sightseeing opportunities, including monuments and museums, or dining and nightlife options.

All of our conference activities will take place at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, which is just blocks away from the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol. It is also close to Union Station, a Metro and train hub that can get you many places quickly throughout the District or in surrounding areas.

We have negotiated a very competitive room rate at the Hyatt for $189 a night, and when we open registration and the hotel block, we will encourage you to book a room quickly, as the block is limited in size. We have a Slack channel dedicated to attendees interested in finding roommates to share housing costs called “roommate search.” You can connect by requesting to join the “Networks2021” Slack workspace. The conference hotel would also be a great place to stay if you plan to come to D.C. a few days early to catch the national fireworks display on July 4.

Q: I think having a large meeting means that some topics that receive time and attention at my normal meeting could be ignored. What are you doing to address this?

A: We need your help to make sure this conference serves our entire community. Consider submitting a special session proposal. Sign up for the program committee and offer your expertise in helping us select a good balance of talks.

Q: Will this conference have a proceedings track?

A: We are exploring offering a special proceedings track. If you have ideas about this or would like to be involved, please contact us at iuni@indiana.edu.