Ideas on Sharing Ideas

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Mark McKenna says:

    In the IP area, we have at least 3 “works-in-progress” conferences every year. Anyone who comes can present, and presenters are scheduled on panels of 3-4 at a time for about an hour and a half per panel (20-30 minutes per presenter). The conferences run about a day and a half, pretty much all day each day. There are occasionally some downsides – if the conferences are big enough, there are many concurrent panels, which forces you to make hard choices about what you want to hear, and because they’re generally not pre-screened, you get a wide range of quality of papers. But I think the general consensus is that these conferences have been an overwhelming success, particularly for junior faculty trying to get their work noticed. You get a very good idea of what people are working on, meet and get to know lots of folks in your field, and usually get some very good feedback on your own work. I’ve been surprised more disciplines don’t do something similar, but it may be partly a function of the internal norms of the IP community towards more sharing and open source.

  2. Frank says:

    I’ve been to both the Health Law young scholars thing, and the IP conference Mark describes, and both are great. I think the health law one at St. Louis University was pretty amazing because they not only brought in top legal scholars to talk about the papers, but also got economists, public health experts, and a psychiatrist (in the case of a paper on mental health). Interdisciplinary feedback like that really enriches one’s work.

  3. Mike Madison says:

    If all the participants actually read all of the papers before they gather for the conference, conversations will take place at a much higher and more productive level. For example, you can bypass the 15-20-25 minute “talk” and start right off with, “What do I need to work on?” or “Where have I gone wrong?,” and get feedback and dialogue for 30 minutes or more. This requires at least three things: (a) participants actually supply their papers far enough ahead of time that they can get read; (b) the number of papers and presenters is small enough that the reading is manageable; (c) there is a norm-feedback loop (the conference reproduces year-to-year with some stability of participants, for example) so that the practice “takes.”

  4. Sam Bagenstos says:

    I attended the Seton Hall conference as one of the commentators, and it was great — as has been my general experience with conferences organized like this one. I thought, contrary to what Mike Madison says, that the 15 minute talk by the presenter was very useful. The papers were in relatively early stages, and the talks gave the rest of us (all of whom, I think, had read the papers) ideas about how to suggest changes in focus and structure that would highlight the interesting ideas that the authors really thought were important. The lack of a publication expectation was useful in getting people to submit relatively early drafts of ambitious papers. And the folks who presented came at it in a spirit of exchange and conversation, rather than defense of a position. All of this, it seems to me, contributed to the success of the event.