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A ‘behind the scenes’ look at Development presents…

Posted by , on 16 June 2022

We are currently asking for feedback on our Development presents… webinar series and invite you to complete a short survey using the button below. The survey will close on Wednesday 6 July.

If you’d like to know more about the creation of the webinar series and the progress so far, read on!


Conception

During the pandemic, Development were thinking about ways in which we could support the developmental and stem cell biology communities during this period. What could the journal could offer to substitute the lack of in-person interactions with digital opportunities? We experimented by bringing some virtual elements to the eBSDB/GenSoc 2020 meeting and by the organisation of the Node 10th birthday networking event to bring scientists together in a fun and flexible way. An initial survey of the community determined that the vast majority of respondents (largely based in Europe and the Americas) would be interested in a webinar series featuring developmental biology scientific talks from a mix of early career researchers (ECRs) and principal investigators (PIs) (Fig. 1).

Survey 1 results: A bar chart showing the percentage of respondents for each of the following questions: 1) Would you be interested in a scientific webinar series with talks from developmental biologists? Yes (111/113);   No (2/113). 2) Who would you prefer for us to feature? ECRs (12/111); PIs (8/111); A mix of the two (91/111). 3) In which time zone are you based? Asia/Australasia (7/113); Europe/Africa (61/113); Americas (45/113).
Fig. 1. Initial survey. The bar chart above shows the percentage of respondents for each of the following questions: 1) Would you be interested in a scientific webinar series with talks from developmental biologists? Yes (111/113); No (2/113). 2) Who would you prefer for us to feature? ECRs (12/111); PIs (8/111); A mix of the two (91/111). 3) In which time zone are you based? Asia/Australasia (7/113); Europe/Africa (61/113); Americas (45/113).

Aims

Highlight recent published or soon-to-be published Development articles and interesting preprints.
We want to promote the authors of great Development papers, as well as to recognise the growing preprint literature and signal our support. We run the webinars monthly with a different Development Editor chairing each month. The webinars are made up of three short (12-15 minute) talks: two of the speakers are selected from Research Articles handled by the chair and the third speaker is chosen from an interesting preprint in the Editor’s field.

Promote ECRs.
Along with various other initiatives in Development, we want to champion ECRs, both by promoting their science and by providing opportunities for career development. We encourage the first authors of the selected papers to present at the webinar, if possible, hoping that reflects greater diversity in career stage than only inviting the corresponding author. We hope that the webinar series provides a forum for ECRs to discuss both of these topics.

Provide a platform for informal discussions and networking in small, flexible groups.
Finally, with the lack of in-person meetings at the time, we wanted to recapitulate some of the ‘chance’ in-person meetings and conversations that occur at seminars and conferences. To achieve this, all participants are invited to join an informal ‘discussion session’. We use the virtual conference platform Remo to host the webinars because, in addition to ‘meeting-wide’ presentations (similar to Zoom), Remo allows dynamic virtual interactions in small groups by allowing participants to quickly move between ‘tables’ (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. The Remo virtual conference centre for discussion sessions. While seated at one of the virtual tables an attendees speaker and microphone are only shared with others sitting at the same table. It is also quick and easy to move between tables by double-clicking on where you want to move to and you can hover over other participants’ avatars to see who is sitting where.

To keep the conversation going, we also use a dedicated Twitter hashtag (#DevPres) to allow discussion beyond the webinar platform and we deposit the recorded talks on the Node after the webinar so that people unable to attend the live session do not miss out. We host the talks on our YouTube channel and link these videos to the speakers’ preprint manuscripts on bioRxiv, if desired. Occasionally, we also share some talks on our WeChat channel to reach a wider China-based audience where YouTube can be inaccessible.


Review

Since our first webinar in October 2020, we’ve hosted 42 speakers over 14 individual sessions. Most of the webinars have been chaired by Development’s editors with the occasional ‘special’ webinar hosted by guest chairs, such as those celebrating the anniversary of preLights and Development’s zebrafish issue, as well as Development’s special issues. As we now reflect on future directions for ‘Development presents…’ it’s a good opportunity to look at the stats so far.

Speakers

In terms of speakers, we have had a relatively equal split between men and women and almost three-quarters (74%) of the speakers have been first authors, aligning with our aim to promote ECRs (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Webinar demographics. Pie charts showing the percentage of the 42 speakers that have been women (48%) or men (52%) and ECRs (74%) or PIs (11). Percentage of the 14 webinars scheduled for the morning UK time (i.e. Europe-Asia; 21%) or afternoon UK time (i.e. Europe-Americas; 29%).

As a UK-based journal, we organise the webinars to begin in the morning (09:00-10:00) or afternoon (i.e. 13:00-19:00) UK time (GMT/BST) so that audiences in Europe-Asia or Europe-Americas, respectively, can attend live. We are also careful to make sure that all the invited speakers (as well as the chair) are in the same or a complementary time zone. The majority (79%) of the webinars have taken place in the afternoon UK time (Europe-America accessible; Fig. 3), which partly reflects the audience from our initial survey (>90% of respondents were in Europe or the Americas; Fig. 1). The majority of speakers have been from Europe-based institutions (this is perhaps unsurprising because European speakers could attend both morning and afternoon sessions). The USA has made up the most number of speakers from a single country (Fig. 4). Moving forward, we could certainly think about how to improve the geographical diversity of our speakers to better reflect the community and our attendees.

A map showing the number of Development presents... speakers from different countries around the word based on institution location.
Fig. 4. Speakers’ geography. The map above shows the location of the speakers based on the institution in which they were affiliated at the time of their publication or preprint and does not necessarily reflect their current location or where they were when presenting at a webinar. USA (12), Europe (26), Asia (3) and the rest of the world (1).
Map powered by Bing. © Australian Burea of statistics, GeoNames, Microsoft, Navinfo, OpenStreetMap, Tom Tom, Wikipedia.

Participation

Usually, around 100 people or more (mean 137±50) register for the webinar but this has declined towards the end of 2021. Registration was initially lower for the morning-based webinars, although there hasn’t been much difference between morning vs afternoon registration and attendance in recent months. Overall, almost two-thirds of registrants have signed in to watch the talks live (mean 61%; range 44-98%) and the results from our 2021 survey show that the majority (>60%) of attendees stay to watch all three talks (Fig. 5). Webinar scheduling and timing seemed to be the biggest factor for those that registered but did not attend live (Fig. 5) but the number of people in this category (9) is low. On average, 20% of attendees stay logged on after the talks, presumably to participate in the discussion. While this represents only a relatively small number of people, we hope that those who did stay found the opportunity to talk to the speakers and network more generally to be useful.

Survey 2 results:
Fig. 5. Results from Development presents… most recent survey. Questions regarding attendance: 1) Did you attend one or more of the webinars live? Yes (47/57); No (10/57). 2) How many talks did you stay for? One (1/47); Two (16/47); Three (30/47). 3) Why did you not attend the webinar you registered for? Too busy (4/9); Timezone (3/9); Remo problems (1/9); Decided to watch the recorder (1/9).

Although we do not collect data from registrants, an email address is required to sign up for the webinars via Remo. When a country-level domain is present in the email, we can estimate where some of the ‘Development presents…’ audience is attending from (Fig. 6). Encouragingly, we have a broad representation of registrants from around the globe, which suggests that the webinars are able to reach many countries and audiences.

A map showing estimated locations for registrants who signed up for at least one Development presents... webinar.
Fig. 6. Registrants’ geography. The map above shows an estimated location for registrants who signed up for at least one Development presents… webinar. Geographic location was approximated from the domains of the email addresses used to register and may not reflect the registrants’ location at the time of the webinar or their attendance at the live session. Not all locations might be represented if a registrants email did not include a country-code top-level domain.
Map powered by Bing. © Australian Burea of statistics, GeoNames, Microsoft, Navinfo, OpenStreetMap, Tom Tom, Wikipedia.

The future

What is next for ‘Development presents…’? First, we would like to understand the current thoughts and requirements for these types of virtual sessions so we can best adapt as the needs of our audience change. With this in mind, we’d like to invite you to have your say by completing the survey by clicking the link below. It shouldn’t take more than 6 minutes to complete!




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