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Smaller Is Often Better For Scientific Meetings, Researchers Report

Despite travel-budget cuts at many institutions and companies, as well as the growing number of gatherings on the annual calendar, attendance at many scientific meetings remains strong. But researchers are becoming choosier in deciding which conferences they will attend, more carefully weighing the expense--in both money and time spent away from the lab--against the expected scientific and career-building returns. Kenneth I. Berns, president-elect of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM),

Ricki Lewis

Despite travel-budget cuts at many institutions and companies, as well as the growing number of gatherings on the annual calendar, attendance at many scientific meetings remains strong. But researchers are becoming choosier in deciding which conferences they will attend, more carefully weighing the expense--in both money and time spent away from the lab--against the expected scientific and career-building returns.

Kenneth I. Berns, president-elect of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), says of the organization's main meeting: "I'm amazed that attendance is so good." The gathering draws about 12,000, reports Berns, R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor and chairman of the department of microbiology at Cornell University Medical Center, New York City. "I've noticed that there are a lot more meetings, and people frequently go to the more specialized meetings that are more tailored to their interests, so that the general meetings may miss those people."

Specialized conferences are generally smaller, making it...

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