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ENAR 2012

The annual ENAR meeting (eastern North America portion of International Biometric Society) was a few weeks ago in Washington, DC. It was great to see old friends, and I learned a number of things outside of the sessions, but mostly I was annoyed by the meeting.

Ways to annoy me

  • Distorted aspect ratios: I’m often seeing LCD projectors set up in wide format, stretching a presentation that was developed in the old 4:3 style. Is it not obvious that preserving the aspect ratio is more important than filling the screen?

    • This is especially bad with photographs:

* It also makes fonts ugly:

  • Outlines for talks (especially 15 min talks): If you have only 15 min, don’t waste any time telling us what you’re going to be telling us; just tell us. And even if you’ve got 45 min, I find the “Background, Methods, Simulations, Application, Discussion” outline totally useless, and anything more complicated than that seldom makes sense until the speaker is part way through the talk. Why try to explain terminology before you’ve gotten to the background section?

  • “I’m running out of time so I’m going to skip the real data analysis and go quickly through some asymptotic results.” Someone actually said that.

  • Opening night poster session (and for three hours!): It actually seemed to be working, but I sure wouldn’t want to be standing next to a poster from 8-11pm. I would prefer:

    • posters available to look at throughout the meeting

    • multiple poster sessions (so presenters have some opportunity to talk to each other)

    • nothing happening at the time of a poster session

  • Dull talks by famous people: (I’m not talking about you, fine reader, but the other famous people.) Biology meetings will have a few invited speakers but the bulk of the talks will be chosen based on submitted abstracts. Statistics meetings seem more often arranged to have people submit proposals for full sessions, with a slate of pre-selected speakers, and it is those sessions that are reviewed. That seems the perfect design if you want crappy talks by famous people. Perhaps I’m annoyed only because I’m a non-famous person who can give a good talk.