SciPy2013 Debrief -- Survey Results

Mon 28 October 2013 By Anthony Scopatz

Following our meteoric rise during SciPy 2013, the organizers conducted an exit survey and the results are rave! These surveys are extraordinarily valuable to the organizers because they help us plan for the next year logistically (size, space, etc.) and programmatically (keynotes, tracks, etc). They also let us know how we did as organizers, and give us opportunities for personal growth :). But on to the numbers!

A total of 78 of 350 attendees (22%) responded in some form. Of these 68% had attended for the first time in 2013. The following table shows how the respondents felt we measured up. All values are on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) with unanswered questions masked out.

ExperienceNumber of respondents ratingAverage score
Overall Conference Experience774.66
General Sessions764.42
Overall Quality of the Poster Session644.05
Sprints Event at Scholzā€™s Friday Evening354.36
SciPy Reception Wednesday Evening554.31
Key Note Addresses
   Fernando Perez734.8
   William Schroeder634.38
   Oliver Grisel584.10
Domain Mini Symposia
   Bio-Informatics-Next Generation Sequencing144.14
   Astronomy and Astrophysics124.08
   GIS-Geospatial Data Analytics174.24
   Medical Imaging113.73
   Meteorology, Climatology, Atmospherics and Oceanic Science184.22

Almost all scores are between 4 and 5 and the overall experiance was felt to be closer to 5 than to 4. In many ways this reflects how the organizers felt about the conference at the time. That the responders were mostly first timers makes this even more impressive and important. It means that we, as a community, have done an excellent job of welcoming newcomers.

Looking forward, 85% of responders plan on coming again next year. This is a great indicator that our community -- which is what it is all about -- is successfully growing. When asked in a free form way what they liked most about the conference 41% responded indicated that it was the community that made SciPy valuable to them.

However, as we all know, just putting a bunch of like-minded people in a room together doesn't always work out. So why did it work out here? In the responder's own words:

"The great community and giving it a space to meet and make their own."

"The atmosphere; instead of the confrontational, antagonistic atmosphere of academia, SciPy felt like everyone was in this together."

"It's size made it very manageable, I felt like I was actually able to interact with people (which is harder at bigger conferences)."

I am inclined to believe that our fantastic atmosphere is a function of the belief in openness that many of the conference goers share. As one survey responder put it "the overall openness and enthusiasm to share" is something that makes SciPy a very generous place.

Are there things we can do better? Of course. Will we endeavor to address these issues as best we can for next year? You bet! And in that spirit, we will be be releasing the anonymized results of the survey. Feel free to take a gander.

Overall though, this was truly a superb year for SciPy. Congratulations all around, especially to the sponsors and organizers, and most especially to the attendees!

Category: SciPy