SciPy2014 Debrief -- Survey Results

Thu 31 July 2014 By Anthony Scopatz

SciPy 2014 was another quantum leap ahead for the size and breadth of our conference. Like in past years, the organizers conducted an exit survey. The results are gushing, as you can see below. The numbers here reflect the huge growth we as a community have seen from about 200 people in 2012, to 350 people in 2013, to this year's 450 attendees.

A total of 142 of the 450 attendees (32%) responded in some form. Last year, only 22% of the attendees responded. Of the responses this year 65% attended for the first time, 28% have been to SciPy two to four times, and 7% of us are old hats who have been to five or more SciPys! The following table shows how the respondents rated the various aspects of the conference.
All values are on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) with unanswered questions masked out.

ExperienceNumber of respondentsAverage score
Overall Conference Experience 144 4.54
Tutorials 84 4.4
General Sessions 142 4.33
Sprints 72 4.49
BOFs 126 4.04
Overall Quality of the Poster Session 106 3.74
Welcome Reception at Enthought on Monday Evening 61 4.39
SciPy Reception on Tuesday Evening 90 4.19
Job Fair on Tuesday Evening 56 3.95
Women in Scientific Computing Luncheon 18 4.22
Sprints Event at Scholz"s Friday Evening 46 4.35
Key Notes: Lorena Barba 135 4.37
Key Note: Nick Coghlan 118 3.73
Key Note: Greg Wilson 117 4.69
Mini Symposia: Scientific Computing in Education 82 4.28
Mini Symposia: Geospatial Data in Science 57 4.22
Mini Symposia: Bioinformatics 34 3.94
Mini Symposia: Astronomy and Astrophysics 41 4.27
Mini Symposia: Geophysics 31 3.97
Mini Symposia: Engineering 36 3.89
Mini Symposia: Computational Social Sciences 52 3.75
Mini Symposia: Vision, Visualization and Imaging 78 4.31
SciPy Conference registration: website 135 4.2
Hotel registration: website: 88 4.2
Conference information: website 145 4.05
Submitting your poster 16 4.44
Displaying your poster 16 4.43
Do you plan to attend SciPy 2015? 144 87% yes

Almost all scores are between 4 and 5 and the overall experience was an impressive 4.54! The lowest rating (poster session) was only 3.74. Given our accelerating growth curve, it is a large concern of the organizers that we keep alive the spirit of community and working together as well as the goal of talking about science and computing simultaneously. Looking forward, 87% of responders plan on coming again next year. Given these numbers, I think that we did a great job holding to our core values while expanding to a larger, more diverse group of people.

Naturally, the responders had some things to say that could not be contained by a simple scale from one to five. Here are some parting shots in the responser's own words:

"This was my first conference (EVER!) and it was so much fun!"

"I'm really happy with the conference this year. 2013 felt rushed and frantic, while this year felt full, but tractable."

"Can we keep it great while it grows bigger? That's the key question?"

That said, is SciPy perfect? Of course not! There are still issues big and small that we can and will work on to further improve the SciPy experience for everyone in 2015 and beyond. What the organizers prioritize is based on the responses that we received from the survey. So in that spirit, we will be be releasing the anonymized results of the survey. Feel free to look at them and come to your own conclusions.

Though improvements to SciPy are coming, you can always help reshape the conference into your own image by volunteering. Please email scipy-organizers AT scipy.org and let the other organizers know how you'd like to help out for next year. We'd truly love to have your help as SciPy is a community driven conference.

Though I seem to say this every year, 2014 was an exceptional year for SciPy. Thanks and congratulations are due to everyone: the sponsors, the organizers, and the attendees!

Category: SciPy