We are excited to announce the debut of the 1st World Bat Twitter Conference #WBTC1, an exciting opportunity to learn about bat research and conservation from around the world from the comfort of your home, office or field station.
The World Bat Twitter Conference has been set up by researchers working in the Bat Conservation Research Lab at UWE. It was originally intended to provide an easy and accessible form of online bat conference during a time when global and national meetings are being cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but has subsequently evolved into an event that will be run on an annual basis.
Scientific conferences provide an important opportunity for researchers and conservationists of all stages to share their latest research, exchange ideas and insights, as well as providing the chance to network with their peers. However, despite an overall increase in national and international conferences and advances in internet-based communication technologies, the format largely remains unchanged and thus poses significant barriers for many who wish to attend. These barriers to attending conferences in person may include being too cost-prohibitive, too geographically inaccessible or feature a lack of childcare facilities and unfairly disadvantages early career researchers, researchers from new labs and those from low-middle income countries. Furthermore, due to the overall increase in number and size of conferences, meetings taking place in person (often only for a few days) involve a disproportionate addition to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and therefore the rates of climate breakdown. This by-product, especially for conferences focused on ecology and conservation, is an unacceptable outcome and we as scientists and conservationists should be leading the way into a world that doesn’t revolve around the endless consumption of finite resources.
If you would like to read more about the shortcomings of conferences in their current format, I would recommend reading this recent paper Evaluating features of scientific conferences: A call for improvements (currently in pre-print) from Sarvenaz Sarabipour et al. out of John Hopkins University, Maryland (Left- Info-graphics reproduced from above paper).
The aim of this conference is to provide a more equitable and inclusive form of conferencing, that allows global participation from a range of bat related fields, whilst also seeking to become as environmental responsible as possible. We hope that with the wider dissemination of exciting bat studies and projects that can be achieved through a virtual conference, public understanding of these enigmatic species will be positively encouraged, leading to improved conservation outcomes for many of our threatened bat species.
For those of you thinking “but what on earth is a Twitter conference?!” a Twitter conference is a form of online conferencing that takes place solely on Twitter utilising their in-built networking mechanisms. Throughout the conference, each presenter gets 15 minutes to present five tweets about their topic, utilising a combination of text, pictures, infographics, graphs, GIFs and videos (or any other creative format you can think of).
By following the hashtag specific to the conference (#WBTC1) the tweets can be seen by people all over the world, allowing an easy and free format to present your work, catch up on the work of others and network with people in your field. Presenters will tweet out their topics during conference sessions which will have their own specific hashtag making it easy to follow sessions or fields of study that you are particularly interested in (e.g. #WBTC1 #EvoBeh)
Whether as a spectator or presenter, we hope to see you all at the world’s 1st Twitter Bat conference on the 27th-29th May 2020 for some amazing bat presentations from around the world!
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