APS News

Posting Meeting Slides Online Gains Strong Acceptance

survey of APS Members who viewed slideshows online
At the 2011 April Meeting in Anaheim, the APS Committee on International Affairs (CISA) conducted a trial of the usefulness and acceptance of online slide presentations by providing internet access to speakers’ slides from a broad cross-section of plenary, scientific and general-interest sessions. Slides were uploaded by speakers throughout the meeting and in most cases available immediately after their talks. The talks were chosen to appeal to a diverse audience. CISA advertised the trial to physicists worldwide, including those who were not yet APS members.

The slides were posted online to better serve those members who cannot travel to APS meetings, especially those living outside of the United States (comprising nearly 25% of the non-student members). To help disseminate the information presented at the April Meeting CISA also conducted an online survey of those who viewed the presentations.  

Preliminary analysis of the statistical information reveals that there were more than 39,000 page hits, and in excess of 7,000  talk downloads (nearly 7 times the number of attendees at the April Meeting). The plenary talks were each downloaded more than a thousand times–indicating the highest interest from viewers.

CISA will continue to refine these preliminary data, examining from which regions physicists downloaded the talks, the number of unique IP addresses, and other information that will give insight regarding the interest in online slide presentations.

In addition to collecting data from the web hits, CISA created a voluntary web survey linked to the online presentations website, which was used to capture statistics and to solicit comments and feedback. The detailed data and comments that were collected through this survey indicate:


  • Nearly 97% of respondents would find online talks at APS Meetings useful
  • 95% believed that online APS presentations could (or definitely would) enhance the research or professional development of their students and postdocs.


These data are taken from a report, Online Talks at the APS April Meeting 2011: A Report from the CISA Trial, prepared by CISA Chair Karsten Heeger, Chair of the Forum on International Physics Harvey Newman, and APS Director of International Affairs Amy Flatten. The report will soon be available on the CISA web page at http://www.aps.org/about/governance/committees/cisa/

Some of the most important feedback came from survey respondents’ written comments, which highlighted the diversity of physicists whose schedule or finances prevented traveling to the meeting, but who now may participate in APS meetings through access to online materials. This was particularly relevant to members in industry, members living outside of the United States, and student members. Additional comments suggest that meeting attendance is not at risk–this capability broadens participation by those who often could not attend in person.

Heeger stated his belief that the trial results clearly indicate a strong interest from the physics community in accessing APS meeting materials online. He noted that the number of downloads far exceeded the number of in-person attendees and that survey respondents also underscored how these talks could be beneficial to their professional development.  

“Online access to APS meeting materials will enable participation of physicists worldwide in APS meetings, and will serve the Society’s mission to ‘advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics’ ” he said.  

The online meeting materials are still available for viewing at: http://www.physics.wisc.edu/APSApril2011.


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