LoginSite MapOnline SupportContactPrivacy PolicyIP Policy
Site Search

         Bookmark and Share
Shopping Cart
Standardization News Search

Magazines & Newsletters / ASTM Standardization News


September/October 2008

Deciding to Sponsor a Symposium

And Other Considerations Along the Way

symposiumDeciding whether your technical committee should sponsor an ASTM symposium may seem difficult, but certain questions can focus your thinking about taking this step.

For example, is the topic timely and relevant? And by relevant, does it provide a forum to exchange information of interest to your committee and its industry? Is the topic broad enough to attract at least a dozen papers? Do you have a “champion” — or two — for the project, and others to assist?

These questions need positive answers, and the approval of your executive subcommittee, to move forward. Using a “Symposium Proposal” form can help you define objectives, target audience, market demand and more. The completed proposal helps ensure that the project will be fruitful, and it must be submitted to Dorothy Fitzpatrick, manager, symposia operations, or to your staff manager.

One additional question helps determine whether the program should be a symposium or a workshop/seminar. That is: do you want the papers to be peer reviewed for publication in an STP (Special Technical Publication)? By ASTM definition, symposium papers are peer reviewed, with accepted papers quickly appearing in the online Journal of ASTM International and then printed in an STP. Workshop and seminar presenters are encouraged to submit papers for JAI, but it is not required.

ASTM Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices sponsors both symposia and workshops/seminars, and F04 member Donald Marlowe, former chair of the ASTM board and agency standards coordinator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Md., explains how programs are useful.

“Committees often hold workshops on a topic as a way to gel the thinking of the committee prior to developing a standard on the topic of the workshop. Symposia serve to document the state of the art after a science area has matured,” Marlowe says. “New science can then build on the data presented at the symposium, leading to the next workshop, standard and so on.”

For committees new to or inexperienced in any of these options, Fitzpatrick can help. Approach her at committee weeks or contact her or your staff manager at ASTM headquarters early on with your idea. That way you can determine the appropriate format as well as the date and location (mainly in conjunction with regular meetings of your committee) to ensure adequate meeting space.

Once your technical committee answers the initial questions and decides to proceed, Fitzpatrick gives program planners useful information that maps out each task and when it needs to be completed. These detailed timelines, which include specifics for regular symposia and symposia with published STPs available the day of the program, come from experience and expertise in steering committees to successful events.

In short, it takes:

  • 18 months to plan a symposium;
  • 12 months to plan a workshop/seminar;
  • 12 to 15 presentations to have a one-day program;
  • 10 peer-reviewed accepted papers minimum to produce an STP;
  • One manageable project (a four to five day event is not easily managed); and
  • One effective program chair.

Contact your staff manager or Dorothy Fitzpatrick (phone: 610-832-9678) about holding a symposium-seminar-workshop. Contact Kathy Dernoga, managing editor, books and journals (phone: 610-832-9617) with questions about STPs or JAI. Also, click here.