Old: How to organize a GLOW colloquium

Notes on arranging and hosting a GLOW Colloquium

Original authors: Wyn Chao and Harry van der Hulst
Later revisions: Marina Nespor, Sten Vikner, Artemis Alexiadou and many others
Latest revision: February 22, 2010

1. Initial Planning

  • Form a local committee or at least talk about it with other people in your department or institute.
  • Explore sources for funding. Before you make a bid, you want to know what chances you have of raising the required amount (see section 3).
  • Think about a theme. This is not too important at this stage. Still, you might consider having a theme which somehow relates to your local situation. A theme should be relevant to several subdisciplines, e.g. syntax, phonology, morphology, semantics. For a list of previous themes, see section 2. Although the theme is officially decided at the annual general meeting of the colloquium the previous year, experience has shown that the local proposal has often been accepted.
  • Think about themes for the workshops. Two (or three) workshops are normally held the day after the colloquium (sometimes also the day before the colloquium), at the same venue or one nearby. Make sure one of the workshop themes is a phonological one.
  • Tt would be nice to get overt expression of support from your institution, for example in the form of a letter expressing that the university would be happy to host a colloquium of this type.
  • Consider the venues, i.e. whether there is large enough lecture hall and nearby coffee/tea areas, and whether there is enough (hotel and maybe other) accommodation in the area. The average colloquium attendance in 1996-2002 was 150 participants, most of whom where non-locals.
  • Finally contact the GLOW board with the proposal to host a colloquium. Usually the next couple of years will already have been planned (2003: Lund, 2004: Thessaloniki), see the minutes of the most recent annual general meeting in the GLOW Newsletter.
  • Write a formal letter to the GLOW Board, stating the proposal, envisaged dates, prospects for funding, and optionally also ideas for a theme.

2. Information about Previous GLOW Colloquia

There were two pre-GLOW conferences in Amsterdam in 1976 and 1977 before the first “official” GLOW colloquium in 1978. (The figures for accepted abstracts below are broken down into those from the host country (if any), those from the rest of Europe, and those from the rest of the world).

1978 Amsterdam
1979 Pisa: Markedness
1980 Nijmegen: Modular approaches to linguistic problems
Submitted: 49, accepted: 6 (Netherlands), 7 (Europe), 14 (other)
1981 Göttingen: Parameters and the Projection problem
Submitted: XX, accepted: 1 (Germany), 7 (Europe), 13 (other)
1982 Paris: The representation of dependencies
Submitted: 69, accepted: 6 (France), 8 (Europe), 8 (other)
1983 York: Levels of representation in linguistic theory
Submitted: 55, accepted: 1 (UK), 10 (Europe), 9 (other)
Registered participants: 157
1984 Copenhagen: Ordering of rules, principles, and components
Submitted: 79, accepted: 11 (Europe), 11 (other)
1985 Brussels: Parametric typology
Submitted: 60, accepted: 9 (Europe), 11 (other)
1986 Girona/Barcelona: From rules to principles
Submitted: XX, accepted: 9 (Europe), 11 (other)
1987 Venice: Constituent structure
Submitted: 83, accepted: 8 (Europe), 12 (other)
1988 Budapest: Locality
Submitted: XX, accepted: 7 (Europe), 13 (other)
1989 Utrecht: Setting Parameters
Submitted: 86, accepted: 1 (Netherlands), 4 (Europe), 15 (other)
Registered participants: around 300
1990 Cambridge/London: Levels of representation
Submitted: 123, accepted: 2 (UK), 6 (Europe), 12 (other)
Registered participants: around 300
1991 Leiden: Heads
Submitted: 87, accepted: 1 (Neth.), 9½ (Europe), 10½ (other)
Registered participants: around 300
1992 Lisbon: (Free topic)
Submitted: 124, accepted: 13 (Europe), 7 (other)
Registered participants: XX
1993 Lund: Dependencies
Submitted: 73, accepted: 1 (Sweden), 9 (Europe), 10 (other)
Registered participants: 118
1994 Vienna: Directionality
Submitted: 124, accepted: 9 (Europe), 11 (other)
Registered participants: 321
1995 Tromsø: Primitives
Submitted: 113, accepted: 1 (Norway), 12 (Europe), 7 (other)
Registered participants: 94
1996 Athens: (A)Symmetry
Submitted: 90, accepted: 13 (Europe), 7 (other)
Registered participants: 180
1997 Rabat: Interfaces
Submitted: 66, accepted: 12½ (Europe), 7½ (other)
Registered participants: 147
1998 Tilburg: Features
Submitted: 119, accepted: 2 (Netherlands), 9 (Europe), 9 (other)
Registered participants: ???
1999 Berlin/Potsdam: Universals
Submitted: 93, accepted: 2 (Germany), 9 (Europe), 12 (other)
2000 Vitoria & Bilbao: Derivations and Representations
Submitted: ??, accepted: ? (host), 7 (Europe), 13 (other)
2001 Braha & Oporto: Adjacency
Submitted: 85, accepted: ? (host), 9 (Europe), 11 (other)
2002 Amsterdam & Utrecht: Microvariation
Submitted: 86, accepted: 2 (Netherlands), 16 (Europe), 8 (other)
2003 Lund: Division of Labor
Submitted: ???
2004 Thessaloniki: Free topic
Submitted: ???, accepted: 15 (Europe), 12 (other)
2005 Geneva: Free topic
Submitted: ???, accepted: 1 (host), 14 (Europe), 11 (other)
2006 Barcelona: No topic
Submitted: ???
2007 Tromsø: No topic
Submitted: 194, accepted: 2 (host), 11 (Europe), 15 (other)
2008 Newcastle upon Tyne: No topic
Submitted: ???
2009 Nantes: On the Architecture of the Grammar: Y, if and how
Submitted: 118, accepted 10 (Europe), 10 (Other)
2010 Wrocław: Free topic

3. Financing

The total cost of some recent GLOW colloquia:
1993 in Lund around 200 000 Swedish Kroner (around 25 800 US $)
1994 in Vienna around 300 000 Austrian Schilling (around 26 300 US $)
1995 in Tromsø around 260 000 Norwegian Kroner (around 41 000 US $)
1996 in Athens around 10 000 000 Greek Drachmas (around 40 800 US $)
1997 in Rabat around 160 000 Moroccan Dirhams (around 17 800 US $)
1998 in Tilburg around 70 000 Dutch Guilders (around 40 000 US $)
1999-2000 There are no figures for Berlin, and Vitoria & Bilbao.
2001 in Braha & Oporto around 12 000 Euro
2002 in Amsterdam & Utrecht around 40 000 Euro

As you can see costs vary considerably, depending on several reasons (see section 3.2.6 below)

3.1 Essentials

3.1.1 Reimbursing speakers’ travel costs

This is difficult to estimate for two reasons:

  1. The actual figures depend on the origin and the student/faculty status of the speakers selected (see the figures for past colloquia in section 2 above), and
  2. the actual amount depends on the rate of the Euro at the time of the colloquium. The following table shows the figures for the colloquia 1996-1998 (in ECU, European Currency Units, now Euro):
Faculty speakers Student speakers
Host country ECU 50 ECU 100
Rest of Europe ECU 180 ECU 300
Rest of the world ECU 240 ECU 400
Faculty speakers Student speakers
Host country ECU 100 ECU 100
Rest of Europe ECU 200 ECU 300
Rest of the world ECU 200 ECU 400
Faculty speakers Student speakers
Host country ECU 100 ECU 150
Rest of Europe ECU 200 ECU 300
Rest of the world ECU 300 ECU 450

Please note: The board strongly recommends that future organizers provide speaker reimbursement. The speaker reimbursement adds to the prestige of GLOW and furthermore some presenters could not easily afford to attend the meeting without the reimbursement.

The Geneva (2005) organizers tried to, but were unable to obtain funding for speaker reimbursement. The Barcelona (2006) and Tromsø (2007) organizers provided speaker reimbursement.

3.1.2 Selection committee meeting costs

The final selection of abstract takes place at a selection committee meeting usually held in the city where the colloquium will take place. Standardly, the committee is composed of about 4 local linguists and about 4 GLOW board members. In the past the local organization paid travel costs and accommodation for the GLOW board members. However, in recent years only two GLOW members have attended the selection committee meeting in order to reduce expenses (one of whom is the chairman of the GLOW board). It has by now become custom that the local organization provides a dinner for the whole committee. For further details of the selection procedure, see section 5 below.

3.1.3 Essential administrative costs

Only major items are mentioned here, and they may in many cases already be covered by the host institution.

  1. Mailing, e-mail, photocopying, and telephone costs for sending abstracts to selection committee members, sending out announcements (and later programs) of the colloquium, notifying all linguists who submitted an abstract, staying in touch with speakers and alternate speakers, and photocopying of programs etc. for the information packs handed out to registered participants.
  2. hire of rooms for lectures, book exhibits, coffee/tea breaks, registration, conference office, and maybe also staff for serving coffee/tea.

3.2 Extras

3.2.1 Further mail and photocopying costs

To cover e.g. acknowledgment of reception of abstracts and of reception of preregistrations/payments, posters, extra hand-outs (when speakers bring too few).

3.2.2 Administrative costs

To cover e.g. secretarial help (especially relevant for dealing with abstract submissions and preregistrations) and student assistants for the registration/help desk during the colloquium.

3.2.3 Stationery costs

E.g. conference folders, local city maps, list of hotels and restaurants, name tags.

3.2.4 Party costs

If possible, there should be a party on one of the first two nights of the colloquium as well as a reception during the registration on the afternoon/early evening of the last day before the colloquium. The lavishness of these occasions depends on the local resources. A small entrance fee to party is acceptable. If there is a specially arranged dinner, this can be charged to the participants in full.

3.2.5 Dinner for the GLOW Board

After the registration on the afternoon/early evening of the day before the colloquium, a meeting of the GLOW Board takes place. The local organization usually pays for a dinner for the board members after this meeting.

3.2.6 Reducing the budget

Previous experience has shown that the budget can be reduced considerably if:

  • Local people invest time and money without additional payment from the GLOW-budget
  • The party is organized out of the conference fee
  • There are no invited speakers for the colloquium
  • A low stipend is offered to the main session speakers, and no stipend is offered to the workshop speakers
  • There no invited speakers for the workshops
  • Costs of the selection committee are reduced by inviting local people
  • The publishers pay for maps, folders, bags etc. (see 3.3.3)
  • The local organizers dispense with the dinner for the GLOW board.

3.3 Possible Sources of Funding

3.3.1 National funding organizations

3.3.2 Host institution(s)

If the local organizers come from more than one university, each university should be approached for financial support.

3.3.3 Private sponsors

Publishers, local bookshops, local government or businesses might be willing to provide minor funding, services, or supplies to the colloquium in exchange for acknowledgment or publicity. For example, they might supply a venue for the reception, or folders, or local city maps, etc.

3.3.4 European funding organizations

3.3.5 Private funding organizations

3.3.6 NOT the conference fees

Notice that the conference fees are generally charged only for meals and coffee for participants, and are therefore not a potential source of funding.

4. Local Organization

Set up a local organization committee and select a GLOW conference president (normally the head of the local organization committee).

It is advisable that the different members of the local organization committee are responsible for different aspects of the organization, including the following nine aspects.

4.1 Accommodation

You have to decide whether hotels could be booked via the conference (i.e. the local organization committee), or via the local tourist office, or only directly. In our experience, handing it over the local tourist organization is the best option, but you have to contact them well in advance, and include the necessary information in the fall newsletter. It must be possible to book accommodation between a month and a week before the colloquium since this is when most participants register. It is also highly recommended to make crash space available to student participants.

4.2 Venue

You will need:

  • A conference room seating at least 150 for three days, possibly including evenings if there is an evening lecture by an invited speaker. This room should have a blackboard and an overhead projector, a place for the chairman of the session, and if possible a table at each seat (for hand-outs, etc.).
  • Readily accessible coffee/tea areas (It is also recommended to make coffee/tea available all day)
  • A suitable area nearby for book exhibits
  • A suitable area nearby for registration/help desk (with bulletin boards)
  • A room where books and materials can be locked away
  • A room for the GLOW Board meeting
  • A room for conference headquarters, ideally equipped with a photocopier
  • A room for the party

4.3 Preregistration and registration

Make sure that all who register for the colloquium are either already a member of GLOW or join GLOW on registration, and pay the GLOW dues. This means that the local organization must provide the opportunity to the attendants of the colloquium to become a member on site. Membership forms can be downloaded from the GLOW web page and should be made available at the registration desk. In order to minimize the administrational load for the local organization, new members should be encouraged to pay their membership fee by means of credit card, but it will be unavoidable that some the payments are made in cash. The membership forms must be send to the GLOW Bureau, and the GLOW dues that were paid in cash must be transferred to the GLOW bank account afterwards. Also make sure that the number of (local) linguists who attend a talk or two without registering is kept to an absolute minimum.

4.4 Abstract selection

(See section 5).

4.5 Documentation

For the GLOW Newsletter, posters, and the information packs handed out to all registered participants. Special T-shirts have been sold at some colloquia.

4.6 Book exhibits

4.7 Communication

Receiving and distributing mail within the local organization committee, answering various questions directly, sending out various kind of information on request. This often takes up a considerable amount of time, especially answering e-mail.

4.8 Meals

Make sure people can have lunch and return to the conference in the time provided (usually 90 minutes). If not enough restaurants are available nearby, consider arranging for a buffet lunch at the conference site (this entails charging extra and handing out some form of lunch tickets to those participants who sign up).

4.9 Money matters

Arrange bank account, either as an individual or through the host institution. Decide whether people can pay by giro, by credit card, in other currencies, and make the necessary arrangements well in advance. In deciding the size of the participant fees, take into account bank and credit card charges and possible currency fluctuations. You should be prepared to deal with payment by international money orders. These are sent directly by banks or post offices, sometimes arriving weeks after the registration forms and sometimes with very little information. In some case they can only be paid out to individuals, not to institutions. We suggest that anyone paying in this way should enclose a photocopy of the money order receipt or at least the relevant reference number, so that you can keep track of whose payments have arrived.

Remember to keep records and receipts, as they might be necessary to satisfy funding sources. Remeber also to ensure that there is enough money available to maintain the cash flow: Deposit for rooms, photocopying costs, etc., may need to be paid months in advance, and international cheques may take several weeks to clear the banking system.

5. Selection of Abstracts

The number of abstracts submitted may be as large as 130, cf. the figures in section 2 above.

As abstracts are reviewed anonymously, one of the local organizers (preferably not a member of the selection committee) should code and distribute them. If two or more abstracts are received by the same (unordered) set of authors, only one is accepted (the one whose title comes first alphabetically). Submitting the same abstract for both the colloquium and a workshop is possible but if a paper is selected for the colloquium, it cannot be given at a workshop as well.

Send the following to the selection committee members: A cover letter explaining the grading procedure, grading sheets which contain both abstract numbers and (abbreviated) titles, and the abstracts themselves with the following coding:

Coding: S1, S2, … for syntax
P1, P2, … for phonology
M1, M2, … for morphology
Sm1, Sm2, … for semantics
O1, O2, … for other linguistic subdisciplines

The final selection of abstract takes place at a selection committee meeting, usually held in the city where the colloquium itself will take place.

The selection committee is normally composed of 4 local linguists (one of whom is the conference president) and 4 GLOW board members (one of whom is the chairman of the GLOW board). At least the areas of syntax, phonology and morphology should be represented in the selection committee. However, at least twice (Leiden & Amsterdam) in the history of GLOW abstracts were sent to anonymous reviewers. In 2002 only the forty abstracts that were rated highest by the anonymous reviewers were discussed in the meeting of the selection committee.

Every member of the committee must read and grade all abstracts, regardless of her/his specialization (be warned: this is a lot of work!). When discussions arise during the selection committee meeting, particular attention should of course be paid to the opinion of the members with the relevant specialization.

Each reviewer gives each abstract between 0 and 10 points (10 points being the best), with a maximum of 6 points for content and a maximum of 4 points for adherence to the colloquium theme.

Important note: the general assembly in Vitoria adopted the policy that members of the selection committee should not themselves submit abstracts.

Plan to hold the selection committee meeting in the morning. In the first half of the meeting, two members of the committee calculate independently of each other the total number of points and the grading average for each abstract (pocket calculators must be available). In the second half of the meeting, the colloquium program is set up, based on these points (which have been photocopied and distributed to all selection committee members). The points do not have to be followed 100%: It is possible for example to accept automatically the ten abstracts with the most points/highest average, and then select the other ten from the next 30 or 40 abstracts, discussing them in detail before deciding.

20 abstracts should be selected, along with at least

  • 3 alternate abstracts for syntax,
  • 2 for phonology and maybe also
  • 2 for other subdisciplines.

The number of abstracts selected in a particular subdiscipline should be proportional to the number of abstracts submitted from that particular subdiscipline (if 18 out of 120 abstracts submitted are phonology abstracts, then 3 out of the 20 abstracts selected should be phonology abstracts).

The committee decides on the colloquium program (including which paper should be given when). Each paper is given 60 minutes (including a 15 minute question period). A time schedule is then worked out, which includes the general assembly and other events during the conference. Normally 7 talks are scheduled on the first and the last day, and 6 talks followed by the general assembly (followed by the party) on the middle day. This program and the camera ready copies of the abstracts selected are then sent to the editor of the GLOW Newsletter. An electronic version of the program is also sent to the GLOW web site manager, who will place it on a GLOW web page.

Finally, all who submitted abstracts are notified of the result.

6. Calendar/Time Path

6.1 Well in advance:

6.2 Before the GLOW colloquium preceding “your” colloquium

  • Work out the exact dates: preferably just before Easter and adjacent to a weekend. Having part of the colloquium or the workshops on a Saturday ensures less expensive air fares (APEX/PEX/etc.). Don’t forget also to plan the dates for the workshops. Make sure conference rooms and accommodation will be available for those dates.
  • Submit your suggestion for a colloquium theme to the GLOW Board.
  • Submit the name of the conference president (normally the head of the local organization committee) to the GLOW Board.
  • Make sure some of the local organizers are present at the general assembly at the GLOW colloquium preceding yours.

6.3 Before July 15 of the year before “your” colloquium

  • Submit a call for papers and other information to the GLOW Newsletter editors.

6.4 Before November 1

  • Make sure the selection committee has been appointed (and has been approved by the GLOW Board).
  • Start contacting publishers regarding book exhibits.

6.5 December 1

  • Abstract deadline
  • Send out abstracts to members of the selection committee.

6.6 January of the year of “your” colloquium

  • Selection committee meeting
  • Organize the workshops (do not select workshops before the GLOW program has been selected, to avoid duplication).
  • Notify those who submitted abstracts, both to the colloquium and to the workshops.
  • Arrange for an invited speaker for an evening lecture, if you wish to have one.
  • Submit programs of the colloquium and of the workshops to the GLOW Newsletter editor.
  • Submit the abstracts selected for the colloquium (and also for the workshops, if possible) to the GLOW Newsletter editor.
  • Submit registration information to the GLOW Newsletter editor.
  • set up machinery and procedure to deal with preregistrations.

6.7 March/April

  • Arrange GLOW Board meeting.
  • Arrange the party.
  • Hold the colloquium.
  • Hold the workshops.

6.8 Afterwards

  • Allow a couple of weeks to settle the bills and wrap up business.
  • Write reports to funding organizations and thank you letters to various people.
  • Send in statistics to the GLOW Newsletter editors before July 15.
  • Send in all sort of comments on and additions to these notes (including corrections of mistakes) to the GLOW secretary.
  • Pass on a list of registered participants and whatever sound advice you can think of to the arrangers of the following GLOW colloquium.