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ICYMARE - Online networking and its potential for early career researchers
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  • Julia Jung,
  • Theresa Schwenke,
  • Julieta Vigliano Relva,
  • Viola Liebich,
  • Simon Jungblut
Julia Jung
Cobra Collective

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Theresa Schwenke
Social-Ecological Systems Analysis, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research – ZMT, Bremen, Germany
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Julieta Vigliano Relva
Marine Biology Research Group, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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Viola Liebich
The Bremen Society for Natural Sciences NWV, Bremen, Germany
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Simon Jungblut
The Bremen Society for Natural Sciences NWV, Bremen, Germany
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Virtual networking opportunities are becoming increasingly important as alternatives or add-ons to offline conferences to lower the academic carbon footprint and make academia more inclusive. Virtual conferences improve access to networking opportunities and knowledge exchange for researchers, e.g., from the Global South or those with disabilities or caregiving obligations. Virtual conferences may be especially important for early-career researchers (ECRs), who are more often excluded from the expensive participation in offline conferences and associated networking opportunities. Our study presents the outcomes from the 2020 online edition of ICYMARE (International Conference for Young Marine Researchers, www.icymare.com), which will use an innovative approach for online networking. ICYMARE is an ideal case for this study as it is organized by and for ECRs. With around 350 participants during the on-site meeting, ICYMARE has great potential to conduct a comprehensive survey on its online alternative and its focus on marine sciences is of high relevance. Following the 2020 online edition and the outcomes of this study, the approach of this conference series may be widened to a mixed conference approach where online participation is fostered in a live conference event (e.g., through live streams, video on demand, TED talk formats). Currently, most online substitute conferences are held in various online seminar formats that focus on sharing information from keynote speakers. ICYMARE will be using a different approach, focused on networking and creating personal connections. There will be online sessions in virtual meeting rooms of around 10 participants, which include scientific presentations and moderated discussions. Additionally, an open space for general networking and free exchange is provided. As this is an innovative format, no research has been done to determine the networking potential and success of such an alternative online format and we aim to address this gap. We will use a mixed-method approach using qualitative and quantitative methods, covering aspects about the advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of online conferences for ECRs. Our presentation will provide an overview of the preliminary outcomes from this study as well as the lessons learned during this first online edition.