Conference Policies

Conference Policies

Historically IUPAP came into existence charged with enhancing physics through the organization and sponsorship of the most appropriate conferences, and ensuring that all physicists had free access to the meetings. These goals basically remain today.

As the subject broadened specialized commissions were formed in the sub-disciplines. There, members of commissions were selected as experts in the sub-disciplines, who would be better able to recommend the most beneficial conferences for IUPAP support, and also to ensure that the conferences were organized in different appropriate venues. Appropriate that is, from the point of view of reinforcing and strengthening the sub-discipline internationally. Two commissions, those on physics for development and on physics education, fall into a slightly different category, but the same basic principles for conferences apply.

Over time, different kinds of conferences have evolved, all of which are international in nature, with international speakers, international attendees, and held on a rotating basis at different international locations (on different continents).

Different types of Conferences

The Type A, or General,  conference is a large general meeting of 750 – 1000 attendees covering an entire field (i.e. the area covered by the commission). The Type B, or Topical, conference is smaller with 300 – 500 attendees on a subset of topics. The Type C, or Special, conference has 50 – 200 attendees on a specialized topic, and may be a workshop. The IUPAP Council believes that if the meetings are part of a series  there should generally be at least two years between their occurrences.

A fourth type of conference, Type D, workshops in developing countries, was added in 2007. All applications for Type D conferences must be submitted to the Commission on Physics for Development (C13).

As a particular subject develops and matures it is possible that support of a series of conferences may merit termination. A commission should point this out, and possibly propose a replacement. It is not possible to continue to support all of the “old” meetings, while adding a “new” series. The level of IUPAP financial support is modest; nonetheless around 50% of the annual dues are dispersed to conferences. Adding to the list of conferences supported would simply reduce the support available for individual conferences.

Applications for Conference Sponsorship

An application for sponsorship should be made by completion of the application form in the year preceding the year of the conference and before 1 June of that year.

It is important to answer all of the questions in the form as the answers guide the Commission and the Executive Council in their decision on whether to sponsor the conference.

Once completed the form is sent automatically to the Commission you have selected, who will evaluated it and make recommendations to the IUPAP Executive Council, which will determine which conferences will be sponsored and what level of financial support sill be given.  Council may decide to endorse conferences which it does not sponsor.

The decisions of the Council will be communicated to the Conference Organizers in the November preceding the year of the conference.  The financial support will normally be transferred to the Conference Organisers four months before the Conference begins.

Level of financial support.

Unfortunately the level of financial support which IUPAP is able to provide to conferences is limited, and is always a fraction of the total cost of running the conference.  Experience suggests that IUPAP sponsorship will assist the Conference Organisers in obtaining support from other sources.

The financial support provided to sponsored conferences is determined by the total sum budgeted for this purpose and the number of conferences approved for sponsorship.  Therefore it varies from year to year.

As a guide, in 2016 10 Type A conferences each receive financial support of 11500 EUR, including a travel grant of 5000 EUR, 12 Type B conferences each receive financial support of 5000 EUR,  7 Type C conference receive no financial support, but the IUPAP sponsorship will help them receive funds from other funding bodies, and 3 Type D workshops for developing countries receive 7000 EUR each.

Travel grants

Travel grants are provided to type A conferences to assist scientists from developing countries in attending these major international conferences.   IUPAP provides the grant to the conference organising committee, not to individual scientists.  The organising committee is encouraged to regard the IUPAP travel grant as a base, and to allocate further funds from its other resources for this purpose.

Requests for such grants from participants should be sent to the organizing committee which thus may allocate grants within their budget. Information about name, affiliation and address for each recipient of a travel grant should be sent to the Secretary General by the organizing committees.

It is suggested that full travel support is seldom given to encourage people to raise some funds from their own country.

Participation of Women in IUPAP-supported Conferences

IUPAP strongly encourages increasing the number and the status  of women in the physics profession, and its Working Group on Women in Physics is working vigorously towards this goal in member states.

IUPAP therefore insists that women are represented as organizers, speakers, and attendees of IUPAP sponsored meetings. The presence of women on the local organizing committee, the international advisory committee and as plenary and invited speakers is a condition for IUPAP sponsorship.

As a measure towards wider representation of women participating in IUPAP supported conferences, the 2017 IUPAP Executive Council resolved that the ideal target should be at least 20% of women represented across the three major conference committees, viz International Advisory Committee, Program Committee, and Local Organizing Committee.

IUPAP further encourages conference organizers to ensure that the percentage target is not used to restrict the participation of women to 20% since the overall objective is to widen women participation beyond the current 20% target.

With effect from the 2019 cycle of conference support, conference applications (reviewed in October 2018) which reflect less than 10% women representation on the three major conference committees (viz International Advisory Committee, Program Committee, and Local Organizing Committee) shall not  qualify for IUPAP support.

Should they wish for conferences to be considered for IUPAP support, relevant chairs of the recommending commissions are expected to negotiate with the applicants and organizers of those conferences that do not meet the minimum threshold of 10% women representation to raise the fraction of women members in the three major conference committees.

The application should include a list of the organising and advisory committees as evidence that women are included in adequate numbers, and the numbers of women invited speakers should be included in the application and updated when the approved financial support for the sponsored conference is requested.  The conference report will include the actual number of women speakers and attendees at the conference.

Criteria by which applications are assessed.

All IUPAP supported conferences must:

1. Implement the IUPAP Policy on Free Circulation of Scientists:

  1. The free circulation of scientists for scientific purposes is a major piece of IUPAP policy. Its policy on this matter which is consistent with the corresponding declaration of the International Council of Science, and was adopted at the 26th General Assembly in 2008 and endorsed by the 27th General Assembly in 2011 states
    • The principle of the Universality of Science is fundamental to scientific progress. This principle embodies freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information and research materials.
    • In pursuing its objectives with respect to the rights and responsibilities of scientists, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) actively upholds this principle, and, in so doing, opposes any discrimination on the basis of such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political stance, gender, or age. IUPAP should only sponsor conferences and events at institutions and in countries that uphold this principle. If scientists are excluded from attending IUPAP-sponsored international conferences by a host institution or country on the basis of any of these factors, IUPAP should register its concern at the highest level of that institution or country, and should not sponsor any future events in that country until such exclusions have been eliminated.

.  All IUPAP sponsored and IUPAP endorsed conferences are expected to implement this policy.
As far as possible IUPAP will ensure that its policy on Free Circulation of Scientists is adhered to by those conferences it sponsors by

  1. expecting  that the host country will declare in advance that individuals will not be excluded solely on ground of national origin or citizenship.
  2. proceeding as if the declaration has been made, and planning the conference on the basis of its own policy.
  3. publicising in IUPAP documents and reporting to the International Council of Science  Committee on Freedom and Responsibility of Scientists cases where, subsequently, scientists are excluded from the host country on grounds of national origin.
  4. not considering future events in that country when scientists are excluded from the host country on grounds of national origin until satisfactory changes have been made.
  5. requiring that the following statement be published on the Conference website and in any publication related to the conference:

To secure IUPAP sponsorship, the organisers have provided assurance that (Conference name) will be conducted in accordance with IUPAP principles as stated in the IUPAP resolution passed by the General Assembly in 2008 and 2011. In particular, no bona fide scientist will be excluded from participation on the grounds of national origin, nationality, or political considerations unrelated to science.

2. Limited Conference Fees

To ensure that conferences are accessible to physicists from all countries IUPAP requires at the conference fee not exceed an amount set by the Council. For 2016, 2017 and 2018 this amount is 600 Euros, 640 Euros and 680 Euros respectively.  This fee covers attendance at the conference, receipt of abstracts and access to the conference material on the website, but not accommodation, meals, and transfers.

3. Participation of women

IUPAP insists that women should be represented, in reasonable proportions, as organizers, speakers, and attendees of IUPAP sponsored conferences and meetings. The presence of women on the local and international committees and as plenary and invited speakers is a condition for IUPAP sponsorship.

In line with the resolution of the 2017 Sao Paolo General Assembly, the targeted percentage of women representation on IUPAP supported conferences is  set at 20% for the triennial period of 2019 – 2021, with 10% agreed as the absolute tolerable minimum.

4. Harassment

IUPAP insists that all participants at IUPAP conferences should be able to enjoy the conference and its benefits free of discrimination and harassment.  To emphasise this policy and to indicate that remedies are available to those who are harassed or discriminated against, all IUPAP supported conferences are required to publish the following statement on their website and in all publications related to the Conference.

It is the policy of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) that all participants in Union activities will enjoy an environment which encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas, and is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  The conference organisers will name an advisor who will consult with those who have suffered from harassment and who will suggest ways of redressing their problems, and an advisor who will counsel those accused of harassment.  The conference organisers may, after due consideration, take such action they deem appropriate, including warning or expulsion from the conference without refund.

In addition type A , B and C conferences must

1. Have a significant scientific value:

There should be a clear need for the proposed conference. For conferences with a history of sponsorship, a statement should be given why the series should be continued. For conferences without such a history, a description of the purpose and relationship to existing conferences should be given.

2. Have involvement of internationally distinguished physicists:

The members of the advisory and program committees and the invited speakers should be distinguished internationally. The composition of the significant organising committees should be broadly international, as well as the list of invited speakers. In keeping with IUPAP policy, it is expected that women be fully included in the membership of organising committees, program and advisory committees and the list of invited speakers.

3. Involve refereed papers and maintain a record of and publish the proceedings;

The acceptance of papers should be based on a refereeing system which assures a level comparable with that of papers in regular journals. Every effort should be made to have the proceedings of the conference published, in print or electronically, in order to make them widely and easily available to the scientific community. Publication of proceedings as a special issue of a regular journal or on the internet is encouraged.

4. Be truly international:

Only international conferences are sponsored. Such conferences have an international scientific advisory committee and move among different countries and continents. The participation should be genuinely international and not constitute effectively a national or regional conference to which a few physicists from outside are invited.

Assessment of applications

Applications for IUPAP sponsorship of conferences are assessed by the relevant IUPAP Commission, and by the Executive Council on the advice of the Associate Secretary General

IUPAP Commission:

When the application for sponsorship is submitted from the IUPAP webpage it is sent to the officers of the commission specified in the application. The IUPAP Commission will provide an assessment of the science, the international character of the meeting, and the planning within the IUPAP guidelines for sponsored conferences. The Commissions should forward their recommendations to the Associate Secretary General, and the IUPAP Secretariat not later than August 31.If more than one conference is recommended by the commission for sponsorship in a given year, the conferences must be ranked in order of priority. The commission is charged with planning ahead and placing conferences in the context of long term plans. At its discretion the Commission may ask the IUPAP Liaison officer for the host country to provide a confidential assessment of the ability of the local organising committee to handle an international meeting (space, facilities, funding, assistance with visas as required, etc.).


The Associate Secretary General

On receipt of the recommendations from Commissions the Associate Secretary General will provide recommendations to the Executive Council as to which type the conferences should be classified as, and which should be sponsored and what financial support should be provided to them. In drawing up these recommendations the Assocaite Secretary General will consider

the recommendation of the appropriate IUPAP Commission and, when sought, of local liaison committee;

the density of international conferences planned by the Commission, by other Commissions on similar topics or by other Unions on similar topics, and the synchronization of dates;

the current situation concerning the free circulation of scientists in the proposed conference site.


The IUPAP Executive Council

At its meeting in October each year the Executive Council will consider the recommendations of the Associate Secretary General regarding sponsorship of conferences, and determine which type the conferences should be classified as, and which should be sponsored and what financial support should be provided to them, taking into account the above criteria.