Where should SIPS 2022 take place?

Continuing the discussion from Academic colonialism:

Where should the SIPS (http://improvingpsych.org/) conference 2022 take place? Should it be in a developing country? Pro’s and con’s with different locations? Should there be several regional conferences or should we continue having one only?

Previous locations: 2016 - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA 2017 - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA 2018 - Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA 2019 - Rotterdam, Netherlands 2020 - Victoria, Canada 2021 - Glasgow, UK (still not completely decided?)

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I’ve been struggling with this question since you introduced the topic toward the end of the current SIPS in Rotterdam. I like the idea of holding the conference somewhere outside of the EU and North America - and given the political realities North America seems to essentially mean Canada. Main things I’d want to see as someone who is primarily an educator:

  1. What opportunities would there be for interacting with psych educators and psych scientists from the country or region?
  2. Given that we rely on a lot of internet based apps (Google Docs, Slack, etc.), how do we find a location that will meet our needs as conference goers? How much will that limit our locations? How do we avoid getting stuck in a tourist trap?
  3. What host countries are most amenable to a diverse lot of educators and scientists who will request visas to attend?
  4. For those of us old enough to require prescription medications, are there any potential concerns we’d need to know about before registering? I ask that simply because I will be in my mid-to-late 50s by that point, and that is a legit concern even now when traveling internationally.

I imagine more questions will come up as we converse. I like the idea of getting out of the usual rut of North America and EU for international conferences, and as long as I am physically able, my mind is quite willing. Seems like a matter of how to get as many people on board, logistics, etc. Seems like an incredible opportunity - especially if there is already a grass-roots infrastructure in place supporting open science in its most broadest of definitions.


I had never thought about this before, but totally agree that it is a really important point to consider. Still, something I really care about is how to reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible. Flying across the globe for 4 days seems so crazy to me. This is something that speaks for making conferences close to where most participants will be coming from, which seemed to be Europe at least this year (although there is probably a bias because SIPS was in Europe this time). This could also be an argument for having more local SIPS conferences, rather one global one.


In a sense, SIPS does something at least loosely akin to more localised meetings already. At least in North American and EU I am under the impression that opportunities for SIPS preconferences and meet-ups already exist (SPSP this past February comes most readily to my mind). I don’t know if this is replicated elsewhere, but would be worth researching and/or initiating. That sort of thing might be helpful for those who 1) on principle wish to reduce carbon footprint and 2) may not have the funding to attend more than one conference to begin with. I also saw several folks suggest having SIPS coincide (either directly before or directly after) major international conferences as a means of achieving the same goal, to the extent that someone attending SIPS might want to attend APS or some equivalent in the same year. It extends the amount of time spent in a location and obviously how one packs for travel, but would mean attending two conferences off one round-trip ticket instead of two round-trip tickets. Selecting host sites for the conference that rely increasingly on renewable energy could perhaps achieve the reduce carbon footprint goal? From that standpoint, a number of EU locations are already fairly good about that and getting better (although everyone seems to be slower than I would prefer). Just a few thoughts - always tentative and subject to change as evidence presents itself.


Welcome to the forum, Benjamin! :wave:

We are several psychologists in Indonesia (personally I’m located on the island of Bali), committed to open and replicable science, who are really keen on hosting either a regional SIPS conference or the main SIPS conference. Indonesia might currently be the developing country with most open science psychologists, also neighboring Philippines where we have active open science psychology colleagues. So my understanding is that Indonesia currently is at least among the top 2-3 most relevant countries to discuss as a potential host of SIPS. Discussing a particular country is also needed to answer some of the questions you raised.

Here are my thoughts on the questions raised:

Question 1.

In Indonesia, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’m very sure there would be plenty of Indonesian psychologists joining the meeting, from all over Indonesia. Indonesia’s population exceeds 260 million people. You could compare this with the Canadian population, where SIPS will be hosted 2020: 37 million. How many are psychologists? I have no idea, but relevant here is also the fact that Canada - and Europe - hosts plenty of scientific psychology conferences each year; Indonesia don’t. So rest assured that Indonesian psychologists - and open science enthusiasts from other disciplines - wouldn’t miss a conference like this.

Question 2.

Several questions in one here. Let’s start with internet. There are plenty of academic and non-academic conferences held on Bali each year, and I’m sure there are even more on Jawa. There’s one big cable going from Jawa to Bali, and this definitely limits the internet speed. However, Bali is nowadays often refered to as “Silicon Bali” due to the high number of entrepreneurs spending time on Bali to work, and Bali hosts one of the most renowned coworking spaces in the world (Hubud; about 20 min walk from IGDORE’s Bali Campus). People generally don’t find any issues conducting their online work on Bali (or on Jawa). It is important though that the venue has power generators, because of more or less frequent power failures (at least on Bali).

Your next question,

is however actually a contradiction to the previously raised issues with electricity, and to your raised issues concerning availability to medicines and healthcare in question 4. When going to a developing country you will typically need to choose between going to places where other Westerners are present (and thereby have access to all the amenities you’re used to in the West, such as internet & healthcare) or go to places where there are no Westerners (and thereby none or few of the amenities you’re used to).

Others (e.g. @debruine) have also raised the concern that SIPS should not be held at a location with many tourists. This concern however seems to only be raised when talking about developing countries. It doesn’t seem to have been any issue in deciding venues for SIPS’ other conferences in North America and Europe. Below are a few figures I found in a very quick search.

SIPS 2016-2017 was in Charlottesville, Virginia (US) - In 2015, US was on 2nd place in the world on number of international tourists (source). Virginia had 45 million visitors from within US in 2016 (source).

SIPS 2018 was in Grand Rapids, Michigan (US) - Michigan had 113.4 million visitors in 2014 (source).

SIPS 2019 was in Rotterdam (Netherlands) - In 2015 Netherlands was on 22nd place in the world on number of international tourists per year (same source as for US), and they had 17 million visitors in 2017; Rotterdam was then on 2nd place after Amsterdam (source).

SIPS 2020 will be in Victoria, British Colombia (Canada) - In 2015, Canada was on 15th place in the world on number of international tourists (then about 18 million). The city of Victoria is said to have about 3.5 million visitors per year (source).

SIPS 2021 will be in Europe, possibly in Glasgow (UK) - In 2015, UK was on 8th place in the world on number of international tourists, with 34,5 million tourists (same source as above, i.e. this one). In 2018, Glasgow alone had 787’000 international tourists (source).

In 2015, Indonesia was on 29th place with about 10,4 million international visitors (same source as above). The number of international tourists increase rapidly all over the world, so also in Indonesia. In 2016, a bit over 12 million people from abroad visited Indonesia (source). About 5 million of these visited Bali (source).

Most international tourists to North America, Europe and Indonesia are from Western countries, but number of visitors from China are also high (on Bali this is the 2nd largest visitor group after Australia). [UPDATE: In Indonesia, most tourists come from (1) Malaysia, (2) China, (3) Singapore, (4) East Timor, (5) Australia, (6) India, (7) Japan, (8) UK, (9) US, (10) South Korea (Wikipedia).]

So looking at the figures, and assuming no one actually wants to employ a higher bar for developing countries than for Western countries, avoiding tourist traps should not be a valid concern. That said, I do understand that no one has meant any harm at all (quite the opposite!) in raising that concern.

Question 3.

SIPS is no longer hosted in US, partly (or only?) due to visa issues, so I’ll skip US here.

Netherlands (Schengen) - “Nationals of […] 62 countries […] may enter […] without a visa, for short stays (usually 90 days within a 180-day period)” (Wikipedia). In addition can of course all EU citizens enter by right.

Canada - Citizens in 27 countries + the EU countries can obtain a visa for up to 6 months. (Wikipedia)

UK - “[C]itizens of 56 countries and territories are visa-exempt for stays in the UK of up to 6 months (or 3 months if they enter from the Republic of Ireland)” (Wikipedia). In addition can all EU and Commonwealth citizens enter by right.

Indonesia - “Persons holding passports issued by 170 jurisdictions can visit Indonesia without a visa for 30 days.” (Wikipedia)

Question 4.

I think it’s in general allowed to bring prescription medications into most countries, in some cases will you need a letter from a physician explaining that you need those medicines and for what. When entering Indonesia will you be asked on the mandatory custom form whether you are bringing medicines. I had a friend who replied yes, because he had Ritalin for ADHD. The customs just laughed at him for having checked “yes”; they didn’t even find it worth mentioning. (But I would personally recommend to check “yes” to be sure not getting into any trouble.)

I think you might have misunderstood my argument about “academic tourism”. I’m not in any way concerned about how many tourists might visit a city. I was concerned that the motivation to hold SIPS outside North America and Europe not be just so that existing SIPS members could have a conference in a nice/interesting/new place. I think it would be bad if the conference ended up being mainly North America and Europe-based researchers all flying to a place where the local researchers aren’t able to or don’t want to engage (e.g., because we haven’t thought about what is relevant or haven’t involved local researchers). It sounds like that wouldn’t happen if you hosted in Bali, or some of the Chinese groups hosted, but I was concerned about people just saying “let’s have SIPS2021 in Africa” without a clear picture of who would host and what their needs are (which is reminiscent of well-meaning but ultimately pretty problematic “voluntourism”).

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That would indeed be unwise; I completely agree with that.

I’ll largely echo Lisa’s concerns on the topic. What was especially valuable to me this past trip was getting to meaningfully interact with psychologists (educators like me as well as those who are primarily researchers) who were local/regional. Seems from what you describe, Rebecca, that the same opportunities would exist in Bali. At the end of the trip, I want and need to be able to return with something that will benefit my students in my methods/stats classes in some tangible way. As long as that happens, I’m good, and so are my employers. Thanks for addressing my initial questions. That helped as well. I have no pull with the SIPS organizers/leadership, but I do hope that your information is food for thought. International travel is costly, and I do have to justify it to my institution. I am given some latitude as of late largely because I may be able to make some legitimately radical changes to course design. I’ve never been to east Asia, so any opportunity to interface with peers with similar undergrad educational and research in the region would be valuable. I also value concerns about carbon footprint. On a personal note, I rarely take more than one or two round-trip flights per year. I don’t exactly build up a lot of frequent flyer miles. I also try to look for the most “green” ways to exist while on location anywhere I travel. Been doing that for what might as well amount to a lifetime at this point. Owe my now-adult/late adolescent kids at least that much. There has been a good case for a long time for meaningfully interacting with our peers outside of our usual US/EU bubble. Hopefully we get a chance to see that happen - and a good way to do that is for those of us who live and work primarily in the US/EU to see what are colleagues in the rest of the world are up to on their home turf. If done well, the experience would be quite liberating collectively.

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From Twitter today on where to host e.g. SIPS: