This issue has turned into a conference special issue as there were a welcome number of events in November that need to be recorded. In chronological order the month started with the Enterprise Search and Discovery Track at KMWorld, which would normally be held in Washington DC. A feature of the conference was the use of Pheedloop as a conference back-office management application, and it worked quite well. Whether sponsors were satisfied with the traffic to their virtual stands was difficult to judge.

Next up came the BCS IRSG Search Solutions event. Being run virtually enabled us to have speakers from Canada, Hungary, the Netherlands and the USA without needing to pay travel costs. Both the conference and the tutorial workshop on the previous day were very successful.

Finally on 26 November the 2020 Strix Annual Lecture was given by Professor Ingemar Cox. The announcement has also been made of the 2020 Strix Award and the 2020 Karen Sparck Jones Award.

Planning is now well advanced on ECIR 2021 (March 28-1 April), along with the 11th Bibliometric-enhanced Information Retrieval workshop series (BIR) which is held concurrently with ECIR. The locations of ECIR 2022 and ECIR 2023 have been agreed. There is also going to be a one-day workshop on Fairness and Bias in Information Retrieval on 23 March, carried over from March 2020.

As a result of the forward events diary for IRSG the Committee are going to be rather busy over the course of the year under its new Chair Udo Kruschwitz. There are of course many other search community events in the planning stage as diligently listed out by Andy Macfarlane and I’m sure we all hope that many of these will be on-site this year as vaccines and lockdowns start to tame the pandemic.

I have written a review of what I regard as my Book of the Year 2020 from Stephen Robertson, who provides a superb overview of how our current state of information technology (with the emphasis on ‘information’) has emerged over the last 2000 years. The PDF is free to download and is absolutely a must-read for all members of IRSG.

Finally, some reflections from me on the challenges that practitioners face in writing and submitting papers to research-focused conferences.

About Martin White
Martin White

Martin is an information scientist and the author of Making Search Work and Enterprise Search. He has been involved with optimising search applications since the mid-1970s and has worked on search projects in both Europe and North America. Since 2002 he has been a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield and is currently working on developing new approaches to search evaluation.

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