ACM and IEEE Advanced Member Ranks

Joel Sherrill joel.sherrill at
Mon Jul 18 21:45:21 UTC 2011

On 07/18/2011 03:22 PM, Sebastien Bourdeauducq wrote:
> On Mon, 2011-07-18 at 15:48 -0400, Gedare Bloom wrote:
>> IEEE does more with journals
> Which, as far as I know, they sell without paying their authors or
> reviewers.
>>   Sponsoring conferences
>>   reduces attendance fees for both authors and participants, ultimately
>>   improving the org's community.
> Something is wrong in the equation. IEEE- or ACM-sponsored conferences
> typically have registration fees over 400 Euro, while there are many
> other (and even profitable) conferences running in places of similar
> standing with fees under 100 Euro. Seeing this, I'm actually wondering
> whether those organizations instead do "negative sponsoring" and charge
> organizers a fee for publishing the proceedings (on which they would
> again charge a fee for reading, of course), letting them put their logo
> on the conference's website, and what not. I have done some research
> about this on the IEEE website, but could not come to a conclusive
> answer.
This is all off-topic and we should move this discussion off list.

I have participated in a small ACM SIG which has conferences
of less than 100 attendees.  Speaking to the committee chair
for the conference, I know ACM takes care of a lot of details
on his behalf.  They negotiate with the hotel, handle a lot
of the payments, and guarantee payment to hotel and vendors
in case of low attendance.  There has to be liability insurance for
those organizing the event.  I assume they also handle the
publishing of bound proceedings because they go in their
system.   Even in a small conference, this is likely 15-20EU
of the cost.

Everything has a cost.  Of that EU400, a lot of that is going
to the hosting facility if it is a hotel or convention center.
They provide projectors, sound equipment, etc.  along with
usually snacks and (possibly) meals during the day.  The
paper proceedings have to be printed.  Most ACM and IEEE
conferences are 5-7 days by the time you include workshops,
set up and tear down.

There are a lot of non-obvious costs in putting together
a group meeting in a public venue.  Perhaps the EU100
events you see have some combination of:

+ free venue - at university or host company
+ high attendance (lowers average per person for fixed costs)
+ one-day events
+ corporate backers footing the bill
+ light "services" from venue -- no meals, etc.
+ proceedings are not published or available long-term

FWIW I have also been to SAE and physics conferences
which are about the same in end user costs.  The venues
and setup with the hotels appear to the same.

I'm not saying there are not alternative business models
but I don't think conferences are a money maker.  Have
you priced a wedding reception at a large hotel lately? :)

>> including wider dissemination of higher quality research.
> Then why does the IEEE insist that papers be copyrighted (and that said
> copyright be assigned to them)? If there was no copyright, everyone
> could distribute them, leading to actual wider dissemination.
This is effectively the same as the FSF's requirements.  They
need control to be able to redistribute and defend.  And you
retain some rights with academic publishing just like with FSF

Joel Sherrill, Ph.D.             Director of Research&  Development
joel.sherrill at        On-Line Applications Research
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