Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how conferences communicate their values. The SIGDOC Executive Committee and the 2019 conference committee is thinking about how the conference communicates the values of the organization and the committee. Over the past year we’ve been having extended conversations about the conference experience we want to create and how that experience conveys our values.

Part of this discussion is related to the conference registration pricing. Setting prices can be tricky. We want to cover our costs for the conference while also making it as affordable as possible for attendees. For the sake of transparency, we want to share the rationale for the pricing for this year’s conference.

The short version is that we are lowering our conference costs to encourage broader participation by our community.

Now, the longer version.  

What’s motivating our decision?

During 2018, the executive committee engaged in listening sessions with the SIGDOC community. What we learned from these sessions are emerging our strategic priorities for the organization. Two specific priorities emerged that are particularly salient to our discussions of registration pricing

  • Inclusion, Diversity, and Creating an Encouraging Environment: We want SIGDOC to be a place where people feel accepted, encouraged, and respected. This theme includes ensuring speakers and topics represent the diversity of our community. It also acknowledges that the cost of attending conferences can be burdensome. This is especially true for students.
  • Strengthen the Overlap and Engagement with Industry: We also want SIGDOC to provide a space where academics and practitioners can share ideas, strategize, and find new collaborations. To do so, we need to do more work to engage local communities including practitioners at our conferences.

What are the challenges?

The costs of hosting conferences are rising, even when hosted at public universities and especially when hosted in large cities, like Portland, Oregon. The cost for food and AV services are growing. We know that universities have limited funds and need to pay livable wages to the people who do AV support and food preparation. We have seen other conferences in our field forgo AV all together because of the rising costs. That is not something we want or plan to do.

How do we compare?

In thinking through where our prices should be, we looked at other conferences across the field of technical communication, other industry conferences in design and user experience, and also at other ACM conferences. While SIGDOC tends to be even or slightly higher than other academic conferences in technical communication, it is one of the lowest priced (if not the lowest priced) ACM conference. Industry conferences also tend to be much higher priced.

What are our priorities?

Strategically, our goal as an organization and as an Executive Committee is to continue to be good stewards of SIGDOC funds that are generated through our modest membership fees, our conference registration fees, and our affiliation with ACM. We are also looking at additional streams of revenue such as increasing our sponsorships, which we have done in large part to this year’s Sponsorship Chair, Jordan Frith. All the money we generate goes back into strengthening the organization, our publication, Communication Design Quarterly, and the career grants we provide for members.

All of these efforts are in service of our members and creating a community we all want to, and can afford to, be part of. Our goal in lowering our registration fees is to encourage more participation.

So, what will it cost?

Therefore, this year our pricing structure is as follows:

Member* Non Member
Friday one day (local attendees not on the program) $100 $150
Student (early registration) $100 $150
Student (late registration) $150 $200
Faculty/Professional (early registration) $250 $300
Faculty/Professional (late registration) $350 $400
*SIGDOC membership is $15 for students/$35 for professionals

We are lowering prices in the hope that we can attract more people to the conference. And we’d love your help with this. We hope you will join us in October 2019 in Portland, Oregon and that you’ll encourage others to do the same.

Please let us know if you have questions and want to be part of the conversation. We’d love to hear from other conferences and colleagues about how you are addressing the increased costs of conferences while trying to keep registration costs low.  


We look forward to seeing you in Portland!

Emma J. Rose, Chair


Pricing for this SIGDOC 2019: Improving transparency, lowering prices