The Pomeps Virtual Research Workshop
By Marc Lynch, The George Washington University
In June 2020, the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) launched a virtual research workshop for junior scholars to fill the void left by the cancelation of so many conferences and workshops due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2021–2022 academic year, we expanded the virtual workshop dramatically to include 18 workshops dedicated to book manuscripts or journal-article manuscripts. Because of the format’s flexibility, efficiency, and advantages for diversity and inclusion, we plan to continue it even when travel becomes possible again. There are costs and risks, however, that require attention.
Overall, the move to virtual research workshops has been a resounding success. Since its launch, POMEPS has conducted 24 workshops, including 82 junior-scholar authors and 58 senior-scholar discussants. Each two-hour article workshop typically features three papers, each with one assigned discussant. The authors are asked to read the other two papers, whereas discussants may but are not required to do so. As the convener and moderator, I read all of the papers and provide a second set of comments to supplement the assigned discussant. Book workshops, which are more intense, typically last 90 minutes for one paper or three hours for two papers on related themes. Each book manuscript has two dedicated readers, in addition to myself and typically one other member of the selection committee. We conducted 11 virtual book workshops for the 2021–2022 academic year.