The following letter was forwarded to an INSAR (International Society for Autism Research) official...
To the INSAR Board of Directors:
I am a full INSAR member who has attended the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) every year since 2004. Starting in 2007, IMFAR sponsors have been given prominent free time in plenary sessions to say whatever they wish.
This practice is problematic in itself, but what is worse is that no questions are allowed when sponsors speak. Unlike every other speaker who presents at IMFAR, sponsors are considered to be above any kind of questioning or criticism.
This should not happen at a research conference. Nobody should be able to buy time to say whatever they wish, then refuse to take questions.
My suggestion is that if sponsors are to be given such a prominent place in the IMFAR schedule, they should be required to answer questions about the information and positions they put forward.
Autism Specialized Clinic
University of Montreal