How did I attend the European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC) 2022 in Crete

Aleksandr Perevalov
8 min readJun 17, 2022

And why you should definitely do it next year

The European Semantic Web Conference is one of the most important conferences, covering topics such as knowledge graphs, linked data and the semantic web, ontology modeling, and web engineering. It is an A-rated conference that has been held annually for 19 years.


Due to the COVID-19, the ESWC conference was held online for the last two years (like most scientific conferences and other events), but this year, finally, the restrictions in most European countries were lifted and, thanks to the organizers, the conference was scheduled in Crete, Greece. Our research group had 3 papers (one research paper and two demonstration papers) submitted and accepted at the conference. So we decided to go there. What happened next? Read in the following chapters!

Preparation for the conference

Usually you don’t need to get your paper accepted to participate in a scientific conference (just pay the registration fee, and you’re good to go). However, for a young researcher like me, this does not make sense, since I need the publications to complete and defend my PhD thesis. Before submitting to the conference, the scientific publication goes through typical research life cycle: (1) identify the topic, idea and the research questions; (2) design and plan experiments; (3) create infrastructure and execute the experiments; (4) process and analyze the acquired data for gathering insights; (5) create visualizations and tables; (6) summarize the outcomes in a research paper/article. Steps (2) to (5) are, of course, performed iteratively in an agile manner, since it is naive, to say the least, to believe in a perfect experimental design from the first iteration. Ideally, the results obtained in one research life cycle can be reused as a basis in a subsequent cycle.

Research Lifecycle
Typical Research Lifecycle (Image by Author)

In our particular case, we follow a similar paradigm. It took about 4–5 months to prepare the research paper, which is relatively fast because we reused some materials and ideas from previous work. For high-level conferences such as ESWC, it takes 2–3 months to get notification of acceptance/rejection. In between, there is a rebuttal period when authors are already receiving reviews, their scores, and can respond to reviewers’ comments. We received fairly positive feedback, and given the grades, it was obvious that we had a fairly high chance of being accepted.

Acceptance Notification at ESWC (Image by Author)

Usually we also try to accompany a research paper with either a poster or a demo (or both), which was also the case this time at ESWC. Since the deadline for posters/demos comes later than the deadline for accepting the research paper, this makes it easier to prepare the demo, since the text is almost ready and the authors only have to polish the demo application or create a poster. The positive side of the demo track is the higher acceptance rate (~50%) compared to the research track (~15–20%).

So, one full research paper accepted, two demonstration papers accepted, we pack our bags and go to Crete!


The conference was held in the city of Hersonissos, so the nearest airport is in Heraklion. There are several direct flights to Heraklion from Germany (where I am now and work), so finding the most convenient option for me from Leipzig/Halle airport was not difficult. The departure time was perfect (about 11:00), the flight time was not very long — only 3 hours, and the tickets were pretty cheap (170 euros round trip — probably because I had no luggage, just a backpack and a tube with posters).

BTW, Leipzig/Halle airport is known as the main European hub for many cargo airlines. (Image by Author)

Heraklion Airport has a very beautiful location right on the coast, which creates a great first impression. Passengers get from the plane to the airport by bus, not by jet bridge. This gives a great opportunity to feel the sun of Crete. The weather was perfect and stable throughout our stay — about +28–30 degrees Celsius and no clouds.

The airport building was quite crowded, but since I had no luggage, I went straight to a cab. The trip to the hotel cost 40 euros and 30 minutes. I booked the 4-star hotel Aldemar Cretan Village, which was the cheapest option (82 euros per night) recommended by the organizers. The conference was held in another hotel very close to mine, the Aldemar Knossos Royal 5-star hotel.

Since I arrived in the evening, the first day of the conference (workshops only) was already over, so I went straight to the beach and started preparing my slides and reports for the next days…

Conference Days

As I mentioned, I skipped the very first day of the conference, which was entirely devoted to workshops-as well as the second. The main program begins on the third day and lasts until the end of the conference. Therefore, despite my late arrival, I did not miss any significant events.

The conference was held in several conference halls (of different size and capacity) of the hotel, located in one building, which is very convenient, because every 1.5 hours all participants meet each other for a coffee break. This setting is necessary for large conferences, as several sections/workshops take place at the same time.

Program of the second conference day (from the ESWC 2022 website)

I usually don’t take any notes during the conference; if something catches my eye, I take a picture of the slide and contact the presenter immediately after the talk or later by email. However, I have noticed that many people actually do a serious job of writing and structuring notes for conference presentations. My main motivation for not doing this is that I really enjoy watching people speak, and I try not to lose focus, but of course when the talk is not important to me, I just do some work on my laptop in parallel. Anyway, to each his own.

The difference between online and in-person conferences is huge. At online conferences people hardly ask questions or give feedback, interaction and communication between participants is very low and lazy, despite the organizers’ huge efforts to increase it. In-person conferences, of course, are in favor because people are directly there and have no opportunity to lose focus. In this regard, I have had many productive discussions (thanks to my supervisor Professor Andreas Boot) about future research, as well as on topics unrelated to research. In terms of specific facts, my Linkedin network increased by about 15 new people after the conference!

If we talk about social networks, Twitter was the main channel of interaction at the conference. There the participants shared their thoughts in real time. We also used this opportunity to promote our talks to convince people to attend. Fortunately, all of our research group’s presentations were scheduled in one day. Immediately after lunch, I presented our research paper in the main section of the conference.

Aleksandr Perevalov presents a research paper at the ESWC 2022 conference
Research paper presentation (Image by Author)

After that, in the evening we had what is known as “minute madness,” where the authors presented their posters and demonstrations. Minute Madness takes place in a very creative and fun mode, which is good for energizing, since at the end of the day you can get tired of purely scientific presentations.

Prof. Andreas Both is about to preset the “Wikidata Complete” demo at Minute Madness (ESWC 2022)
Prof. Andreas Both is about to preset the “Wikidata Complete” demo at Minute Madness (Image by Author)

Immediately afterwards, the demo session begins. There, participants get tables with a big screen where they can present their demo applications and answer questions while interacting with the audience. Our demos were quite popular, so we had a steady stream of audience members for the entire hour.

Aleksandr Perevalov during the demo session at ESWC 2022
Me presenting our demo on SPARQL query validation for Question Answering (Image by Author)

At the end of the day, instead of the usual coffee break, we had an outdoor poster session with wine and snacks. The poster session was also quite successful, but tiring at the same time. Nevertheless, we successfully made it to the end!

Prof. Andreas Both and Aleksandr Perevalov during the poster session at ESWC 2022
My scientific supervisor Prof. Andreas Both and me during the poster session (Image by Xi Yan)

The rest of the conference was less stressful as our work was done. Nevertheless, I hardly missed a single talk, despite the fact that one day I left for the beach for an hour. The evening before the very last day of the conference we had a gala dinner, where we also had very interesting discussions while eating shrimp, mussels, and lamb.

On the last day of the conference, the organizers announced the nominees and winners. Surprisingly, our demo paper was nominated for the best poster/demo award. We didn’t win a prize, but that’s already a big success. Congratulations again to the winners!

Best Poster/Demo nominees (Image by Author)

Free time

Of course, speeches don’t last 24 hours a day, so eventually you get some free time for conferences. Fortunately, there was plenty to do around the place where we were staying.

Let’s start with sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the sea. Since both the conference and my hotel were right on the coast, it took 5–10 minutes to get there. I used the time before the conference (around 7:00 am) for my morning warm-up and swimming. Sometimes I would also do a swim right after the conference (around 5–6 pm). I think this is the perfect time to go to the beach since the sun is not as aggressive and the beach is not as crowded. I also recommend bringing goggles for swimming as the water is pretty clear and you can see a lot of fish (sometimes very big ones). After the last day of the conference, we tried jet skiing (for the first time ever), even though the waves were too big that day.

View on the coast from the restaurant in the conference hotel (Image by Author)

There are also plenty of restaurants around, so you can not only swim with the fish underwater, but also eat them. In conclusion, even though the free time at the conference is limited, you can still have fun if you want to.


It was a really great experience for me to attend my first on-site scientific conference as a PhD student. The great discussions, networking, papers, organization, and of course the venue made ESWC 2022 one of the most memorable moments of my academic career. I recommend anyone working in web engineering, semantic web, and applied AI to attend ESWC next year (spoiler: it will be in Crete again).

Check our papers here:

Improving Question Answering Quality Through Language Feature-Based SPARQL Query Candidate Validation

Towards Knowledge Graph-Agnostic SPARQL Query Validation for Improving Question Answering

WikidataComplete–An easy-to-use method for rapid validation of text-extracted new facts applied to the Wikidata knowledge graph



Aleksandr Perevalov

PhD Student at Anhalt University of Applied Sciences; Research Assistant at Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (both Germany)