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Guidelines for Panels

Guidelines for Panel Speakers, Chairs, and Respondents
at the RSA Annual Meeting

As you prepare for your session in Boston, please keep in mind these standards of good academic etiquette as well as the practices of this particular conference.


  • Registration and membership. All participants must be members of RSA for the conference year (2016). Current membership allows you to register at the member rate. Registration pays for the costs of organizing and running the meeting, and everyone must register in order to participate in any capacity, and to attend sessions.

  • Contacting your panel members. You can contact members of your panel by doing a Member Search from the Membership menu of this site (sign in to the site first: members' contact information is only made available to other members).

For Speakers:

  • Commitment to attend; no third-party readers. Should illness or other emergency leave you unable to attend the meeting, please notify both the RSA office and your session chair. Please do not ask a session chair or other substitute to read your paper for you. RSA conference policies do not allow that. A third party cannot answer questions or contribute to the discussion in your stead. If you must cancel, the presentation of your paper is canceled as well. Scholars who fail to appear at their session without giving notice may expect not to be included as participants in annual meetings for several years in the future.

  • Adherence to time limits. Please be mindful of the time constraints and the fair allocation of time to all as you plan your talk and your session. Most sessions have three 20-minute papers. Presentation time per session should total one hour to allow for discussion. You may expect your chair to give you notice as you approach your time limit in presenting your paper, or to ask you to wrap up quickly if you have exceeded it. All presenters need equal time; sessions need time for discussion; and the room needs to be readied for the next session in a timely manner.

  • Advance copy of your paper for chair and/or respondent. Please send a copy of your paper to your chair well in advance, even if there is no respondent or commentator. Your chair needs to know about the length of your presentation; more importantly, they need to put some questions together to ensure a good discussion. If there is a respondent, it is doubly important that they receive a copy in time to compose thoughtful comments. Please do not send them a longer copy and then cut it down at the last minute; too many respondents have labored over their remarks only to discover as the paper is delivered that the section on which they focused has inexplicably failed to appear in the presentation.

For Chairs:

Before the conference:

  • Contact your presenters well in advance and give them a date by which they should send you their papers. You may also want to ask them for a short bio or cv so that you can introduce them. If you don't have the presenters' contact information, use the Member Search from the Membership menu of this site (sign in to RSA first).

  • Should someone on your panel cancel, please inform the RSA office.

  • Assemble a few questions in advance to ask each presenter, to start off discussion, or to balance it as it proceeds.

At the session:

  • Be sure all speakers are in agreement about the order in which they speak, how you plan to introduce them, and whether the discussion of all papers will occur after all presentations (as is more common), or whether you will take questions at the end of each paper separately.

  • Have a plan in place for keeping speakers to time limits, and inform your speakers about it before the session begins. If you must enforce it, you will want to be both professional and firm.

  • Moderate the discussion and question-and-answer session.

After the session:

  • Please report to the RSA office any problems or difficulties, including (but not restricted to) malfunctioning equipment, overcrowded (or cavernous) rooms, and above all the failure of a participant to appear. We would like to know approximately how many attended your session; this will help us assign rooms more accurately in future years.

For Respondents and Commentators:

  • Your session organizer or chair should ensure that both you and the presenters are clear about when you want and need to see copies of their papers. But you should certainly feel free to contact them all yourself if need be. Be sure you know how much time is to be allotted to your remarks, so that you can keep to that limit.

We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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