Frequently Asked Questions about Completing a Session Proposal

Information about completing a session proposal, what the Program Committee is looking for, and the peer-review process for selecting Annual Meeting sessions is publicly available in several places on the SAA website.

  • The Call for Proposals for each meeting can always be located via that meeting’s website, indexed here.
  • Review the Program Committee’s description in the SAA Governance Manual.

Still can’t find the answer to your question? Check out the FAQs below, or send an email to the Conference Office at

I have an idea for a paper.  Can I just submit that?

A poster presentation is the only single-presenter format – perfect for presenting your idea visually without standing at a podium to speak to a crowd. All session formats must come to the Program Committee as fully formed proposals with titles, abstracts, and the names of individuals who will be participating in and/or leading a session proposal. The committee is not able to match up speakers to create a session.  But that doesn’t mean you should give up! Consider contacting an SAA board, committee, task force, working group, section, or roundtable that might be interested in your topic, and see if they’d be willing to work with you to flesh out your idea into a full proposal. You can find a list of SAA’s sections and roundtables linked from this page:

NEW in 2016! In response to several suggestions to provide a platform for session proposers to share ideas and find co-presenters, the 2016 Program Committee created a Google spreadsheet for anyone to use: This spreadsheet is provided as an informal tool to connect individuals who are seeking ideas and/or collaboration on session proposals forARCHIVES*RECORDS 2016. It is not monitored by CoSA, SAA, or the 2016 Program Committee and is not part of the official submission process.

What is the purpose of a session proposer? Is he/she essentially the contact person for the session?

The proposer serves as the contact person before the proposal is accepted or declined in November.  If the proposal is accepted, the chair then becomes the session contact person. It is not unusual for proposer and chair to be the same person.

What are the duties of a chair? How do you choose one?

The chair serves as the point of contact for the session from the time of acceptance through the conference. The chair must be willing to implement any changes the Program Committee requests. It’s also the chair’s responsibility to keep information flowing to session participants, to approve the session description and roster that appears in the program, and to notify the Conference Office of any changes to that description or roster.

The selection of the chair is the responsibility of the persons creating the session. If there are only two people participating in a session, one serves as chair. A third individual who is familiar with your topic can also serve as chair. Depending on the session format, that person might also serve as a moderator or commentator. 

Can an individual be a speaker on one session and also a moderator on another session?

Moderators, chairs, commentators, and speakers are all considered participants. A person cannot be both a moderator of one session and a speaker on another, unless the format of one of the proposed sessions is a lightning talk.

If one presenter appears on two proposals, will this automatically result in rejection of both proposals?

Proposals will not be disqualified for having duplicate presenters. However, you should arrange for a substitute speaker for any individuals known to appear on more than one proposal. If two sessions with duplicate presenters are accepted by the Program Committee and neither accepted session is a lightning talk, the duplicate speaker will be asked to pick one session on which to participate. 

Can a person participate in an “alternative” format session and a poster session?

No. For the 2016 Joint Annual Meeting, an individual may present a professional poster and participate on a lightning session. There are no other combinations in which one may both participate in an educational session (traditional, alternative, panel, special focus) AND present a professional poster. The reasoning is to provide more opportunities for individuals to present at the conference. 

Is a full roster for a proposed lightning session needed on the proposal, even though there is no space on the form? If a lightning session is accepted, what is the next deadline for submitting the final list of presenters?

At this time, it’s only necessary to include four firm commitments in the space provided on the form. Having presenter information is very beneficial to the Program Committee during its deliberations, but please do not include additional information in the body of an email. If your lightning session is accepted, you may add presenters at any time. If you want the names to be publicized, the deadline to have all presenters included in the Preliminary Program will be mid-February. If your session is accepted, the Conference Office will contact the chair around that time (via email, so make sure the best email is included in the proposal form) to approve a final session title, abstract, and complete roster.

Does my lightning session have to have 8 to 11 participants?

You may have fewer! If you were to include 6 or 7 presenters, for instance, you would have sufficient time for a good audience Q&A. If you’re considering fewer than 6 presenters, you might want to look at some of the other session types or come up with an alternative format.  (Think outside the box!) You’re welcome to propose a session type that isn’t included in the list, but please do describe in your proposal how it will work so that the Program Committee can understand it.

I would like to submit a proposal for a professional poster presentation. Will I be able to use my laptop to display information?

You could, but there are a few drawbacks. The safety of unattended equipment is not guaranteed, no designated space for a laptop is provided, and the availability of outlets in the space is not guaranteed. Although standard wireless internet is offered in the meeting space, video streaming and high bandwidth operations are not guaranteed through this service and a wired internet connection will not be available.

When might I receive a decision on my proposal?

The notification schedule varies slightly each year, but in general you should have a status update within two weeks of the Program Committee meeting, which will be held January 14-16, 2016.

Are Student Paper and Poster Session proposals due November 13 as well?

No. Student paper and poster sessions have a separate call for proposals that usually launches in late November, with a February due date. Watch the SAA and conference websites for exact dates.

What’s the plan for Pop-Up sessions in 2016?

As noted in the 2016 Call for Proposals, the Program Committee does intend to continue to experiment with the Pop-Up session idea initiated at the 2015 SAA Annual Meeting. Pop-Up sessions may occur as a result of a lively blog discussion, an idea that came up in an earlier session during the conference, or an inspiration at lunch. Proposals may be submitted in advance or may be proposed on site at the conference. Do not use the session proposal form for Pop-Ups. A separate call for Pop-Up proposals will be issued in early 2016.

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