Session Leaders in a Discussion Paper Session

For a comprehensive guide, please download the slides and the Frequently Asked Questions for the Annual Meeting session "Orientation for Session Chairs and Discussants".

Your role as a "session leader" in a discussion paper session may be formally defined as Chair or Discussant. Where there is a separate Chair, this person handles introductions and time keeping, and the Discussant guides the content of the session.

In a Discussion paper session, presenters engage with each others' work more than in a traditional paper session. Session participants are expected to read all the papers assigned to their session. To stimulate discussion, participants will present and comment on papers of their fellow participants rather than their own.

The role of the session leader is to provide further constructive feedback on each of the papers and/or future research in the area and to moderate the discussion. Try to identify shared constructs, linked findings, and contradictory results that emerge across papers. Also, try to identify on-going debates, themes, and puzzles within the topic domain and how the group of papers contributes to them.

Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for and manage your session.

1. Check for changes to your session.

  • Check the Online Program and the Program Addendum for any updates / changes to your session.
  • Papers will continue to be withdrawn even until the actual sessions take place at the Meeting. Please check periodically for withdrawn papers in your session(s).

2.  Assign papers to participants and explain their tasks.

  • Once the conference program is finalized, please make an informed decision regarding which session participants should present which papers and inform them of their tasks. You may find it helpful to request confirmations from the authors of their acceptance of their presentation tasks.
  • Session participants' tasks are two-fold:
            (a) Read all papers and prepare at least one comment regarding how each of the papers could be improved or further developed, or how they contribute to your own thinking or research.
            (b) Prepare a brief summary of the assigned paper (up to 10 minutes) and up to 5 minutes of comments. It may be useful to prepare slide printouts to aid in your presentation and distribute them as handouts to fellow session participants. Make sure the focal author(s) receive your feedback in writing.

3. Prepare constructive feedback.

  • Contribute to the discussion by helping to identify the most promising direction for the papers' further development. You may also be able to point to particularly promising future research in the area.

4. Ensure participants' preparation level. 

  • Remind the session participants of their tasks as the conference approaches. You may find it helpful to request of the participants to share their notes on the paper summaries and comments with you several days in advance of your session. Ensure the feedback is constructive and pertinent.

5. Aim for an enriching experience in a supportive setting.

  • Decide on a logical sequence for presentations and allocate time to presenters. Allow the focal author(s) to reply briefly to comments on their papers before allowing comments from other participants and/or commenting yourself. Time and moderate the discussions.
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