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Note: For tracking purposes, you will need to create a user ID and password during the volunteer process. You will need this information to update your contact information and/or access your assignments. This user ID and password does not need to match your AAA login, and will not grant access to AAA member services (i.e., registration, dues renewal, etc.).
The Session Moderator's Role
As Session Moderator, your main role is to provide organization and cohesion to the session. You should be familiar with the papers to be presented in your session. The duties of the Moderator include the following:
- Several weeks before the conference, contact each presenting author and discussant in your assigned session and provide them information on session structure (time limits, presentation order etc.). Request them to provide you with any updates including changes in affiliation, or any changes as to the author who would be presenting the paper at the conference. Also request the authors to send the paper to the discussant if the paper has undergone major revisions since its initial submission to the conference.
- Arrive at the session 5-10 minutes before the session begins. Identify the paper presenters and discussant(s) in advance, and introduce yourself. Remind each presenter of the time limits that apply, and describe the method you will use to alert them of time limits during the actual presentation.
- At the start of the session, introduce yourself to the audience, announce the session/title, and offer a brief overview of the session structure (how many papers will be presented, the time each presenting author will have for the presentation, when the discussant will provide comments, and when the audience will have opportunity to ask questions or provide comments).
- For each paper, introduce the presenter, her/his affiliation, and the title of the paper. Since time is a premium for presenters, please keep your remarks brief.
- During the presentations enforce time limits strictly so that no author (or audience member) monopolizes someone else's time. Recommended time for paper presentations are 20 minutes (for full presentation papers), 5 minutes for the discussant for each paper, and the remaining time for questions from the floor. It is your job to moderate the Q&A session involving the audience. Please ensure that the session finishes on time. Sessions that overrun will affect the following sessions.
- In situations where an assigned discussant is a no show then you can fill in and provide some comments on the paper.
- In situations where a paper presenter is unexpectedly absent, the moderator should exercise judgment by either allowing extra time for the other papers or dismissing the session early. In situation where the discussant is unexpectedly absent, the moderator should help with leading the audience discussion.
Volunteer as a Moderator
The Discussant's Role
The duties of the Discussant include the following:
- You should log in to the AAA Submission Information Center and download copies of the papers to be presented in your session in advance of the meeting (please contact your Section Liaison or the Program Chair if there are any problems). Authors may also directly send you an updated version of their paper, in cases where they have significantly revised the paper since initial submission to the conference. Please read these papers carefully and come prepared to comment on the papers. These comments can include constructive criticism about the research questions addressed, the theoretical foundations established, the methodologies employed, the analyses and results presented, the implications derived, and other comments. You may also want to indicate where you believe the papers make contributions to the broader stream of literature or how the papers open up new perspectives. Many discussants also find it helpful to highlight the interrelationships among the papers presented.
- Importantly, the bulk of your time as discussant should be spent stimulating audience interest in the subject and the papers. Whenever possible, we encourage you to assume the role of devil's advocate, provoking discussion among the session's presenters and between the presenters and the audience. We encourage you to use as a measure of your effectiveness the extent to which you engaged others in an open discussion and/or stimulate audience interest in the subject. Thus, rather than using your allotted time to conduct a one way presentation about the papers, we encourage you to use the bulk of your time to highlight controversial issues that will stimulate a dialogue among those in attendance.
As this description suggests, preparation in advance and attentiveness during the session are two keys to serving successfully in the role of discussant. Please help us make the program sessions as meaningful as possible by fulfilling this role effectively.
- On the day of your session, you should arrive in the room 5-10 minutes before the session begins. Identify yourself to the session Moderator in advance, and note any changes in your affiliation of which the Moderator may not be aware.
- As discussant, please try to limit your remarks to the allocated time so that ample time is left for audience participation. If you have more detailed comments on the paper (e.g., written comments, marked up copy, or other verbal comments), you can provide these to the authors after the session. Authors greatly appreciate such feedback.
- In the case of an emergency that precludes your attendance in the conference, please make every effort to inform the moderator of the session and the Section Liaison in advance.
Volunteer as a Discusant
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