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Information for Session Chairs

The role of the session chair prior to the conference is to select discussants for the papers. Some time before the conference, this web site will present a list of possible discussants, organized by subject fields and research methodologies (theoretical or empirical). Session chairs should contact possible discussants by e-mail and solicit their participation. If, after considerable effort and endeavour, a session chair is unable to find external discussants, two options may be considered: (1) paper presenters may be asked to discuss papers of other presenters in a round-robin fashion; (2) the session will have no formal discussants and will allocate time to ad-hoc questions from the audience. However, it should be stressed that either of these two options should only be considered a fall-back position, not the default scenario.

Session chairs should allocate time to individual paper presentations and paper discussions in an equal and fair manner. Sessions are to commence on time, and papers should be delivered in the sequence in which they appear in the conference program. For a typical 3-paper 90-minute session, each presenter should be given 18-20 minutes for the presentation, followed by a 5-8 minute discussion by the discussant. Sessions without formal discussants should aim for 22-25 minute presentations followed by 5 minute question periods for the audience. The session chair will keep time and will signal to the presenters how much time is left at appropriate points. (See the signal paddles below.) If a speaker extends a presentation for more than 2 minutes past the mark, the chair is allowed to cut off a speaker and proceed to the discussant or next presentation.

Courtesy of William Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute, below are images of the two sides of two paddles (paper glued on signboard) that he recently used at a conference. They were very effective when managing the time allocated to individual speakers.

The rooms will have facilities for computer-assisted presentations, using PowerPoint or PDF. Presenters are encouraged to use this technology to make their presentations. To make this run smoothly, they have been asked to:

  1. Send the file of their presentation to you at least one week before the conference, so that you have the option of loading all of the files for the session ahead of time onto your memory key;
  2. Present themselves in the conference room at least 10 minutes before the start time;
  3. Bring their presentation on a memory key, in addition to having sent it to their session chair;
  4. Consider bringing overheads as a backup, in case of a breakdown of the technology.
A number of computer-literate students will patrol the conference areas to act as first line support. You should arrange to arrive at the conference room well in advance yourself in order to make sure that everything is ready for the conference to begin on time and run smoothly.

Session chairs are kindly asked to take notes during their sessions about (a) the attendance; (b) timeliness of the session speakers; (c) adequacy of the presentation tools and available facilities; and (d) any unusual or noteworthy facts that should be brought to the attention of the conference organizer or on-site organizer.


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