Session types at IAMCR conferences

The majority of IAMCR scholarly presentations take place in Paper Presentation Sessions, followed by Basic Panel Sessions. However, we encourage alternative formats to facilitate scholarly exchange.  A number of kinds of sessions are briefly described below, highlighting how each type of session can give scholars the best opportunities to showcase their work. Alternative types of sessions can be created by section and working group heads, based on the paper proposals they receive, or proposed by members and participants of the section or working group.

If you would like to propose an alternative type of session, please contact the head of the section or working group.

Session Types

Paper Presentation Session

A traditional paper presentation session consists of 4-5 presenters, who each receive 10-15 minutes to present their research, followed by a summary or review by the chair or a discussant, and then general questions and answers with all session participants. Paper panels are facilitated by a chair, who is responsible for introducing the speakers, keeping time, and managing the question and answer section. A discussant provides a quick critique of all of the papers presented, connecting them to the theme of the panel. Not all paper sessions have discussants, but having them is encouraged. Though not optimal, the discussant and the chair are sometimes the same person. In such situations, it is best for the session chair to have someone else facilitate during the discussion. Paper Presentation Sessions are generally created by the heads of the sections and working groups, who group the individual paper proposals received into thematic sessions. (select "An abstract for a single paper” when you submit your proposal via the proposal submission system)

Panel Session

A traditional panel session is one in which a group of colleagues proposes a single theme to be addressed by multiple speakers, each of whom presents a distinct element or perspective. Panels are allotted 90 minutes and usually involve 5 or 6 people, including a moderator, panelists and optional discussant. The difference between a Panel Session and a Paper Presentation Session is that a Paper Presentation Session is put together by the heads of the sections and working groups, who group individual paper proposals received into thematic sessions while a Panel Session is an initiative of the participants themselves (select "A panel proposal (or an abstract of a panel presentation)" when you submit your proposal via the proposal submission system).

Alternative Session Types

The alternatives below can be created by the heads of sections or working groups at their discretion. 

High Intensity Session

High intensity sessions are similar to regular paper presentations, but instead of 4-5 presenters, they have 6-8 presenters (5-7 minutes each). High intensity sessions are sometimes employed when a particular theme or topic has attracted widespread interest and resulted in an unusually large number of conference submissions. With limited time and space, sometimes it is necessary to have a single high intensity session, rather than splitting the theme into two sessions. This way, scholars also have a better opportunity to hear about each others' work and to meet one another. The sessions can either include time for discussion and Q&A facilitated by the chair, or they can move to mini-breakout sessions—in the same room—with audience members meeting with individual presenters. High Intensity Sessions are generally created by the heads of the sections and working groups, who group the individual paper proposals received.

Poster Session

Some IAMCR sections and working groups occasionally employ poster sessions for the presentation of individual works. Poster sessions are designed to enhance the quality of scholarly exchange within the association overall and to include work whose quality is equal to that of all other papers and presentation formats. Poster session proposals are reviewed just as are paper presentation session proposals. They are scored for quality in the same way and rated as well as other proposals. They receive critical comment during poster sessions just as do paneled papers. Papers are selected for poster presentation due to their unique attributes, and are not selected in any way due to perceived lower quality. Finally, poster sessions are highlighted in conference programs. Scholars whose work is selected for the presentation in a poster session are deserving of travel support in the same manner as all other presenters. Poster proposals should be submitted only to sections or working groups that have specifically announced that they welcome them in their call for proposals.


A Roundtable is an invitation-based session. These sessions focus on a specific topic, or scholarly work, and feature a selection of scholars (established and emerging) who engage in a discussion. These sessions can be done in various forms. For example, a group of scholars may come together, having written about the same topic, opening up a discussion about different approaches to the same issue. Another method could be simply a group of scholars providing commentary and discussion about a central theme or issue. Unlike Panel Session they do not require formal papers. A Q&A with participants may or may not occur. Roundtables are generally proposed by conference participants. If you want to propose one you must first seek the approval of the head of the section or working group (seek this approval early as the deadline for submissions is the same as all other session types). Once you have approval you can submit is as a Panel Session via the proposal submission system, duly noting that it a Roundtable Session.


Workshops are subject focused sessions that provide participants the opportunity to gain knowledge and learn skills together. This can range from professional development topics, such as teaching strategies, to timely theoretical topics. Presenters of workshops can lead participants through different interactive activities, including discussions, hands-on-activities, simulations, demonstrations, and exploration and application of models. Workshops should still have a chair/organizer and presenters can be either invited or vetted through the review process. They can be led by a single presenter, or have multiple presenters providing different perspectives on the same topic. Ideally, there is time dedicated to discussion and Q&A. Workshops are generally proposed by conference participants. If you want to propose one you must first seek the approval of the head of the section or working group (seek this approval early as the deadline for submissions is the same as all other session types).

The pages in this section of the website contain some resources for IAMCR participants and for heads of sections and working groups as they prepare for the conference.

  • Session Types at IAMCR Conferences describes the two main types of sessions (Paper Presentation Session and Basic Panel Session) as well as a number of alternative session types that heads or participants might want to employ.
  • Submission Review describes the different types of review processes used by IAMCR's sections and working groups as well as the criteria that are most often used to evaluate proposals.
  • Guidelines for Presenters provides some suggested guidelines for scholars presenting papers at IAMCR conferences. These are suggested guidelines intended to be helpful on a voluntary basis; they are not strict rules and practices may vary among the various sections and working groups.
  • Tips for Session Chairs & Discussants offers ideas for how session chairs and discussants can ensure that sessions run smoothly, highlight scholarship, and encourage discussion.