Chair and
Discussant Roles

Chairs and Discussants play a major role in the success of the Annual Meeting. To ensure you’re prepared, please review the responsibilities associated with these roles here.

Role of Chairs

Before the meeting:

  • Contact your panelists at least six weeks prior to the meeting. 
    • Find your session in the Online Program and click “Email All Contacts”.
  • Determine the format and amount of time available to each participant
    • At least 20 minutes at the end of the session should be reserved for audience questions and comments
  • Reach an agreement about the deadline for receipt of completed papers. It is important that Discussants receive papers in advance of the meeting.
  • Notify participants that any changes to paper titles, session titles, roles, or abstracts should be communicated promptly to you as a Chair. Once received, send all changes to Melissa King at
    • The last date for changes for the Final Program is March 15, 2024. 
    • Give your session members an earlier deadline so you can report changes by this date.  
  • Determine if participants wish to coordinate in loading visual material onto a single laptop.

During the session:

  • Determine the order of presentations
  • Introduce the members of the panel
    • Make a note of anyone who doesn’t appear on the panel and inform the Executive Office
  • Keep the speakers to their time limits
  • Moderate audience participation.
  • On panels where there is no Discussant, the Chair should feel free to introduce the papers and kick off the discussion with questions, comments, or remarks.

Role of Discussants

During the session:

  • Make comments on all papers after presentations have been made. The best comments by discussants link papers thematically, highlight strengths of the papers, make suggestions for their improvement, offer gentle criticism where appropriate, and provoke discussion by the audience.  
  • Be sure to balance time allotted to general points about the common paper themes with commentary on individual papers.  
  • Make sure your commentary is supportive and constructive, even when it is critical.
  • If you have more specific feedback for individual papers that are outside of the scope of the panel discussion, we encourage you to write them down and provide them directly to the author.

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