IASSIST Annual Conference Program Planning Manual

By PPMAG | May 31, 2017

Program Planning Manual

The purpose of this Handbook is to assist those who will be responsible for developing the program of future IASSIST Annual Conferences. The information contained within has been put together by several individuals who have had experience running past conferences. While many things necessarily change from year to year, there is a surprising amount of continuity involving the decisions made and the deadlines set. It is hoped this manual can be continued as a living document, dynamically maintained by succeeding generations of conference program planners. The Local Arrangments Committee (or LAC) has a separate set of responsibilities, and will have their own manual. There will be occasions where information may be cross-referenced between both the Program Planning and Local Arrangements Manuals.

Provenance of the Manual

Submitted by jend on Fri, 2015-07-24 08:46

Author: Laura A. Guy, formerly of University of Wisconsin-Madison Contributors: Cindy Lew, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alison Bayley, The University of Edinburgh

Revised by: Ann Green, Yale University Revised 23 December 1998
Major Revisions: Sections 1.3, 2.2.4, 3.1.1, 3.2.2,, 3.3.3, 6.2; Minor revisions other sections

Revised by: Jane Fry, Carleton University
Revised 9 June 2003
Major and Minor Revisions – all sections

Revised by: Ann Green and Julie Linden, Yale University
Revised 8 September 2004
Major revisions: Appendices (all older appendices removed)
Major revisions: reorganized sections; updated policies and procedures

Revised by: Linda Detterman and Mary Vardigan, ICPSR
Revised 30 June 2006 Revisions: Added 2006 examples in text and appendices; proofed and edited;
added Local Arrangements Sample Timetable to Section 5.6.1; added Appendix 16

Revised by: San Cannon, Federal Reserve Board, and Eleanor Read, Univ. of Tennessee
Revised 3 October 2008 and 8 April 2009
Revisions: Updated several appendices and text throughout

Revised by: Katherine McNeill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Revised 30 June 2009
Revisions: Updated text throughout, major revisions to section 5.5, and added Appendixes 18 and 19

Revised by: Tuomas J. Alaterä, Finnish Social Science Data Archive
Revised 12 April, 2014, 15 August, 2014
Revisions: Revisions: Partially updated text throughout sections 1–5.6, workshop reimbursement policy removed from 3.4.1

Revised by: Program Planning Action Group (PPMAG) Jennifer Darragh (primary editor), Tuomas J. Alaterä, Katherine McNeill, Thomas Lindsay and Michele Hayslett. Including substantil input from 2017 Conference Program Co-Chairs (Guss, Hayslett) and committee members.
Revised: June 2015 - May 2017
Revisions: Separate program planning from local arrangements content for more focused manual. Move manual to online platform. Substantial revisions to all information.

Purposes of the IASSIST Conference

It is clear that, despite the growth of the Internet, e-mail and listservs, the annual conference still offers us the best way to communicate with each other, to share ideas, and to seek feedback from our peers. Both formally, through the delivery of papers and the presentation of poster-sessions, and informally through the one-on-one or small group conversations, a surprising amount of professional support and advice is given. The networking that takes place during break periods and in the evenings is just as important as the organized sessions, plenaries, workshops and roundtables. The conference provides us a way to conduct professional training and to upgrade our own skills through workshops. It allows us to promote data librarianship and archiving as well as innovations in social science technology, and to plan the future of our profession via roundtables and other working groups. The conference gives us the opportunity to take advantage of the expertise of the people who make up the membership of the Association, as well as bring new people into IASSIST. It is the only time of the year when both the Administrative Committee and the general membership are able to meet and vote on important issues. The formal presentation of papers at the conference promotes scholarly writing by the membership and offers them the opportunity to publish in the Association’s quarterly journal.

Structure, Content and Responsibility of and for the Manual

This manual purports to give advice and hand along “conventional wisdom.” The intention is to move from the general to the specific, singling out areas of high importance. The reader is encouraged to use the linked table of contents to hone in on areas in which they need guidance. The content for this particular manual is for conference program planning specifically. The stewardship of this manul will always fall under the current/immediate past program planning committee chairs who will serve as editors. Areas/issues that relate to local arrangements will be cross referenced with the local arrangements manual. The current/immediate past local arrangements committee is also encouraged to offer feedback and suggest any necessary changes to the current manual stewards.

Program Planning Committee Leadership and Structure

The Program Committee (PC) can take a number of different forms. It can be quite small, say five or six people, double that size, or even larger. What all have in common is the position of Program Co-Chairs (2 to 3). The Co-Chairs are a pivotal position that decide who will serve on the PC and what their roles will be. At the current IASSIST annual conference the IASSIST President appoints the Co-Chairs for the next conference. This ensures that the chairs have adequate time to develop a solid program. The Chairs are a major influence on the intellectual content of the conference, and it is the Chairs who assume ultimate responsibility for deciding on a conference title as well as general thematic structure.

It is strongly encouraged that the Chairs create a multi-national committee that includes members from the United States, Canada, and outside the North American continent. The individual members of the PC generally serve as catalysts for the creation of conference workshops, plenaries, and sessions by suggesting ideas, finding likely speakers, and often acting as session organizers or chairs.

The PC Co-chairs may charge an individual to coordinate different conference components and activities (current roles described in detail below). The PC at-large can be tasked to provide assistance at any step during the planning process. PC Co-chairs are encouraged to make good use of their committees.

It is essential that the PC work along with the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) to ensure proper venue size for sessions, plenaries, workshops, posters and social events.

PC Co-Chair Duties

The Conference Program Committee (PC) typically has up to three co-chairs. The attempt has been made to have the co-chairs be 1 from the US, 1 from Canada, and 1 from Europe, but this isn’t required. The co-chairs responsbility is to come up with the theme and title of the conference, ensure all coordinator roles are filled (workshops, posters, lightning talks, Birds of a Feather, etc.), to regularly have open discussions with the local arrangements committee to ensure that everything is on schedule and inform one another of potential issues.

Refer to the Timeline section for a higher level list of all activities and proposed deadlines.


Facilitate the committee choosing a conference theme, taking past (and especially recent) themes into account. Refer to the timeline for when the theme needs to be finalized, but this should be one of the first tasks of the committee, over the summer following the previous year’s conference.


Use the larger planning committee, as well as the LAC, to brainstorm ideas for plenary speakers. This is helpful to do over the fall of the year prior to the conference. Identify a Plenary Coordinator (this can be one of the co-chairs) as this is an important role. Speakers should be finalized before notifications go out to session speakers. Past conferences have generally had two or three plenary speakers. Program co-chairs get to choose the number in consultation with the LAC.

Coordinator Roles

Recruit and coordinate other chairs for workshops, PKs, posters, sessions, paper competition, review and sorting, and plenary speakers (optional). Determine a means for the conference committee to connect (Google Group, Slack channel, Basecamp, etc.).

OpenConf Software Set-Up

Set up the OpenConf software, following the example of the previous year. The previous year’s co-chairs can provide a setup file (the format of this file is .oc) to load with all the previous year’s settings. The immediate previous year’s PC co-chairs will provide the incoming co-chairs a demonstration on how to use OpenConf.

  • Modify all content to reflect this year’s info.

  • Build submission form in OpenConf. This requires coordination with LAC/website team because the OpenConf form will have links to the website. Test the form before launching.

  • Add note to OpenConf submission form in large font or all CAPS, IF YOU DON’T GET A CONFIRMATION EMAIL FOR YOUR SUBMISSION, PLEASE CONTACT THE CO-CHAIRS.

Meet Regularly with the LAC

Stay in regular touch with the LAC. Set up a schedule to meet (ideally) bi-weekly with the co-chairs abd the LAC. Coordinators of various apsects of the program (Posters, Workshops, Paper Competition, etc.) can be included as their part becomes prominent, or at least provide regular reports by email.

Call for Proposals (CFP)

Coordinate distribution of the CFP. Invite members of the larger conference planning committee to claim various lists to which to post. Use these same lists to post notices at various strategic moments, e.g., when the program is posted, when registration opens and when the early bird registration deadline approaches.

  • In the CFP, discourage people from proposing multiple sessions. It’s difficult to schedule sessions when presenters are in multiple spots, and it prevents other participants from speaking, potentially barring them from obtaining travel funds to attend.

  • Before sending the CFP ask the planning committee to check travel arrangements for the destination city. Bear in mind complicated or lengthy travel may make it difficult to formulate the program on Friday. Speakers often don’t want to be scheduled in the last session if their travel plans mean they have to leave early. Decide whether to collect speakers’ preference of day/session along with their proposals.

  • Establish an email address for the conference program that be used as a point of contact with the Program Co-Chairs and committee at large (Gmail works well for this purpose).

Begin Review and Draft Conference Schedule (Involes Sorting Coordinator and Team)

  • Set up reviewing form and make review assignments to reviewing group in OpenConf.

  • Compile review scores and comments in a spreadsheet to give to sorting group. It is recommended that those sorting were also reviewers, but not all reviewers need to be sorters.

  • The sorters will return a new spreadsheet with all the sessions sorted into preliminary session blocks, along with recommendations for format switches and rejections.

  • Take recommendations of sorting committee and fit sessions into schedule.

  • Double-check with Sorting Coordinator and committee about which sessions they have changed from one format to another, e.g., from a panel proposal to an individual session. The committee needs to provide a complete list of these.

  • You can build a basic shell with input from LAC about room availability, which may dictate how many tracks you can have, i.e., how many concurrent sessions you can run. It was helpful in 2017 to use an online program like Padlet.com to be able to arrange and rearrange sessions.

  • If you must decline sessions, try to choose low-scoring ones. If it is an issue of quality or poor fit, you may still choose to decline, but if it is only an issue of how many sessions will fit in the schedule you at least want to try to avoid cutting sponsor-led sessions.

  • Once you have a draft of the schedule, enter it into OpenConf–it will flag concurrent sessions with the same speakers. This helpls alleviate accidental double-booking.

  • With LAC, make room assignments. Several options (and depends on local circumstances).

  • Try to assign based on which sessions you think will have the largest attendance relative to room sizes. When there are sessions on “hot topic” issues, you can assume these will be popular.

  • If one room is further away from the others, try to identify which of the concurrents is the least like the others, which would indicate that its attendess would be less likely room-switch in the middle of the session.

  • If the rooms are mostly the same size, assign rooms according to where they already fall on the program. Having a whole column in the program (as in, all “1” concurrent sessions) be in the same room can be a logical and easy to navigate arrangement.

Notify Presenters

  • Collaborate with poster, PK and workshop chairs to shift sessions to other formats if warranted before sending out notifications. (Poster, PK and workshop chairs all send their own notifications.) Presenters who are asked to change their format should be asked if that is okay with them before other notifications go out.

  • Send out notifications, both acceptances and rejections as well as notices for sessions whose format has to be changed or to add another speaker to the proposed session. It is best to track the notifications and confirmations in a spreadsheet and then enter them into OpenConf later for the program.

  • Notify Concurrent Sessions Chair that it is time to seek volunteers for session chairs. Create and provide a spreadsheet (sample linked) that lists all sessions.

Poster Session Coordinator Duties

The Poster Session Coordinator has the following duties:

  • Work with LAC to figure out how many posters will fit in the space and what the set-up will be (poster boards, booths, etc.). The sooner you can figure out the maximum poster size, the better.

  • Decide which posters to accept/reject. Posters are rarely rejected unless they are a) clearly out of scope of the conference or b) space is tight. There are typically a fair number of other conference submission moved to posters, so best not to send out notices until the Program Co-Chairs give you the go-ahead. Notifications are typically sent soon after session presenters have been notified.

  • Handle all communication with poster presenters.

  • Some presenters will want to mail their posters ahead of time. Coordinate with LAC to figure out whether this is possible and how people should do it.

  • Be available before and during the poster session to help set up and troubleshoot any issues.

  • Collect electronic poster files (PDF preferred) after the conference to include in the conference archive.

Workshop Coordinator Duties

The Workshop Coordinator has the following duties:

  • Write a Call for Workshops. This will strongly echo the overall CFP, but needs to include more information about what we’re looking for in workshop submissions.

  • Work with PC co-chairs on the Workshops submission form. You can include the form with the larger submission form in OpenConf. Workshops proposals require several additional fields (learning objectives, prerequisites, workshop lengths, workshop setting, hardware/software requirements).

  • Advertise the Call for Workshops.

  • Decide which workshop proposals to accept and reject. Criteria used in the past: fit with conference theme, appropriateness for audience, mix of topics, availability of required software, etc.

  • Send out acceptances and rejections for Workshops.

  • Work with LAC on classroom and lab space and hardware/software provision.

  • Handle all communication with Workshop providers.

  • Create and disseminate a Workshop evaluation (Web-based preferred).

  • Be available on the day of the Workshops to help troubleshoot any issues and remind providers to ask attendees to fill out the Workshop evaluation.

Plenary Session Coordinator Duties

A program co-chair may assume these duties, or recruit a separate coordinator. In 2017, one of the program co-chairs handled much of the recruitment (along with one of the LAC folks) and turned responsibility for the rest over to a separate plenary session coordinator in March. The LAC is definitely helpful to work with as they tend to know of local experts who would be relevant, engaging Plenary speakers.

Please note that there are specific guidelines related to financial compensation regarding Plenary Speakers.

In August/September of the year prior to the conference…

The first order of business is to solicit potential speakers using an email message (sample linked). In this message you provide information about the conference and the organization, and any relevent financial information.

By late January

  • Request a photo, their brief bio (one paragraph), and a short paragraph about the topic of their talk. It is helpful to give them word limits for both bits of text, and to specify the deadline by which you need them. Check with LAC about setting the deadline: it’s helpful for them to have this information prior to registration opening.
  • Explain their time limits. It may be different on different days. The opening session will almost always have a welcome from someone at the host institution as well as the IASSIST president, and perhaps housekeeping announcements about room assignments that may not have made it into the program or room changes–altogether perhaps ten minutes. So speakers will usually have about 45-50 minutes to speak if they leave ten minutes for questions, assuming the plenary is scheduled for 75 minutes.

Email the speakers in late March/early April:

  • Reiterate how much time they have.

  • Ask if they have any special requirements for A/V.

  • Ensure that the speaker(s) knows what we will offer them vis a vis honorarium/travel expenses/nothing. If something make sure LAC provides necessary tax forms and information regarding the process for receipt of funds or reimbursements.

Email speakers a week or two before the conference to let them know where to meet on-site and any relevant reminders regarding finances (if applicable). Also provide them with your phone number in the event they have any issues getting to the venue. Advise that they may want to send any slides to you in advance so you can have them preloaded before they arrive.

On the day of the conference be sure to meet with the speakers and make sure they have all that they need (tech, water, location of restrooms, etc.) and get them set up for their presentation. Also act as their concierge for the day should they wish to stay on and attend other sessions (where to go, how to read the program, etc.).

After the conference be sure to write a personal thank you note (handwritteen if possible) to all speakers. It would be ideal if this note were signed by the PC co-chairs as well as the plenary coordinator (bring stationary to conference).

Submission Review and Sorting Coordinator Duties

The Program Committee Co-Chairs (PC Co-Chairs) will recruit a team of Reviewers (at least 5 people) and a team of Sorters (one appointed Coordinator and at least 2 others; should, if possible, also serve as Reviewers). It is important that continuity is maintained over the years in these roles.

Call for Papers and Submissions:

Determine with the PC Co-Chairs what topics are to be included in the Call for Papers and the submission form. This will be important for Sorting later.

With the PC Co-chairs, review and revise the online submission form to be sure all necessary information about proposals will be submitted.

The online submission form should clearly state that people should limit the number of proposals in which they would take part. We are seeing an increase in the number of people included in more than 3 proposals (some up to 5) and it makes it difficult for reviewing, sorting, and scheduling.

Review proposals:

The Program Chairs will contact reviewers and set a timeline for the review of all individual proposals, papers, and session proposals. Lightning talks review, Poster review, and Workshop review are done by others. However, the Reviewers will make comments about placing a proposal into another type of presentation (poster, lightning talk, Birds of Feather, or possibly a plenary panel or presentation)

Once the online review system is in place, each reviewer will read and rank proposals (Likert scale is used, may be up to 7 for scording if that granularity is needed), adding comments and additional topics that will help with sorting. When the review has been completed, the Program Chairs will review the proposals with low rankings and make a preliminary elimination of proposals that do not meet program criteria.

All information is confidential.

The PC Co-chairs will provide a preliminary schedule for the conference program so that when the Sorters put sessions together they will know how many sessions and of what length will be available.


After review has been completed, the PC Co-Chairs will provide the Sorting team with a spreadsheet of all proposals they have moved forward into the development of the program sessions.

The Sorting team will put proposals into topic driven sessions and send (1) a spreadsheet of sessions and (2) a list of session titles, number of presenters, and notes to the PC Co-Chairs. This usually takes 3-4 working weeks. It is a demanding process and needs to be done by people who can set aside time to fully read all proposals, interact with the team and resolve sorting problems all during this time period. The team usually has 2-3 Skype sessions a week.

The Sorting team will recommend proposals that are to be moved into Poster, Lightning Talk, or Birds of Feather slots.

The PC Co-Chairs will place the sessions into the schedule, maintaining pre-defined “tracks” (e.g., Data Management, Technical Development, Public Services etc.) and avoid scheduling somebody for two sessions at once. The Sorting team may make recommendations about the timing of sessions.

The Sorting team will not contact presenters; the PC Co-chairs will manage contacts and discussions with presenters regarding the need for more information about content, presenters, and potential changes in the type of presentation.

The Paper Competition Chair will review Papers that have been accepted for the conference; these paper presentations will be included in the program as individual presentations.

Concurrent Sessions Coordinator Duties

Submitted by jend on Tue, 2015-08-18 07:57

The Concurrent Sessions Coordinator has the following duties:

Send an invitation first to the planning committee and then to the full IASSIST list to volunteer to chair a session. Identify a few people to serve as backups in case others have to drop out. Give everyone the URL for the session chair sign up spreadsheet (created by Conference Co-Chairs). If separate sheets are used for each day of the conference, be sure to mention that. Tell them to sign up with their name and email address and be sure to pay attention for any notes that list special circumstances or other issues such as:

  • Sessions where a panel and presentation are combined. In instances like this, the time cannot just be split 50/50. The presentation is allotted 20-25 minutes, the panel gets the remaining time.
  • More presentations in a session than normal (e.g. more than three). The chair needs to be aware that they have to manage the time for each presentation very carefully.
  • Presenters in the paper track are noted. One winner will be chosen who will receive a free future registration for the conference and their paper will be published in IASSIST Quarterly, but ALL papers are eligible to be submitted to IQ. Those authors should be especially encouraged to submit. Chairs should put author release forms in those participants’ hands.
  • Address any other notes/special circumstances listed during their session with the respective presenter/authors (e.g. Skype needed, slides in advance for visual or hearing impaired, etc.).

No later than five to six weeks before the conference, be in touch with all session chairs to inform them of their duties, outlined in the Sample Letter. Note that this copy is marked up so you are aware what you need to change.

Session chairs need to: Collect all speakers' A/V requirements and relay that information to the LAC. Act as a liaison between speakers and the LAC for any tech needs/issues or other accomodations.

Both before and after the conference encourage your session’s speakers a) to formally write up their presentation as a paper to submit to the IQ (paper competition entrants are already doing this), and b) submit their presentations for the conference archive. They will be able to do so through OpenConf. Encourage speakers to upload prior to the conference, but they will have a window of time after if they did not get the chance to do so.

By three weeks prior to the conference, Session Chairs should have:

  • Checked their time allotment and determined how much time each project has to present. Remember to include time for speaker introductions and questions.
  • Emailed their presenters with relevant advance information, including the location of the room they are using, confirm AV requests, and their time allotment and a strong recommendation to practice in order to stay within their time limit.

By one week prior ot the conference, Session Chairs should have:

  • Verified speakers' needs and communicated any special to the coordinator or LAC.
  • Gathered speakers' brief bios and confirmed their affiliations.
  • Reminded speakers about uploading presentations to OpenConf with instructions.
  • Reminded speakers to bring a back-up electronic copy AND a print copy of their presentation (should technology fail). Recommend selecting open formats or compatible formats.
  • Prepared discussion questions.
  • Decided on whether questions will be taken during or at the end of the session.

By the opening reception, Session Chairs should have tried to meet with their speakers.

By the day of their session, Session Chairs should have:

  • Introduced themselves to their speakers.
  • Located the session room.
  • Introduced themselves to the room monitor (typically from host institution to help with AV and other isssues). Note not always available but should know who their local IT help is.
  • Arrive 20 minutes earlly and load any presentations that could not be sent ahead of time.
  • Pointed out to their speakers IA release forms to submit their presentations as IQ papers.

By two weeks post conference, Session Chairs should have:

  • Sent each of their speakers a thank-you note for their participation in the conference and again inviting them to submit an IQ paper on their presentation topic (especially if in the paper competition track).
  • Uploaded or ensured that all of their presenters uploaded their presentation files into OpenConf for inclusion in the conference archive.

Birds of a Feather Coordinator Duties

The Birds of a Feather (BoF) Coordinator has the following duties:

Work with Program Committe Co-Chairs (PC Co-Chairs) and LAC to determine:

  • How BoF session proposals will be collected. Given that BoF tend to be more spontaneous than planned, the opportunity to propose a BoF session will be mentioned in the call, but actual proposals will not be collected through the submission form.

  • Where the BoF session will be held with room layout (space will determine number of BoF proposals included).

  • BoF submissions can be collected pre-conference through a Google Forms (or other survey-based tool as appropriate). The Program Co-Chairs and/or LAC can send to those registered via email so that it doesn’t have to go to the larger list. Duplicate topic proposals count as votes for that topic.

  • How BoF sessions will be displayed and proposed at the conference (sign-up sheets, white board, chalk board, poster board, etc.) and voted upon (hash marks, stickers, check marks, etc.), and where the display will be hosted (near registration desk, other common area, etc.).

About three weeks before the conference, send out the per-conference proposal submission form.

Coordinator arrival may determine how topics are displayed (the more time one has, the more creative one may elect to be). Pre-proposed topics need to be listed on the display including the number of votes resulting from duplicate/multiple submissions. The display should be posted no later than Tuesday morning (workshop day).

Listing new topics and voting must close by end-of-day the day before the session occurs to allow all votes to be tallied, and room assignments to be made. Provide final list with room assignments to Program Co-Chairs to include in Open Conf. Depending on timing of session, it may be possible to also announce the sessions at the Business Lunch.

Mentoring Committee Coordinator

The Mentoring Committee Coordinator has the following duties:

  • About one month to a few weeks prior to the conference, send a call for mentor volunteers via the IASSIST Listserv. Mentors are “experienced,” as in they have been IASSIST members for more than one year and have attended more than one conference.
  • Obtain a list of registrants and check for those who are a) new attendees and b) not members. Email this group with a call to request an IASSIST conference mentor.
  • Depending on the number of metnees, email individual IASSIST members who did not sign up at mentors to see if they will be willing to serve (this could be members who served as mentees in the past but did not sign up this time). There are typically more mentees that sign up than mentors in the initial call.
  • In the call, a (Google) form should be use to capture mentor/mentee names and and little bit more about themselves.
  • Use a Google Doc to pair mentor/mentees. Try to match people that work in similar insitutions and have similar duties if possible. Keep in mind language/cultural differences and do your best to be accomodating.
  • Notify each mentor/mentee with their match via email. (See here for an example).
  • Remember to bring some name tags for mentor/mentees to use to help self-identify at the opening reception.
  • After the conference be sure to send an email to thank all participants for being a part of this program, and to urge mentees to join IASSIST and become active with various committees and interest groups.

Paper Competition Coordinator Duties


Lightning Talks Coordinator Duties

The Lightning Talks Coordinator has the following duties:

  • Decide which PK proposals to accept and reject. Criteria used are: appropriateness of the proposed content, fit with conference theme, and length of session (8 is the maximum number of PKs that a one hour session can handle). Most proposals are accepted, but should still be ranked since there are usually 1-2 submissions from other types that are given the option to switch to a PK.

  • Handle all communication with PK presenters.

  • Collect bios of all PK presenters for session introductions. Request any special accommodations (the most common is going earlier in session due to travel), etc.

  • Collect all PK presentation files before the conference so they can be loaded and ready to present on the day of.

  • Chair the session the day of, introducing each presenter, and troubleshooting any issues (there are almost always minor technical issues, but just stay calm and keep the show going!).

  • Share presentation files with program committee for conference archive.

Planning Timeline

Assuming that the conference is held at the end of May/early June.

Regular session, paper, posters and lightning talk submissions - Late Nov/Early Dec.

Workshop submissions (may be timed with regular submissions) - Late Nov/Early Dec.

Fellows Applications and Notifications - solicit applications around time of Call for Proposals (CFP) (early Oct.), notify acceptance by late March (ideally before applicant has to confirm attendance)

Notification of submission/proposal acceptance by March 1

Confirmation of acceptance and changes to program - Mid-march (confirm) and Mid-April (program)

Paper Submission (Competitive) - by end of March

Conference planning year


  • Review the timeline in the Program Planning Manual

  • Establish modes of communication for PC, this includes at-large email list and group work space as well as an email account for submitters to communicate with the PC

  • Begin planning for PC work and how the group will operate in shaping the program

  • Communicate with past chairs regarding revision of conference manual.

  • Decide upon conference theme and design logo (if not already done so by LAC)


  • Co-chairs draft and share for comment Call for Proposals (Papers, Sessions, Posters, Lightning Talks). Workshop Coordinator will draft Call for Workshops.

  • Ensure you are set-up to use the OpenConf set-up. Contact executive board to arrange payment.

  • Obtain the shell of the previous year’s conference to use as a template from previous year’s co-chairs.


  • Draft, share, and revise call for workshops

  • Revise call for papers based on group feedback

  • Solicit volunteers to send out call for papers to various email lists

  • Finalize call for papers

  • Build and test submission form in OpenConf

  • Think about deadlines for Fellows applications, papers deadline, general submissions, sorting, notifications, etc.


  • Send out Call for Proposals (CFP) to IASSIST-L (co-chairs) and other lists (volunteers) - early Oct.

  • Send out call for workshops (if not done simultaneously with general call)

  • Create plan for delegating work among committee members

  • Solicit and decide upon volunteers for particular PC roles


  • As submissions come in, clarify with speakers any uncertainties or further information needed; have completed and finalized submissions by week before last week of November.

  • Set Deadline for submissions in November

  • Report on number of proposals submitted in AC Meetings (see calendar)


  • Begin proposal evaluations by early December

  • Submission review completed by mid December

  • Evaluate workshop submissions and consult with PC chairs for decisions - Deadline mid December for proposals

  • Work with LAC to determine workshop space and arrangements


  • Provide preliminary schedule to Sorting Coordinator and Committee

  • Sorting Coordinator and Committee refine groupings (with titles) and make final decisions on acceptances - Due mid-late January

  • Organize sessions into slots in the schedule (Chairs; after receive final groupings)

  • Finalize the schedule and firm up all acceptance decisions by late January/early February Deadline for notification of acceptance: Late January/early February

    • Send the acceptance/rejection letters, including information about slated time slot

    • Include original proposal and title / ask for changes and confirmation by March 1.


  • Gather info. needed for communicating with chairs and presenters

  • Request any special equipment needed for workshops with local committee

  • Plan and finalize workshop schedule

  • Create overall conference schedule; include a calculation of the number of sessions possible

  • Decide upon and solicit plenary speaker (in process with exec)


  • Rearrange session arrangement as needed based on any feedback from presenters and conflicts that arise with chair assignment.

  • Make schedule in OpenConf and update records in proposal database using the updated Excel file - rolling

  • Begin to recruit session chairs about eight weeks pre-conference and remind any panel sessions without chairs to recruit one.

  • Send Letter 1 to session chairs/speakers five to six weeks pre-conference, outlining expectations, confirming info. about collecting AV & other needs.

  • Get final program up online before end of March - Ideally time with registration opening.

  • Paper submissions collected by end of March (Paper Coordinator and Committee will review).


  • Finish recruiting all session chairs

  • Hear back from session chairs; revise program and plan for special accommodations as needed

  • Letter 2 for speakers (further expectations, details for sessions, info. from publications committee) -


  • Final logistics planning with LAC


  • Follow-up with presenters as needed, largely around collection of presentations (may be through OpenConf or other platform as needed)

  • Export program from OpenConf and provide to IASSIST Archivist (ask Admin)

  • Export shell files from OpenConf (.oc) and provide to next year’s PC chairs

  • Revise conference manual as needed

  • Celebrate on a job well done!

Choosing a Conference Title

This is a subjective choice that is best made among the Program Committee Co-Chairs and the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC). During the first month or two following the preceding conference the PC Co-Chairs should convene and decide on the title and text for the Call for Papers (see PC Co-Chair Duties). Regardless of when it is done, it needs to be done before the Web site and first publicity are available later that summer (see Planning Timeline). The choice of title will be a factor in the success of the Call for Proposals.

The conference logo itself is typically created by the LAC, but they will likely ask for feedback from the PC Co-Chairs.

IASSIST is not in a position to provide financial assistance for participation in the conference. All speakers and Chairs are expected to register for the conference and pay conference fees. Plenary speakers are not expected to pay conference fees and are invited to attend activities during the day of the plenary at no charge. This information should be conveyed to individuals at the time of initial contact to avoid any misunderstandings.

The local arrangements committee (LAC) may use the sponsorship funds they have negotiated to partly cover costs like accommodation or travel for plenary speakers or local organizers. Please keep in mind that it will fall on the LAC to a) provide the necessary steps and processes for reimbursements and/or compensation, and b) process the necessary tax paperwork for recipients.

The Admin Committee voted in May 2014 to discontinue previous IASSIST policy that the Workshop Presenters are offered one free conference registration per workshop. Starting from the 2015 conference there will not be any registration compensation for the workshop instructors.

Announcing the Call for Proposals (CFP) Including Papers, Sessions, Posters, Lightning Talks

The Program Commitee Co-Chairs are responsible for the coordinated distribution of the CFP. They will invite members of the larger conference planning committee to claim various lists to which to post.These same list assignments will be used to post notices at various strategic moments, e.g., when the program is posted, when registration opens and when the early bird registration deadline approaches. The Call for Workshops is drafted by the Workshops Coordinator but may be sent at the same time.

  • In the CFP, discourage people from proposing multiple sessions. It’s difficult to schedule sessions when presenters are in multiple spots, and it prevents other participants from speaking, potentially barring them from obtaining travel funds to attend.

  • Before sending the CFP ask the planning committee to check travel arrangements for the destination city. Bear in mind complicated or lengthy travel may make it difficult to formulate the program on Friday. Speakers often don’t want to be scheduled in the last session if their travel plans mean they have to leave early. Decide whether to collect speakers’ preference of day/session along with their proposals.

  • The CFP needs to go out in early October in the year preceding the conference.

Conference Schedule Format and Organization of the Program

The conference schedule is built in OpenConf (see Program Co-Chair Duties). It typically follows this schedule, but changes may be made depending on circumstance. Any proposed major changes should be run by the IASSIST Administrative Committee.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
All day meetings of IASSIST Admin and DDI Alliance Morning Workhops (3-5) Plenary 1 Plenary 2 Plenary 3 OR Concurrent Sessions G (no more than 5, Friday typically leaner)
Afternoon Workshops (3-5) Break Break Break
Opening Reception Concurrent Sessions A (no more than 5 Concurrent Sessions D (no more than 5) Concurrent Sessions H (no more than 5, Friday typically leaner)
Lunch Business Lunch Lunch
Concurrent Sessions B (no more than 5) Concurrent Sessions E (no more than 5) Lightning Talks
Break Birds of a Feather Session Conference Wrap-Up
Concurrent Sessions C (no more than 5) Concurrent Sessions F (no more than 5)
Poster Session IASSIST Banquet

There may be additional meetings, like IFDO meeting, on Tuesday. DDI Allianace may also choose to meet after the conference on Saturday.

Collection and Archiving of Conference Presentations

To be updated according to the new Zenodo strategy.

Session chairs and Program Chairs are in key position in reminding presenters to upload their presentation files to OpenConf and attach an appropriate license to them.