Participate: Roles & Volunteers
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Volunteer to Be a Discussant

Feel free to volunteer to be a discussant at any time of the year. For those faculty without a presentation or roundtable appointment, acting as a discussant places you formally on the agenda. Sorry students, we typically do not invite students to act as discussants. If you do have a presentation or roundtable appointment on the conference agenda, best to check those dates/time and let us know of your conflicts. Discussant invitations are issued and confirmed by the track chairs directly through email.

Use the form at the very bottom of this page to volunteer as a discussant. Thank you!


Conference Roles

  • Presenting Author - the author is listed first in the conference program who is actually presenting the paper at the conference. This person is sometimes the primary author, but in some cases, may be a secondary or co-author. ACSP does its best to avoid scheduling conflicts for only the presenting authors.Primary Author - the author who took the lead responsibility in preparing and writing the paper.
  • Co-Author - One of several additional authors on a paper who should be noted for their contributions but may or may not be in attendance at the session. ACSP will not adjust the schedule of the presentation for a co-author.
  • Moderator (a.k.a. Timekeeper) - This individual "manages" the session by keeping track of time for the presentations and introducing each presenter. In most cases, the moderator is one of the presenters already scheduled in the session. One of the others presenters should track time while the moderator presents his/her own paper. This person acting in this simple role should not be confused with the discussant.
  • Discussant - This is an individual knowledgeable in the topic of the session that receives the papers prior to the conference and tries to summarize, synthesize and make compelling comments about each and all papers. Specific suggestions to each paper should probably not be made during the discussion period of the session, but may occur individually between the discussant the author/presenter. Often times, the discussant is also asked to act as the moderator of the session. It is the decision of the track chair(s) whether or not to include a discussant as part of the session.
  • Roundtable Moderator - This individual is responsible for ensuring the flow of the roundtable discussion. S/he poses questions, asks follow-up questions, and seeks input from the audience.
  • Roundtable Organizer - This individual proposes a topic for the conference and seeks confirmation from participants for the roundtable prior to the abstract submission deadline. Note: organizers are partially responsible for making sure participants agreeing to participate are not already committed to another roundtable.
  • Pre-Organized Session Organizer - This person has a lot of responsibility. If you have an idea for a topic for an entire session, you may organize and entire session (typically 3-4 papers). You propose a session title, list all other participating authors and their paper titles, and identify a potential discussant. You must confirm permission of these other participants in advance; reminding them that their participation in this pre-organized session will preclude them from presenting an individual paper. The organizer is responsible for setting up the session in the abstract management system; however individual authors are responsible for submitting their own abstracts to the system.
  • Track Chair - An individual invited by the Conference Committee Chair who is given the responsibility for reviewing the abstract submission for all abstracts within their topic. Track chairs organize individual papers into coherent sessions with a title and discussant.
  • Reviewer - Abstracts are accepted or rejected for presentation. Reviewers specializing in the topic, in addition to the Track Chairs, may be asked to read and recommend a decision for a particular abstract.
  • ACSP Staff and Conference Committee Chair - With tired, smiling faces, they solve the problems you didn't anticipate and are most important to you personally. Be nice to these people. With your patience and flexibility, most of the time they can intervene and solve any crisis.

Session Moderator/Timekeeper Guidelines

  • Arrive at the session room five minutes prior to the scheduled starting time and introduce yourself to the presenters.
  • Attempts are made to assign a student room attendant to every session room. This person will help you contact necessary parties to take care of the audio visual equipment, room temperature control, and to assist you and the presenters at any time.
  • Look on the front table or podium for the yellow and red cards to assist you with letting presenters know their time frame. Please return these cards to the front of the room when the session is completed.
  • Inform presenters of the maximum time they can use for their paper presentation. This time can vary depending on the number of papers in the session and whether there is a discussant who needs time to respond. Introduce the yellow and red card system to all
  • When introducing the session - please be brief - tell the audience how many papers will be presented, how long each presentation will be and when there will be time for questions. You will not have presenter bios, nor should you provide any personal commentary. Time is a premium for the presenters.
  • For each paper, introduce the author and the title of the paper.
  • Show the yellow card to the presenter when 5 minutes of presentation time is left. Show the red card when time is over. Be firm in your request to end the presentation in fairness to all other presenters. If you don't think you can insist if at all necessary, you might pass the moderator responsibility to someone in the room who can.
  • Ensure the session finishes on time. Sessions that overrun will affect next sessions.
  • In case you are presenting a paper yourself during the session you are moderating, we strongly recommend you present at the end of the session, even if this means altering from the published order of presentations. The efficient management of the session will benefit from it. When presenting your paper ask one of the other presenters to manage your presentation time using the cards.

Discussant Guidelines

If you are interested in acting as a discussant, please submit your name to conference organizers using the form below. It is the role of the discussant to raise points of discussion from the papers before opening the converation to include the audience. The review should be brief enabling time for questions and responses.

  • We strongly encourage you to contact each presenter in advance of the conference, follow up on any that have not submitted final papers and read each text prior to the session to prepare appropriate comments. Students and young faculty truly benefit from your effort.
  • The conference committee does its best to avoid conflicts for discussants with their own paper presentations, however; if the end result is a paper-discussant conflict, we will ask you to step aside from your discussant commitment. We will not rearrange the schedule.
  • In managing the question-and-answer-time, please ask questioners to identify themselves and to keep their comments as short as possible to allow the presenters to respond in full.
  • Ensure the session finishes on time. Sessions that overrun will affect next sessions.


Volunteer to Be a Discussant Using the Form Below


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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