June 11, 2012
By Robert B. Townsend
At its June meeting, the AHA Council made a number of changes to the Association’s guidelines for the annual meeting.
In response to an unusually large number of requests this year, the revisions now codify and explain a long-standing practice barring the submission of single papers, noting (in Guideline 4.2.E) that “Due to the overwhelming number of complete session proposals that the Program Committee must sort through, we will not be able to accept single paper proposals and assemble them into complete sessions.”
In item 5.1.B, the Guidelines clarify the responsibilities of the session chairs. Recent Program Committees have been deeply troubled by the number of sessions in which speakers (often senior members of the profession) run well over their allotted time—cutting into the time for other presenters and audience questions. To ensure that all speakers are aware of their obligations, session chairs are formally reminded to contact members of their panels to inform them of the time allotted for their talks. As before, the Guidelines also remind chairs to encourage participants to deliver their presentations in an engaging manner, and to discourage them from simply reading printed papers aloud.
Finally, at the request of the 2013 Program Committee, the Guidelines now clearly remind session organizers (in 5.1.C) to be wary of potential conflicts of interest. Program Committee members noted a number of session proposals in which participants were serving as commentators on sessions that included their students. The guideline as revised reminds members that the Association’s Conflict of Interest policy bars “comments from individuals with a ‘relationship with a paper presenter or author [that] would prevent them from forming a fair and disinterested judgment.’”
All policies related to the work of the Program Committee are overseen by the AHA’s Research Division. Comments and concerns about the revisions can be directed to Robert B. Townsend, the staff member for the Division