Proposals for 2019 Symposia and Minisymposia
Deadline: Tuesday, January 8, 5 p.m. EST
Patricia Janak, PhD - Chair, 2019 Program Committee
Symposia and minisymposia play a major role in shaping the scientific direction of the Society's annual meeting by focusing on timely, relevant research across the field. Proposals originate from SfN’s vast membership. Proposal submitters must be active SfN members. The following guidelines have been established by the Program Committee to clarify the procedures for [mini]symposium proposals. (Guidelines adapted from a statement by Jack Diamond in the 1981 Neuroscience Newsletter).
Areas addressed include:
- Symposia vs. Minisymposia
- Choice of Topic
- When to Put It Together
- Proposal Requirements
- Selection Process
Symposium versus Minisymposium
Each symposium contains four speakers who present during the 2.5-hour session. A minisymposium accommodates six speakers who give shorter talks over a 2.5-hour session. Whereas well-known, top researchers are typically chosen as speakers in regular symposia, minisymposia are geared to a generally younger cross-section of neuroscientists. The Program Committee created the minisymposium format so that junior investigators (including senior postdocs and junior faculty) have an opportunity to present exciting and cutting-edge research in a formal setting to a broad audience.
The same proposal cannot be submitted for consideration as a minisymposium and as a symposium. The Program Committee will examine the panel of proposed presenters to ensure adherence to the specific format (top researchers for symposia and junior investigators for minisymposia).
Choice of Topic
You are required to submit your proposal under one of SfN’s general themes, available in the proposal form. For content, successful topics summarize advances or present conflicting views in rapidly developing areas and communicate an overall view to the membership. Unless recent, exciting developments have occurred, topics appearing in the program within the past two years are less favorably considered. On the other hand, the principal argument in favor of a topic should not be that it has not been represented for many years. A [mini]symposium should not be used simply as a vehicle for one new or remarkable advance, padded out by two or three relatively pedestrian presentations. Nor should three or four possibly exciting pieces of work be arbitrarily lumped together with no clear relationship between them.
The [mini]symposium theme should be obvious from the titles of the individual presentations. A modest overlap among presentations is infinitely preferable to distinct islands, and cross-referencing among them can be truly rewarding, especially in somewhat controversial areas. Some excellent [mini]symposia have come from both broad and relatively narrow themes; the former tend to be multidisciplinary and educational; the latter, to capitalize on new breakthroughs in emerging areas.
Finally, proposals that touch on global issues in neuroscience will be of particular interest to the Program Committee for the 2019 annual meeting.
The person submitting the proposal must be an active member of SfN. The proposer must be prepared to provide a conflict of interest (COI) disclosure for each speaker. A relevant COI is a financial relationship to a product or device from a commercial interest associated with the topic on which one is speaking. A commercial interest is defined as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. Relationships with governmental agencies (e.g., NIH), nonprofits or universities do not have to be disclosed. An example of the COI form that is required from each participant is available via PDF.
It is required that you name in your proposal a chair (perhaps yourself) who has agreed to be responsible for the event and four speakers (six for a minisymposium). The person submitting the proposal and the chair must be members of SfN. These entities are allowed to be two separate members of SfN. Speakers may be SfN members or nonmembers. The chair’s responsibilities include entering required submission information for the entire session and making sure that all speakers have returned necessary logistical and programming information (i.e., disclosure forms, audiovisual needs) to SfN. You have the option of listing a co-chair, if desired.
During the submission and review process, the proposer (if different from the chair) will be the primary contact. After acceptance into the annual meeting program, the chair becomes the primary contact and, furthermore, is responsible for relaying any and all important information to and from the other speakers. If the chair or co-chair will give more than brief introductory remarks or moderate questions, he or she must also be listed as a speaker. Each participant should be familiar with the overall objectives of the [mini]symposium and of the material likely to be covered by the other speakers.
NOTE: All proposed speakers must have agreed to speak at the [mini]symposium before the proposal form is submitted.
Benefits for minisymposium participants include complimentary registration only. SfN cannot guarantee to meet any expenses of speakers, except registration fees. (Limited funds may be available to cover a portion of expenses for nonmember participants upon request and Program Committee approval, but participants should not be led to expect financial support from the Society). Do not propose as a speaker a member or nonmember residing outside North America unless you are sure he or she already plans to attend the annual meeting.
When to Put It Together
The Program Committee reviews proposals in January and makes the final selection in mid February, the latest date to include titles in the Preliminary Program. Your proposal, therefore, must be submitted to the proposal site by 5 p.m. ET, Tuesday, January 8, 2019. This means that it should be well-developed in design, particularly in regard to an agreed-upon chair and speakers, in November or December. Some of the best-organized and well-thought-out proposals seem to have been firmly put together during annual meeting time.
Your proposal should be firm before submitting, meaning that the agreement of the chair and speakers has already been obtained. The site will direct you to provide the following (all character limits include spaces):
- Contact information (institutions, emails, addresses) and COI disclosures for the chairs and speakers
- Titles of the overall [mini]symposium and the individual presentations
- Short description of the [mini]symposium for use in the annual meeting Program and Neuroscience Meeting Planner (500 characters)
- Three unique learning objectives describing what attendees will gain from attending your session (150 characters each)
- Why the proposal is timely (500 characters)
- The extent to which it could have a broad appeal to the membership (500 characters)
- The clinical relevance, if any, of the topic (500 characters)
- The diversity of your speakers (gender diversity, international, underrepresented minorities) (500 characters)
- Other considerations that make the proposal attractive
- Other recent citation of a published work for each speaker
Complete each section with as much information as you feel is necessary and relevant within the character limits. Do not write a monograph, do not praise just one particular breakthrough, and do not just complain of “neglect.” Keep to the guidelines indicated in the Choice of Topic section. You may want to mention when the topic and speakers were last represented in a symposium, minisymposium, or lecture.
NOTE: The Program Committee does not permit the inclusion of chairs or speakers who have participated in [mini]symposia in the past two years (Neuroscience 2017 or 2018).
You are required to note the general theme classification into which the proposal fits best, as well as any potentially cross-cutting themes. The committee tries to ensure that all the themes are represented, if good proposals are available.
Finally, scientific rigor is the structured and controlled application of the scientific method using the highest standards in the field, including considerations in experimental design, data analysis, and reproducibility. Annual meeting presenters will be expected to transparently report a study’s experimental design and analytical methods in their presentation. Presenters are asked to review and respond to a statement on scientific rigor for their annual meeting presentation.
The final selection is made by the Program Committee, whose primary consideration is to determine what will best serve the interests of the Society for Neuroscience and the success of the annual meeting. The committee may suggest substitutions of speakers or chairs. The committee may decide to combine two proposals into one and suggest which speakers should be retained in that event. Suggestions arising from discussions of the Program Committee are passed on directly to the proposed chair.
Proposals that are not accommodated one year will not be held over for consideration the next. However, a proposal may be re-submitted the following year and will receive the same consideration as all other proposals. For more information, contact SfN staff at (202) 962-4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of the proposals that are selected for Neuroscience 2019, several will be invited to submit a mini-review to the annual meeting edition of the Journal of Neuroscience. If you do not wish for your proposal to be considered for a mini-review, please indicate this within your proposal submission.
Appropriate representation of gender diversity, international scientists, and underrepresented minorities is strongly encouraged and will be considered in the selection of [mini]symposia by the Program Committee. The committee retains the right to work with the organizer to modify the composition of the session to ensure the diversity of the scientific program and participants. The committee discourages the inclusion of chairs or speakers who have participated in [mini]symposia in the past two years (2017-2018), as well as those proposed in another [mini]symposium or within the same year. The committee will give preference to topics that have not been represented in the past two years. SfN Councilors and Program Committee members cannot participate in [mini]symposia or during their terms of office.