Symposia and Minisymposia Information

Proposal submission is now closed.

Liqun Luo, PhD - Chair, 2015 Program Committee

The Program Committee invites the membership to submit proposals for the Symposia and Minisymposia to be held at Neuroscience 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. 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.

Visit Neuroscience 2014 for past session examples.

Areas addressed include:

Symposia vs. Minisymposia

A symposium contains four speakers who present during the two-and-a-half-hour session. A minisymposium accommodates six speakers who give shorter talks over a two-and-a-half-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).

Topic Choice

Submitters are required to submit proposals under one of SfN’s primary themes listed in the proposal form. Successful topics summarize advances or present conflicting views in rapidly developing areas and communicate an overall view to the membership. Unless recent or exciting developments have occurred, topics appearing 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 2015 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. An example of a 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 the proposer name a chair who has agreed to be responsible for the event and four speakers (six for a minisymposium). The chair must be a member of SfN. Speakers may be SfN members or nonmembers. The chair’s responsibility includes entering submission requirements for the entire session and for making sure that all speakers have returned necessary logistical and programming information (i.e., disclosure forms, audiovisual needs) to SfN. Submitters 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 symposium participants include complimentary registration to attend the meeting. 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 website to submit symposia and minisymposia typically opens on the first day of the annual meeting, and proposals are accepted until early January.  The Program Committee reviews proposals and makes final selections in February, the latest date to include titles in the Preliminary Program. Proposals 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 the annual meeting.

How to Present

A 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
  • Title 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)
  • The overall objectives for the [mini]symposium (1500 characters)
  • 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 (women, international, underrepresented minorities) (500 characters) 
  • Other considerations that make the proposal attractive
  • One recent citation of a published work for each speaker 

Complete each section with as much information as 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. 

The proposer may want to mention when the topic and speakers were last represented in a symposium, minisymposium, or lecture. Please note that the Program Committee does not permit the inclusion of chairs or speakers who have participated in lectures or [mini]symposia in the past two years.  You may view a list of these individuals here via PDF.

Finally, it is 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.

Selection Process

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.

Of the proposals that are selected for Neuroscience 2015, 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 women, 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 or lectures in the past two years (2013-2014), as well as those proposed in another [mini]symposium or lecture 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 lectures during their terms of office.

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