Roles of an onsite session organizer
Being a session chair at a EURO conferences is a truly important service both for the event itself and for our OR community. Indeed, the sessions are a pride of us all; we from European OR are proud of our session chairs and very grateful to them. As a matter of fact, being as session chair means a high responsibility and a considerable workload for the session chair. But to certainly the same extent it should mean joy, cheer and a great experience for him or her.
As a chair of a session you are its organizer, its representative towards all sides, especially towards one (occasionally more) stream chairs (and stream organizers), towards the possible authors of abstracts which you as a session chair will contact and invite, towards the Program Committee (PC), our general and emerging conference community, and also the further interested publicity which might be interested in OR, in the conference and in the subject of the session.
From the viewpoint of their ways of organization and inclusion into the entire Program and, right under it, one of its Areas, there are 2 kinds of streams: the Invited Streams, each one with invited sessions, and the Contributed Streams, each one with contributed sessions. Herewith we have 2 kinds of sessions: the Invited Sessions and the Contributed Sessions. Any of these sessions consists on ideally 4, and sometimes only 3 abstracts. At EURO conferences we apply, with very few exceptions, the rule of “one speaker – one abstract”. Besides of the session type “Normal”, we have some more “session types” which, in exceptional cases of session organization or communication, can be discussed with and between the stream chair, the area chair and especially the PC Chair. The latter one decides about the session types.
All these observation already demonstrate how multifaceted the service of a session chair is. Indeed, the many aspects of technical usage of the abstract submission system, broad and general announcements of conference and sessions, personally, in presentations and in the media, information about the scope of each session, reminders about deadlines of abstract submission or registration and further important news, feedback on contents of abstracts, their developments and updates including possible revisions, the final acceptance of the abstracts (occasionally their reallocation into another session or stream, or as an ultimate case a rejection), and the arrangements and position of the session for inclusion into the program, presence and leadership in the sessions, are highly important communicational parts of a session chair, with and at the side of all the mentioned persons. Without such vivid and with our EURO conferences typically very friendly communications and exchanges, discussions and new ideas jointly created, none of our EURO conferences could have advanced, matured and become another beautiful success.
Indeed, without the community of us all related to a EURO conference, with the Session Chairs being in a central and strategical, professional and empathetical position, we could have no EURO conferences. In a “charismatic” sense of community and interaction, of respect and joy, for the Session Chairs and all of their collaborators and friends, a EURO conference starts even “earlier” and “takes place” during many months of preparation before the EURO conferences can be celebrated at its venue. This has meant so much cheer and fun for them all in any of those timespans. The services of the session chairs have been irreplaceable in building up our strong EURO conference programs and, eventually, our lively European OR community. Therefore, the session chairs have received rich, diverse and important information, guidance and advice from stream chairs and PC members, and returned to them important feedback, including news, “early warnings” and proposals for smaller or greater improvements. Likewise the session chairs have been first and premium discussants, supporters and sometimes teachers of the many authors with their abstracts. These authors often are very young, or are joining a big EURO conference for the first time. Therefore, the services of the session chairs are works not only on numerical quantity but especially on quality, notably in science and application, didactics and pedagogics, warmth and humanity.
Given this immense and ever growing roles of the Session Chairs, EURO has decided that the session chairs will be viewed, addressed and integrated as even closer connected and by mutual commitment involved into our EURO conferences. This will also include the Session Chairs’ presence at the conferences where ideally and generally in person they are chairing their sessions. The second part of our explanatory text, called as “Roles of an onsite session chair 2 (around the session)”, will be about this precious subdomain of our Session Chairs’ services.
|As soon as possible after getting the invitation to organize a session||Chose a name of your session and put it in the system (or send it to your stream organizer)1|
|As soon as possible after getting the invitation to organize a session||Invite presentations to your session2||Ask 5-8 colleagues to submit their abstracts in the abstract submission system (finally, not everyone invited can attend the conference).3|
|Abstract submission due date||Monitor the number and quality of abstracts submitted to your session||Session chair is responsible for the content and formal correctness of the submitted abstract.|
|First author registration due date||Monitor the number of registered first authors||The abstracts where the first author is not registered will be removed from the system. The session chair may remind the authors to register.|
|Immediately after the first author registration due date||Balance the sessions||Reaching out to the “Unsorted” contributed abstracts4 the session chair should aim at shaping a session with 4 abstracts, respecting the session topic. In case of too many abstracts in a session the session chair should contact the stream organizer in order to balance the session and the stream.5|
|Before the schedule is generated||Put abstracts in the order you want them to be scheduled||The presentations are scheduled automatically in the order in which abstracts are presented in the system.6|
A central part of a Session Chair’s work is taking place in the “Abstract Submission System” of EURO. This system is implemented at every EURO conference, where it brings together all the conference participants both with each other and with the development of the conference program. Furthermore, this system is interconnected with the Registration System of the conference. All session chairs and all of their aforementioned colleagues and friends will enter it via their usernames and passwords, which they all either have - or will otherwise kindly award - at EURO (https://www.euro-online.org/web/pages/1/home; please see the user center in the upper right corner). That user center is connected with the EURO database. Being inscribed at the EURO database is free of charge and secure.↩︎
Each Invited Session is organized and built up by an Invited Session Chair who him- or herself was invited by an invited stream organizer. The invited session chair contacts and invites, guides and advises the authors, especially the “first author”, of the abstracts in his or her sessions. These first authors are expected to register to the conference, to attend it – in our “on site” case: in person - and to deliver his or her talk (or presentation) in the session. This already shows what a relatively long and close contact and collaboration every invited session chair typically has and conducts with his or her session and its members.↩︎
Every Invited Session Organizer when entering the Abstract Submission System with his or her username and password will notice the link “My Sessions” and, when entering there, will find the page of the considered Invited Session and be able to work in it for several months, benefitting from all of its page’s functions. This work usually starts by finding in that page the “Code” of the invited session, by inviting his or her colleagues and friends related with the subject of the session and informing them about this “Code”. For the service of inviting and reaching out to the related community, it is recommended by the PC and EURO to use the way of kind, a bit fresh while also solemn letters, especially by e-mails, which include all the basic information and links about conference and session, and the “Code” of the session. If the Invited Session Chair has any questions here on technical or lettering matters or issues, the related invited stream organizer and the PC member(s) will be glad to collaborate on these, and to give a helping and friendly hand.↩︎
In contrast, each Contributed Session consists of abstracts which were sent to the so-called Contributed Stream of the underlying area, where they first of all went into a contributed session named “Unsorted”. This session receives all the so-called contributed abstracts which will have been submitted to the conference via the Abstract Submission System by selecting (from among the topics offered there) the name of the area. Indeed, this topic also replicates in the names of the area and of the contributed stream. Out of this contributed session “Unsorted” with its sometimes large pool of contributed abstracts, new Contributed Sessions are derived and established based on the discussions and agreements between the Area Organizer - who usually is a member of the PC and the Contributed Stream Organizer - and the new contributed session chair. Together they define the name of the new contributed session, reallocate some well-fitting contributed abstracts by “moving” them from the contributed session “Unsorted” into the targeted new contributed sessions. This moving always is done by the help of the “Codes” of one of these novel contributed sessions.↩︎
When the conference program is becoming ready in order to be finalized by the PC (which usually coincided with the termination of the “Registration” process around end of March to early June of a EURO conference year), there will have been a “rebalancing” among various streams and sessions. By then the Invited Streams, Invited Sessions and Invited Abstracts will typically be in a majority when compared with the “Contributed” ones.↩︎
Just as in every session of a stream within the abstract submission system the order of the abstracts will also be the order of the talks (or presentations) in the session at the conference, in every stream within the abstract submission system the order of the sessions will usually be the order of the sessions in the stream as going to be scheduled in the course of the conference. This duplicity is just one among many expressions of what we sometimes call as the “self-similarity” in our abstract submission system. It ranges from the level of the entire program, with its areas, along streams and sessions, down to each single abstract or talk. This way of a logical and understandable, ergonomic and beautiful organization of our system also allows for a clear, swift and pleasant communication in and between all the levels of the system. This means a particular advantage for each session chair, especially in his or her communications and arrangements with all the others.