Organized Oral Session Proposals

2017 ESA Annual Meeting
Portland, Oregon
August 6 – 11, 2017

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Proposals that are incomplete or received after the deadline will not be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will not make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST whether you have completed your submission or not.

About Organized Oral Sessions

We invite proposals for organized oral sessions for the 2017 ESA Annual Meeting. Organized oral sessions are organized around a specific topic with 10 speakers invited by the organizer at the proposal stage. These sessions are distinguished from symposia in that there is less emphasis on breadth of appeal and overall synthesis. Unlike symposia, a strong organized oral session proposal may be comprised largely of related case studies. Proposals are encouraged to address the meeting theme, “Linking Biodiversity, Material Cycling and Ecosystem Services in a Changing World,” if appropriate, but doing so is not necessary. Any timely and coherent subject of broad ecological interest will be considered. We also welcome proposals that explore interdisciplinary connections with areas of social and natural science outside of ecology or that relate to ecological education at any level. An organized oral session runs for 3.5 hours and consists of 10 talks, each 20 minutes in length. Unlike symposia, organized oral sessions do not have a period devoted to discussion. Proposals listing more or fewer than 10 confirmed speakers will not be considered.

Proposal Format

All proposals must include:

  • Session title.
  • Organizer (Name, institution, email). This person is the point of contact for the session and responsible for communicating with speakers.
  • Co-organizers (Name, institutions, and email for each).
  • Moderator (Name, institution email). The moderator may not serve as a speaker in this session. The organizer or co-organizer may serve as moderator.
  • 10 Speakers (Names, affiliations, and tentative talk titles). Only speakers who have been contacted and have committed to the session should be listed.
  • Session description (< 400 words) : Should focus on the theme of the session. May include background information, goals, objectives, importance, and interest to the membership of ESA. The description should avoid overly specialized language. Any ecologist attending the meeting should be able to understand it. It will appear in the online program and be read by attendees deciding whether or not to attend the session.
  • Session justification (< 250 words): The justification should focus on how the review criteria are met by the proposal. It should not simply repeat the description.
  • One sentence session summary (<50 words): This is a very short version of the session description. It will appear in the print program and be read by attendees deciding whether or not to attend the session.

Review Criteria

All proposals will be peer reviewed and scored by reviewers selected by the ESA Program Committee. The Program Committee may accept, decline, or offer an opportunity to present the proposed work in a more appropriate format (organized poster session, workshop, or special session).  Session organizers will be notified of decisions by December 8, 2016. Proposals will be assessed using the following criteria. The weighting of particular criteria may vary depending on the nature of proposals.

A strong organized oral session proposal will:

Scientific strength

  • feature significant contributions to or advances in ecological understanding.
  • present innovative and original work.

Structure and organization

  • form a coherent whole through contributions from individual talks.
  • offer a range of perspectives through the collection of speakers.
  • avoid the appearance of biases toward their organizers’ own perspectives.


  • list exactly 10 CONFIRMED speakers (speakers who have been contacted and have committed to the session).
  • include a specific title for every speaker’s talk.
  • offer a diverse mix of speakers, each of whom brings new contributions to the session.

Other details to consider

In the interest of broadening participation, an individual is allowed to be the lead organizer for only one scientific session (symposium, organized oral, or organized poster).

Speakers who commit to speaking in an organized oral session should be aware that the one presentation rule will be enforced. That is, anyone who is the presenter in the session cannot also present in another scientific session (symposium, organized oral, organized poster, contributed talk, contributed poster). Organizers are responsible for notifying any speakers they recruit about this rule. The one presentation rule does not apply to participants speaking in Ignite sessions, special sessions, workshops, or a plenary.

There is an exemption to the one presentation rule for an author submitting an abstract for a second presentation IF the second abstract is directly related to education or outreach. If you are unsure whether an exemption would apply in your case, please ask.

Please note that meeting registration is not waived or reduced for anyone participating in any capacity in an organized oral session. This includes the session organizer(s), moderator, and speakers, all of whom must register at the one day or full week rate. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to everyone they recruit to help with the session. No ESA funds are available for honoraria or to support participant travel.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

After acceptance decisions have been made and the scheduling for the meeting is underway, cancellations and schedule changes are very disruptive to meeting planning. It is therefore very important that session organizers obtain firm commitments from their invited speakers before submitting their proposal. If a proposal is accepted, the organizer will be required to submit an up to date version of the session details and confirmed speaker list in January. Organizers will be informed of their session’s time and date in mid February. Organized oral sessions may be scheduled for any oral session time slot between Monday afternoon and Friday morning. The program committee will attempt to avoid any overt conflicts between sessions and will give organizers an opportunity to notify us of known scheduling conflicts (strictly defined as conflicts between accepted sessions).

Communication with speakers

If a proposal is accepted as a session, it is very important that the organizer communicates with speakers between December and August about the acceptance status of the session, the confirmation status of speakers, abstract requirements and deadlines, session scheduling information, and expectations for participation in the conference. Here are a few details that all speakers should know up front. Miscommunication about them can disrupt session planning later in the process. We are unable to honor scheduling requests. When asking speakers to commit to the session, organizers should inform them that the session could be scheduled any day Monday through Friday. We cannot schedule or move a session to accommodate the availability of speakers. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session. It is the responsibility of the session organizer to make sure each speaker submits an abstract for his/her talk using the unique link that will be emailed to each speaker in early February. It is important to make sure all of your speakers are aware of the abstract submission deadline early on. All speakers are required to register for the conference. Registration will not be waived or reduced for any speaker. We greatly appreciate the contributions of invited speakers, but due to the number of organized sessions, we typically invite over 800 speakers each year. ESA is not able to provide any financial assistance, stipends, waived or reduced registration, travel assistance, or paid lodging to speakers. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to their speakers early on when it is easier to replace speakers.


For session organizers

Once an organized oral session has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session. Once a session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for sessions for the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting.

For presenters

Instructions for how to cancel are included in all notification emails sent to presenters. Presenters should reply to any of those emails to cancel. For more detailed information, see our Cancellation Policy.

Important Dates

September 15, 2016 Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
December 8, 2016 Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
January 9, 2017 Deadline to submit session revisions and reaffirm speaker lists.
February 9, 2017 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.
February 23, 2017 Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts.

How To Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. Click the link below to begin by selecting which type of proposal you would like to submit. You will be able to return to the proposal to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in two automated emails you will receive, first when you begin and then when complete your submission.

Submission Forms


Dr Christopher Swan
Program Chair
Geography & Environmental Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD 21250
Phone: (410) 455-3957

Jennifer Riem
Science Programs Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218