Call for Organized Oral Session Proposals

2020 ESA Annual Meeting

Official logo of the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting shows a cityscape in the foreground with mountains in the background and it is raining 1's and 0's (binary) digits.

Salt Lake City, Utah
August 2 – August 7, 2020
Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, September 19, 2019

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.

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

ESA meetings, open to ESA members and those interested in ecology, are among the most respected meetings of ecologist in the science community. ESA is committed to providing a safe, productive and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and ESA staff. All participants including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, ESA staff, service providers and others are expected to abide by the ESA Meetings Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct applies to all ESA meeting-related events including those sponsored by organizations other than ESA but held in conjunction with ESA events, in public or private facilities. In addition, ESA members and authors of ESA publications must adhere to the ESA Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy.

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 you complete your submission.

Begin a Session Submission

About Organized Oral Sessions

We invite proposals for organized oral sessions for the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting.

These sessions are organized around a specific topic and include 6 speakers, all of whom are invited by the organizer at the proposal stage. Organized oral 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, “Harnessing the ecological data revolution,” 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.

New in 2020

Beginning with the 2020 meeting, each organized oral session will be 90 minutes long, consisting of 6 talks, each 15 minutes in length. Proposals listing more or fewer than 6 confirmed speakers will not be considered. All speakers who submit an abstract for an accepted session will be required to pay a non-refundable abstract fee of $60 USD at the time of abstract submission (January-February).  ESA will offer an opt-out mechanism for those that lack funding to cover the fee.

Proposal Format

  • 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, institution, 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.
  • 6 Speakers (Name, institution, email, and tentative talk title for each). 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.
  • Diversity description (< 400 words, optional): Describe how this session involves diverse perspectives and voices as elaborated in ESA’s Diversity Statement.
  • Broader benefits description (< 400 words, optional): Describe how this session benefits broader society (for example through education, public policy, communication/public engagement, application to commercial technology, national security or international cooperation).


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 oral session, Inspire, workshop, special session). Session organizers will be notified of decisions by December 12, 2019. Proposals will be assessed using the following criteria. The weight of particular criteria may vary depending on the nature of proposals.

Criteria for a strong organized oral session proposal:

Scientific strength

  • features significant contributions to or advances in ecological understanding.
  • presents innovative and original work.
  • benefits broader society (for example through education, public policy, communication/public engagement, application to commercial technology, national security or international cooperation).

Structure and organization

  • forms a coherent whole through contributions from individual talks.
  • offers a range of perspectives through the collection of speakers.
  • avoids the appearance of biases toward their organizers’ own perspectives.


  • lists 6 confirmed speakers (speakers who have been contacted and have committed to the session).
  • includes a specific title for every speaker’s talk.
  • involves diverse perspectives and voices as elaborated in ESA’s Diversity Statement.


Other details to consider

In the interest of broadening participation, an individual can be the lead organizer for only one invited paper session (symposium, organized oral session, Inspire session).


One presentation rule

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, 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 Inspire 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 primarily focused on education or outreach. If you are unsure whether an exemption would apply in your case, please ask.


Meeting registration

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 Thursday afternoon. 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 Thursday. 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 mid January. 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. 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 a 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 2021 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 19, 2019 Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.

December 12, 2019 Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.

January 6, 2020 Deadline to submit session revisions and reaffirm speaker lists.

February 13, 2020 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.

February 20, 2020 Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts.


Dr. Kiona Ogle
Program Chair
School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ
Phone: (928) 523-6200

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