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AFS Review: News

Short Papers Are a Valuable New Feature of AFS Annual Meetings

Tuesday, February 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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Short papers proved their worth at their debut at the 2016 Joint AFS/ISFNR Meeting in Miami, so the 10-minute paper format will join the 20-minute paper and diamond formats as standard individual presentation options for the 2017 meeting. Short papers are scheduled in shorter blocks, but are allotted more time for discussion; each paper has time immediately afterwards for questions, and additional time reserved at the end of the session for discussion of the panel as a whole.

Many of those who submitted individual paper proposals in 2016 indicated their openness to the new option, and some distinctly preferred it: of about 240 individual presentation proposals, 10 submitted short papers, while more than a third said they "could go either way.”

Since up to six papers could be scheduled in a two-hour block, this pool of the willing gave the program committee greater flexibility in assembling panels. When common themes emerged, the committee could rely on those who could go short to make room for more. Thus, the program accommodated more presenters in fewer sessions. Ultimately, 65 short papers were scheduled.

More importantly, short paper presenters themselves found the reduced time represented a gain, not a loss.

More numerous, shorter presentations yielded more perspectives on a common theme, with space to explore the topic. A short paper panelist said "Our papers and topics were diverse yet related, the program committee did a good job putting us together. All agreed that we had a fine session.” Another said, "Encouraging more discussion and briefer presentations certainly does make the sessions more productive. I actually walked away from the session feeling like I learned something, both of my colleagues work and of my own--giving me ideas for further development.”

The craft of forming a shorter argument made for engaging presentations. As one presenter put it, "It forced me to cut the fat on my paper, which was difficult, but after I put in the sweat, I think I was able to get my point across in a more condensed manner.” Another said, "I remember Amanda Dargan saying something years ago about the gifts of what she called forced articulation. I've seen that gift play out in Diamond Sessions, but I think the short paper panel is more comfortable for AFS members since many of us are better prepared to give papers/lead discussions than to employ new technology.”

Audience members liked the format, too. One meeting participant called it "great for getting to hear more research during the conference.” Another called short papers "a refreshing change of pace.”



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