The anticipation is building as our 2017 Annual Meeting approaches. The theme, Anthropology Matters! generated an exciting, dynamic, and at times wonderfully radical array of session submissions that that promise an engaging and memorable conference for all those attending in Washington, DC.
The initial scheduling for the 5700 submissions is now well underway, however, as we are in DC with rather limited space, there were a number of additional sessions that could not be accommodated. This is an unfortunate reality as the association and conference participation continue to grow in size. To improve the understanding of, and planning for, the review process in the coming years, the AAA staff and I thought it might be a good idea to offer a bit of “behind the scenes” information as to how it works.
Each of the AAA sections was asked to review and rank sessions submitted to them and send those results to the AAA. The ranked sessions from each section were then divided as follows: top 50% into the A category, the next 30% into the B category, and the rest into the 20% C category. Programming was done by moving through the ranked lists of sessions from each section simultaneously (e.g., all A’s were programmed first, then all B’s, then on to C’s) until no more space was available. Sessions ranked at the very bottom of their section’s pile (in the Cs) had the highest likelihood of not being scheduled.
We received 793 full panel submissions (oral, roundtable, executive session, retrospective, etc.) plus another 823 individually volunteered papers. Of those individually volunteered papers, most were compiled into 155 panel sessions by the sections. A smaller amount were not compiled into sessions and those individuals were all offered poster slots. The total number of sessions submitted was 948 (more than 5700 individual submissions). In the DC venues we have space for 844 sessions. Seven of those slots were allocated for the late-breaking sessions, leaving 837 slots remaining for the 948 submitted sessions. This resulted in approximately 12 percent of submitted sessions not being selected due to their rankings and the availability of space.
There were also 194 posters and gallery submissions scheduled in spaces that do not compete with sessions or roundtables. The scheduling of the workshops, special events, section business meetings, film screenings, etc. is still underway.
I have now had the pleasure of working through this scheduling process twice and, while it is not perfect, it does work quite well. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the section program committee members who review and rank submissions, doing the lion’s share of the critical intellectual work in this process. The staff of the AAA are consummate professionals and tireless at working to make sure there is a minimal amount of overlap, slippage, or other problems in the schedule itself. We all share the common goal of continuing to work toward improving lines of communication, quality of experience, and sense of community at our Annual Meeting.
It is my hope to see as many of you as possible attending the meeting, regardless of whether or not you are presenting your work this time around. Being there, participating, creating, acting, pushing anthropology to one another and out into the world is a critical way to make Anthropology Matter.
See you in DC!
Cite as: Fuentes, Agustin. 2017. “Inside the Annual Meeting Scheduling Process.” Anthropology News website, July 21, 2017. doi: 10.1111/AN.527