April 10, 2018

Conference Rules & Guidelines

Before submitting a conference proposal or participating in a conference, participants are encouraged to review the policies and guidelines outlined below. If you have any questions, please email CESS’ Administrative Coordinator.

Conference Rules

Conference Language Policy

Submission guidelines for:

Individual papers
Pre-organized panels
Author-critic forums
Single-session workshops
Pre-conference workshops

Guidelines for:


Conference Rules

Please read through the four rules below before submitting a proposal for a CESS conference. Failure to comply with these rules may lead to you being withdrawn from the conference program.

1. Commitment to Participate

By submitting a proposal to participate in a CESS conference (or being included on someone else’s panel proposal), you commit yourself to following through with the steps necessary to participate. This includes: obtaining funding for the costs of participation as needed, applying for a visa on a timely basis if needed, keeping your schedule free of conflicting commitments, and fully preparing for the conference.

2. Requirement to be a CESS Member and Register for the Conference

All presenters are required to have or obtain current membership of CESS. Membership offers a range of benefits, including a discount on the conference registration fee. Without the support of our members, CESS could not exist.

If you are accepted to participate, you must register by the registration deadline in order to be included in the conference program. Presenters who have not registered for the conference by the registration deadline will be withdrawn from the program. All participants (and audience members) must also pay the registration fee. The fee may be paid in advance or upon arrival at the conference.

3. Withdrawal Policy

If you are accepted to participate in the conference program but then have to withdraw, you must notify the Conference Committee as soon as possible. We suggest that you also notify the Chair, Discussant, and other members of your panel.

4. Limits on Participation

Each conference participant may appear on the program for up to three panels, including a strict limit on presenting only one paper at the conference. For the other two panels you may have a role such as Chair, Discussant, or Roundtable Panelist. You may submit two paper proposals, but only one will be accepted. If you are a co-author on another paper, that paper may be presented by the other author.

If we receive at the time of proposal submission, a request to avoid a certain day in scheduling a paper or panel, we will do our best to accommodate the request. However, no guarantees are made. Once the preliminary program has been set, there is very little chance of being able to make any scheduling changes. We ask that you respect the difficult work of the conference organization and make such requests only in exceptional circumstances.

You may not present the same paper at the Regional Conference and the Annual Conference in the same year. You may submit the same proposal to both conferences– you must note that you are doing so in your abstract– but it will only be accepted for one conference in a given year.

Presenters whose papers have been accepted for the program, but who find they are unable to attend, occasionally ask if a colleague can read their paper on their behalf. This is not permitted. Discussion of current work is an essential element of the conference, and it is impossible to discuss a paper as usefully if the author is not a participant in that discussion. In exceptional circumstances, if a presenter has made every effort to attend the conference but is prevented from doing so, and if the available technology permits, it may be possible (but it is not guaranteed) to arrange for video conferencing of a participant’s presentation.

Conference Language Policy

Because no other language is so widely used across the Central Eurasian region, the default language for all CESS conferences is English. We aim to foster cross-regional comparisons, not to limit discussions to scholars within regional enclaves.

At the same time, there can be cases where use of another language is justified. Only panels may include presentations in languages other than English, and only in the case that this was stated in the panel proposal and approved by the CESS Conference Committee. Any panels working in other languages will be marked accordingly in the conference program.

If your proposal is accepted for presentation in English, you must present in English and no other language. It is not acceptable to ask someone to provide translation at the panel, nor to have someone else read your paper for you. During the general discussion, if someone wants to intervene in a different language and if they are able to get someone to volunteer to help with translation, that is acceptable as we do want to maximize the possibilities for spontaneous discussion. However, such interventions should be especially brief, since sequential translation increases the time that is consumed.


Submission Guidelines for . . .

Individual Papers

Individual paper presenters are included in a panel with a total of 3-4 presenters. When the CESS Conference Committee accepts individual paper proposals, they will assemble them into panels under a common theme, and arrange to have a Discussant and Chair for the panel.

When applying, you will need to choose a discipline/theme that is most appropriate for your paper. You will need to enter your contact data, a paper title, and type or paste in an abstract (250-400 words). Incomplete submissions will not be considered.
You may find our guidelines for writing abstracts helpful.

Pre-organized Panels

A pre-organized panel is comprised of 3-4 presenters, a Chair, and a Discussant. THe panel is unified by a commonality or interrelatedness between the papers of the presenters. The Chair and Discussant should not also be presenters. We strongly encourage panels that are comparative across regions, that demonstrate different disciplinary approaches to a common theme, and which are comprised of presenters from a range of institutions.

Pre-organized panel proposals are initially submitted by one person who is designated the Panel Convener. The Convener must submit: her/his contact information; a proposed panel title; the names (with institutions) of the proposed Chair and Discussant; an abstract (250-400 words) explaining the rationale for the panel and how the papers are interrelated; and a discipline/theme (selected from a list) most appropriate for the panel.

If one or more presenters wishes to present in a language other than English, the Convener should indicate the proposed language of presentation in the panel abstract. However, all abstracts must be submitted in English [see CESS’ Conference Language Policy above].

Once the proposal is entered into the system, the Convener will be sent a link to circulate to the panel’s presenters where they should enter their contact information, paper titles, and an abstract (250-400 words).

Panel submissions lacking individual abstracts or other key information will not be considered. Panels that lack a proposed Chair or Discussant may be considered, but the strongest consideration will be given to complete panel submissions.

At the conference, each presenter presents their paper, the discussant makes comments, and then there is a general discussion. Because the general discussion after all the presentations is as important a part of the panel as are the prepared presentations, it is essential that each presenter adheres to the time regime. The order of paper presentations should follow to that which is indicated in the program.

If a panelist withdraws from a pre-organized panel, the CESS Conference Committee may place another presenter on the panel. We will try to communicate with the organizer to ensure the acceptability of the fit, but this may not be possible when withdrawals occur late in the planning process.


A roundtable consists of a moderator and 4-6 commentators. Roundtables have a well-defined theme which typically addresses some area of current development in Central Eurasian studies. This might be recent events of importance to the region, new theoretical developments, and so forth.

Commentators should be selected to represent a variety of views. Commentators do not present the results of research, but rather their perspectives on the chosen theme. Typically, the moderator initially allocates 5-7 minutes to each of the commentators to place key issues on the table for discussion, and then opens up the discussion to allow audience members to add questions or comments.

Roundtable proposals should be submitted by one person who is designated the Roundtable Convener. Conveners must submit: her/his contact information; a proposed roundtable title; an abstract (250-400 words) explaining the rationale for the roundtable; and a discipline/theme (selected from a list) most appropriate for the roundtable.

Author-Critic Forums

In an author-critic forum, three or four “critics” discuss a recently published book on Central Eurasian Studies that is expected to have a significant impact on the field. Each critic speaks for about 10-12 minutes, followed by a 10-12 minute response from the book’s author. An author-critic forum also has a chair who introduces the panelists, oversees timekeeping, and moderates the forum (opening up the forum for general discussion from the audience and soliciting further comments or responses by the critics and author).

Before submitting a proposal to hold an author-critic forum, the author must commit to joining the panel. The author may also wish to arrange for copies of their book to be provided to the “critics.”

Author-critic forum proposals should be submitted by one person designated the forum’s convener. Conveners must submit: her/his contact information; the name of the book to be discussed and its author; a abstract (250-400 words) explaining the rationale for the roundtable; and a discipline/theme (selected from a list) most appropriate for the roundtable.

The Convener should type or copy-paste in the name of the book and its author, a description of the importance and relevance of the book to Central Eurasian Studies and the suitability of the proposed “critics” (250-400 words), as well as general information about themselves and the forum.

Single-Session Workshops

Single-session workshops offer training-type interactive sessions for conference delegates. They take place during the course of the Annual Conference programming. Workshops in the past have addressed such matters as publishing, field research, ethics, or working with the media. We are open to suggestions of new directions and new formats, and we will be keen to support well-justified proposals that attempt objectives that have not been tried before.

Workshop proposals should be submitted by one person representing the group, the Workshop convener. The convener enters their contact data, the workshop title, types or copy-pastes in a description of the aims and intended outcomes of the workshop and its relevance to CESS conference participants (250-400 words), and then selects the discipline/theme most appropriate for the workshop.

Pre-conference Workshops

Pre-conference workshops will be offered for the first time at the CESS 2018 Annual Conference. Intended to provide additional opportunities for scholarly engagement and training, the half-day workshops will be held from 1-5pm EST on Wednesday, October 24, and from 9am-2pm EST on Thursday, October 25. Workshops will require sign-up and pre-payment at the time of conference registration and will fill on a first come basis.

See our guidelines about how you can submit a proposal to create and run a pre-conference workshop.

Guidelines for . . .


The role of Chair involves three functions:

1. Briefly introduce the panel and the panelists. You may wish to contact the panelists and ask them to provide 2-3 sentences about themselves to use for the introduction. We will ask the panelists to send their papers to you (and the discussant) by the deadline. You may read the papers in detail, if you wish, but this is primarily so that you have the chance to familiarize yourself with the papers enough that you can introduce the panel. You do not need to speak for more than a few minutes altogether when making the introductions.

2. Keep the presenters to the allotted time. It is very important that presenters take no more time than the time they are allotted as this cuts into other presenters’ time and time for audience discussion. In most cases, the panel will have 3-4 presenters, plus a discussant. With three presenters, the norm is 20 minute presentations, while with four, it is 15 minutes. The Discussant is given 12-15 minutes, leaving at least 30 minutes for audience participation in the closing discussion (for a total running time of 1 hour and 45 minutes). If fewer speakers appear for the panel, the Chair should decide how to divide the additional time among the speakers, and inform them before beginning the panel. The Chair should pass a note to presenters to notify them when 5 minutes, 3 minutes, and 1 minute remain, and again when they should “stop.” The Chair should cut off the presenter when the time is exceeded by more than a minute, and move on to the next speaker. This is a difficult job, but it is essential, given the tight time constraints which ensure everyone a chance to benefit equally from the panel.

3. Moderate the audience discussion. You should recognize audience members to address questions or comments to the panelists. It is usually most efficient to move directly from the Discussant’s comments to the first round of questions, and then invite members of the panel to answer those comments or questions posed by the Discussant or audience. When recognizing questioners from the audience, please ask them to state their name and institution, and ask them to be concise in their questions or comments. Unless there is a great abundance of time, it is best to gather several questions before asking panelists to respond. If an audience member speaks for more than about 2 minutes, the Chair should not hesitate to interrupt them and move on to the next question or ask the panelist(s) to respond. Again, the Chair is the one who saves the panel and audience from long interventions that drain time from the general discussion. When there is little time, the Chair can also encourage panelists to respond only to the questions that are most interesting for general discussion.


The role of Discussant is to read the papers in advance of the panel and to prepare some comments or questions which will stimulate discussion about papers individually and/or in relation to each other. These comments or questions will set the stage for the general discussion involving the audience. The Paper Presenters are required to submit their papers to you as an e-mail attachment by the set deadline.

The requirement to submit the working paper in advance is a firm one, and though we do not remove from the panel persons who don’t submit this, we may disqualify them from participation in a future CESS conference. If you do not receive a paper with enough time in advance of the conference for you to read it and prepare a response, you are entitled to inform the audience that you did not receive the paper and therefore will not comment on it (though for the sake of a good discussion, you may comment on the oral presentation if you wish). We consider it of utmost importance that you have adequate time to prepare your response and thus, you are within your rights to be “severe” with those who fail to enable you to do your part adequately. We will send reminders to presenters to adhere to the deadline, but it is also fine if you want to contact the authors in order to “nudge” them or perhaps to identify cases where there has been a technical problem and the paper needs to be resent.

Discussants typically do not have time to orally present all of their comments on the papers, and they are encouraged to convey additional comments to the presenters either verbally or in writing after the panel. Comments made during the session are best focused on the major points of the paper(s).


You must send your working paper via email to the Chair and Discussant by the set deadline. The contact information of your Discussant and Chair will be provided in the preliminary program, and you are encouraged to send your paper to all panelists on your panel as well.

During your presentation, you must adhere to the allotted time. If there are 4 presenters on the panel, then you have 15 minutes for your presentation. If there are 3 presenters, you have 20 minutes. The Chair is asked simply to cut off the presenter if they exceed the time by more than one minute.

You may use Powerpoint and/or audiovisual aids during your presentation. It is not recommended to simply read the text of your paper. The purpose of the conference presentation is to convey the thesis/ subject of your paper in an engaging manner. Rarely does simply reading a paper aloud, word-for-word produce this effect! We have prepared some paper writing and presentation guidelines , which you may find helpful. At an interdisciplinary conference, papers and presentations will vary; the important thing is that you present your research findings in a way that is conducive to a robust discussion.

Typically, conference papers are working versions of a paper being prepared for publication, a dissertation chapter, or a similar purpose. You may send a longer draft to the Discussant, but if you do this please let the Discussant know what you will focus on in your presentation, so that she/he may tailor discussion points accordingly.

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