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Central Division Program Organization and Policies
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This document describes the structure of APA Central Division programs, the way program content is determined, and the policies governing programs. Programs of the Eastern and Pacific Divisions are similar in their organization and developed by similar procedures, but there are differences, and nothing said here should be assumed to apply to those Divisions' programs as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I submit a proposal for a panel?
A: The Central Division Program Committee is happy to have suggestions for program sessions, but there is no formal process for submitting panel proposals.
Q: My group would like to hold a session at the Central Division. How do we do that?
A: Groups must first be affiliated with the Central Division.
Q: Must I be an APA member to participate in the program?
A: Only APA members may submit papers, but APA membership is not required for commentators, chairs, or invited session participants.
Q: How do I volunteer for participation?
A: Follow this procedure.
Q: How do I submit a paper?
A: Follow these instructions.
Q: Does the APA reimburse program participants for their travel and lodging expenses?
A: Generally not. Graduate students whose submitted papers are accepted for the program may receive Graduate Student Travel Stipends, and certain endowed lectures do carry such support.

General Structure: Main Program and Group Program

Apart from the Presidential Address, receptions, and the Business Meeting, the sessions on a Central Division program consist of:

  1. Sessions organized by the Program Committee of the Division
  2. Sessions organized by the various committees of the APA
  3. Sessions organized by external groups affiliated with the Central Division
  4. Endowed or externally funded lectures

Explanations of each of these follow below.

Sessions Organized by the Program Committee

Each Central Division program has its own Program Committee, which is appointed by the newly elected Vice President who will be President at that Program. The Program Committee is appointed and begins its work by early fall of the second year prior to the meeting (thus, the program Committee for the 2015 meeting begins its work in fall 2013). The Program Committee is responsible for organizing sessions of two sorts: invited sessions and submitted sessions. Members of the Program Committee must be APA members in good standing and affiliates of the Central Division.

Invited Sessions

Invited sessions are developed by the Program Committee itself on the basis of the familiarity its members have with the profession in general. Members try to avoid scheduling sessions that would duplicate or closely resemble invited sessions in recent programs of the Central Division or the other two Divisions. Since the Program Committee members are chosen so as to reflect the diverse areas of interest and approach of philosophy, the members try to ensure that their areas of special concern are represented on the program.

Suggestions for Invited Sessions from APA Members

There is no procedure for the formal submission from APA members of fully organized proposals invited session proposals with an associated review process leading to acceptance or rejection. However, the Central Division Program Committee, like those of the Eastern and Pacific Divisions, welcomes suggestions from APA members concerning the invited program. These may be as simple as a brief statement of a topic for a session or may contain specific suggestions for speakers, commentators, etc. The Program Committee takes suggestions as suggestions and reserves the right to develop them as it sees fit. With very few exceptions, the Program Committee handles the processes of deciding on whom to invite as a program participant and issuing invitations itself. Members who make suggestions should understand that the Program Committee may decide to pursue their suggestions in substantially altered form and that the Committee, not the person making the suggestion, will handle program organization.

Suggestions may be sent either to the Chair of the Program Committee for a given meeting or to the Secretary-Treasurer. In order to be useful to the Program Committee for a given year's program, suggestions should reach the Chair or Secretary-Treasurer by November of the second year prior to the meeting (for example, suggestions for the 2015 meeting should be sent by November 2013).

Types of Invited Session

Invited sessions may take a variety of formats. Historically, these have included:

  1. A Symposium is a three-hour session usually with three participants (a speaker and two commentators, or two speakers and one commentator, or three speakers).
  2. A Memorial Symposium is a three-hour session on the work of a recently deceased philosopher. Such Symposia usually have three to five speakers.
  3. An Author Meets Critics session is a three-hour session on a recent book by a philosopher, usually including two critics (sometimes three) and the author (who responds to the critics).
  4. An Invited Paper is a two-hour session consisting of one speaker and one commentator.
  5. An Informational Session is a two- or three-hour session on the current state of research in a particular area or on a particular topic, often one with interdisciplinary dimensions. Such sessions may have varying numbers of participants and often include non-philosophers.

This list of formats is descriptive of past practice, not prescriptive, and program committees may develop new forms of session as they see fit.

Submitted Sessions

The submitted program is organized from papers submitted to the Division by APA members (this is the one instance in which APA membership is required). Submitted papers may be of two types: Colloquium papers (limited to 3,000 words) and Submitted Symposium papers (limited to 5,000 words).

Policies concerning Submitted Papers

  • Authors of submitted papers must be APA members in good standing at the time their papers are submitted (this applies to all authors of co-authored papers). Membership will be verified by the APA National Office.
  • Each author may submit only one paper, but a paper may be submitted in both Colloquium and Symposium versions (at most one of these will be accepted).
  • Authors are required to certify, at the time of submission, that their papers are their own work and do not plagiarize or infringe the rights of others, that they do not libel or defame anyone, and that their papers have not been accepted for publication by a journal at the time it is submitted. Papers determined to be plagiarized may be rejected by the Program Committee at any point, even after the program has already been published.
  • The Central Division will not consider a paper for presentation if it has been included, or accepted for inclusion, on another APA Divisional program. If the Program Committee learns, at any point in the process of organizing the program, that a submitted paper has been made part of another Divisional Program, then it will reject that paper.

Graduate Student Travel Stipends

The Central Division awards a Graduate Student Travel Stipend (currently $300) to each submitted paper accepted for the program the author of which has been verified by the APA National Office as a current graduate student. Verification takes place at the time of submission and requires that authors both identify themselves as graduate students eligible for stipends and provide documentation for this (a letter from their graduate program advisor). In order to be eligible for a stipend, it is not sufficient simply to be a Graduate Associate member of the APA or to be in fact a graduate student: the required procedure must be followed.

A paper with multiple authors is eligible for a Graduate Student Travel Stipend if any of its authors is verified by the National Office through the procedure above. If such a paper is accepted, then the stipend will be divided equally among its authors who are verified as graduate students.

The Evaluation Process for Submitted Papers

Each submitted paper is assigned to two Program Committee members for evaluation. Working independently, these two members each assign a score to the paper (in recent years, this has been on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 as the best score).

Members are asked to recuse themselves from reading a paper if they believe they can recognize its author. Under such circumstances, the Chair of the Committee will reassign the paper to another reader. If a paper contains overt indications of the author's identity (such as the author's name in page headers or in a final signature or footnotes that explicitly identify the author), then the paper may be rejected for violation of the blind review policy.

Each Program Committee determines the details of its own procedure for evaluating submitted papers, but the procedure followed for the last decade or so is as follows. The Committee determines a combined score such that accepting all papers with that score are better would yield something fewer than the number of papers needed for a full program. Further papers up to the number needed are then accepted based on several criteria in addition to combined score, such as program breadth and fit with already existing papers. In the case of widely diverging scores between the two readers for a paper, the readers may discuss their differences and try to come closer to agreement, or the Chair may ask a third member to read the paper.

At the end of discussion, the Program Committee agrees on a final list of accepted papers. When this has been done, the Secretary-Treasurer opens the file containing the names of authors and makes that information available to the Program Committee. Once those names have been made available, no changes may be made in the list of accepted papers, with the exception of papers that must be withdrawn because they violate the policies stated above.

Authors of submitted papers will be notified of the acceptance or rejection of their papers as soon as possible after the final list has been determined. The extremely tight schedule on which the Program Committee must work makes it impossible for the Committee to provide authors of rejected papers with comments on their papers.

The Program Committee organizes submitted papers into Colloquium sessions (normally containing two or three papers) and Submitted Symposia (containing one paper) and then secures commentators and chairs for the papers in these sessions.

Choosing Commentators and Chairs for Submitted Sessions

In seeking commentators and chairs, the Committee consults the list of those who have volunteered their services to the Division for these purposes and also the names of authors of rejected papers, but it is not in any way limited to these names.

Volunteering to Participate as a Commentator or Chair

Those who would like to volunteer their services as a commentator or chair on a submitted paper should use this form or email the following information to the Secretary-Treasurer:

  • Name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Areas for commenting or chairing
  • Whether interested in commenting, chairing, or both
  • A curriculum vitae or a link to a web site with

The Central Division is grateful to those who volunteer to participate in its program. For each program, the Committee must find commentators and chairs for approximately a hundred submitted papers in about six weeks. Volunteers should bear in mind the following points:

  • Not all those who volunteer will be chosen. The Central Division typically receives several times as many volunteers as there are spaces to be filled.
  • Given the very compressed schedule the Program Committee must follow in finding commentators and chairs, the Committee does not send notifications to those who volunteer but are not chosen.
  • The Committee usually finishes its work by late October, and those who have not been asked to participate by then will probably not be asked. However, unexpected events sometimes require the Committee to find commentators and chairs as late as a few weeks before the meeting.
  • If you have submitted a paper for a meeting, you may still volunteer. However, if your paper is accepted, then the Central Division's policy on multiple participation prevents you from also serving as a commentator or chair. On the other hand, if your paper is rejected, then you will be considered as a possible commentator or chair by the Program Committee even if you have not volunteered.
  • If you have already agreed to participate in an invited session on the program, the policy on multiple participation would also prevent you from serving as a commentator.

Sessions Not Organized by the Program Committee

APA Committee Sessions

Committees of the APA may request to have sessions scheduled on the Central Division program. Sessions will be scheduled subject to the availability of meeting rooms, but each Committee may normally schedule up to two sessions.

The APA Committee organizing a session is completely responsible for the session's content and for communicating with session participants.

Costs for audiovisual equipment or food and beverages in connection with an APA Committee session must be paid by the Committee organizing it.

Group Sessions

Group sessions are organized by external organizations affiliated with the Division. Sessions will be scheduled subject to the availability of meeting rooms, but in general each group may normally schedule up to two sessions.

See a list of current affiliated groups.

Affiliation Procedure

Affiliation is granted to an organization by the Executive Committee. Groups seeking affiliation must submit an application to the Secretary-Treasurer containing

  • the name of the group
  • the group's current officers
  • the group's constitution or comparable document
  • contact information for the person who will organize sessions for the group
  • optionally, programs of recent meetings organized by the group

The Executive Committee has delegated the review of applications for affiliation to the Secretary-Treasurer, subject to review by the Committee. Usually, the Secretary-Treasurer can provide an answer to affiliation requests within two months of receiving them. Once a group is affiliated, the Secretary-Treasurer will send the group's contact person a message each year soliciting session requests for the upcoming meeting.

Please note that affiliation with one of the Divisions of the APA does not carry with it affiliation with the other two Divisions. Groups wishing to hold sessions at the Eastern or Pacific Divisions must contact the Secretary-Treasurers of those Divisions about their procedures for affiliation.

Costs for audiovisual equipment or food and beverages in connection with a group session must be paid by the Committee organizing the session.

Endowed and Sponsored Lectures

Invited sessions also include lectures funded by endowments of the APA (for instance the Carus Lectures and the Romanell Lecture) or by external sources (for instance the John Dewey Memorial Lecture). The organization of these sessions is determined by the conditions of the relevant endowment or external funding. In most cases, the organization of these sessions is the responsibility of the APA's Committee on Lectures, Publications, and Research.

Program Scheduling

The Main Program consists in general of the sessions organized by the Program Committee, the sessions organized by APA Committees, and endowed or externally sponsored lectures. The Group Program consists in general of the sessions organized by affiliated groups. The Main Program and the Group Program are scheduled at non-overlapping times.

While APA Committee sessions are normally scheduled at Main Program times, APA Committees may request to have sessions scheduled during Group Program times, especially when these sessions are co-sponsored by an affiliated group.

Plenary Sessions

The Presidential Address and the annual Business Meeting are scheduled as plenary sessions. Since almost all meeting room resources are unavailable during a plenary session, scheduling such sessions is extremely difficult. Therefore, additional plenary sessions will only be scheduled on the explicit decision of the Executive Committee. The only existing exception to this is the Carus Lectures, which rotate among the Divisions and, under the terms of the endowment that supports them, must be plenary sessions.

Group Sessions during Main Program Times

The Executive Committee may make special arrangements with a limited number of groups to include some of their sessions on the Main Program. At present, such arrangements exist with the Association for Symbolic Logic and the American Society for Political Philosophy. These arrangements are subject to the following policy:

  • Such an arrangement will entitle a particular group to have sessions included on the Main Program every third year
  • Such arrangements will include one Main Program session and two or more affiliated group time sessions
  • The group must be affiliated with the Central Division
  • The group must be, in the judgment of the Executive Committee, a group producing programs of broad interest to APA members
  • Only one group can be included on the Main Program in a given year (it follows that a maximum of three such arrangements can be approved).

Limits on Participation in the Main Program

In general, each participant in the Main Program sessions organized by the Program Committee is limited to a single appearance in a speaking role (speaker, commentator, critic or author in an author-meets-critics session, etc.). A limited exception is allowed for this in the case of chairing sessions, that is, a speaking participant in one session may be included as a chair of another. (Since the Program Committee has no role in the organization of affiliated group or APA committee sessions, this policy does not extend to them.)

Members of the Program Committee may not appear on the Main Program in speaking roles. However, each member is allowed to chair one session.

If the Program Committee discovers that an author of an accepted submitted paper is also a participant in the invited program, then that person will be asked to choose between withdrawing from the invited program and withdrawing the submitted paper. Since this generally cannot occur until after the list of accepted papers is finalized, it may have the effect of reducing the size of the submitted program; for that reason, the Central Division strongly requests that participants in the invited program not also submit papers.

In any year's program, some scheduled participants are unable to attend the meeting for a variety of reasons. The Program Committee Chair undertakes to make alternative arrangements in such, with the assistance of the Program Committee. Since these situations may develop very close to the start of the meeting, or even during the meeting itself, the rule against multiple participation may be relaxed.

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