A session is a block of time, typically 90 minutes, during which discussion centers on a particular topic. A thematic session refers to a session that is specifically oriented toward the conference theme.
Sessions and thematic sessions may utilize a variety of formats, and the length of time available for presentations depends on the format that has been selected by the session chair. Session formats include:
Theme forum: Smaller than plenaries and larger than concurrent sessions, Theme forums include “cut-above” presentations and discussions which address the conference theme, bring together on a particular topic the various aspects of impact assessment, and examine how those aspects apply to different sectors and issues.
Paper session: In a paper session, authors orally present the findings of a prepared paper or project. A chaired Paper session typically allows 4-5 presentations of 15-20 minutes each, including time for specific questions. Ideally, the chair allocates a minimum of 20 minutes for general questions and open discussion following the presentations.
Workshop: In a workshop, the topic is specific and seeks to resolve a defined problem, often through a combination of 2-3 short paper presentations and active discussion.
Panel discussion: In a panel, the speakers are invited. The chair introduces each speaker and puts each talk in perspective. Each speaker gives a brief (10-15 minutes) prepared presentation, usually presenting a different view or experience on the topic, followed by debate between the speakers and questions from the audience facilitated by the chair.
Roundtable: Involves a group of individuals, some of whom may be invited, holding an informal discussion on a specific topic or problem, with no formal presentations.
Debate: A debate takes place between two or more opponents who are experts in their fields as well as being entertaining presenters. The debate topic is clearly defined in terms of a question, with one side presenting the affirmative case and the other the negative case.
Pecha Kucha is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). This format allows for concise and fast-presentations and will be tried by IAIA for the first time at IAIA14.
World Café: World Café comprises progressive rounds of conversation among groups of 5-6 participants. Each round lasts 15-20 minutes, after which participants are invited to form new groups and continue the conversation drawing in ideas and comments from earlier discussions. The session concludes with a whole-group discussion.
Practitioner exchanges provide an opportunity for up to 8 conference participants to present a brief (3 minutes) overview of their work and to network with others in the same field. Time does not permit presentation of full papers during the session, but abstracts will be included in the final program. Note: Some Practitioner Exchanges may be included in the preliminary program in response to session submissions received, while others may be added during preparation of the final program to accommodate large numbers of paper submissions on a particular topic.
Indaba: For issues that arise during the conference and that delegates want to pursue through follow-up discussions. During the morning, participants post potential topics for discussion, and individuals interested in each topic sign up. If a topic generates sufficient interest, space is made available for the discussion to take place in the late afternoon.