Monday, February 11, 2008

Rather bad form

So my friends M and Flake and I proposed a panel for Congress this year, after such a successful one last year. And when I say successful, I mean mostly that our papers worked well together and that we had a great time, the three of us - I had brought M and Flake together for the purposes of this panel. I don't say "successful" in the sense of good attendance or anything - oh, no, not that - because my scholarly association has bizarrely poor attendance.

So anyway, this year - months ago - we submitted a panel proposal (although M and I have certainly complained since then about the scholarly association and talked about presenting at another one, next time). We received an email a while back telling us that the process of vetting abstracts and notifying people of acceptance would be delayed. They gave us a date, though - then that date passed, and we've just been sitting here waiting, with no further word. Strike one against them. Then today we get notification of acceptance of our panel - and what does the notification inform us (in ways that were so convoluted that I wasn't initially sure what we were being told, I might add)? That they've just chosen to add another paper to our panel. Um. What? Who does that??? You don't just an additional paper to a panel without asking, without consulting. This association has already egregiously short time slots, and now we have to manage four panelists in that short time?? This seems really unprofessional and rude, frankly.

Now, I happen to know this added panelist (or at least I did, 10 years ago, when we were in grad school together). I like this person. The paper fits well, judging from the title. But still, I find this pretty outrageous. What is more, they've emailed the notification to our panel and the new panelist, so we can't write very well say, "No, we don't want that."

I am seriously bugged. What think you?

Anyway, no more of this association for me. It's embarrassing, frankly.


Maggie said...

I'm not positive about this, but I am pretty sure that my professional org "reserves the right" to add papers to panels that have been proposed. (I just proposed a panel, and I seem to remember reading this some place.) So, while it is irritating, I'm not sure it's outrageous, at least in my discipline...

Hilaire said...

Maggie - that's good to know. Although they don't stipulate this in the call for papers, it's good to know. I think I was being stupidly hyperbolic, conflating my other observations about the association with this one. I think I'm just underwhelmed by the whole darn thing - and it still strikes me as odd that there is no consultation with panels. But yes, not outrageous.

Maude Lebowski said...

yuk. how annoying to have to deal with that.

maybe it's the same people who are involved with the SC that's left me in limbo. *smile*

dbm/gaa said...

Ah "The Learneds" - mass confusion as far as I'm concerned! You are right about the too-short time slots, it is ridiculous, and the last time I was there I presented last and everyone else had taken up my time.

I haven't gone for years, although almost everyone in my field does because they get money and it is basically a piss up. The meet ups would be fun, but I'd rather spend my money going to conferences in places I want to visit, with people doing what I'm doing.

Susan said...

Well, as someone who has served as program chair of a major conference, we often did this -- sometimes we'd remove one and add another (we thought one paper was weak), sometimes we added a third paper to two, etc.
It's annoying, but we're looking at a whole conference.

Hilaire said...

GAA - Yes, there's something of the ridiculous about Congress. It's such a circus. It has so much potential, though! And I do look forward to hanging out in Vancouver with a bunch of friends I never get to see. :)

Susan - Yes, I can definitely see that we need to think about the whole conference. I just think I'm responding so negatively because the association is leaving me really unimpressed in general.

As well, I think it's a bit odd not to explicitly reserve the right, as Maggie mentions, to reconfigure panels. Chiefly, the problem is the time constraint that this poses. The sessions are already unusually short - adding a fourth panelist makes the time for each of us untenably short.

The other issue I have - and this is probably something where I need to readjust my thinking - is that when I've proposed panels or been part of a proposed panel, we work really hard to hone abstracts and write an overall panel abstract, showing how each paper relates to the others. Making a case for a coherent whole. That takes a lot of time and effort and coordination, and then just dropping someone in makes it feel really as if that's been interfered with. Perhaps we're just taking the whole thing too seriously.

Thank you for stopping by!