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I wish to submit a proposal to a conference to chair a session. To do this, I will have to spend a lot of time to think about many things such as the objectives & scopes of my session. But I am wondering about the benefits/ achievements after all these.

What could be the benefits/ achievements useful for a researcher involving in such activities?

  • Like so many other things, this is quite field-dependent. In my field, there are no benefits to chairing a session except that the session won't happen unless somebody does. Of course, your description makes it clear that conferences in your field are different than in mine, but I think it's important for future readers to know what kind of conference session they're reading about. – David Z Jun 27 '16 at 10:41
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The following answer is based on my understanding of what it means to organise a symposium in a conference (i.e., commonly a conference session of about 60 to 120 minutes with around 3 to 8 talks all with a common theme, where the chair is the one to invite and arrange the talks and often provides a more general introduction to the talks). Obviously, I'm not talking about the more mundane task of merely chairing a session, which can be as simple as you being the designated person that ensures that each talk keeps to time.

You can build relationships with the other presenters in your session. If you are organising a symposium, then you will be contacting other possible presenters who you think may be attending. This often provides an excuse to connect with people you may only know through their research. For people you already know well, it can provide an excuse to catch up at the conference, which in turn can flow into research collaborations or other opportunities.

You are likely to get more people to your session, and those that come may be more interested in your topic. If attendees see that your session is all about your topic, then people interested in your topic are more likely to attend. In contrast if you present an individual paper, it may get lost in a more general session.

Chairing a session can help people see you as a person active in the topic.

Chairing a session can be something you put down on your CV, performance review, promotion application, grant application, etc. It's generally not a huge thing. In many, but not all, fields, conferences are more a means to an end. In these cases journal articles and grants are more important. That said, chairing a symposium that you organised does show some academic leadership that would count for something.

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    You are likely to get more people to your session - I don't understand this---in comparison to what? Though the following sentence makes sense. I also don't follow the contrast in the last sentence in that paragraph---in my field, chairs of sessions don't usually present. Is it different in your field? If not, can you please clarify? – Kimball Jun 27 '16 at 8:45
  • @Kimball I guess I tried to make sense of the question. In my field (psychology/management) Sometimes a chair is just someone who introduces speakers and keeps everyone to time and may or may not be one of the presenters. This is mostly a menial but necessary task. Therefore, I assumed that the OP was asking about something more involved. The thing that came to my mind was when a chair organises a session on a topic. I've elaborated a little in my opening: ", where the chair is the one to invite and arrange the talks and often provides a more general introduction to the talks" – Jeromy Anglim Jun 28 '16 at 1:42

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