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Organize an MRS Symposium

Thinking about submitting a symposium proposal to an MRS Meeting? Perhaps serving as a Symposium Organizer? Hundreds of your colleagues have found that organizing an MRS symposium can be a professionally satisfying and rewarding experience, and all have had similar questions before taking the step! The following information is intended to answer those questions. It addresses the basics of submitting a proposal, what is expected of Symposium Organizers, and what help you will receive from MRS staff. If, after reviewing it, you still feel uncertainty, please contact us

What's Expected of a Symposium Organizer?

Drawing upon its years of experience, the MRS staff and volunteer leadership offers a wealth of advice and assistance for the Society's Symposium Organizers. MRS handles much of the day-to-day communications with authors, session chairs, symposium assistants, and others. They produce the Call for Papers and announce its availability to more than 40,000 potential meeting attendees. They collect the resulting abstracts and distribute them to the Symposium Organizers, and provide them with detailed instructions and guidance for preparing their programs. MRS also develops the Program and Abstract Books, advises authors whether their papers have been accepted, manages the onsite operation of the Meeting, and more.

So what's the Symposium Organizers' role in all of this? Obviously, as the true experts in materials science, the Organizers must assume responsibility for matters that can benefit from an intimate knowledge of their field of research. Organizers draft a single-page Call for Papers that clearly explains the symposium's focus. They select invited speakers, review and reject abstracts, develop the program, raise funds, edit the proceedings, and so forth. To assist the Organizers in these tasks, MRS staff provides guidance and suggestions based upon prior experience.

How Should a Symposium Proposal Be Prepared and Submitted?

The first step in the overall process is to prepare a proposal and submit it to the Chairs of the Meeting in which you would like to take part. Generally, proposals are accepted from approximately 21-15 months before the meeting. If you've organized an MRS symposium in the past three years, you'll receive an email reminder from MRS when proposals are now being taken for an upcoming Meeting.

Early proposals generally consist of a brief summary of the intended focus of your symposium, the names and affiliations of the Symposium Organizers, and a review of any history of the symposium at previous MRS Meetings. If you haven't organized a recent MRS symposium--and, therefore, will not receive the standard email reminder that proposals are due--Meeting Chair names and contact information are posted on the MRS Web site about two years before the event. You can find them in the Future MRS Meetings section of this website. Download example of the online submission form.

Just direct your proposals to the Chairs of the meeting for which you would like to be a part.

How Will I Know if My Proposal Is Accepted?

The Meeting Chairs determine the topical areas that will comprise their overall programs. About 15-18 months before their meeting, the Chairs select those proposals that are most appropriate to their intended program. At that time they will likely ask the associated symposium organizers to further develop their initial proposals into a document that more closely resembles a Call for Papers. This would include a tentative list of potential invited speakers as well as the names, affiliations and complete contact information for all co-organizers. Samples of previous Calls for Papers are posted in the MRS Meeting Archives section of the MRS website.

Has My Proposed Topic Been Covered at Earlier MRS Meetings?

The Calls for Papers at the above URL will list the symposium topics that have comprised these earlier MRS Meetings -- many of which may be related to your intended proposal. They are, therefore, a good source of information on who has organized similar symposia in the past. These former organizers can be a useful source of information to your planning efforts, and many would be willing to discuss their experiences as former MRS symposium organizers. Their names and contact information are included in the symposium descriptions within the Calls for Papers.

We'd Welcome Your Talents as an Organizer!

We hope that this information has adequately addressed your questions, and that you will seriously consider becoming a symposium organizer for an upcoming MRS Meeting. MRS staff and volunteer leadership would welcome the opportunity to work with you, and to count you among the hundreds of researchers who have offered their time and experience to fulfill one of the most important positions within the Society—the MRS Symposium Organizer.