Conferences & Events


Regional Student Conference Participant Guidelines

These guidelines are for all APPAM conference participants (presenters and discussants) to establish expectations. In order to encourage interdisciplinary discussion among conference participants and audience members, we want to encourage:

  • Interaction among session participants beforehand in order to maximize audience participation on the day of the session.
  • Distillation of the research, by the discussants, to identify its unique contribution to policy.
  • Identification of relationships among the research presented, either by the presenters themselves or by the discussants.
  • Give and take among participants—especially between researchers and practitioners.
  • Creation of an environment to enhance understanding of issues and the attendant research informing them.

As you prepare for your session at the conference, please note the below:

  • Please allow a full 20 minutes for audience questions and commentary. This 20-minute period is separate from the time normally accorded to panelists responding to the discussant's comments.
  • Presentations should last no longer than 20 minutes in panels with three presenters or 15 minutes if there are four presenters. 
  • If they are to provide useful insight to authors and serve as stimulants for audience follow-on, discussants must receive papers/projects no later than two weeks prior to the conference. This will allow for adequate time for participants to be able to read the session papers. You do not need to forward your presentation; only your most up-to-date paper/project.  
  • An excellent panel session is one in which the presenters focus on the more important issues in their research, and collectively, with the aid of the discussant, highlight connections among the presented papers. The conference should be an opportunity for professional development in which presenters and session audiences interact to enhance understanding of the issues. Your cooperation with the guidelines in this memorandum will help create an environment for this to occur.
  • Your panel discussant will read your most up-to-date paper prior to the conference. Please email your most recent paper/project to your discussant no later than two weeks prior to the conference so they may review beforehand to formulate comments and feedback on your individual paper as well as tie all panel papers together.  Discussants are aware that some students will be presenting their research for the first time and that some research is still in progress, and will provide each author constructive feedback on their individual paper either prior to the conference or during their session.  Please note that while feedback will be specific to your paper/project, the majority of feedback will be general so as to apply to the panel as a whole. 


Important Dates to Remember


2020 California Regional Student Conference 

February 18 - Registration Opens

March 6 - Registration Deadline for Student Speakers

To confirm participation in the conference, all student speakers must register by March 6.  If you are a student presenter and have not registered for the conference by March 6, your paper/project/poster will be removed from the program.  

March 23 - Papers/projects Due to Discussants

March 27 - Registration Deadline for Non-Speakers


April 6  - California Regional Student Conference, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA


2020 DC Regional Student Conference

February 18 - Registration Opens

March 27 - Registration Deadline for Student Speakers

To confirm participation in the conference, all student speakers must register by March 27.  If you are a student presenter and have not registered for the conference by March 27, your paper/project/poster will be removed from the program.  

April 10 - Papers/projects Due to Discussants

April 17 - Registration Deadline for Non-Speakers

April 24 - 25 - DC Regional Student Conference, American University, Washington, DC 


Example Session Formats

Below are example session formats for 3 and 4 person panels.  

3 Person Panel 4 Person Panel
  • 10:15 - 10:25 - Discussant introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 10:25 - 10:45 -  First presenter presents 
  • 10:45 - 11:05 - Second presenter presents 
  • 11:05 - 11:25 - Third presenter presents 
  • 11:25 - 11:45 - Discussant and Q&A



  • 10:15 - 10:25 - Discussant introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 10:25 - 10:40 -  First presenter presents
  • 10:40 - 10:55 - Second presenter presents
  • 10:55 - 11:10 - Third presenter presents
  • 11:10 - 11:25 - Fourth presenter presents
  • 11:25 - 11:45 - Discussant and Q&A


Below are specific guidelines for presenters and discussants.



You received an email with your session name, presentation date/time, and room number.  You will receive a separate email with your panel discussant's information.  Please reach out to your discussant and let them know the status of your paper/project and when you plan on sending it to APPAM. 

Please note, as this is a student conference, we understand that some students will be presenting research that is still in progress.  As such, please feel free to present research in progress and research where final results/conclusions/policy implications may not be available by the time of presentation.

Here's a helpful Best Practices Guide to presenting at APPAM!


Begin with a one-minute overview summary of the paper that includes the central question addressed and the major conclusions. To the extent possible, these conclusions should include policy implications. 


Follow with the reasons listeners ought to accept the paper's conclusions: the underlying theory, description of the evidence, methodological defense of the evidence, and connection to (and improvement upon) the existing literature. This manner of exposition differs from that of a journal article but it is more appropriate to a conference format. Speaking is a more effective way to get an explanation across than reading. 

Presentation Technology

It is highly encouraged to utilize PowerPoint to prepare and display presentations. APPAM will provide projectors, screens, and computers in all meeting rooms for use during conference sessions.  However please bring a copy of your presentation with you on a USB flash drive.   With a strict 90 minutes for panel sessions, even a minor delay can greatly hamper the success of a panel. Remember that there will be less than 15 minutes available for setting up computer equipment prior to the start of most sessions. 

Contents and Format of Presentation Slides

Try to economize on the number of slides in a presentation. Slides should be readable from at least 30 feet (some of the presentation rooms are quite large, some are small), and should be displayed long enough for viewers actually to comprehend the message they are supposed to convey. A good rule of thumb is one substantive slide (a key exhibit, not an outline page) for every two minutes of presentation (or no more than 6 or 7 total slides per presentation). Slides should serve as an aid but should not be read from directly.



General Guidelines
The discussant can be critical to the success of a session. One principal challenge for a discussant is to enforce time allotments. A presenter that runs over his or her allotted time is using time that belongs to another presenter or to the audience. APPAM asks discussants to do the following: 
Convene the panel, either by email or conference call, in advance to make introductions and develop some rapport. 
Start the session on time and introduce all participants at the beginning of the session. 
Monitor the clock. Presenters who appear to be off-track for completion on time should be cautioned mid-presentation. APPAM will supply discussants with four signs that read, "5 minutes" "2 minutes", "1 minute", and "Stop" to help alert presenters to their timing. 
Discussants should sit in the front row of the audience, facing the presenters, rather than at the head table, while the presentations are in progress. 
Be prepared to initiate the question & answer period if the audience is not engaged and ensure that questions and statements from the audience are short and to the point.
Guidelines for Discussion and Q&A Portion of Session
Discussants also play a critical role in determining the quality of audience participation in the session. Please allow yourself at least two weeks to read the papers for the sessions and formulate comments and feedback on the individual papers as well as tying the papers together before the conference.
If you have not received all papers/projects from your panel's speakers by March 23 for the California Regional Student Conference and April 10 for the DC Regional Student Conference, please contact Samantha Oliver Thomason at
Discussants are encouraged to help shape the audience participation in the session by identifying key points worthy of further analysis and discussion.  Discussants should contribute to the policy focus of the session. To further this endeavor, here are some questions to consider and use for audience discussion:
  • Does the research inform policy in the most timely and useful way? If not, what could be to done to improve the contribution of research to policy?
  • Are methods used in the research and analysis properly aligned to the nature of current policy problems?
  • Are there emerging policy problems for which we are not producing useful research, but for which we could direct new research?
  • Are there limitations of information, data and research designs that prevent their research from being used by policymakers?
  • What common challenges have researchers encountered when studying the issue?
  • How can we address these challenges in future research?
  • As many student presenters will be presenting their research for the first time, please feel free to give each author constructive feedback on their individual paper. 


California Regional Student Conference Poster Session

  • Friday, April 6, from 4:00 - 5:00pm during the Poster Reception 

DC Regional Student Conference Poster Sessions

  • Friday, April 24, from 4:00 - 5:30pm during the Poster Reception

Poster Setup 

All poster presenters will have 30 minutes before their assigned session to put up their poster and 30 minutes after their assigned session to remove their poster.  

All poster boards will be numbered, indicating assigned poster spaces for each session. You will receive your specific poster session and poster assignment location in late March. Only put your poster up in your assigned space. A staff person will be on hand to help you find your space in the exhibit hall.

Thumbtacks/binder clips will be provided for putting up your poster. Please do not use tape, staples or any other type of adhesive to hang your poster.

Presenters are asked to be available at their posters during the entirety of their poster session to discuss their posters with interested viewers.

Poster Size

Posters boards are 8’x4’ in size. Your poster should be no more than 8’ wide x 4’ tall in size. Posters should be prepared as a single poster rather than multiple posters pieced together. When putting up your poster, please do not cover the board numbers. This helps other poster presenters, as well as viewers, quickly identify space assignments.

Posters printed on foam core will be much harder to hang up, please consider this when choosing the materials and format for your poster.

Tables, easels, or other support devices will not be provided and may not be supplied by presenters. Business cards or small leaflet literature for distribution may be inserted in an envelope and affixed to the board.

Poster Awards

APPAM seeks to reward and encourage excellence in research by new/emerging scholars as represented among the poster sessions delivered at the Annual Fall Research Conference.
Up to three poster presentations will be recognized at each student conference. The winning poster presenters will each receive a prize ribbon created for the award and be recognized on  
All poster presentationsat the DC and California Regional Student Conferences will be eligible for the award provided that they are presented in person during one of the three poster sessions.

A selection committee will be appointed by APPAM to review the posters on display at the conference, attend the poster presentations, and, at the conclusion of the presentations, select up to three posters to receive the award, one per poster session. 

Poster Appearance 

  1. Keep text brief. Report only key aspects of each section (methods, results, discussion, and policy or management implications). It is not advisable to display the entire text from a manuscript. Too much detail detracts from the primary message of the text.
  2. Keep figures simple. Convey only one idea per figure, table, or photograph. Figures from publications, theses, or dissertations normally do not make good visuals.
  3. Text and figures should be readable to someone standing at a distance of six feet.
  4. Charts and graphs should clearly show what you want the audience to see.
  5. Use appropriate blank space between words, sections, and figures.
  6. Use appropriate and compatible colors for fonts, backgrounds, graphics, and matting. White backgrounds generally are best for text.
  7. Simple typefaces are preferable to fancy fonts. Bold type may be effective on headings.