The Junior Scholar Symposium

The JSS is a special opportunity for graduate students and junior scholars. Each JSS session brings together approximately 16 junior scholar projects with four senior discussants from among ISA’s leading scholars. Following a broad introduction to the session, the symposium divides into four small thematic groups wherein, using posters, participants will present and discuss their work in this small group setting. Each presenter will spend 20 minutes presenting and discussing their paper together with their small group and discussant.

This format provides a fantastic opportunity for junior scholars to meet and connect with senior scholars in their field. The sessions will be held in normal panel sessions but will take place early in the convention cycle (the 1st and 2nd days of the convention). This way, participants will have met and worked closely with some senior scholars - most of whom play an active role in ISA's current leadership - and have a friendly connection through the remainder of the conference. It is also a great chance to meet similar junior scholars from other universities.

About JSS Submissions and Presentations

What makes JSS panels unique is the degree to which presenters are fully active participants. Presenters have only a few moments to present their papers, then the discussion begins immediately. As part of this, presenters send out their papers at least a month in advance of the convention so that everyone has sufficient time to prepare (see the current convention for the exact date). It can be almost as hard to write a good paper as it can be to ask a good question; treat this as a real opportunity to analyze work.

The Junior Scholar Symposium follows a distinctly different format from ISA's traditional panels. The JSS panels are designed to provide participants with the opportunity to maximize networking and feedback on projects from ISA's leading scholars.

Setup (10 minutes before the session)
Participants find their tables and setup their posters.

Session Opening (5-10 minutes)
Chair calls the session to order by welcoming the group, explaining the session, and giving an overview of both the process and the topic.

Small Group Introductions (5 minutes)
Large group breaks up and moves into smaller sub-groups. Small group meets each other and prepares for presentations.

Presentations (90 minutes)
Each sub-group moves, together, through each of their four posters. The small groups should spend about 20 minutes at each poster. The presenters have 2-5 minutes to introduce their paper - the rest of the time is spent on questions and discussion.

Wrapup (final 5 minutes)
The sub-groups can break up or continue talking as warranted. Participants are encouraged to move around the hall and view other posters.

The Junior Scholar Symposium provides participants with the opportunity to workshop their papers while at the same time also focusing on general professional development. As a discussant, you will facilitate a conversation with your junior scholar participants, who have been instructed to read all the papers on their panels. This will include providing consistent and useful feedback on their research paper and poster, but will also likely include broader professional development matters. Depending on the number of presenters on the panel, please spend about 10-15 minutes on each presenter’s research. We suggest that you reserve the last 15-20 minutes of the session to discuss questions such as future publication, job search, teaching, and other topics you find are needed.

The JSS program offers junior/early career scholars the opportunity to present and discuss their research in an environment focused on junior scholar professional development. It affords participants a focused, dedicated atmosphere to provide consistent and useful feedback to participants. It also provides fantastic networking opportunities; participants interact closely with senior scholars in their field as well as with peers across universities.

As chair, you will provide a brief welcome and introduction to the session (no longer than five minutes). Some chairs provide a broad overview of how the session fits within the larger IR research such as the questions these papers pose and questions still outstanding. Other chairs like to introduce the discussants instead of/in addition to general comments on the theme(s) of the session.

All chairs should advise participants to break into their smaller groups to discuss their poster papers with their individual panel discussants. Chairs can then walk around and listen to some of the presentations and discussions, participating as desired. (Many of our chairs are double-booked and may leave early as needed for their schedule.)

Chairs are not expected to read or comment on any of the papers - though both the posters and the papers are shared early and available for perusal.

JSS sessions are open to the public. ISA HQ staff will be present to help facilitate.

The Presentation

This is not a traditional presentation; you will have a few moments to introduce your paper and get the discussion started. Don’t worry - you'll have a 20 minute block that will be an ongoing discussion of your paper, so you don’t need to explain everything right away. Your group will all have read your paper as well so you should be able to get a good discussion going right away.

When other members of your group are presenting, remember that you are an active part of the symposium. Be sure to ask questions and engage with the presenters. If you have any thoughts that you think would help the presenter then speak up and talk about them as a group. It can be almost as hard to write a good paper as it can be to ask a good question; treat this as a real opportunity to analyze work.

The Poster

ISA will have poster display boards (8 feet long x 4 feet tall) and pushpins ready for you. Your job is to make a great poster and be ready to give and receive feedback! We've put together a great video to help you as you get ready to craft your poster. Check it out here!



Clearly Identify the Poster.
Include/highlight title of paper, author(s) and institutional affiliation(s)

Use Headings.
Traditionally these include the abstract, methodology, data, results and conclusions

Be Concise.
Save elaborative points for discussion/interaction with viewers - using headings and bullet points assists in minimal text but maximum information transmission

Use Visuals.
Graphs, charts and/or tables transmit a large amount of information in less space and increase the readability of posters



DO NOT mount the text of your paper as the poster!
Have copies of your paper for viewers to take if you wish.

Use a Large Font.
Headings and Title lettering should be at least 1 inch tall, body text about 16 point font or larger - ideally the text should be visible and readable from 5 feet.

Use Neutral Background & High Contrast Text.
Neutral backgrounds and black text increase the readability of posters - a splash of color here and there, perhaps highlighting central finding(s) or provocative results, will make your poster "stand out" from the crowd.

Use Readable Text.
Avoid fonts that are script or difficult to read. If hand lettering is required, use a black felt-tip pen (e.g., Sharpie).


Examples from the 2013 JSS Sessions:

Good abstracts will provide a clear statement of a project's intent and will specify the project's methodology, or how exactly you plan to test/examine your hypothesis(es).

We are looking for work in progress and early conceptual research. This might include a masters’ or dissertation prospectus or a chapter from a thesis or dissertation. It might also include more polished research that is almost ready for publication review by a journal.