Call for Panels & Forums

When are panel proposals due?
The deadline for submitting panels/forums is June 1. Panel/forum chairs will be notified of acceptance by August 15.
What should I propose a panel on?
ACSAC is an internationally recognized conference for experts in information system security to exchange practical ideas about solving critical security problems. Panels should be focused on the sharp edges of a topic area where there is controversy or widely varying positions. While we accept what are called forums (see below), panels are our strongest interest.
Why does ACSAC have panels and forums?
Panels and forums have different purposes. Panels are intended to be for controversial topics. This might for example be a new topic or concept with multiple views or a topic that elicits strong negative and positive reactions. Panels should consist of no more than 3 speakers and a moderator.

Forums, on the other hand, are intended to share information. This might, for example, be a lessons learned discussion or multiple speakers discussing different aspects of one topic. Forums should consist of no more than 4 speakers and a moderator.

The commitee is attempting to encourage the development of strong panels by asking that if you are interested, please submit your panel proposal early. We are willing to help you try to locate speakers, to flesh out the controversial bits of your topic area, to work with you to achieve your goal. The earlier you request such assistance, the better we will be positioned to provide it.

How are panels and forums operated?
The program committee asks panel and forum moderators, as well as panelists or speakers, to keep in mind that panels and forums make significant contributions to the overall technical program of the conference. Panel or forum sessions are not paper sessions in a different format, nor are they last minute, ad hoc, fill up the program sessions. The program committee has determined from audience feedback that interactive question and answer sessions with panel/forum speakers is valued highly by ACSAC attendees. The benefit of a panel or forum session stems from interaction between the panelists or speakers AND the audience. The program committee strongly recommends that a minimum of half the session be allocated for such discussion.

Sessions typically run 90 minutes. All speakers should be appropriate contributors to the panel or forum, while acknowledging the fact that occasionally substitutions have to be made at the last minute. Panel and forum proposals should identify all speakers. Consideration should be given for backup speakers in the event of an emergency. (One method is to contact someone you know will be at the conference who could and would participate on extremely short notice.)

A panel format which is known to work very successfully is for the moderator to provide a brief introduction of no more than 5 minutes. Then, allow each of three panelists 10 minutes for a statement of their position during which only clarification questions are accepted. After all panelists have spoken there is an open discussion period. A successful format for forums follows a similar style. The forum introduction should also be no longer than 5 minutes and each speaker should be allowed 15-20 minutes for the presentation of lessons learned or concepts they are trying to convey. After all presenters have spoken there is an open discussion period. (Note that even if you are short a speaker, keep to the schedule or else the audience will get restless.)

Moderators may participate in the discussion period. In case discussion does not develop smoothly, the moderator should be ready to ask questions or call upon a specific individual in the audience to pose a question. Panelists or speakers may also be asked to raise questions when discussion falters. It is quite appropriate to plant questions in the audience in advance of the session. The panel or forum moderator should step in to cut off discussion which is too narrowly focused or going around in circles. A brief closing statement by the panel or forum moderator may be provided if necessary.

What are my responsibilities as moderator?
  1. A nominal introduction to the panel or forum MUST be provided. The introduction should be used to establish the purpose of the panel or forum, identify the speakers, and lay the ground rules. This information should be shared with the speakers before the conference. Advise your speakers that this will set the stage so they need not repeat introductory material in their presentations, thereby giving them a little more time to present their view or concept.
  2. Speaker bios or introductions should be kept extremely brief. That means one or two sentences. It is best to simply note the special activity that the speaker is involved with that makes them appropriate for the panel or forum.
  3. All speakers should be introduced in the introduction. By doing so, the flow of presentations is not interrupted by a speaker bio.
  4. Moderators are not the speakers. Their function is to introduce, keep a smooth flow, generate discussion (if necessary), and be the time-keeper.
  5. Moderators must be assertive, both with their speakers and with the audience. Discussions that are inappropriate should be, politely, discontinued or postponed and questions/dialog should be raised when the speakers and audience are not actively responding. Take only clarification questions during the speakers' presentations; do not allow this to turn in to an open discussion between the speaker and the audience. (You have lost control of the panel or forum if a speaker takes the floor and directly responds to non-clarification questions during the presentations.)
  6. Do not let your speakers become the moderator. Your job is to indicate where, when, and what questions are acceptable. Your job is to direct questions to your speakers if necessary.
What are my speaker's responsibilities?
  1. Speakers should skip the presentation agenda. In a 10-15 minute presentation, it is not necessary and there is no time.
  2. Speakers should remember they are talking to the security community and most of the basics are well understood. They should skip the fundamentals unless there is something unique or different in how they are viewed.
  3. Speakers should not define terminology unless they are using the terms in a different way than common usage.
  4. Speakers should not take general questions during their presentation; they should be deferred to the moderator, if necessary. Clarification questions are acceptable.
  5. Speakers must keep to their time limits; be polite to fellow speakers and the audience.
How do I write a panel or forum proposal?
Panel write-ups must be no longer than one page (not a front and back; a front only). Forum write-ups must be no longer than two pages (a front and back only). Moderators of forums should note, however, that the two pages is a maximum and if two pages are not necessary, they should not be taken. White space should not be added without a strong reason.

Panel and forum write-ups serve to entice the audience. They should provide the following: a title, identification of moderator and speakers, a brief one paragraph description by the moderator to tell what the panel or forum is about, and brief one paragraph statements by each of the speakers to describe their position or identify what they will be speaking about. If speaker statements cannot be obtained prior to the written material due date, then a one page write-up describing the panel or forum should be provided in its place.

An example panel proposal is provided here. An example forum proposal is provided here. An example of a one page write-up when specific speaker statements cannot be obtained in advance is provided here.

The Panels/Forums Chair requests such a write-up as the panel or forum proposal. Note that if insufficient information is submitted, it may not be possible to ascertain the value of a given proposal in light of the overall conference program. The committee recognizes that speakers may be subject to change prior to final submission of the written materials.

How do I submit a panel or forum proposal?
To submit a panel/forum proposal, send your description (maximum one page for panels, maximum two pages for forums) to the panel/forums chair (panels@acsac.org). Your submission must include a description of the topic and a list of speakers with their affiliations. Please include the name, address, phone, FAX, and email address of the organizer of your panel/forum.

Remember, if you need some assistance in working your area, the earlier we know what is needed the better the chances are that we can help.

How do I get more information?
For additional information regarding panels or forums, please contact the Panels Chair.
Additional ACSA Events:
NSPW – New Security Paradigms Workshop
LASER – Learning from Authoritative Security Experiment Results