Virtual Annual Meetings 2020 hosted by SBL & AAR
General Frequently Asked Questions

(be sure to scroll down to see all of questions and answers)

Why will the 2020 Annual Meetings hosted by SBL and AAR be a virtual meeting?

The 2020 Annual Meeting hosted by SBL and AAR will be virtual because both organizations have determined that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot safely conduct an in-person meeting this year. The health, safety, and well-being of members is of paramount importance to AAR and SBL. Of particular concern are members who are characterized as being at high risk from significant health effects from the virus. At this point, it is clear that even in the most optimistic projections of the pandemic for the fall indicate that holding an in-person meeting would be ill advised. In addition, global travel remains heavily restricted, and some areas of the United States, including Massachusetts, are requiring a quarantine period when traveling into the state. By cancelling in-person plans this far in advance of the meeting, there is still sufficient time to plan for a vibrant, virtual meeting this year.
Do you expect me to sit in front of a computer screen all day for 11 days?

Of course not! One of the advantages of a virtual meeting is that attendance can be more occasional. We anticipate that attendees will attend some live sessions as their schedule allows. We also imagine that the ability to view sessions after they have taken place will be just as important. In this way, the conference can operate on your schedule, not the other way around. The mobile app (and its desktop equivalent) will help you plan a schedule of sessions you want to see live while also allowing you to access sessions that have already happened.

What are the dates of the conference? Why are the dates different from those planned for the Boston meeting?

The dates of this year’s conference will be November 29 – December 10. The dates are different because of the differing needs of attendance and presentation for a virtual meeting.

Full-time attendance will simply not be possible for many in the midst of teaching and work schedules, child and family care responsibilities, and the like. In addition, the shift in fall semester schedules for many higher education institutions in the United States has introduced further complications. Around 80% of conference attendees typically come from North America, so those schedule changes have major implications for the Virtual Annual Meeting. At the same time, having options to accommodate participants around the globe is also a priority. Global participation introduces the complication of differing time zones, as we must be attentive to the needs of presenters to present at a reasonable local hour.

The only way to provide for a schedule that can balance these needs is for the conference to take place over more days than the typical in-person meeting. No longer constrained by short-term leases on physical space, we have increased the number of days to accommodate the needed flexibility. We also are conscious of the need to be a good neighbor to similar organizations like the Association for Jewish Studies, whose conference starts on 14 December. 30 November–10 December was the best period of time around the typical meeting dates that SBL and AAR found to accommodate those needs. We are also working to design the conference so that attendees have a variety of ways to participate: in real-time sessions, asynchronous viewing during the meeting dates, and asynchronous viewing for a period after the meeting is over.

Will all sessions be available for asynchronous viewing?

Some sessions may not be available, due to considerations like presenter safety or intellectual property. However, sessions will be made available this way whenever possible.

My paper was accepted for the Boston meeting. What does that mean for me?
While the specifics of some session plans may shift in the coming weeks, we are committed to finding a place for every accepted paper to be presented as a part of the virtual conference. Please watch for communication from program unit chairs as well as from the programming staff of SBL and/or AAR.
I am a student member of SBL who would like to defer my paper until 2021 with the agreement of the program unit. If I defer, can I still propose and present another paper in 2021?

SBL Student members who defer a paper until 2021 can still submit proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting. If a new proposal is accepted, both the deferred paper and the newly accepted paper may be presented.

What is the official hashtag of the Annual Meetings 2020, hosted by SBL & AAR?

The official hashtag is #SBLAAR20


What is included in my registration fee?

The registration fee for the conference will be the same as the early-bird rate ($200 for full members, $80 for student members). The registration fee helps to cover the substantial costs that come with producing a conference of this size, even a virtual one. Such costs include the virtual platforms that will host sessions and exhibits, the development of the mobile and desktop apps that will be even more important this year, the year-round staff who plan the logistics of the meeting, and the hiring of additional staff to ensure that sessions run as smoothly as possible in an environment that will be unlike any of the previous Annual Meetings. The typical in-person Annual Meetings hosts around 150 simultaneous sessions at peak times. Even with an expanded schedule, we anticipate that there may be as many as 50 simultaneous sessions for a virtual meeting. There is substantial expense in running, managing, and staffing platforms that can organize and execute a program of that complexity. We hope that since the registration fee is only a small portion of the cost of the typical in-person meeting, attendees will still see a significant overall cost reduction to attend and participate in the meeting.

Can I register by phone?

No. Registration will be taken online only. The paper trail is necessary to ensure accuracy.

If I had already registered for the live Annual Meetings, what do I need to do to register for the online Annual Meetings?

In a word, nothing. Your registration will automatically be good for the virtual meeting. If you wish to cancel your registration, you may do so without any cancellation fee through 21 October.
I booked a hotel room when I registered for the Annual Meetings. What do I need to do?
If you reserved a hotel room in during your conference registration, your hotel reservation has already been cancelled; there is nothing you need to do at this time. If you booked a hotel independently (i.e., not as a part of your conference registration), you will need to cancel on your own.
How can I get a receipt for my Annual Meeting registration?

Once you’ve registered for the Annual Meeting you will receive an email confirmation. There is a link provided within the email confirmation that you may click and you will see a “Print Receipt” button located on the page.

I’ve registered and I can’t attend the Annual Meeting, can I get a refund for my registration fee?

In order to receive 100% registration refund, all registration cancellations must be requested in writing (email) by October 21, 2020. After October 21, only cancellations for medical reasons, accompanied by documentation from a physician or medical facility, will be refunded.

Please send meeting cancellation requests to Registrations or workshops cannot be switched to another person’s name. Proof of payment may be required.