International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Committees and Task Forces


Scientific Program Committee

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Purpose of Committee (scope of responsibilities)

  • The Scientific Program Committee is responsible for multi-year planning and coordination of ISTSS Annual Meeting scientific content to ensure successful Meetings that advance the Society’s strategic goals.
  • The committee conducts a fair and timely abstract submission and peer review process to guide selection of high quality content. The committee selects content balancing diversity of content areas and presenters, and schedules program content within the structure created by the Organizing Committee. 
  • The committee selects and invites keynote speakers, featured presenters (e.g. Master Clinician or Master Methodologist), and may invite a limited number of other presentations without formal peer review to advance strategic goals for the Annual Meeting.
  • The Scientific Program Committee is responsible for selecting the Annual Meeting theme, in consultation with the President and President-Elect.  Multi-year planning of themes is encouraged, to promote balance and diversity across multiple years to advance the Society’s strategic goals.
  • The committee works very closely with the Annual Meeting Organizing Committee to integrate multi-year planning for meeting theme, scientific and other content, meeting structure and activities, and promotion to a diverse and inclusive audience of potential presenters and attendees.


Chair/ Position Reporting Relationships (where fit is within the organizational structure) 
  • The Chair of the Scientific Program Committee is appointed by the ISTSS President, with approval of the Executive Committee. The Chair serves for a 3 year term, and reports to the President. The first year of this term, the individual serves as Scientific Program Co-Chair; the second year as Scientific Program Chair; the third year as past Scientific Program Chair (remaining on Committee in an advisory role).
  •  The Scientific Program Chair has final responsibility for scientific program decisions, but the Chair and Co-Chair are expected to work closely together and share tasks and responsibilities.
  •  The Chair appoints the PMI Deputy, Content Area Deputies, and Special Track Deputies (optional). 
  •  The Scientific Program Chair and Co-Chair communicate regularly with the Organizing Committee Chair to coordinate current and multi-year scientific and logistical planning for the Annual Meeting.
Composition (by position or other qualifications rather than name; length of service, number of members) 
  Role / responsibility Term Appointed by & reports to
  1. Scientific Program Chair
Overall responsibility for scientific content of Annual Meeting in keeping w strategic direction from Board. Yr 2 of a 3 year term President
  1. Scientific Program Co-Chair
Assists and shares responsibility w/ Scientific Program Chair. Yr 1 of a 3 year term President (EC approval for appointment)
  1. Past Scientific Program Chair
Advisory role – helps to bridge scientific program & logistics Yr 3 of a 3 year term President
  1. PMI Deputy
Multi-year planning for PMI content and presenters, recruitment and oversight of PMI reviewers, recommendations for acceptance of abstracts based on reviewer ratings and their own expertise. 2 - 3 years Scientific Program Chair
  1. Content area deputies
(usually 25 – 30 are needed)
Primary responsibility is recruitment and oversight of reviewers, making recommendations for acceptance of abstracts based on reviewer ratings and their own expertise.
May participate in some Scientific Program Committee calls / meetings.
1 year commitment  but repetition encouraged Scientific Program Chair
  1. Special track Deputy/ies 
(1 – 2)
See Content Area Deputy/ies.
Also may be called upon to assist Annual Meeting Organizing Committee with promotion / funding efforts related to special track focus or content.
Usually 1 year Scientific Program Chair
Reviewers (>200) Review abstracts fairly and in a timely manner. 1 yr commitment but repetition encouraged Content area deputies
PMI Deputy
Special track Deputy/ies
Authority (what committee/task force/position has authority to do) 
Within the strategic direction and overall policies set by the Board, the committee has the authority to
  • make decisions about scientific content for the ISTSS Annual Meeting
  • (consult with Organizing Committee) to commit to speaker expenses within the approved budget for each Annual Meeting
  • modify peer review / abstract submission procedures and logistics to facilitate efficient and high quality process and operations. 

Limitations on authority (what committee/task force/position does not have authority to do) 
The committee does not have the authority to approve changes in Annual Meeting strategic direction, core policies or budget. The committee is encouraged to identify any needed changes in these areas, and to make appropriate recommendations to the Board.
Society policies impacting committee/task force/position function (relevant votes the Board of Directors has taken) 
The committee is subject to the written Annual Meeting Manual and any written or accepted Society policies, including the Speaker Reimbursement policy (effective date January 2007)..
During the Board of Directors’ meeting held November 12, 2008, the Past President was asked to inform the Annual Meeting Committee that the Board would like the committee to structure some
sort of monitoring system to compare content consistency year by year to determine if there are under-represented areas and to take steps to incorporate such a system.
In order to promote multi-year planning for the Annual Meeting in keeping with ISTSS’ strategic goals, in March 2014, the Board of Directors approved a new two-committee structure for Annual Meeting planning (Annual Meeting Organizing Committee and Scientific Program Committee), with 3 year terms for key leaders of each committee.
Interactions, Influences & Interdependencies with other committees and positions 
The Chair and Co-Chair communicate regularly with the Organizing Committee Chair regarding current and multi-year Annual Meeting activities and planning, and with the President regarding overall strategic direction.
The committee works in close coordination with the Organizing Committee, based on strategic direction from the Board and the policies and procedures set forth in the Annual Meeting Manual.
Additional interactions:
  Interacts w / Liaison to
Scientific Program Chair President & President-Elect, Program Director
Scientific Program Co-Chair President & President-Elect, Program Director
PMI Deputy Distance Education Committee, Education Manager
Content area deputies SIG Chairs as appropriate
Special track Deputy/ies SIG Chairs as appropriate
Job products (what work committee/task force/position accomplishes during a year) 
The committee works in concert with the Organizing Committee to produce a scientifically excellent Annual Meeting. 
Staff resources available (relevant sections of Sherwood scope of work) 
The Sherwood Group scope of work specifies the following activities related to the function of this committee. (See current year scope of work for detailed listing.)

Scientific Program Committee Management
Planning and coordination
  • Develop plans with program chairs related to program committee structure and tasks
  • Train program chairs and deputies in session selection system
  • Distribute current versions of sections of the Annual Meeting Manual to appropriate parties
  • Coordinate pre- and post-Annual Meeting committee meetings and eventsMaintain listserv for committee
  • Arrange for conference calls as necessary
  • Provide any background info to committee to address issues 

Support for system of abstract submission and peer review
  • Assist in identifying and selecting abstract management vendor
  • Place abstract submission information on the Society Web site
  • Maintain link from Web site to abstract submission system
  • Review proposed incremental changes to abstract submission system each year and work with vendor to implement all required changes in system.   (Substantive changes in submission requirementswould require a separate project fee.)
  • Respond to submitters’ inquiries as appropriate; troubleshoot submission difficulties.
  • Assist those who encounter challenges in entering content themselves with entering abstracts into abstract submission system
  • Coordinate activities of up to 100 people on the program committee involved in the review process
  • Set up reviewer database; assign abstracts to reviewers, track reviews and provide information to Scientific Program Chair and Co-Chair
  • Communicate with student section chairs related to student meeting and internship fair and lunch, arrange for space and tent cards
  • Create sign copy for all signs and arrange for printing
  • Obtain list of clinician-researcher endorsed presentations from assigned volunteer 

Financial and other resources available 
Committee operations: The committee has funds available to conduct weekly or bi-weekly conference calls throughout the year and a meeting room at the Annual Meeting location for a face-to-face meeting.  Any unexpected expenditures beyond each year’s approved budget must be approved by the Finance Committee via a resource request form.
Annual Meeting speaker expenses: A budget is approved by the Board each year for the Annual Meeting, and the committee works with the Organizing Committee to determine best use of speaker expenses within this approved budget to ensure excellent content.
Description of operations/processes/procedures (how committee works) 
Meetings:  The chair schedules regular committee meetings (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending upon time of year), sets each meeting’s agenda and determines needed participants, and leads each committee meeting. The committee meets face-to-face at the Annual Meeting, and has discussions via conference calls and utilizes e-mail for discussions and decision-making.
At least once per year, the committee meets jointly with the Organizing Committee to review and evaluate past year’s meeting and to coordinate overall planning activities.
Procedures: There is a separate Annual Meeting Policies and Procedure Manual. The aims of this manual are to:
  1. Provide a template for program planning based on the experience of past meetings,
  2. Outline duties and volunteer job descriptions so there is a shared understanding about roles and responsibilities,
  3. Provide a mechanism for documenting meeting planning related policies,
  4. Supply perspective and practical suggestions to aid the Scientific Program Chair and Co-Chair and Annual Meeting Organizing Chair,
  5. Provide a detailed timeline for meeting planning tasks.


Wendy D'Andrea - Scientific Program Chair
The New School for Social Research
Teresa Lopez-Castro - Scientific Program Co-Chair
The City College of New York
Paul Frewen - Past Scientific Program Chair
Univ of Western Ontario