Change the Date of the APSA Annual Meeting

There is a petition circulating to change the date of the APSA annual meeting. I have not signed it yet, although I probably will. I’m writing this post because I think that there are some things that have to change about how APSA works before the discipline benefits in the ways that the petition suggests, and those changes might not be popular.

Some observations about how APSA is different from most other academic associations:

  1. Compared to, say, the AEA/ASSA, there are far more papers.
  2. Compared to every other association’s meeting that I’ve attended, panel attendance is very sparse.
  3. Only some departments do interviews at APSA.

Why does this matter? Because one of the benefits of moving the date of APSA later is more of the job market activity there. If that happens, we will be encumbering a significant amount of time for a significant number of people, which can only hurt panel attendance further while complicating the scheduling of panels and papers. (On the AEA or MLA model, think several days entirely filled with 30 minute interviews in hotel rooms.) Should you present a paper if you’re on a search committee or on the job market? Who should be responsible for coordinating panel times and interview times?

Probably the easiest way to fix this would be to restrict the number of papers presented at APSA, removing the expectation that every grad student and assistant professor will at least attempt to present one if not two papers. Despite the fact that almost nobody I know actually likes the current APSA format, I can’t imagine much support for making APSA more exclusive in this way.

The point is that despite the many benefits that would come with changing the APSA date, there are some consequences that will affect how the annual meeting will work. Perhaps those changes will be good, but I will think more about them before I sign.