Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1. How long should my presentation be?

The duration of your presentation depends on the type of ESSA@work workshop you are attending and will be specified before the workshop. If you are you participating the ESSA@work workshop during the ESSA conference you will normally have been 10-15 mins to present, however this depends on the timing of the specific conference. When you attend a local ESSA@work you have 60 minutes. For the conference ESSA@work the presentation will be followed by discussion. In the local version it is flexible how you use the time. Depending on your needs you can divide the time for presenting and discussion. If you seek space for lots of discussions -> have a short presentation; if you want to practice verbalising your story -> have a longer presentation. If you are unsure: half and half is a neat option, just allow enough space for your topic and enough time to discuss your questions with the group.

2. How should I prepare my presentation for an interdisciplinary audience?

In preparing your presentation make sure you start by briefing the audience with:

  • Your research goal;
  • The specific questions you want to have answered in your time slot;
  • Where you are in your research (stage of modelling).
  • Always explain your model (shortly), if possible. Even if you then want to focus on a particular aspect, such as results.

This all sounds obvious and simple. However if you don’t brief people, they will have difficulties understanding you and will thus have trouble in helping you. Even though we all know we should present it, many presentations miss this essential core.

3. What is a discussion group?

In the Conference ESSA@work: the discussions are related to the topics of the presenters but are going deeper into a specific question or problem. In the local ESSA@work: the topics are chosen by the participants during the meeting, after the presentations. Often these discussions arose in connection with a presentation and needed some continuation; or they are a continuation of a presenter’s specific topic who likes to have further questions answered, or a more general question like, ‘how to validate?’ or ‘how to present my findings?’…. or your own idea. If you already have a suggestion for a discussion group at the stage of applying, please feel free to send us your suggestion.

4. Who are the experts?

The experts are not a fixed group. They are invited based on their expertise in simulation work and good fit with the participants’ expertise needs. Experts are typically selected on a personal contact basis. They are at the meeting only for your support and that is what they concentrate on. You can also suggest an expert yourself when applying.

5. What does it mean to be an expert?

The main task for you is to support the participant in their model development stages with your expertise, experience and personal network. It is not at all a role of examining or judging, but about giving constructive feedback. In your role it is important to listen, ask questions (you have more ‘freedom’ in asking), give advise.

Some Do’s:

– Take into account the specific background of the presenter.

– Provide references and links to literature, people and theory. Your experience, network and knowledge provide valuable support for everyone.

– Give specific feedback on:

  • what  and how something can be improved
  • what is missing from your perspective / other disciplines
  • how you would approach the solution
  • the positive things

– Aim your feedback

  • at the research of the presenter (not at the person)
  • at something that is changeable

– Frame your feedback from a neutral position. There is no better / worse, there are different views / disciplines. For example “When presenting your work to sociologist, they would …” or “Given that my discipline is…, I feel / think that … “

Some Don’ts:

  • talking too long
  • using killer phrases like “This is not science!” or “You will fail unless…”
  • Stressing own discipline specifics

6. What does it mean to be a participant?

The idea behind ESSA@work is to ask for, give and receive support in the process of developing a simulation. In general it boils down for everyone to: listen, be open and be supportive. More specifically:

– As audience

  • Listen, ask questions, provide constructive feedback and support.
  • Provide references and links to literature, people and theory. Especially when you come from another field than the presenter, you might ask THE important questions that the presenter never thought about. Or you know of relevant people or theories that are unknown to the presenter.
  • Be tolerant to answers like “I don’t know”, “I have not heard this before” or “I am still working on that”
  • Be open towards other/new scientific concepts and methods that will be mentioned

– As presenter

  • Prepare your presentation well! (see question: “Some hints to prepare my presentation for an interdisciplinary audience?”)
  • When you receive feedback: ask further, to specify the feedback you receive until you know
    • what exactly is suggested,
    • how you can apply the suggestion and
    • don’t take feedback personal!

7. What does it mean to give constructive feedback in a group?

Giving feedback boils down to how you communicate and what you communicat. Some tips:

– Give specific feedback on

  • what  and how something can be improved
  • what is missing from your perspective / other disciplines
  • how would you approach the solution
  • Address the positive things too.

– Aim your feedback

  • at the research of the presenter (not at the person)
  • at something that is changeable

– Frame your feedback from a neutral position. There is no better/worse there are different views/disciplines. For example “When presenting your work to sociologist, they would …” or “Given that my discipline is…, I feel/think that … “

– Some Don’ts:

  • Don’t talk too long
  • Using killer phrases such as “This is not science!” or “You will fail unless…”
  • Stressing own interesting, but irrelevant discipline specifics

8. Will my travelcost be covered, when accepted for ESSA@work?

Unfortunately, we have no budget that allows us to offer any financial support.

9. What is the difference between local ESSA@work and the conference ESSA@work?

Local ESSA@work is a 3-day workshop, usually self organised and participated by a group of modellers in the same and/or neighboring countries. It is a more intensive workshop that is easily accessible for ‘local’ modellers by keeping the travel distance and costs low. The experts are usually also invited on a local level. This is how ESSA@works started, as a local initiative.

ESSA conference ESSA@work is an 1 or 2-day session track that is organised during the yearly ESSA conference. It is similar to the local version, however much shorter. It allows for a broader spatial-based variety of modellers and experts. The sessions in this track include presentations and feedback from the audience like in any other session. However, in each talk there will be an expert and co-ESSA@workers present to provide in-depth feedback, based on the talk and on the submitted papers. At the end of each ESSA@work session, there will be a group discussion.

© 2015 European Social Simulation Association (ESSA).