BNA2023 Open call session guidelines

Open call session guidelines

Please make sure you carefully read through ALL these guidelines to the bottom of the page, so that your proposal is eligible for consideration. Sessions which do not meet these requirements will not be considered.

Are you submitting on behalf of a Partner Organisation? If so, please do NOT use these guidelines, but click here instead!

Deadline for submissions = 23:59 BST 31st May 2022


Read below for:

  1. General information
  2. Equity, diversity and inclusion
  3. How to submit a proposal
  4. Selection process
  5. Speaker travel and expenses

General Information

  • Proposals should be submitted on the understanding that organisers have informed speakers of the meeting date and location, and speakers have confirmed they will attend if the proposal is accepted.
  • None of the speakers can have presented a talk at the previous Festival of Neuroscience held online in April 2021* - see list here. This is in order to widen the opportunity to speak at the Festival as much as possible.
  • In addition, any individual can only speak in one session during the 2023 Festival.**
  • New for 2023: speakers will have the option of presenting their talk online instead of in-person, but no more than 50% of speakers in any one session can present online, and those who are online must be able to attend the sessions live to respond to Q&A.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

  • All proposals must align with the BNA’s Policy for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • As well as having a range of career stages represented within each session, it is expected that proposals will provide, as far as possible, representation across ethnicity, gender, geography and sector (academic, commercial, charity and/or clinical).
  • Proposals which are populated exclusively by men will not be considered.

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How to submit a proposal

Firstly, please consider whether the topic of your session would be best suited to be a symposium or a special interest workshop:

Symposia: Symposia should present a topic that showcases important, relevant, up-to-date neuroscience research or other topics of interest to neuroscientists

  • Each symposium is 100 minutes in length and consists of four talks; each talk is therefore 20 minutes long followed by 5 minutes for Q&A.
  • The four speakers must be from different institutions/organisations.
  • There is a maximum of one non-UK speaker per symposium
  • At least one speaker must be a leader of the field and should be recognised for having made or be making an important contribution to their field. 
  • At least one speaker must be an Early Career Researcher (ECR), where ECR is defined as someone who would be eligible for undergraduate, postgraduate, career starter or ECR membership of the BNA: see definitions at bna.org.uk/about/membership.
  • Two of the four speakers must co-chair the symposium
  • One of these co-chairs must be an ECR
  • Although the symposium organisers can propose a non-speaking Chair, if wished, the non-speaking Chair will not receive a complimentary Festival pass or be entitled to speaker travel expenses.

Workshops: Workshops should focus on topics of wide interest (e.g. policy, careers, science culture, funding, grant-writing, publishing, reproducibility, short courses, neuroethics etc.) 

  • Each workshop is 100 minutes in length. Their format can include presentations, panel Q&A, small group discussion, worked examples, or other formats. Workshop organisers can also provide materials to attendees prior to the session.
  • We particularly welcome workshops that do not consist of solely one-way delivery of presentations, but instead include more interactive and participatory elements.    
  • Workshops typically consist of 3-6 participants including a chairperson, although there is no limit to the number of participants (within reason).
  • There is a maximum of one non-UK speaker per workshop

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Selection process

All proposals will be reviewed by members of the POC, headed by the POC Co-Chairs Professor Sarah Guthrie and Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly. The POC will consider each proposal on its own merits, as well as the Festival programme as a whole, when deciding whether or not to include. They may also contact the organiser to discuss the proposal before accepting, e.g. to suggest some changes so that it meets the objectives of the meeting more effectively.

Criteria the POC will assess when reviewing proposals include:

  • How well it meets the criteria specified in these guidelines
  • Importance of the neuroscience research covered in the proposal
  • Overlap with other symposia/workshop proposals
  • Interest in the ideas and techniques
  • Quality of the research and the speakers
  • For symposia - relevance and interest level of the topic
  • For workshops – likely level of demand by the neuroscience community
  • They will also look to check for undeclared Conflicts of Interest or inappropriate use of sessions, for example whether the proposal markets a specific product or service.
  • Although acceptance will be based principally on meeting these guidelines and scientific criteria, where proposals are of equal merit, they are more likely to be successful if they are accompanied by firm commitments from sponsors to meet speaker expenses and/or make a contribution (eg £2000) to help cover the overhead costs of running the session.

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Speaker travel and expenses

For the 2023 Festival, we are introducing new rules to reduce the environmental impact of speaker travel and maximise ‘what we get for our carbon’.

UK-based speakers:

  • Full Festival pass from 23 – 26 April, allowing access to all sessions
  • One night’s accommodation
  • Travel allowance of up to £130.
    (Private car use is reimbursed at 40p per mile (incl. petrol) for first 100 miles; 28p thereafter. Second class and economy air fares are allowable; any upgrades must be borne by the claimant.)

Speakers based outside the UK. Please remember that a session cannot include more than one non-UK speaker.

Any non-UK speaker will have the option of either:

  1. Attending the event in-person and committing to attend the whole of the meeting. The BNA will not support travel costs for non-UK speakers who are unable to meet this commitment.
    Non-UK speakers attending in person will be entitled to:
    - Full Festival pass from 23 – 26 April, allowing access to all sessions
    - Three nights’ accommodation
    - Travel costs: up to £1000. We strongly encourage speakers to book flights ahead of time to benefit from cost-effective fares as much as possible. (Private car use is reimbursed at 40p per mile (incl. petrol) for first 100 miles; 28p thereafter. Second class and economy air fares are allowable; any upgrades must be borne by the claimant.) 
    OR
  2. Presenting their talk from their own location, live and online, to the in-person audience.

If a symposium organiser is able to cover speaker expenses from elsewhere, then they are at liberty to refund their speakers according to their own guidelines. If this is the case then please make sure that the BNA office is aware of any such arrangement made with speakers.


* There may be some exceptions if, for instance, the reason/purpose for them speaking is very different and nobody else would be able to present on the same topic.

** If an individual’s name appears in more than one proposal, the Programme Organising Committee (POC) will work with the symposium organiser to seek an alternative speaker.

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