The APSA has announced that the deadline for submitting papers to the online repository for the forthcoming conference is August 4th. The conference starts September 2nd. Um, whuck?
In the old days, one had to mail the papers to one's discussant and fellow panelists a few weeks ahead so that they could get the paper and have a week or two to read it before the conference. With the development of online paper banks and email, the expectation tends to be (varies by person and by standards set by each panel chair/discussant) to have the paper to the key person (the discussant) a week ahead of time so that they can read the papers.
I have never, ever received papers or posted papers online a month ahead of time. Why? Because August is for finishing the paper! Moreover, I would not read the papers three weeks ahead of time since I would want them reasonably fresh in my mind.
So, APSA is setting a deadline that most will surely miss. I asked the APSA twitter account if they could report/collect data on the volume of papers submitted by the deadline versus after. My guess is that most are submitted within 10 days of the conference. Not to mention that some don't post their papers because they fear plagiarism/getting scooped.*
* I have already written about this fear elsewhere. The key logic: if you want to be cited, post.All I ask as a discussant is to get the paper to me at least a few days before I leave for the conference. I may read some papers on the plane, but that is my choice. I will certainly not read papers at the conference, as the conference is for going to panels, meeting up with friends/colleagues/co-authors/etc. Spending a conference in a hotel room reading papers that were submitted too late is not my idea of a well spent conference.
My general rule is to be considerate--reading these papers is not the only thing the discussant has on his/her plate. So make their job easier by giving them some time, but not necessarily an entire month. Also, don't give them a paper that is one hundred pages (someone did that to me). As in all things, reciprocity/golden rule and all that.