Saturday, June 4, 2011

Writing A Successful Conference Proposal

Professional conferences, such as AERA, offer an opportunity to share research and network. Presenting at a conference is an excellent way to showcase your work and provides a means to gain valuable experience. The following are a few practical tips to assist with submission of a conference proposal.

1. Carefully Review the Conference Theme and Proposal Guidelines
Proposal requirements vary by organization. Some organizations require a 50 word abstract while others require a formal proposal and submission of a manuscript. Check the conference theme and proposal guidelines to ensure that your proposal is aligned with conference goals. The best proposal will be rejected if it does not meet the conference objectives. It is important to submit your proposal to the appropriate strand, special interest group (SIG), or division. If you are unsure, ask for clarification from a trusted faculty member.

2. Review Your Proposal Prior to Submission
Ensure that your proposal is free from writing mechanics errors and does not include any identifying information. Also, ensure that citations are correctly formatted. If the conference uses APA, the revised sixth edition is required. It is also important to pay careful attention to word count as writing over the limit may be a reason for your proposal to be rejected. Save your proposal number and any correspondence from the conference director.

3. Understand Submission Requirements
Many conferences require online submission. It is often helpful to draft the proposal in word, then cut and paste the sections into the document. Also, be mindful of the proposal deadline. A deadline of June 22nd could mean June 22nd at 11:59pm or June 22nd at 12:01am or June 22nd at 12:00pm. The best option is to submit early rather than deal with last minute technical difficulties that may arise.

4. Be Mindful of Your Commitment
Although commitments vary by organization, most require that if your proposal is accepted, you register for and attend the conference. While organizations generally understand if a catastrophic event occurs that precludes your attendance, submitting a proposal is entering into a “contract” to present.

5. Consider Options Available to Graduate Students
Many organizations offer options for graduate students. Explore and take advantage of these options. Conference attendance can become expensive. Explore funding options available through your university. Also, many conferences offer a discount for students, presenters, or those who agree to volunteer.

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