Locating Suitable Venues for Making Presentations - From Attending to Presenting at Conferences - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Locating Suitable Venues for Making Presentations
From Attending to Presenting at Conferences
Conference Proposals and Article Types

When seeking an outlet for a session presentation, there are several strategies for identifying possible groups and meetings.

· Identify suitable content. Read the call for proposals very carefully to determine if the topic and approach that you have in mind suits the venue. For example, if a meeting for a group of counselors has the theme of family-centered practices, any session proposed needs to mesh with this goal. It is a mistake to expect that you can “recycle” a conference proposal—even if it was successful with another organization and different theme—and get a positive response. Be aware also that, for faculty members, committee members who review scholarly activity will look askance at curriculum vitae that list the same specific topic repeatedly.

· Conduct a search. Begin with the professional organizations in which you hold membership. If you are relatively new to the field, talk with accomplished faculty members about the organizations in which they are active members or officers. Visit the websites and journals of leading professional associations to view a calendar of their national, regional, state, and local meetings. Graduate students should check the postings in their academic departments because calls for conference proposals frequently are shared in this informal way. While you are attending a conference 1 year, plan for the next. Usually, there are bulletin boards or tables with information at these events to advertise other professional meetings, so be certain to peruse those materials. The October issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes a list of many of the major conferences as well.

· Go to the next level. From a professional development perspective, it is good to “stretch” and try to advance to the next level. So, after being accepted for a local conference is no longer a challenge, consider submitting a proposal at the state or regional level and, after presentations at the state and regional level are easy to accomplish, try for a national or international venue. At first, it might be necessary to “oversample” a bit and submit several conference proposals in the hopes of getting a few accepted. Eventually, most professionals reach a point where nearly every conference proposal that they submit gets accepted and the time, energy, and money invested in making conference presentations is too much of a drain on resources. Faculty members seldom are fully funded for travel to professional conferences by their employers and usually, only the invited keynote speakers have their expenses paid by the group sponsoring the event. If getting on the conference program is relatively easy, it may be time to redirect some of that effort toward research and writing.

As a first step in considering the writing tasks associated with making conference presentations, prospective presenters need to think about how the participants in their sessions will benefit beyond acquiring authoritative information—as important as that is. Given that travel is expensive and information is easy to access, interactivity is the main thing that makes attendance at a conference superior to simply staying at home and reading about a topic. The appeal of the conference is face-to-face interaction that enables participants to:

· Acquire new or improve existing professional skills

· Get feedback on a strategy, project or research

· Gain opportunities to network with other presenters, researchers, and authors (Galer-Unti & Tappe, 2009).

Whatever type of session you propose, be certain to consider ways to engage the audience.

Activity 4.1: Analyzing the Call for Conference Proposals

Look online and review the guidelines for submitting a conference proposal to a leading a professional organization in your field. What is the deadline? Who is the audience? What are the various types of session formats possible (e.g., institutes, seminars, workshops, panel discussions, virtual presentations)? Is there a conference theme? What is the process for submitting a proposal? How will the proposal be assessed and by whom? When will proposers be notified of the decision?

Scholars may wonder about the relative status of various having a conference proposal accepted for various venues. Some considerations are:

· What is the group’s reputation/visibility in the field? If it is the premier organization in the field, then the competition for the available presentation slots is apt to be more intense.

· How much writing is required? For a less competitive/local conference, all that may be required is a brief description for the conference program. This obviously is less prestigious than a conference that requires a detailed proposal or a paper.

· How are decisions rendered? The highest level of rigor is when conference proposals are independently reviewed by two to three peers using a set of criteria and the feedback from those reviews is shared with the proposer. For other, less competitive, conferences a selection committee may make the decision and no formal review process exists.

Unlike journals, the acceptance rate for conference proposals may not be public information. For less prestigious groups and smaller conferences, it may be the case that nearly all of the proposals are accepted in the interest of boosting attendance and generating revenues from conference fees. This might be particularly true with organizations that herald their meetings as international when the event is a study tour in disguise. Some ways to gain insight into the acceptance rates would be: (1) read the calls for papers to determine if the organization shares this information, (2) serve on the conference planning committee to gain insight about the process, and (3) engage in discussions with disciplinary colleagues about their own experience and that of others with acceptance/rejection of proposals. All of this helps to gauge the selectivity of the process. There are many different types of professional writing associated with proposing a conference session; they are discussed in the remainder of the chapter.