Reflecting on Outcomes - 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

Reflecting on Outcomes
From Attending to Presenting at Conferences
Conference Proposals and Article Types

When a conference session is well received, it can be exhilarating. It is a form of validation because fellow professionals with no vested interest in your or your work are favorably impressed. However, there are instances in which the audience response is less than enthusiastic; for example, a discussant may be critical of the conceptual framework for a study or questions from the audience during a workshop may be difficult to answer. In either case, making an oral presentation can improve a written manuscript on the same topic in many ways. This can occur only if presenters are:

· Accepting of different perspectives. In the spirit of professional dialogue, unanimity is not the goal. Accept that it is possible to respectfully disagree without defensiveness or rancor.

· Humble about their contributions. No one designs a flawless study or makes a perfect presentation. A single study seldom revolutionizes thinking in a field; this requires an accumulation of evidence from many studies. Therefore, presenters openly acknowledge the limitations of their work.

· Willing to rethink. Presenters need to be willing to modify their stance when presented with compelling counterarguments. If the situation warrants it, it may be necessary to go “back to the drawing board.” When someone suggests revisions, it is important to think it over rather than becoming confrontational or deflated.

These same attitudes serve authors well as they strive to publish work that is based on a conference presentation because they characterize the peer review process. A team of five researchers, for example, submitted an article to a highly respected journal after presenting their research at a conference. One of them wanted to write a rebuttal of sorts, disagreeing with nearly every point that was raised by the three independent reviewers. Another who had many years of experience as a journal editor took a very different approach; she assumed that “none of us is as smart as all of us” and recommended that they make any and all changes unless they really could not “live with them”. In one case, there was a recommendation that the team did not comply but, instead of being indignant, the rationale for that decision was explained—and the editor accepted that departure from the reviewers’ advice. Criticism of scholarly work needs to be carefully considered rather than rejected in a show of ego. Many times, thoughtful critique from others prevents us from making an embarrassing mistake.