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Writing a Conference Proposal

Friday, April 6th, 2012 | Posted in Dissertations & Theses by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Marc Wathieu CC

Many upperclassmen and graduate students strive to take part in conferences and show others the work we’ve been doing. Conferences are a great opportunity to bounce ideas off other experts in your field and get ideas for developing your work. Applying for a conference, however, can be daunting work and many are quite competitive.

If you’ve never applied to speak at a conference before, here is how the process usually works:

  • The conference will send out a “Call for Papers” (CFP) that tells everyone things like what kind of conference is being held, the conference’s theme, the requirements for proposals, and deadlines.
  • You’ll write a proposal, which is usually an abstract ranging anywhere from 200-800 words and explains you topic.
  • You send the conference folks your proposal by the deadline (miss the deadline and you’re out of luck).
  • Many conferences will conduct a “blind review.” This means that 1-3 people will read your proposal without any identifying information on it. They’ll have no idea who wrote it. The reviewers will send the abstract back to the conference committee with their recommendations of whether or not your idea is one they’d like to hear at the conference.
  • You’ll get a notice stating whether or not you were accepted.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re not accepted. Conferences can be very competitive, and many times the committees have to turn down great proposals because there simply isn’t enough space.

Check out this blog post from “The Professor Is In,” which details the things you should try to do when trying to prepare an abstract for a conference proposal.


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