Recommendations for Submitting Material to a Professional Conference
Presenting papers at professional conferences is an excellent way to increase your exposure to the discipline. With this in mind, we have put together some suggestions about how to apply.There are several primary ways to present your research at a conference. Generally, you may submit proposal for a panel, a roundtable, a paper, or a poster. The use of posters and poster sessions are becoming popular at the APSA, ISA and other large conferences. They are useful but, in contrast to the hard sciences, other forms of presentation are still generally preferred among political scientists.
Each conference has its own deadlines and application procedures. Information and application materials for most conferences are available on-line. If you cannot find the web page for the conference you are interested in, look for a link to it from the APSA web site.
The deadlines tend to be about 9 months in advance of the meetings. These deadlines are important: most big conferences are over subscribed and turn down a large number of potential presenters.There are several things to keep in mind when completing an application:
- Fit matters. The person or committee reviewing your proposal is generally trying to create panels of papers that share substantive or methodological characteristics. With this in mind, it is important that you submit your paper to the right people or sections. For example, the APSA has subsections on security, US foreign policy, electoral politics, modern political theory, etc. The APSA allows you to submit your proposal to two sections. Select them prudently.
- Panels have a higher likelihood of getting accepted than papers. If you submit a proposal for an interesting panel, you save the reviewer the time and trouble of creating one. If the panel looks good, this courtesy is often rewarded.
- Institutional diversity on panels is an asset. If you propose a panel, it is advisable to have two or more universities represented on it.
- Write a good synopsis of your paper or panel. A good proposal has several characteristics:
i. It fits within the space limitations specified in the proposal. This generally means a single long paragraph. In the case of a panel, all participants will generally be asked to provide similar paragraphs.
ii. It clearly identifies the puzzle or problem your paper will address.
iii. It clearly identifies your argument.
iv. It clearly states your methodology or, more generally, how you will support and defend your argument.
v. It clearly answers the "so what" question. The answer may be theoretical, empirical, or policy oriented, but it must be explicit.
vi. If you are proposing a panel, you will need to write a paragraph that specifies the problems or puzzles that link your papers together and the benefits gained by combining the arguments and methods they use. Ultimately, the point is to convince the reviewer that your papers fit together in a fruitful and interesting way.
If you get a paper accepted, you may apply for financial support from Department and the Graduate School as well as from the conference organizations themselves. Please familiarize yourself with the Department’s Conference Travel Reimbursement Policies and download the Conference Travel Reimbursement Form, as well as the Graduate School’s Travel Grant competition. Good luck!
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