Preparing to Submit a Presentation to a Research Conference

Preparing to Submit a Presentation to a Research Conference

Have you identified a conference you would like to submit your research to but are unsure of the next steps? Read on to learn more about preparing to submit a presentation to a research conference.

Review the Call for Papers

Once you have identified a conference you would like to submit a presentation to (see our article, “Identifying and Choosing Research Conferences to Attend” for additional information), request or find online the conference’s “Call for Papers.” Alternatively, this may be referred to as a “Call for Research” or “Call for Presentations.” It is important to read the Call carefully to make sure your research is a good fit for the conference.

Because conference organizers often require you to submit your work to a specific session or topic area, select the best-fitting topic area or session for your research based on descriptions available in the Call and build your submission with that in mind.

Note the Deadlines

Pay close attention to submission deadlines as deadlines for presentations are typically several months in advance of the conference. Additionally, there are often multiple deadlines and notifications included in the timelines, depending on the size and complexity of the event.

For example, a conference may have proposals due in the summer, notification in November, and the event the following March.  

Identify Submission Guidelines

Carefully read through conference presentation submission guidelines. Guidelines will vary but will likely require one of the combinations below:

  • A complete draft of a paper to be submitted,
  • An abstract with a statement of preliminary findings,
  • An abstract and no statement of preliminary findings.

What you are able to submit will largely depend on what stage of your research is in at the time of submission and what stage your project will be in at the time of the conference.

Choose a Submission Type

Some conferences allow you to select if you are submitting (1) a formal research presentation, (2) a more informal roundtable presentation, or (3) a poster presentation. Others will make this selection for you by designating you to a certain type of session based on the type and quality of your research project.

Identify what is needed prior to beginning your submission forms to be prepared in case you are allowed to select an option.

Submission Best Practices

Regardless of what is required at the time of submission be mindful of word limits, spelling, and grammar. Often the title you list on your submission form will be the title that is listed in the conference program and abstracts you submit for presentations are often made available on conference websites once the presentation is accepted. As a result, it is a good idea to have someone proofread your submission to check for errors before you finalize.

Check in with Collaborators

If you have collaborated or will collaborate with others during the research project, discuss with stakeholders who will be listed on the conference program and in what order if the presentation is accepted. This is especially important for conference presentations in which only one author/presenter is listed in the conference program. Have this discussion prior to submitting anything for possible presentation, as you may not be able to change it if your presentation proposal is accepted.

Contact Information

Finally, when submitting your work for consideration, be sure to use an email address and other contact information that you routinely check. Conference organizers will often follow-up with applicants via email to let them know of reviewer decisions. If your presentation is accepted, sometimes session organizers will need to follow-up with you to establish order of presentations in sessions, communicate the appropriate length and format of presentations, and help determine what A/V equipment might be required. Make yourself available through whatever contact information you provide so that you don’t miss any opportunities resulting from the hard work above!

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