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Graduate Students & New Evaluators TIG Week: Submitting a Presentation Proposal for Eval 2024 by Crystal Luce

This week, the members of the Graduate Students and New Evaluators (GSNE) TIG share various tips, tricks, resources, and points of view that can be helpful for students and new evaluators. We hope both evaluators, new and old, will review this material and share the resources and stories with each other.
-Crystal Luce, GSNE Chair

Hello, I am Crystal Luce, a student at the University of Colorado Denver, and the former Program Chair of GSNE. 

Getting accepted to a conference, AEA or otherwise, can be challenging but necessary. For some, the acceptance of a proposal is an addition to their resume, and for others, it is their ticket to being able to attend the conference. However, it can be tough for a new evaluator to know what you should and shouldn’t put into the proposal, what sort of presentation you have, and trying to read the minds of those who review the submissions. With submissions for the AEA conference due in the coming weeks, we thought it would be beneficial to discuss some of our experiences and knowledge when it comes to conference presentation proposals. Below are some tips and tricks to consider when putting your proposal together.

1. Read the description first. It may seem rather basic, but know what you are getting yourself into. This means reading the theme, proposal requirements, and which group you submit it to. For the AEA conference, become familiar with the AEA webpage. The website has the conference’s theme, the types of presentations, and some information about the groups. But maybe, even after reading everything you still don’t know, what should you do? Go back to previous years and see the sort of accepted presentations and the potential topics. This does not mean you can only submit on those topics. But it does mean you get an idea.

Hot Tip:

Not all presentation categories are created equal. Some presentation types have a higher acceptance rate than others. This is often due to the space and time it takes to present. For AEA, Birds of a Feather and Ignite often require fewer resources, so they have a higher acceptance rate. This is based on previous years’ experiences and can change from year to year.

2. Once you have a general understanding, go ahead and start brainstorming and outlining your proposal. You can talk to friends and coworkers and see if they find your ideas interesting. Make sure your proposal fits the theme. I have personally scored a proposal low because their proposal used the previous year’s theme vs. the one we were using. What is your unique point of view that you are offering to the field?

3. When it is time to write the proposal, think of it as a quick elevator pitch. You only have so many words to say everything. You want to make it concise, fit the theme (see point 2 above), and include the guiding principles. Also, try to make it entertaining to read. As a reviewer, you may read 5-20 proposals, so making yours fun to read can help.

4. Be a reviewer. Being a reviewer can be vital to your own proposal process. It isn’t that you get to review your own work or that you’re going to tank a proposal just so you get accepted. You get a chance to see what others are writing about and how they have put their proposal together. Not every conference puts out a call for reviewers, but when they do, jump at that chance.

I hope the advice above will help you in your proposal endeavors. All of these tips may not get you accepted but they should help. Even if you don’t get in, it doesn’t mean you had a bad idea or should stop trying. Each year I am left saying “If I had just one more spot, I would accept this presentation.”

AEA is hosting GSNE Week with our colleagues in the Graduate Student and New Evaluators AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our GSNE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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