Wednesday, August 9

Sorry about the picture. I'm trying to do the uploading thing so I'll have a picture with my profile. I don't even know if I'm doing this right, and maybe the picture is too complicated to use, but we'll see.

Anyway. The conference our grad program hosts each year is having its abstract reading session tonight, so in honor of that event, here’s a list of some questions a conference chair hates to hear from prospective conference participants:

Q (from someone who hasn’t submitted an abstract yet): “Can you give me more information on your conference?”
A: Well, no. The CFP (call for papers) includes the conference title, date, place, and theme, the deadline for proposals, a description of the themes, a long list of possible topics, the name and bio of the keynote speaker, and our contact info. Did you read the CFP? What more could you possibly need to know? What’s for lunch? What’s the boy-girl ratio? What will the weather be like? How many bathrooms are in the building? Will the keynote speaker be drunk?

Q (also from someone who hasn’t submitted an abstract yet): “Is it ok if I write about [fill in the blank]?” Or, worse, “Can you tell me more about what you’re looking for?”
A: What is wrong with people who ask these questions?!?! I truly don’t understand it. Is it me, or isn’t this the point of a proposal? You propose to deliver a paper about something, and then we decide if we want to hear that paper. I’m not going to tell you what to write about, and aside from the list of possible topics in the CFP, we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for. That’s why you propose something! If you don’t know what an abstract is, or if you need ideas about what to write about, talk to your advisor, or another grad student. Why would you write to the conference chair, a total stranger? Is this even remotely professional behavior?

Q (from a submitted abstract): “Or is it?”
[as in: “It seems feminism is dead…. Or is it?”]
A: Unless you are clearly, expertly writing a parody or tongue-in-cheek reference to B movies (which is highly unlikely), it is in your own best interests not to have a “twist ending” in your proposal or to give the conference committee any extra reason to compare your abstract to a horror movie. You are not M. Night Shyamalan, or if you are, please don’t submit anything to my conference.


Anonymous said...

Hahahahahah! Oh sh*it. Can I have my proposal back?

Navy Blue Blob said...

Good points! I don't know if your message will reach its intended audience here, I hope it reaches at least a few.

I can see how when you don't know this stuff, it's hard to be clued in, but you're so right that you do NOT go to some stranger for advice on some of this. You deal with it locally first. If there is no one to deal with it locally then it's time to find another program.

Poppy Red said...

Oh, I hope no one here thinks I was talking to them!

Sienna said...

I think we're all capable of seeing how funny things look from the other side, once they're revealed.

Clear said...

Personally, I love talks with twist endings, especially when it is revealed that another member on the panel is the murderer or that the speaker has actually been dead the whole time, but I appear to be idiosyncratic in this regard.

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