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Creating Stronger AECT Convention Proposals
Suggestions from the
Program Planning Committee

Many organizations’ annual conventions are highly competitive and one needs to submit a strong proposal in order to get onto the program. AECT sets a high expectation for the quality of our convention program. Acceptance rates vary from year to year but clearly the proposal process has become much more competitive in recent years across all categories: posters, roundtables, workshops, and concurrent sessions.

But what makes a strong proposal? That is, what appeals to reviewers and program planners? What do they look for and how can you develop the strongest proposal possible?

Here, we offer 15 principles (in no particular order) and each principle is followed by specific tips to strengthen your proposal. We include tips about both style and substance, including how to make your proposal more visually appealing. While some of these tips will require a little bit of technical know-how (like how to insert HTML codes in the online proposal submission form), you can implement most of these principles with little additional effort.

Principle 1: A strong proposal is one that matches the Call for Proposals and is well matched to program initiatives and themes.
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Principle 2: : Proposals that comply with the stated submission requirements are much more likely to be accepted.
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Principle 3: Reviewers tend to infer that the properties of the proposal will be the properties of the presenter or presentation.
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Principle 4: A strong proposal has few errors and looks polished and professional.
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Principle 5: Strong proposals have the potential to interest more people.
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Principle 6: A strong proposal is well organized and logical.
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Principle 7: Strong proposals use proper English expression and grammar.
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Principle 8: Proposals that make a real contribution are more appealing than ones that do not.
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When reviewers read proposals, they look for some sign that the proposer has something original to contribute. Few reviewers (and few convention attendees, for that matter) want to see a presentation that contributes little new. Strong proposals tend to demonstrate to the reader that the proposer has new ideas, new and highly applicable findings to share, and/or new recommendations to make. From a reviewer’s point of view, this is the payoff for reading the review. That is, when a reviewer finishes reading a review, he or she should think, “It looks like this person has important things to share and likely knows even more than this proposal tells me.” Contrasts this with highly predictable replications of previous studies or me-too discussions of issues that have already been discussed extensively in the literature or in previous convention presentations.

Consider this: Let’s imagine a reviewer gets four thorough and logically organized proposals, all of which are focused on the same issue. Three feel more like reviews of the literature than new approaches and the fourth one takes a very creative slant, generating suggested new approaches and offering new ways to think about the issue. Do you think the reviewer will recommend that all four get onto the program? If not, which one do you think he or she will recommend? So, make sure you contribute something new in your proposed presentation.

Principle 9: A strong proposal is well-informed.
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Principle 10: Strong proposals make clear what their objectives are.
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Principle 11: A proposal submitted to the proper division is more likely to be accepted.
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Principle 12: A strong proposal describes what will occur during the presentation.
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Principle 13:: Research studies in progress are less likely to be accepted
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Principle 14: A proposal that chooses the right delivery format and requests the appropriate amount of time is more likely to be accepted than one that does not.
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Principle 15:: Deadlines matter.
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Final Comments


Clearly we do not wish to impair your creativity, nor restrict your freedom. Our goal is to build a strong convention program. A strong convention program supports and enhances the strength of the organization. But we recognize that a strong program begins with strong proposals. We hope this guide helps you produce the strongest proposal you can and that you make it onto the convention program. Please respect the volunteer reviewers’ and planners’ time. The more closely you follow these guidelines and clearly aid the reviewers in understanding your proposal, the better your chances for acceptance.