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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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Principle 9: A strong proposal is well-informed.
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Clearly it is fine for a proposer to have opinions. AECT values thoughtful members. But strong proposals demonstrate that the proposer is well-read and understands what others have said or written on the proposed topic. Every year reviewers read (and recommend rejection of) proposals that demonstrate the proposer is not well-read, not well-informed, or not up-to-date. AECT seeks to have its conventions be places where the newest and best-informed presenters share the most creative and thoughtful findings, practices, and reflections with the membership and the wider audience of the world. An uninformed proposal does not meet this standard and is unlikely to make it onto the program.

It is, therefore, important that you explore what has been said and written on your topic before you submit your proposal. This may involve a search of the literature. It may involve a search of the Web. It may involve a search of previous convention proceedings. It certainly will involve reflecting on what these searches uncover and using what you find to establish a context for what you propose.

A word of caution, however: A proposal is not a literature review. Reread the previous principle about making a contribution. If your proposal feels like it is simply a graduate paper condensed to a proposal, reviewers are unlikely to recommend it be accepted. Thus, you need to balance the literature with your own contribution. A strong—and accepted—proposal is well-informed and makes a real contribution.

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.