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7 Tips for Writing a Great Submission Proposal

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7 Secret Proposal-Writing Tips that Make Conference Program Committees go Wild!

Writing a great session proposal for a practitioners’ conference can be difficult, even for experienced public speakers and authors. Proposal writing is a distinct skill, different from writing great papers and giving amazing presentations. Since your session proposal is what the reviewers will use to decide whether your session might be a good fit for the SATURN 2014 technical program, it’s also an important skill. With the final submission deadline for SATURN 2014 quickly approaching on January 17, 2014, here are 7 tips for writing a great submission proposal.

  1. Include all of the information requested in the call for submissions. Whether you are proposing an experience report presentation, participatory session, or tutorial, the program committee needs this information to give your proposal a fair and thorough review. You can include everything in the “abstract” section of Easy Chair, or fill out this Proposal Template (or use your own) and attach it as a PDF containing all the relevant information.
  2. Be as specific as possible. The SATURN Program Committee is an experienced group and comes from a wide range of backgrounds. They are excited to hear specifics about what you want to teach us at SATURN and how you will do it.
  3. Don’t forget the outline, even if it’s only tentative. The “Session Mechanics / Outline” section is your chance to expand on the “hooks” provided in your abstract. Your outline shows that you’ve thought through what you plan to present and helps the reviewers better understand the concepts and lessons you want to share at SATURN. For participatory sessions and tutorials, how will spend your time? This is not expected to be your final outline--remember, it’s a proposal!
  4. Tell us who you are. In a few sentences, tell us about your work history, your education, and any past work or research that will help establish your credibility. Reviewers want to know that you can speak from first-hand experiences. The best way to demonstrate this is with a brief, honest professional biography.
  5. Use your abstract to summarize and “sell” your talk. Why should participants attend? What will they learn? What is your topic and why is it important? A great abstract will describe the topic, summarize the key lessons, and pique interest.
  6. Show how your session will have lasting appeal. Reviewers want to see how your experience report, participatory session, or tutorial will improve our overall understanding of software architecture. This could mean many different things, from sharing a completely new idea or experience to explaining a classic concept in a way that no one has ever done before. Take a look at the SATURN archives for some great examples.
  7. Plan ahead and submit early. Submissions close on January 17, 2014. Do not wait until the last minute to prepare your submission. Do your prep work, take time to review, refine your proposal, and submit early.
Historically, only 20-30% of submissions are accepted, depending on how many are received in total. It is my goal as the technical chair to make the program committee’s job as difficult as possible by making sure there is a plethora of amazing proposals for them to choose from. I don’t want any rejection to be easy for them to make. I want reviewers fighting to include your presentation, participatory session, or tutorial in the program. Arm them with the information they need to give your topic a thorough review by including all the information requested in the call, by being as specific as possible, and by planning ahead to allow plenty of time to refine your submission. - Michael Keeling SATURN 2014 Technical Chair

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Bill Pollak

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