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Resources for Excellence Across the Curriculum - Spring 2021: How to Write a Conference Proposal

This guide contains resources for students participating in the annual Student Interdisciplinary Symposium.

Writing a Conference Proposal

Like an abstract, a successful conference proposal will clearly and succinctly introduce, summarize, and make conclusions about your topic and findings. Though every conference is, of course, different, objectives and conclusions are found in all conference proposals. However, be sure to follow a conference's submission guidelines, which will be listed on the conference website. Every conference has a committee that evaluates the relevance and merit of each proposal. The following are some important factors to take into consideration when crafting yours:

Length: Many conference proposals are no more than 400 words. Thus, brevity and clarity are extremely important.

Relevance: Choosing an appropriate conference is the first step toward acceptance of your work. The conference committee will want to know how your work relates to the topic of the conference and to your field as a whole. Be sure that your proposal discusses the uniqueness of your findings, along with their significance. Do not just summarize your research, but rather, place your research in a larger context. What are the implications of your findings? How might another researcher use your data?

Quotations: Avoid including in too many quotations in your conference proposal. If you do choose to include quotations, it is generally recommended that you state the author's name, though you do not need to include a full citation (Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2012).

Focus: Most experts recommend that a conference proposal have a thesis statement early on in the proposal. Do not keep the reader guessing about your conclusions. Rather, begin with your concise and arguable thesis and then discuss your main points. Remember, there is no need to prove your thesis in this shortened format, only to articulate your thesis and the central arguments you will use to back up your claims should you be invited to present your work.

Tone: Make sure to keep your audience in mind and to structure your proposal accordingly. Avoid overly specialized jargon that would only be familiar to participants in a subfield. Make sure your prose is clear, logical, and straightforward. Though your proposal should maintain an academic tone, your enthusiasm for your project should shine through, though not at the cost of formality.

Examples of Developing a Conference Proposal

Writing a Conference Proposal