Electronic Proposal Submission System to Be Used for 2006 Meeting

Debbie Ann Doyle, September 2004

Paper proposals will not be accepted, but user-friendly online forms will make task much easier

At its January 2004 meeting, AHA Council directed staff to initiate an electronic proposal submission system for the 2006 annual meeting. Several other scholarly associations of comparable size have already successfully adopted online proposal systems. An online system will improve communication between session organizers and the Program Committee, make the administration of the entire process (reviewing proposals, developing a good program, managing the scheduling and planning, and so on) much more efficient, and accommodate the many innovative session formats being introduced in 2006.

Session organizers will access the electronic proposal system from the AHA's web site at http://www.historians.org/annual (coming soon—please check back at a later date). Step-by-step instructions will guide them through the submission process. Organizers will be prompted to select from a menu of session types (Formal Session, Discussion/Roundtable Session, Poster Session, Workshop, Pre-Circulated Paper Session, or Experimental Session—see the definitions of the new session types). They will then be automatically directed to a customized electronic form (replacing the old paper "cover sheet") tailored to the type of session they are submitting. For example, the interface for a formal session will include fields for entering contact information, c.v.'s, and abstracts for a chair, three presenters, and a commentator; the submission form for a roundtable will include space for additional presenters.

Before going online, session organizers should collect the following information, which will be needed to submit a complete proposal: type of session, session title (of no more than 20 words), a short (one- to two-page) c.v. for each person on the session, correct mailing and e-mail addresses for each person, paper titles, and audiovisual requirements. Organizers will be prompted to select from pull-down menus the region, historical period, and subject keyword that best describes the session. They will also be required to submit an abstract for the session as a whole, including objectives, issues to be raised, methodologies to be employed, and pedagogical implications. Finally, those submitting panel proposals should also collect brief electronic abstracts for each individual paper or presentation. Please note that the Annual Meeting Guidelines do not mandate a strict word limit for abstracts though they should be brief; in general, no more than 200–300 words. Organizers should also be sure to save all information in a storage device (diskette, hard drive, USB memory device, and so on) before submitting the proposal, as it will not be possible to recover information entered on screen, but which might be lost in transit. A series of prompts will guide organizers through the electronic submission process. After registering to use the system, session organizers can modify the proposal up to midnight, PST, on February 15, 2005.

Prospective participants should note also that a new policy for ordering audiovisual equipment will take effect for the 2006 meeting. Session organizers are required to submit a.v. requests when submitting their proposal. Although the Program Committee itself will not consider audiovisual requirements when reviewing proposals, early notice is required for efficient and economical management of a.v. equipment at the meeting. Requests for audiovisual equipment that are received after the February 15, 2005, deadline will be subject to an additional fee (see section 3.4 of the Annual Meeting Guidelines for details).

The electronic proposal submission system is scheduled to be active by mid-September. Please note that there may be delays as we work with the contractor to troubleshoot and ensure that the system is as reliable and user-friendly as possible. Additional information about using the electronic submission system, preparing poster presentations, submitting papers for "precirculated paper" sessions, and so on, will appear in Perspectives and on the AHA web site at http://www.historians.org/annual in the coming months.

—As AHA's convention assistant, Debbie Ann Doyle helps to coordinate and manage several aspects of AHA annual meetings, including the implementation of the electronic proposal submission system.