• What is a panel proposal?

Unlike when you submit a conference proposal for an individual paper, which the conference organizers will then group with other papers based on their own criteria (topics, approaches, etc.), when you submit a panel proposal, you need to develop and outline the scope and goals of the entire panel. Usually the conference organizers require an abstract for each individual paper that fits in with the overarching description of the panel itself, but guidelines here may differ, so a good first rule is to read the instructions for submissions thoroughly and carefully before you start writing.

The same basic guidelines for submitting a proposal for a paper apply to submitting a proposal for a panel: respond carefully to the call and follow the instructions, engage the expert vetters and keep your future audience in mind, ask for feedback from peers and mentors, and edit the proposal so that it makes a professional impression. (See Margaret Steffler’s “Mentoring Monday” on “Crafting a Conference Proposal.”)

  • Arranging a panel

A panel constructed by the congress organizers will generally include three or four papers (usually twenty minutes each), but if you submit your own panel, you can adapt the arrangements to your own vision and dance a slightly freer dance than you would otherwise have been able to do. However, if you wish to be more creative in the design of your panel to avoid refusal on the basis of formalities, a rule of thumb is to contact the congress organizers in advance. It is important to ensure that a cohesive idea connects the entire panel so that the individual contributions together enhance the whole.

In a panel constructed by the conference organizers, your dance partners are assigned to you, but when arranging your own panel, you can choose your dance partners yourself. This means you need to find others who are enthusiastic about your topic and who want to dance this dance with you: reach out informally to colleagues you think would be interested or more formally through a call via various listservs. A total of three or four people is usually a good number for a panel. The designated time will be the same as for any other panel at the conference, and if you include too many speakers, you run the risk of impairing the quality.

  • Submitting a panel proposal

Not all conferences have the infrastructure for accepting panel proposals when you are submitting. If there is no information about submitting panel proposals on the conference website or in the information sent out, contact the organizers before you plan your panel to make sure you are welcome to submit one. It is often possible to submit a panel even if the organizers have not planned for it, but you might be asked to send it to one of the organizers directly instead of through an online system, or you might have to adapt the submission process in some other way.

When you submit a panel proposal, you are often considered by default the contact person for the whole panel, or the conference organizers may ask you to appoint one of the panel participants as the contact person. Again, read the instructions carefully because occasionally the organizer cannot be a presenter and sometimes the panel may be turned down but individual papers accepted. There is also the possibility that one or more of your panellists must withdraw. Be prepared to change your dance partners! 

Submitted by Åsa Warnqvist, Research Manager at the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books

Next (March 1, 8): “Proposing a Workshop or Special Event,” by Trinna Frever

Banner image of PEI waves. Anne Victoria Photography, 2018