On Call for Papers

It’s call for papers season and I’m preparing abstracts and sending them off hoping that I’ll be accepted with my talks. What surprises me is how huge quality difference there is between different conferences in their call for papers (CFP). It’s basically anything ranging from very detailed information to a mailto: link.

I still have quite limited experience in submitting to conferences (and even less experience of being accepted). But when looking at what’s in a good CFP I think that is actually an advantage. A seasoned speaker will know how to write an abstract and what to expect – and what to demand(!) from the conference organizers. Someone less experienced need more information. To get relevant content and a wider selection of speakers it should be in the interest of conference organizers to have a good CFP.

Things to Include in a CFP

  • Date, time and location of the conference. Might sound obvious, but sometimes it is assumed that everyone know the location because it’s in the same place as always.
  • Opening and closing date for the CFP. I try to submit before the last day – but do you know what’s even worse than submitting the last day? Having prepared a proposal, only to find out that the CFP closed yesterday without notice. I understand that high profile speakers can always submit later, but for the majority of us there is a deadline that we have to relate to.
  • Reasonably long in advance. Several conferences taking place in the fall have their CFPs open now. It’s more than half a year away. Don’t expect to get the latest content at the conferences if the CFP is closed 6 months before (the most hyped javascript framework of the fall is not invented yet). A year ago there was a CFP closing that wanted top modern .NET content for the fall. I submitted. Two weeks later Microsoft announced ASP.NET vNext. Most people accepted at that conference where MVPs with inside information knowing what was coming.
  • Requirements on the paper. Are there limitations on the length of the session heading? How long should the speaker bio be? If you want a picture of the speaker, what resolution do you prefer? Is there any additional information you want included? If you don’t specify what you expect, there’s now way for me (except guessing) to know what to include.
  • Length of the sessions. It can be a huge difference between a 40 min and a 60 min session. For example, I find it impossible to do both decent live coding and have Q&A time in 40 minutes. If it is mandatory to leave 5-10 minutes for Q&A at the end that should be noted too as it limits the time for the actual talk.
  • Information about the venue. How large is the venue? How many seats are in a typical room? Where can I get further information if I want more equipment than a projector (a whiteboard? A wall that can be covered with post-it notes?)
  • Selection process overview. When can I expect to be informed if I’m accepted/rejected? And you do make sure to send out rejection letters, don’t you? I hate it when I see people commenting on twitter “So @XYZ and @ABC will talk at @BigConf, as I haven’t heard anything I assume I’m rejected.”
  • Economic arrangemants. It is customary that the conference organizers pays for travel and accomodation (T&A) for the speakers. If that’s not the case, I prefer to know in advance that I’ll have to spend my own money to get there and to have some place to stay. Of course attendance to the entire conference should be free for all speakers. A speakers’ dinner is also common.

After Acceptance

When the talk is accepted, there is some more information that is interesting to get.

  • Details of the Venue. Will there be a microphone/headset available? Will the talk be filmed and published? Is there tech assistance available to get sound and video running? A projector is assumed, but what connectors are supported? I don’t want to start my talk with figuring out how to fit an HDMI caple into the DisplayPort socket on my laptop. Are there other limiting factors? E.g. If the room is long and narrow the text on the presentation need to be larger
  • Details on T&A arrangements. Who will do the booking? What about inevitable additional expenses such as transfer from the airport? Will those be compensated for?
Posted in Other on 2015-03-24 | Tagged
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Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, an independent systems architect and developer in Stockholm, Sweden.

profile for Anders Abel at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Code for most posts is available on my GitHub account.

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