The Thrill Of Victory…The Agony Of Defeat

Well, those of us who submitted proposals for papers and panel sessions for the ACRL 13th National Conference in Baltimore (Mar. 31, 2007 – April 1, 2007) learned the fate of our proposals last Friday. I had previously reported on the number of proposals submitted for the number of slots available – and the odds of getting accepted were as slim as ever. So while there were a number of elated academic librarians who received the good news on Friday, there were far more feeling rejected and puzzled as to why their proposals didn’t make the cut. I would encourage those whose proposals were rejected to avoid dwelling on it too much. Instead, take some solace in knowing that you gave it your best effort. As the rejection e-mail said, it isn’t a reflection of the quality of your proposal but one of the sheer number of proposals received.

Based on my own experience of getting rejected more than a few times, here are just a few suggestions for losing those ACRL conference rejection blues:

  • Re-tool the proposal for another conference. You’ve put a good amount of thought into it so why let it go to waste. State library conferences offer a good second chance opportunity for either a paper or panel proposal. Twice now, I’ve had rejected ACRL proposals accepted at EDUCAUSE conferences, an especially good place for proposals that might be too techy or ahead of their time for ACRL.
  • Turn your proposal into an article for publication. You’ve thought your idea through and perhaps some of the research is already completed. It will take more effort, but seeing your article in print will more than erase any memory of getting turned down for the conference.
  • There are still opportunities for poster sessions and roundtables. Both present great ways to get your message out there, share your ideas, and meet others with similar challenges and interests. I never thought I was a poster person until I tried it for an ALA conference and found that it was actually a really good experience(see page 5). I’ve also done roundtables at least three times now, and it’s always rewarding.
  • Hang on to it. Perhaps the proposal was ahead of its time or just not quite right for the conference theme. If it’s a good idea, it will hold up well over time. With some tweaking it might work better for the next ACRL conference. Persistence may pay off.
  • Yes, it will be hard when the conference brochure comes out, and one is left wondering why certain proposals were accepted while your own was rejected. It makes the proposal decision process seem all that more mysterious. But bear in mind that you’ve got plenty of company. Just do what I do. Start planning now for 2009. If you can come up with a few good ideas it increases your chance of getting one of them accepted. You are bound to have quite a few between now and then.

    Finally, no matter how you are feeling this week, don’t write off going to the conference. Presentation or not, your presence there does count. There are going to be great keynoters, an unbeatable social event at the Baltimore Aquarium, and – if you are really looking for something to do at the conference – ACRLog will be looking for conference bloggers. Get in touch if you’d like to be a part of our conference coverage team. I hope to see you there.

    4 thoughts on “The Thrill Of Victory…The Agony Of Defeat”

    1. Twice now, I’ve had rejected ACRL proposals accepted at EDUCAUSE conferences, an especially good place for proposals that might be too techy or ahead of their time for ACRL.

      The rest of this advice is sound, but does anyone else find it sad that Steven has to present at EDUCAUSE because his ideas are ahead of their time for ACRL? Why can’t the ACRL conference been seen as the forward thinking place to present?

    2. I don’t see presenting at EDUCAUSE as an unfortunate turn of events – I’ve found it to be a great conference – but I get your point – and it’s a good one. It may be that if the review committee doesn’t think enough folks will be able to practically apply what I’m talking about, then that may cause them to pass on the proposal. I think ACRL does try to have the vibe of being a practical conference with a research component to it. Perhaps future ACRL planning committees may want to have a few spots on the program reserved for truly cutting edge technology presentations. Again, I’m not sure why any proposal is rejected other than that it just didn’t fit or the reviewers thought other proposals were better. As I said better not to dwell on it. If the 2007 program does offer some really cutting edge technology presentations then I guess I’m off base.

    3. Retooling the idea for a publication is a great idea. Some colleagues and I proposed a panel for a previous ACRL conference and were turned down. We assumed that our rejection probably had more to do with the proposal’s tenuous relation to the conference theme than with its quality, and we were soon proven correct. Our panel idea blossomed into a themed issue of a refereed journal.

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