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Submit Your Conference Proposals now so You Don’t Have to Worry Later

By Stephany Schings, Communications Specialist

The online submission of proposals for the 2010 SIOP Annual Conference is now open, and members should have already received reminder e-mails with information about the process.
 The Call for Proposals is available here. You will not need your username and password to access the Call for Proposals, but you will need your username and password to submit proposals and you will need to have paid your 2010 dues.
It may be easy to toss those reminders aside and put off submitting your proposal until September, but SIOP history shows that may not be such a good idea.
The submission deadline this year is September 9, 2009, at 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  Although members have months to put these proposals together, most will probably wait until the very last day to submit says SIOP’s IT manager, Larry Nader.
“Every year when the Call for Proposals opens in early July, the first month we get maybe two or three,” he said. “The submission deadline is always on a Wednesday—a week before we have fewer than 100 submissions, on Monday we have 200-300, by the end of the day Tuesday there are about 450, and by the next morning we get about 500.”
However, the total number of proposals submitted in any given year usually runs between 950 and 1,200. This means that between 450 and 700 proposals are submitted on the day of the deadline.
“There’s always some worry with the program chairs that their year will be a bad year for proposals because no one has signed up yet,” Larry said. “I always assure them that people will all wait until the last day.”
The proposal windfall was even more difficult before the proposals were accepted online, when they had to be delivered to the office, Larry said.
“Before we automated it, we had our FedEx and UPS guys take the day off,” he said. “We’d warn them to take the day off so they wouldn’t get stuck delivering all those packages.”
But Larry knows all too well the pitfalls of waiting until the last minute to submit.
Below is a list of several disasters, delays, and freak accidents that plague those members who try to get their proposals in at the last minute.
  • Overloaded server—With several hundred people on SIOP’s Web site at once, Larry said most people experience some sort of delay or slow down.

    “In the last 1-2 hours we have 200 or 300 people online trying to finish their proposals,” Larry added. “We do get complaints sometimes that it’s slow, and I have to tell them, ‘well, there’s a hundred other people trying to do the same thing you are.’”
  • Hurricanes and other weather phenomena—One year, according to Larry, a hurricane in North Carolina prevented many would-be submitters from sending in their proposals when they had to be evacuated. A similar situation occurred in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina left many people without power, computers, or even homes.

    “That year we had a lot of Tulane students who called saying their proposals were on their hard drives, and they had to leave it behind when they were evacuated,” Larry said.
  • Time zone confusion—The Call for Proposals ends at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, but that doesn’t mean everyone lives in EDT.  Don’t let a few hours get between you and submitting your proposal.

    “People get confused that we’re in the Eastern time zone and wait until after 5 p.m. our time to submit,” Larry explained. “Then they call us up in tears trying to get us to change the time and accept their proposals.”
  • Computer error—A similar situation that spurs tears is the computer-age-old computer crash. It never fails that a computer will crash—taking all work with it—the very minute before you were going to turn it in.
  • Member status problems—The deadline to renew your SIOP dues is already past, but some members don’t begin to see big problems until they try to submit their conference proposals. On August 1, members who have not renewed their dues can no longer utilize the tools of paid SIOP members. This means they cannot submit their proposals. Some end up finding out at the last minute that they still have to renew before they can submit, and if there is a problem renewing, they are not able to submit in time.
Although the advice may be common, it certainly rings true for this occasion: Don’t procrastinate. Numerous problems can and have sprung up just before proposal deadlines, so submit your proposals now and gain nearly 2 worry-free months.
The 2010 conference is scheduled for April 8–10 at the Hilton Atlanta. This conference will also celebrate our 25th anniversary!  We look forward to your submission, attendance, and involvement!
Questions regarding the proposal process can be directed to the SIOP office at (419) 353-0032.