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Proposal Submission Process for the 2002 SIOP Conference

Adrienne Colella
Texas A&M University
 

The submission of proposals for the 2002 SIOP Conference program in Toronto was a little different than the method used in past years. In fact, it was a lot different! Nearly all of the 857 proposals were sent online to the Administrative Office in Bowling Green, Ohio.

This was a bold step for SIOP, and we were uncertain as to how it would work. Our greatest concern, as we embarked upon this venture, was that SIOP members would have difficulty accessing the submission forms, opening files, and uploading papers. We also anticipated that some people would still send their proposals by mail, thus creating two kinds of record-keeping systems.

As it turned out, our concerns, for the most part, were unfounded. Oh, there were some glitches, mostly computer compatibility issues, but those were corrected thanks to the technical assistance provided by Larry Nader and Milt Hakel in the SIOP Administrative Office. And only about 20 proposals were submitted through the mail.

It was a huge undertaking and SIOP members accepted it and made it work. We are grateful for your patience, understanding, and support.

There was a sizable initial programming and hardware investment by SIOP in order to offer this service to members. This included a new, more powerful ISP server. SQL server database software (industrial strength software, as Larry Nader calls it) was also purchased to handle the anticipated heavy load of submissions so that the system would not break down. And it didnt.

It has proved to be a sound investment, in many ways. SIOP members, particularly those who waited until just before the deadline (as many of us do), were able to save about $11 each in FedEx charges by sending their proposals online. The good news, though, was that nearly 100% of the submissions came in on time!

The greatest saving, though, was in staff time at the Administrative Office. In the past, someone had to input information about each proposal into a database. With the new system that information was automatically entered into a database.

The review process also went much smoother. In previous years, each proposal had to be pulled, packaged, and mailed to reviewers. Eliminating that step saved thousands of dollars in postage costs, not to mention the staff time it took to put the reviewer packages together. Thus, almost all of the initial cost for making the submittal and review process electronic was recouped in the first year.

All submissions were reviewed online by reviewers whose interests, expertise, and experience were matched with the proposed presentation. None of the regular reviewers had more than six proposals to evaluate.

An added bonus was that we had a record number of reviewers, more than twice as many as last year.

Another advantage of the online systemreviewers were able to have an extra week to evaluate their assigned proposals because at least that much time was saved by not mailing out proposal packages.

We received lots of constructive feedback, and many of the suggestions, like improving the process of acknowledging receipt of reviews and submissions, will be incorporated into the process next year.

Thanks to all the SIOP members who helped make this effort a successful one. We will continue to fine-tune the process so that it will go even smoother next year.

 

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