Tips on Submitting a Great Session Description
AUTM aims to select a balanced mix of sessions and speakers to appeal to all experience levels and reflect timely and interesting topics. The volume of submissions is large, and slots at each conference limited, so getting an abstract accepted is very competitive (usually 1 in 3 are picked). We have put together some helpful tips to maximize your chances for success.
- Submit a complete and well-thought-out session description.
Every year we see (and reject) poorly-written abstracts that are little more than a title or include spelling and grammatical errors. Show that you have thought through the content and describe why the topic is important. Think of a catchy title. Please list speakers or suggestions for speakers, and a diverse set of presenters is welcome (see more below). Although you will be asked to modify your abstract to 100 words for the final program if you are selected, submit something polished and robustly detailed now to show the Planning Committee that you have a solid plan.
- Keep in mind the diversity of speakers.
It may not be possible to have a final list of presenters at the time of abstract submission, but please include suggestions to show that you are serious about assembling a great team. We want to see speakers that represent a variety of backgrounds and experiences, so try to make your panel diverse in terms of experience level, geographic location (U.S. and foreign), gender, ethnicity, organization type (academic, government, industry – and not just in life sciences, law firms etc.).
- Describe a “hot topic,” but…
While we aim to include trending topics, many people will undoubtedly submit the same idea, so don’t be surprised if yours is rejected. Sessions with similar subject matter might be accepted if it’s a particularly interesting area, but the best-written, with the most diverse speakers, will be chosen. Meanwhile, we need to schedule beginner sessions, so feel free to submit refresher abstracts on basic but fundamental topics, as well.
- Think broadly.
Some proposals are very narrow and describe a specific program run at one institution or in one state. That’s not likely of interest to the broader community and would probably involve speakers from the same institution or geographic region. If you have such a program, combine it with other initiatives from various organizations for a diverse educational session that would attract more attendees.
- Send in an educational topic, not an advertisement.
We often see abstracts that read like commercial pitches for a particular company, product, or service. Companies that want to promote their services and products are welcome to secure a booth in the Exhibit Hall (which now hosts a great networking reception) or sponsor the Annual Meeting.
- Try not to repeat a topic that you presented last year.
We try to give as many people as possible a chance to speak or moderate to keep the topics diverse. If you spoke at a session last year, and submit again, you may not get chosen if there is a similar topic with different participants, or if there are other excellent submissions in new areas of interest. Try something new!
- Pay attention to the deadline!
The submission deadline occurs soon after the Annual Meeting ends. So do pay attention to that early date, don’t count on extensions, don’t email AUTM staff directly with your proposals, and don’t contact Planning Committee members afterward with creative arguments for acceptance. Please.
Remember, it is fine to send in more than one abstract, as long as you serve only once as a moderator and once as a speaker.
Anna Solowiej, Ph.D., J.D.
AUTM Annual Meeting Program Chair