Graduate Student Focus


Tips for Preparing Exemplary Conference Proposals and Presentations


There are many approaches to writing conference proposals. These often depend on content and methodology, but excellent conference (and research) proposals often share some important features. The Graduate Student Council has received many questions regarding both conference proposal writing and preparing for delivering conference presentations. We hope the growing collection of resources shared below will assist you in your development as a conference presenter. 

Characteristics of Exemplary Proposals

In an effort to compile a list of their common characteristics, the Graduate Student Council has taken time to review the highest rated proposal submissions from the UCEA Annual Convention. These proposals received top scores and unanimous support from their reviewers.  We hope that you will find this list of their common characteristics helpful and informative when crafting your future conference/summit proposals.

Exemplary proposals…

  • have descriptive titles that make it clear what the paper/presentation is about.
  • work from an explicit purpose which is stated very early on – typically on the first page, if not the first paragraph. Some of the exemplary proposals set up a “problem” with the first paragraph, then transition to the purpose in the second. This is acceptable as well, but get there quickly.
  • contain clearly stated research questions. Often times, the research questions are delimited with a heading.
  • make a case for why the research matters (rationale).
  • set up a theoretical framework where applicable.
  • contain details about the utilized methodology.
  • discuss findings (where applicable).
  • mention implications for application and/or future research.
  • use proper citations.
  • directly addresses the theme of the conference and the call for proposals.

Many of the exemplary proposals followed the structured abstract format outlined in:

Mosteller, F., Nave, B., & Miech, E. J. (2004). Why we need a structured abstract in education research. Educational Researcher, 33, 29–34. doi:10.3102/0013189X033001029 

The National Academy of Education together with the Spencer Foundation recommends On the Art of Writing Proposals for applicants to their competitive dissertation fellowship.

Delivering Effective Conference Presentations

UCEA Program Center Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) has compiled the resources for delivering presentation effectively.

To hear suggestions on presentation skills from two early career professors, visit our YouTube channel here.