3 minutes read

Guarantee your call for paper gets noticed

Making your call for papers stand out isn’t easy. But here are 3 ways I learned to do it.

Getting noticed can be tough sometimes.

At election time in Ireland, political hopefuls put up posters. Cable ties hug the lampposts along major routes as candidates’ faces hang there, smiling bravely into the elements. Almost everyone gets annoyed by these posters. There’s an overwhelming amount of them, and the same grinning face might greet you five times on your way to work each morning. 

The election posters annoy people, but putting up fewer of them only works if every candidate agrees to do the same. Similarly, if you’re organising a conference, you can’t be confident that sending one call for papers will catch the attention of an academic or researcher who’s likely facing a barrage of other notices.

Researchers get sent a LOT of call for papers. Like the politicians struggling to stand out in a sea of posters, conference organising committees need to fight to get their attention. So chairs usually send their call for papers four or five times to increase the likelihood of getting a response. But the more that researchers get bombarded with call for papers emails, the easier it becomes to ignore, archive, delete or simply miss relevant ones.

If you’re announcing a research or academic conference and relying only on email to do so, you’re missing a chance to connect with people. So if you’re planning to send one soon, here are three approaches I’ve experienced that will help you get your call for papers noticed.

1. Call people up and tell them about it

Back in 2008, I was helping my  supervisor organise an academic conference. We sent out a fairly standard call for papers email. Then, he did something unusual. He started calling up colleagues and contacts he’d met over the years and asking them to submit an abstract. And asking them to encourage their students to submit.

His conference had what I believe was a record turnout that year.

People didn’t submit because they got a well-written call for papers email, or because they got three or four reminders. They did it because of the connection my supervisor made with them by picking up the phone.

2. Exhibit – and speak – at related conferences

Look out for conferences in the same field as yours and contact the organisers to ask if they have an exhibitor space you can use. If they do, bring a promotional poster and call for papers flyers to hand out during the morning reception and the mid-day meal.

And ask the organisers if you could have two minutes onstage between presentations to tell their delegates about your conference. I’ve seen people get onstage before a conference keynote to announce their upcoming event and it’s an effective way to get attention for your call for papers.

Exhibitor spaces often come with a fee, but if you can arrange a mutual agreement with a conference – you promote your event at theirs and they do the same at yours – you might be able to find a way around this.

3. Send a personalised call for papers

There’s a lot of power in personalisation. After you’ve spoken to researchers on the phone, or at a related conference, send them a personalised call for papers as soon as you can. Personalised emails win every time in my book. And because you’ve already made a connection with them it’s more likely they’ll be on the lookout for your email, and take action when they get it.

Standing out from the crowd

The volume of email that academics get means relying only on the standard call for papers email approach is risky when you need to get your conference announcement noticed. What I’ve learnt is that engaging with people directly is much more valuable than just sending emails – no matter how big your conference mailing list is.

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PaperCrowd is changing the rules for academic conferences. We want to help more organisers get their conference in front of the right researchers. Share your conference on PaperCrowd and get it in front of researchers around the world. It’s free. Now and forever.

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Paul Killoran
Back when Paul was an engineering student, he didn’t even know what a conference paper was. Then he dipped his toe in the research conference world, realised how awful the software was, and decided to build Ex Ordo. Sometimes, life can be funny like that.
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