Archives for posts with tag: advice

Presenting research in progress and sharing ideas on panels at the AJHA convention are great ways to sharpen your focus, expand your thinking, and cultivate connections with other scholars. But how do you write a successful panel or RIP proposal?

Advice about that is typically passed down informally from adviser to grad student or from senior scholar to junior scholar. Like so many aspects of academic culture, it tends to be shared orally. And those who lack such coaching may not even consider submitting a proposal for panels or research in progress because they don’t know where to start.

In the interest of encouraging those unfamiliar with the process, we considered the following question: “What does someone preparing a panel proposal for the first time need to do to compete with established scholars?” What follows is a starting point to answer that question. We welcome any pointers more established AJHA members would like to share. Look here for the AJHA Call for Papers, Panels, and Research in Progress for the 2017 annual convention in Little Rock, Arkansas.

How do I write a successful panel proposal?

  • Familiarize yourself with the AJHA panel sessions held in recent years, which can be found in programs from those conferences. This will help you avoid repetition and give you a sense of the type of panels that get accepted to the conference.
  • Make your proposal appealing to media historians working outside your particular field of research. Rather than focus on a narrow slice of media history, think about ways to broaden the scope. This might mean addressing some aspect of theory, method, teaching, or publication that applies to historians working in all areas.
  • Aim for diversity among your panelists, and get a commitment from them before you submit the proposal. The most persuasive proposals include panelists from diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and institutions who are well trained in the subject and open to discussion.
  • About commitments from panelists: Sometimes panel lineups shift after acceptance. That’s understandable if a medical or family emergency comes up just before the convention. However, the Research Committee expects all panel organizers to obtain firm commitments from members before they submit the proposal.
  • Panels that put participants and the audience in conversation with each other are among the most successful ones at the convention.
  • Most important, demonstrate your knowledge by briefly summarizing previous writing or commentary on the topic before suggesting a new avenue for discussion. A panel proposal should be written like a research proposal, with the same attention given to clarity, thoroughness, proper writing, and citations. Rather than propose questions to be answered through primary research, a panel puts forth ideas to be explored through compelling discussion. As with any proposal, your goal is to demonstrate two things: 1) that your idea is worth executing, and 2) that you are capable of executing it.

How do I write a successful research in progress proposal?

  • The research-in-progress submission should represent more than an idea, but far less than an almost completed paper. The proposal should include initial research questions, primary sources, and a justification for why your project is significant. Ideas for relevant theory and methods should be included, if known. In sum, the proposal should include a well-defined topic and demonstrate that the researcher has a compelling, significant, and executable research project.
  • That said, the research should be at a stage where suggestions for additional research questions, theory, sources (primary and secondary) and research methods would be useful and meaningful.
  • Explain what kind of primary sources you are looking for in the archives. Show that the proposal has gone beyond the initial phase by listing the primary sources you’re using or plan to use and how they are significant to the project.
  • Clearly state the purpose of your project. Though you don’t have to hit people over the head with it, there is no clearer way to begin your statement of purpose than to write, “The purpose of this project is to …”
  • Make a clear and compelling argument supporting the significance of your project. What have previous scholars done? How will your project advance the field?
  • Remember that Research in Progress is for scholars who have not completed a project and who are looking for feedback on how to take their projects to the next level.

MICHAEL FUHLHAGE, Wayne State University, is AJHA Research Chair, Coordinator of the Research Papers Competition and Administrator of the Joseph McKerns Research Grant.

MELITA GARZA, Texas Christian University, is AJHA Research in Progress Competition Coordinator.

TRACY LUCHT, Iowa State University, is AJHA Panels Competition Coordinator.

 

The blog is taking a hiatus while I shift my attention to research. Nothing like a conference paper deadline to make you set aside distractions.

Before I go completely dark, though, I want to say congratulations to this spring’s crop of Auburn journalism graduates. Commencement was yesterday, I could hear the partying in all four directions from my place near the downtown fire station, and the campus was filled with happy grads and their families.

Commencement is a time for advice, so I’d like to leave you with some words of wisdom from George Saunders’ convocation speech at Syracuse University in 2013:

Your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

I’m awfully proud of you all. Go make the world a better place.

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