Frequently Asked Questions: Considering Whether to Submit a Proposal
Frequently Asked Questions: Proposal Development and Submission
Frequently Asked Questions: Audio-Visual Aids and Technology
Frequently Asked Questions: Conference Registration

Frequently Asked Questions: The Conference Program

Frequently Asked Questions: Considering Whether to Submit a Proposal

Who may submit a presentation proposal? The American Evaluation Association welcomes proposals to present at its annual conference from anyone with knowledge or expertise related to evaluation theory or practice, evaluation methodologies, the business of running an evaluation firm, or contextual factors with a significant influence on the field of evaluation. AEA values serving as a forum for the exchange of ideas among those from many disciplinary backgrounds who all share an interest in the field of evaluation. Over 2000 people contribute to the presentations made each year at our annual conference. Approximately half of the conference attendees are involved in one or more presentations.

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May I submit, or appear on, more than one proposal? Yes. However, there are a number of issues that you should take into consideration when submitting more than one. First and foremost, each proposal should have independent content. You may not submit the same content to two different TIGs or the same content as two different types of presentation. Second, you should attend to the presenter limits. Each person may appear on the program no more than twice as a primary presenter and twice as a discussant. Learn more about presenter limits by clicking here.

What is the likelihood that my proposal will be accepted? The overall acceptance rate usually varies between 80% and 95% for conference sessions and between 45% and 55% for professional development workshops. In any given year, the acceptance rate is influenced by the quality of proposals, the number of proposals, and the constraints of time and space related to the conference venue.

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What steps can I take to increase the likelihood of my proposal being accepted? While no specific recommendations can guarantee acceptance of a proposal, adhering to the following will increase the likelihood of acceptance:

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What criteria are used when reviewing proposals? The vast majority of proposals are reviewed by one of AEA's 41 Topical Interest Groups (TIGs). While AEA does not mandate the review criteria for each TIG, the Board has approved a set of recommended criteria that are provided to each TIG and employed by most of them. In some cases, one or more of the review criteria may be not applicable to a given proposal. These criteria are:

1. Relevance/Importance to a Broad AEA Audience: A proposal submitted to AEA should address topics that are of importance to a broad audience within AEA. If accepted, this proposal is likely to attract a large and diverse audience.

2. Relevance/Importance to TIG: A proposal reviewed by a particular TIG should address central topics of the subject area(s) defining the TIG.

3. Technical Quality: A proposal should meet high standards of technical quality as defined by the TIG. Expanded to a manuscript, a very high quality proposal would likely be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

4. Innovativeness: This refers to the introduction of new ideas and methods. This proposal has the potential to promote the development of new skills and knowledge.

5. Diversity: This refers to a proposal's contribution to the diversity of presentations with respect to subject matter, populations, programs, methods, culture, ethnicity, and presenters.

6. Focus on Evaluation Methods, Theories, Policies, and Practices: This refers to a proposal's focus on broader issues of evaluation methods, theories, policies, and practices. This is in contrast to proposals presenting the results, findings, and circumstances of a specific evaluation.

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What are my obligations if my presentation is accepted? If your presentation is accepted, you will be notified on or before Tuesday, July 7, 2009 via email. At that point, you will need to a) review the online listing for your presentation, and b) confirm the listing's accuracy and your intent to present. Once that is done, you - and all other presenters represented on your proposal - should register for the conference. Please note that there is no discount on conference registration for presenters and that every person attending the conference must register and pay. We work to keep the conference registration fees low for all attendees. Finally, you should prepare your presentation including handouts, visual aids, and a well-developed exploration of the topic. It is important to practice your presentation multiple times in order to be sure that it is clear, concise, and fits within the time allocated.

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How many times may a presenter appear on the program? As a general rule, each person may appear on the program as a primary presenter only twice and then twice again as a discussant (but not a main panelist) on a panel or multi-paper session (for a maximum of four). When calculating the count, the following will be excluded for those sessions for which the criteria apply:

  1. AEA Journal Editors when participating in sessions such as ‘meet the editors,’
  2. The AEA President when giving a Presidential address or otherwise presiding,
  3. Committee Chairs or other leaders when reporting committee business,
  4. Topical Interest Group (TIG) Leaders, when not presenting their own work, at a TIG business meeting.

These guidelines apply to all sessions including the Presidential Strand and Conference Plenaries. These guidelines apply to all session types including TIG business meetings when there is a presentation included, and think tanks where the facilitator(s) will be counted as primary presenters and breakout leaders will be counted as discussants. Each person may participate as a primary presenter on only two submissions and as a discussant on only two submissions. Presenters should consider their choices wisely and submit or agree to participate on only two sessions in a primary role.

IMPORTANT: Presenters may not be represented in a primary role on more than two proposals assuming that some may be rejected.

If a presenter appears more than twice in a primary role within the submission pool, after having researched the caveats above, the AEA office will notify the presenter and work expeditiously to remove the additional presentations from his or her list. Proposals that include presenters who are over their presentation limits may not be sent on for review. Replacements, changes, and substitutions may be made as time permits, but each will be assessed an administrative change fee of $20.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Proposal Development and Submission

What should I list in the affiliation field(s) on the submission form? When we request your affiliation, we are asking for where you work or study, but not your position or job title. The one exception is that those who are self-employed, and do not have a name for their firm, are listed as Independent Consultant. Affiliations are listed next to each person's name in the final program.

Guidelines: The following guidelines will help you to fill in the affiliation fields on the proposal submission forms:

1. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations. Spell out the full words appropriate to your affiliation. Acronyms and abbreviations are often regional or discipline specific and may not be familiar to some reviewers or conference attendees.

2. List your affiliation at the highest level. We list only the top-level affiliation for each person, not his or her department or division or other sub-group.

3. Provide only one affiliation for each person. Even if a person listed on the proposal works at more than one place, or is studying at one place while working at another, list only the single most appropriate affiliation for him or her in relation to the proposal.

Examples: The following examples suggest both problematic and improved affiliations:

Bad: CDC (problem - acronym)
Better: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Bad: Director of Evaluation and Planning (problem - position title not affiliation)
Better: Foundation for Poverty Alleviation

Bad: UMN School of Ed, Institute for Eval (problems - abbreviations, multi-level)
Better: University of Minnesota

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Which group should I choose in the Peer-Review Selection box? AEA strives to have all proposals reviewed by one of its Topical Interest Groups (TIGs). The full list of AEA TIGs may be found at If you are unsure as to which TIG to select, we strongly urge you to use the "Please choose for me" option and your proposal will be read and assigned to an appropriate reviewing group. If a proposal appears to fit with none of the TIGs, AEA will assign it to the conference committee review task force. This team serves as a catch-all for homeless proposals. However, we strongly prefer that proposals go to a TIG for review whenever possible.

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May a Chair serving on a Panel or Multi-Paper Session also be a Presenter? Yes, a person may serve as both the Chair as well as a Presenter as part of a Panel or Multi-Paper session.

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What should I do if I believe that my proposal is appropriate for two or more TIGs? Only one TIG may serve a the primary reviewing body. If you believe that more than one TIG would be appropriate to review and sponsor your proposal, either a) choose the one best to serve as the primary reviewer, or b) use the "Please choose for me" option.

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What should I do if I believe that my proposal should be co-sponsored? Select one TIG to serve as the primary reviewing body for your proposal (the reviewing body is listed as the sponsor in the program for all session types except posters and roundtables). In the "Other Information" box that appears at the end of the form, indicate that you believe that your proposal would be appropriate for co-sponsorship and name the TIGs that you believe would be appropriate co-sponsors. However, please note that co-sponsorship is completely at the discretion of the primary reviewing TIG. It is up to the primary TIG's program chair to a) determine if he or she wishes to have a proposal co-sponsored and then b) contact the program chair for the potential co-sponsoring TIG to determine if that TIG wishes to co-sponsor.

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What makes for a good presentation title? A presentation title should clearly and concisely convey the topic of your presentation to an uninformed audience. The title and presenters, with affiliations, are the only parts of your proposal that appear in the hardcopy program. Most attendees will determine whether or not to attend your presentation based on the title.

Guidelines: The following guidelines will help you to fill in the title fields on the proposal submission forms:

1. Capitalize all major words in your title and all words of four letters or more. Even if you divide your title into two parts with a colon, capitalize major words and long words in both the first and second halves.

2. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations. Evaluation data from previous conferences notes that attendees are frustrated when they are not familiar with the language used in the program.

3. Suggest the likely audience for the presentation. Include an indication of the field, the methods, and/or the issue that will be addressed.

4. Focus on Evaluation. Focus on the theory and practice of evaluation, evaluation methodologies, and/or operating an evaluation business.

5. Specify breadth of topic. Hone in on the specific aspects of a broad topic that you will be addressing in your presentation.

Examples: The following examples suggest both problematic and improved titles:

Bad: The Whitney Project: Ten years on the lamb in Oweta (problems - topic could be clearer, focus on evaluation is not explicit, capitalization stops after colon)
Better: Evaluating the Whitney Project: Challenges to Collecting and Using Longitudinal Data for Rural Health Program Improvement

Bad: Operating Under the Influence: Evaluation in the Era of NCLB (problems - acronym, title likely overbroad for presentation)
Better: Operating Under the Influence: Using Empowerment Evaluation to Establish School Progress Benchmarks in the Era of No Child Left Behind

Bad: What I Learned When I Started My Own Consulting Business Right Out of College and Subsequently as a Practicing Consultant: Ways to Succeed (problems - wordy, focus on evaluation is not explicit)
Better: Tried and True Strategies for Getting Started as an Evaluation Consultant

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What should I put in the Other Information box on the form? At the end of each form, you will find a box that asks "If you have other information that you believe we need in order to process, review or schedule this presentation, please share it in the box below." This is your opportunity to note such things as an intent to move and change addresses in the near future (needed for processing),a desire not to have your proposal redirected to another TIG even if the reviewing TIG felt it was a bad fit (needed for reviewing), or travel plans that would preclude you from attending one of the days of the conference (needed for scheduling).

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Frequently Asked Questions: Audio-Visual Aids

What Audio-Visual aids are normally available to presenters? Each presentation room, with the exception of those for posters and roundtables, is equipped with an LCD projector (also known as datashows or PowerPoint projectors), a computer, and a screen. Overhead transparency projectors are available by special request. You may rent other Audio-Visual aids (see information below).

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May I order other Audio-Visual devices beyond what is provided? Yes! There is a place on the submission form to order alternative audio-visual aids. Please note that the rental and technical support costs for audio-visual aids, except for those provided (including any support for personally supplied computers), are charged to the presenter. Should your proposal be accepted, you will be contacted to provide a credit-card number or check to pre-pay for your special-ordered audio-visual devices. You may also order additional audio-visual devices over the summer as long as your order is placed and paid for by October 1. IMPORTANT: However, the order fees on the proposal submission form are discounted and subsidized. Audio-visual aids ordered after proposal submission will be at a higher fee. Individual attendees cannot rent audio-visual aids directly from the hotel.

Audio Visual Aid Fee When
Pre-Ordered at time of
Proposal Submission
Fee when
Ordered After
Proposal Submission
Flipchart & Markers $30 $45
VCR & color monitor $120 $180

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May I access the Internet for my presentation? No. It is unlikely that you will be able to access the Internet DURING your presentation. The cost, that would be born by the presenter, is extremely high and Internet access in the presentation rooms is not reliable. We strongly recommend that you download any presentation content so that you need not connect during your presentation. If your presentation may only be made if an internet connection is available, please contact the AEA office prior to submitting your proposal so that we may discuss your connectivity needs. All costs related to securing a dependable internet connection in the conference room would be at your expense and such connectivity may not be financially or logistically feasible.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Conference Registration

Who should attend Evaluation 2009? Evaluation 2009 will have content that spans the breadth and depth of the field of evaluation - from exploring traditional and emerging methodologies, to addressing issues related to working internationally and cross-culturally, to delving into applications of evaluation to a range of disciplines. Attendees are welcome that are just beginning their work in the field - from students to those who have found evaluation a new part of their work expectations. You will also find the most senior practitioners and theorists represented among the attendees, including the authors of most of the well-known books and texts in the field. We usually have significant representation from government and NGOs, academia, foundations, and the private and non-profit sectors. If your job description includes evaluation, if you contract for evaluations, if you are studying evaluation, or if you are just interested in learning more about the field, we welcome you to consider attending Evaluation 2009.

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How much does it cost to attend Evaluation 2009? The registration fees for Evaluation 2009 are reflected in the table below. Please note that annual membership in AEA is $80 and we recommend that non-members consider joining and taking advantage of the discounted member rates while receiving member benefits, including AEA's two professional journals, throughout the coming year. There are separate fees for the Friday luncheon, and the professional development workshops that precede and follow the conference.

Membership Status Early Registration Standard Registration On Site Registration
Members $155 $195 $245
Non-Members $225 $275 $325
Full-time Students $80 $90 $100

Workshop registration fees are in addition to the fees for conference registration:

Membership Status Two Day Workshop One Day Workshop Half-Day Workshop
Members $300 $150 $75
Non-Members $400 $200 $100
Full-time Students $160 $80 $40

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When may I register for Evaluation 2009? Registration forms are now available online. We will not be sending hard-copy registration forms.

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Where should I turn with questions? A good place to start is with Heidi or Susan in the AEA office. They can answer most conference-related, administrative, member services, or policy questions and will point you in the right direction for other resources. They have guidelines available for starting a TIG or Affiliate if that should be of interest to you, can help you get your listing on the AEA website if you are a consultant, and can get you included in the AEA bibliography if you are an author. Give us a call at 1-888-232-2275 from the US or Canada, 1-508-748-3326 internationally, or send email to

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Frequently Asked Questions: The Conference Program

How many sessions are offered at Evaluation 2009?

There are over 600 sessions offered at Evaluation 2009. The easiest way to get an idea as to the scope of the program is to go to the searchable online program at  and use the "View All Sessions" button to get a list of every session, in order, to be offered at the conference.

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How is it decided what sessions are in which timeslots?

The conference program is scheduled based on guidelines established by the AEA Board of Directors and the AEA Conference Policy Committee. The overall goal is to spread outstanding content across all timeslots and this is achieved primarily by spreading out the offerings from each Topical Interest Group. The full conference scheduling guidelines may be found online at

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