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Conference FAQ

Conference FAQ

  • How does the SCMS Board make decisions about conference locations?

    The SCMS annual conference rotates between three regional locations—the East, Midwest, and West—to guarantee parity across our various U.S. constituencies. Cities are selected according to the following criteria (in no particular order): affordability, ease of access to reasonably priced transportation, host committee potential, and local attractions.

    Occasionally, the Board elects to hold the conference outside of the United States. In such circumstances, the site is selected and the conference is scheduled according to the regional rotation already in place. For example, the London 2005 conference was held during the year that the conference was slated to be held in the east and the Vancouver 2006 conference was held the year that it was scheduled for the west.

  • How are conference hotels selected?

    The SCMS Board of Directors employs a conference consultant to collect bids from various hotels located in the conference city. Hotels are invited to make bids for the conference based on the specialized needs of SCMS, including total number of meeting rooms, exhibition space, room rates and quality of accommodations, and technology capabilities. Our conference consultant is charged with finding the most reasonable rates while also meeting our list of needs. The conference consultant is also responsible for negotiating rates for technology (including DVD players, monitors, and data projection in meeting rooms and, when possible, wireless capabilities).


    Do I need to be a member of SCMS to submit a proposal?

    No. Anyone may submit a proposal, without being a current member of SCMS. However, in order to do that, you must be registered on the SCMS website. So, if you are not already a member, you may join as a temporary member, which is a free, 30-day membership and will allow you to submit a proposal. If your proposal is accepted, you will need to become a full member of SCMS, register and pay the conference registration fee before the registration deadline.

  • How do I submit a proposal for the SCMS conference?

    To submit a proposal for the SCMS conference, individuals must register for the website before submitting a proposal online. If an individual is part of a panel or workshop, the organizer or chair is responsible for submitting all papers or participants within the panel or workshop. It is the individual’s responsibility to send all the required information to the organizer for input. Individuals can submit open call paper proposals directly online but are limited to one proposal per individual. For submission requirements, examples and additional details about submitting a proposal online, please visit the "Submission Forms" topic located under the "Conference" topic.

  • Is the proposal deadline firm?


  • I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend the conference. Should I submit a proposal anyway?

    Please submit proposals only if you plan to attend the conference. If you are unsure about whether you will have the time, be able to finish a paper, or get funding, perhaps it's best to wait until the next year to submit your proposal. It takes time to process, read, evaluate, and schedule every paper, panel, and workshop. When you put individuals through this work for a proposal that you don't deliver, you have wasted the Program Committee's time (which is done on a volunteer basis), as well as that of the SCMS Administrative Office.


    How may I participate in the conference?

    There are several major ways that one can participate in the SCMS conference.

    1. Deliver a paper. Papers are formal presentations of original research that are either read or delivered. Papers are expected to be original research. This may be the exploration of a previously unresearched topic, or the reevaluation of existing work in light of new evidence or methodologies. Papers are often -- but not always -- portions of book chapters, dissertations, or scholarly articles. Paper proposals are judged on their potential contribution to the field of Cinema and Media Studies.
    2. Participate in a workshop. Workshops are designed to stimulate conversation and interaction among the presenters and the audience. Workshop participants sometimes give a brief presentation (seven minutes or less) that is less formal than a paper. In some instances, workshop participants simply answer questions from the audience. Workshops often revolve around more practical aspects of the field: pedagogy, research strategies, and methodologies or may explore major intellectual issues/trends in the discipline. You can also participate in the conference by chairing a panel or a workshop or serving as a respondent to a panel.
    3. Chair a panel or workshop.
    4. Serve as a respondent for a panel or workshop.
    5. Attend conference events as a registered participant but do not deliver a panel or workshop presentation.
  • How many times may I participate in panels and workshops?

    Members may serve in only ONE role during the conference, such as participating in a workshop OR giving a paper on a panel. You may chair the panel or workshop in which you participate but may not serve as chair or respondent on another panel. (The exception is for invitations to participate in special events, such as the plenary session.) This allows a maximum number of members to participate in the annual conference.

  • May I serve as chair of more than one panel or workshop?

    No. Please give others the opportunity to chair by proposing only a single panel or workshop in which you act as chair.

  • How many papers may I propose for one SCMS conference?

    You may propose only one paper for the conference. That paper can either be proposed as part of a pre-constituted panel or as part of the open call. You cannot propose the same paper on both a panel and as part of the open call. You must choose whether you would like your paper to be part of a pre-constituted panel, or if you want to propose it as part of the open call.

  • May I present a paper that has already been, or will be, presented at another conference?

    It is expected that any paper presented at the SCMS Conference is original and has not been previously presented. Presenting material that has been accepted for publication in a journal or anthology, but which has not gone to print before the conference, is acceptable.

  • May I co-present a paper?

    Yes. However, co-presented papers are given the same amount of time --20 minutes-- as papers presented by a single individual. For all co-presenters or co-authors to be included in the final printed and online conference schedules, they must be SCMS members and have paid the conference registration fee by the registration deadline.


    What is the difference between a "pre-constituted panel" and the "open call"?

    Pre-constituted panels can be formed in two ways. In the first case, several individuals who are interested in forming a panel might meet at the conference, on-line, or through some other means. They discuss their panel, designate a chair, and send in their proposal as a pre-constituted panel -- usually consisting of four papers, or three papers and a respondent. In the second case, an individual may attempt to organize a panel by posting a call for papers on the conference "bulletin board" in the months prior to the proposal deadline. People contact the organizer with suggestions for papers, and the organizer selects those people she or he would like to participate on the panel. The organizer also informs those people who have not been selected in a timely fashion. The organizer then submits the panel by the proposal deadline.

    The open call is the opportunity for individuals to submit papers that are not part of a pre-constituted panel. If an open call paper is accepted, members of the Program Committee and conference staff will assign it to an open call panel with other papers on similar topics or research methodologies.

    At the conference there is no distinction made between panels that were pre-constituted and those that have been created through the open call.

  • What makes a successful proposal?

    A good proposal will clearly and succinctly identify several key elements: 1) the thesis of the argument or research to be presented; 2) the scholarly context of the paper's thesis and/or intervention; how does this thesis forward previous understanding? Why is it important? And 3) the methodology of the research/analysis; how will this paper accomplish its goals? This latter point might entail identifying new evidence or a new methodology. In addition, effective abstracts are well written, present a synthesized version of the paper-to-be-presented and conform to the length requirement of the proposal system. Abstracts should be articulated to the format in which the research will be presented (individual paper, workshop, pre-constituted panel). If you are unfamiliar with writing a conference paper proposal, we suggest that you show your abstract to an experienced colleague for editorial suggestions and guidance.

  • What are the responsibilities of the panel or workshop chair?

    Panel Chair: Whether he or she has organized the panel or volunteered to chair, the panel chair has three primary functions. First, the chair introduces the panel and the individual panelists. It is recommended that the chair contact the panelists prior to the conference to get a brief biographical statement that can be presented as an introduction. (This often includes information about affiliations, rank, recent publications, and current research interests.) Introductions of any individual should last no more than one minute. Second, the chair is responsible for insuring that panelists adhere to their time limit. The time limit for paper presentations is twenty minutes. Chairs will usually notify the presenter with a pre-arranged signal if he or she is approaching the time limit. It is the chair's responsibility to make sure that no presenter goes over the allotted time, which might impinge on the time of the other presenters. Third, the chair facilitates questions and discussion after all papers have been delivered. Finally, the chair also clears the room promptly to make way for the next session. The chair of a pre-constituted panel is responsible for informing her or his panelists that their panel has been accepted or rejected.

    Workshop Chair: The workshop chair's role is similar to that of the panel chair, although the workshop chair is more active in facilitating dialogue between the workshop participants and among audience members.

  • What is a "respondent”?

    A respondent is an individual who generally possesses specialized knowledge of the panel's topic. A respondent usually reads all of the papers prior to the conference and attempts to draw out particular lines of thought shared by the presentations to arrive at some broader conclusion.

  • Do I need to indicate on my proposal that my panel will have a respondent?

    Yes. Your proposal should indicate that your panel includes a respondent, and that individual's relevant information, when it is submitted.

  • As the chair of my panel may I also serve as respondent?

    No. It is assumed that the respondent provides objective feedback on the papers presented on the panel. As chair (and in most instances, organizer) of a panel, it is assumed you might not have the necessary distance from the papers to provide objective commentary.


    How do workshops differ from panels?

    Workshops have 4-6 participants, including the chair. They are distinct from panels in that they focus on field-specific topics with brief presentations by participants that lead to focused and substantive discussion and debate among the workshop participants and the audience. Workshop participants do not read papers. Workshops are intended to be dialogical and productive workspaces. Topics are typically focused on pedagogy, research strategies, and methodologies or may explore major intellectual issues/trends in the discipline.

  • How many participants may be on a pre-constituted panel?

    Optimum number of panelists: Four presenters (includes chair if presenting) or three presenters (includes chair if presenting) and a respondent. Panels with fewer than four presenters or more than four presenters are at a disadvantage in the selection process.

  • How many participants may be on a workshop?

    Workshop have 4-6 participants, including the chair.

  • How many individuals from a single institution can be on a panel or workshop?

    No more than two individuals from any single institution should be included in any proposed panel or workshop.

  • Does my panel need to have a respondent?

    Panels with four paper presentations should not have a respondent due to the time constraints of the one-hour and forty-five minute sessions. The audience usually serves in this role by asking questions and making comments about the papers. However, panels with three paper presentations should have a respondent to use the session time efficiently. Also if a presenter withdraws from a panel with only three presentations, a panel with a chair, two presenters, and a respondent is still viable.


    May I contact the SCMS Office after the proposal deadline to make sure they've received my proposal?

    This is not a good idea due to the volume of work faced by the SCMS Office when proposals are submitted.

  • May I change the name of my paper, panel, or workshop, after it is submitted?

    No. Please proof read your proposal carefully. Due to the volume of papers, panels and workshops at the conference, it is not possible to make individual changes after submission.

  • May I request a day and time for my presentation?

    Requests for times or days for paper presentations are not allowed due to the large number of participants.


    What is the Program Committee and who is on it?

    The Program Committee is charged with selecting the best proposals to create the annual conference program. The Program Committee has seventeen members including its chair. At least four members of this committee are also members of the SCMS Board of Directors. Other members of the Program Committee are selected from the SCMS membership to balance the diversity and expertise represented by the Committee as a whole. The individual who serves as Program Committee Chair alternates between the SCMS president-elect and a member of the Board of Directors. The Program Committee is made up entirely of volunteers. You, as a member of SCMS, may volunteer to serve on the Program Committee and are encouraged to do so.

  • How are proposals judged?

    After your proposal is submitted online, the Program Committee Chair then assigns the proposal to a team of two readers from the Program Committee. The readers evaluate the proposal individually and then compare their respective scores. Readers look for originality, scope, and depth of research, and attempt to assess whether the paper will make a contribution to the field. Secondarily, the readers consider whether the proposal has followed the rules for submission. A joint score is forwarded to the Program Committee Chair.

    The Program Committee Chair will only weigh in on a decision in the event of a radically split vote (e.g., one committee member thinks a proposal is great, the other thinks it is terrible). The Chair does not overrule the decisions of the readers. The Program Committee Chair is responsible for creating panels from the open call and assigning the panels and workshops to time slots and rooms. Time and room assignments are based in some measure on equipment needs, and efforts are made not to have too many panels or workshops on similar topics competing in a single time slot or bunched together on a single day. Because of the complexity of putting the program together, requests for special times or days cannot be honored.

  • Are the proposals of professors or senior scholars given preference over graduate students and independent researchers?

    No. All proposals are examined for their merits. The SCMS Program Committee welcomes proposals from individuals at all levels within the field of cinema and media studies as well as the work of independent scholars and researchers.

  • Why was my paper, panel, or workshop proposal rejected?

    There may be many reasons why a proposal was rejected. It is possible that the readers did not feel the proposal made a contribution to the field, or that it was one of several proposals on the same topic. It is possible that the proposal replicated work that was presented at a recent SCMS conference. Finally, it is possible that the proposal did not follow submission guidelines in some way. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions, the Program Committee cannot respond to inquiries about rejections.

  • My proposals are never, or almost never, accepted. What am I doing wrong?

    First, ask yourself whether you are carefully following all the submission procedures. Second, ask yourself if the work is original or if it is simply a rehash of existing work. Third, ask yourself if your proposal is suited for the SCMS conference or if it might not find a more logical fit with another conference (e.g., a conference on journalism, rhetoric, etc.). Finally, ask a peer who has been "successful" at having her or his papers or panels accepted to see copies of those proposals for tips.


    What if someone has to drop off my panel after I submitted my proposal or after it was accepted? May I substitute another presenter and paper?

    No. All proposals must go through the review procedure. You cannot substitute someone at a later point. It is useful to have a full complement of four presenters on pre-constituted panels so that if an individual does have to drop out you will still have a panel of three.

  • What if my proposal was accepted but I have to cancel?

    Sometimes things come up that may force you to cancel participation in the conference -- a health issue, a family emergency, etc. In such an event, contact the home office at and the Chair of your panel or workshop immediately and inform them that you will not be able to participate in the conference. If you are the Chair of a panel or workshop you should also inform your panelists to see if one can step into your role as chair and then report this to the home office as well.

    Obviously extenuating circumstances do crop up, but not to attend the conference without a legitimate reason when your proposal was accepted is unprofessional. If an individual habitually cancels, that individual may find her or his proposals will receive less favorable attention for future conferences.

  • If I cannot attend the conference may someone else present my paper?

    No. SCMS policy requires the paper author to be physically present at the conference to give the paper. Substitute readers are forbidden and Skype presentations are not permitted.

  • If I cannot attend the conference may I present my paper via Skype?

    No. SCMS policy requires that the paper author must have registered and be present at the conference to give her/his paper. The paper cannot be delivered by another person and it cannot be presented via Skype.


    May I substitute a different paper than the one indicated in my proposal?

    No. Your paper (or panel or workshop) was judged and accepted on the merits of the proposal. You cannot substitute something different after your proposal has been accepted.

  • How long should my presentation be?

    Paper presentations on panels should last no longer than 20 minutes. Because of the limited time (which includes both orally delivered material and any visual clips) most papers attempt to make only two or three major points. Clip time should be included in the total 20 minutes.

    Individual workshop presentations should be no more than 7 minutes in length.

    Please Note: Panel and Workshop Sessions are one hour and 45 minutes in length. When there are more than three or four presenters, the chair is responsible for allocating an equal amount of time for each. Sessions run concurrently and continuously throughout the day. Caucus, Scholarly Interest Group and committee meetings are scheduled throughout the day. Consequently rooms must be cleared promptly at the end of the time period to allow for the next panel, workshop or meeting.

  • Can I present a paper in a language other than English?

    No. Unless the paper is part of a special conference event or an activity sponsored by a caucus or scholarly interest group and approved in advance by the SCMS Conference Program Committee and a translator has been arranged in advance, all papers must be presented in English.

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