Tutorial Guide

Abstract vs. Proposal - What is the Difference?

  • The Abstract will appear in the conference program and is meant to attract attendees to your session.
  • The Proposal is your outline, or description, of your session that the proposal readers use to evaluate your session for inclusion in the conference schedule. Your proposal is never seen by conference attendees.

Three Characteristics of Effective Proposals

  1. A solid foundation for proposal content (a framework of the program should be evident based on data indicating success of a program or strategy discussed). Proposals should reflect the diversity of students and advising programs when possible.
  2. Adherence to proposal submission guidelines.
    • It is important to include all information requested in the program proposal guidelines and adhere to length restrictions where indicated.
  3. Reflective of good writing practices.
    • Well-written proposals are rated more favorably than those lacking clarity, specificity and conciseness. A logical program organization should be evident. Proofreading your proposal before submitting is essential.

Writing an Effective Title

The program title is your first opportunity to invite the reader to your program. An effective title encourages the reader to review the abstract; a poorly written title can cause the reader to dismiss the proposal.

At a minimum, an effective title ...

  • Introduces the subject matter
  • Captures the interest of the reader
  • Does not become a run-on sentence (keep it brief)

If appropriate, an effective title ...

  • Identifies the scope, sequence and/or level of the program content
  • Identifies specific group presenting
  • Identifies potential target audience

Examples of Well Written Program Titles:

  • Why Do I Have to Take This Class??!
  • Advising as Teaching and Learning: Best Practices, Tools, and Tips
  • Applying the Glue that Holds Us Together: Building Trust Through Effective Advising Administration and Leadership
  • Helping High-Achieving Students Develop Parallel Plans

Writing an Effective Abstract

The abstract is a brief description of your presentation that provides the reader with an accurate picture of what the presentation will cover. The Abstract helps conference attendees choose between over 25 concurrent sessions. Well-written abstracts identify the purpose and intent of the program, are concise, organized and specific. Additionally, effective abstracts begin with the most important information or thought. Defining unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms is helpful to the reader. One hundred thirty-five words is not much; you may want to save your research and theory for the actual presentation and use the 135 words to outline the presentation content.

At a minimum, an effective abstract...

  • Captures the attention of the reader 
  • Adheres to the abstract submission guidelines (135 words, including title). *Please note that the abstract limit for preconference workshops is 250 words. 
  • Previews the content and what the attendee can learn 
  • Identifies the manner of audience involvement 
  • Clarifies the contribution of the topic to the field 
  • Alludes to the benefits of the program content

If appropriate, an effective abstract...

  • Summarizes the content and activities of the presentation.
  • Distinguishes the program format (e.g., group discussion).
  • Clarifies special programs that may not be familiar to NACADA members.
  • Designates the scope, sequence and/or level of the program content.
  • Names the potential target audiences

Link to Well Written Abstracts: (Click here if you would like to read the abstracts)

Writing an Effective Proposal

Reviewers rely on an in-depth well-written description to enhance their understanding of the content and goals of the presentation. A complete description includes background information, an overview of the presentation, and a description of the format. If the program is reporting research, a description of methods, findings and recommendations may be appropriate - an emphasis on research results and collected data is highly desirable. The program description should also include learning outcomes, the relationship of the program to the conference theme, methods of audience involvement (i.e., engaging in discussion, sharing effective practices, analyzing a case study), and the familiarity and background of the presenters with the subject matter of the program.

If appropriate, an effective proposal description

  • Mentions relevant theories and research
  • Includes an outline of the presentation
  • Describes intended learning outcomes for participants

Link to Well Written Proposals (Click here if you would like to read the proposals)

Evaluation Criteria Used by Reviewers

Your proposal will be evaluated by fellow NACADA members, readers with expertise in the track area(s) you will choose on the proposal form, and members of the conference committee using these four standards:

  1. Clearly stated purpose, objectives, and learning outcomes
  2. Timeliness of the subject matter
  3. Topic's contribution to the advancement of the field of advising
  4. Creativity in an approach to a situation or in ways to manage it

NACADA Annual Conference Proposal Rating Rubric