Hints for Successful Paper Submissions


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Do you want to submit a paper to the 2019 Sigma Tau Delta Convention? Great!

  1. Start early. In fact, start the minute you finish reading these suggestions.
  2. Because you can submit only ONE paper (unless the second submission is on the Common Reader), you need to make certain that you submit your best work. That means you must select well and revise extensively. No revision will be allowed following submission.
  3. Consult your Chapter Advisors early and often during the selection and revision of your work. Advisors want your work to be accepted for presentation at the convention—and we have experience in submitting our own works for presentation; have evaluated innumerable papers; and can provide you with advice, support, and revision tips.
  4. One option is for you to submit the best work you have already written (after further revision, of course). You do need to consider carefully how much time it would take to do the revisions necessary to make your paper a convention-ready piece. If you have more than one essay or story or play or collection of poems from which to choose, talk to your Advisors or to the professors for whom you wrote the works. When you submit a work you have already written, you may have had the advantage of a professor’s comments to help guide your revision. While you’re revising your paper, it is also a good time to remove all identifying marks, such as your name or the name of the class or professor; including your name anywhere in your submitted document may result in your being disqualified; if your name is on your paper, it will not be considered for an award if it is excellent.
  5. Often our members find that they need to cut their papers to fit the required submission length. To qualify for acceptance, your paper must be within the required word length.
  6. Your Advisors may be mentoring several members of your chapter on these submissions (in addition to their regular workload), so save everyone’s time by narrowing your choices to your strongest, length-appropriate efforts.
    • For critical essays or creative prose, provide your Advisors with a synopsis of each work, including (as pertinent) your thesis.
    • For collections of poems, avoid bombarding your Advisors with every poem you’ve ever written—instead, select your strongest works and ask Advisors to identify poems that do not work in the collection.
  7. A second option is for you to submit part of a longer work. In this case, you need to consider whether the piece will still be effective when it is cut down to under 2,000 words. You also need to consider how much time it will take to reduce the scope and length of the paper or creative work without reducing its quality.
  8. You may also submit ONE additional creative work or critical essay based on the Common Reader Work & Days, by Tess Taylor. Write a brief note (100 or fewer) that explains the connection between your work and the Common Reader and include it at the beginning of your submission. These words will not be counted toward your 2,000 word limit.
  9. Ask for help from trusted resources—the writing center, your chapter members, professors who have helped you with your writing before, and (of course) your Advisors—as you draft, revise, and polish your paper. Such feedback is particularly essential for newly written works.
  10. For all essays, whether new or revised, narrow your thesis in advance so that it lends itself to a paper 7 or 8 pages in length. For a poetry or flash fiction collection, you need to make certain that your presentation takes 8 to 15 minutes—and keep in mind that a single poem may be at a disadvantage when evaluated against entire collections.
  11. If your Advisors require applicants to submit to them in advance, pay particular attention to those local deadlines. Be prepared for your Advisors to recommend additional revisions and plan your time accordingly.
  12. When you submit your work, double check to make certain that you complete all the steps correctly. You don’t want your work to be rejected because you didn’t follow instructions or because your submission was incomplete. Have you
    • made sure your essay or creative work is listed in the correct topic category?
    • limited your prose submissions to fewer than 2,000 words (not counting title, notes, bibliography, or explanatory headnote)?
    • practiced to ensure your poetry or flash fiction collection requires no more than 15 minutes of reading time?
    • placed poems or flash fiction in one document, with each work starting on a new page?
    • given your submission a document name under 50 characters—one that will serve as your title in the program, should your work be accepted? Remember that spaces count as characters and that your word processor can help you count characters in a sentence.
    • selected the appropriate keyword options?
    • removed identifying headers and your name from your submission?
    • avoided using your name as the document name?

Mark the October 29, 2018, deadline at 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) for submission on your calendar now! But aim to submit your work to the convention long before that October 29 deadline. The Convention Chair and the Central Office receive questions up to the deadline at englishconvention@niu.edu. The earlier you begin planning your submission, the longer you have to ask questions.