The 2019 National Program Committee (NPC) has opened the call for contributed papers and immersion sessions. This is, of itself, a clear sign that changes are taking place in the way that the annual meeting is being planned. Some changes have been asked for by MLA members, some are to make processes easier, and some are to align the annual meeting with MLA’s strategic initiatives. All are geared toward making the annual meeting a more rewarding and navigable experience.
Those who have looked will note that the call for papers, immersion sessions, posters, and lightning talks has been divided into two calls: an initial call for papers and immersion sessions (deadline October 24, 2018) and a second for posters and lightning talks (December–January). This division allows reviewers to give feedback to authors, an impossibility without the divided call. Additionally, the new format will allow authors whose papers were not accepted to tailor their proposals for poster and lightning talk submissions.
The special content session has evolved into the immersion session. The 2019 NPC thinks the new name is punchier. The change, however, is not simply cosmetic. It indicates the ideal content of a session and provides an opportunity to market a session as substantial, focused content, allowing prospective attendees to make early budgetary decisions about attending the annual meeting. The two-part call also helps by expediting decisions about papers and immersion sessions.
The submission forms have new fields. Authors will categorize their paper, immersion, poster, or lightning talk submissions based on the 2017 MLA Professional Competencies. They may further describe their submissions by selecting specific key concepts located in each competency. The NPC and meeting planners will then use these concept categorizations to organize and schedule meeting content with the idea of making incidents of “Both sessions I wanted to attend were at the same time” less prevalent. Finally, some proposals (paper and immersion) will require learning outcomes that indicate what an attendee can expect to know and/or do by the end of a program.
The 2019 NPC along with MLA staff have worked diligently to put these changes in place with the hope that their effects will be positive. We anticipate that content creators and attendees will feel well served by changes meant to facilitate discussion between reviewers and authors and to help attendees be better informed about the programs. We do expect growing pains, though. Let us know if something goes wrong so that the 2020 NPC can plan accordingly.
Find additional information in the MLA ’19 FAQ: Papers, Posters, Lightning Talks, and Immersion Sessions.