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Monday, November 2, 2015

Call for Papers....Deadline Extended!

You've seen the pattern. First the conference organizers announce a call for papers or a call for proposals. Then, when the deadline is a day or a few days away, the organizers put out an update saying the call has been extended to a later date. What's up with that?


There's sometimes an explanation for an extension. This one from the AAG appeared in an e-mail last week.
Due a high volume of submissions, the abstract deadline has been extended.
 I Googled the phrase above and found 3,220,000 hits from a variety of organizations. Clearly, the AAG is not alone!

Sometimes there's no explanation, but a gentle push to action. This statement, from Esri, also appeared last week.
We hope these few additional days will help those of you sitting on the fence make the decision to submit an abstract...
While I've worked for organizations that put on conferences, I've not been involved in calls for papers or extensions.  Here's the bottom line as I understand it: The papers/panels/workshops are the content of the event. If there's no content or not enough content, there' s no event. So, if there are not enough (or enough high quality) proposals by the deadline, organizers must ask for more.

I'm not sure how organizations decide if they have enough, but clearly over the years, they have a sense of how many proposals are needed to fill out the planned event. And, I suspect, those who propose papers to the same conferences every year have a sense which organizers typically offer an extension! My sense is the AAG and Esri always extend their deadlines.

Does it matter?

As someone who keeps deadlines in mind and mostly meets them, I find these extensions frustrating. Why should I organize my time well and get my proposal in before the deadline while others dawdle and are rewarded with an extra week?

For everyone else it seems there's no harm done. Organizers can collect more proposals and perhaps put together a better conference. They may even bring in more money from the event. Procrastinators get a chance to get a speaker slot. And, no one need know they are not as organized as anyone else! Students who ask for and are granted extensions for papers during their courses will feel right at home with conference paper extensions.

It seems extensions make everyone happy. I expect we'll see them for these larger conferences for some years to come.


  1. These extensions drive me nuts, too. But I understand a different reason for them now based on experience organizing a few meetings - you can plan ahead to extend the deadline once to account for the inevitable crush of last second requests for extra time, and then because you extended it once, you can be draconian about the second deadline. It's a lot harder to question a hard line on submissions if you've already extended it once.

    You also need to generally "overbook" your conference because a portion will always drop out as the event draws near. This latter problem seems to be getting worse over time, too - people don't take their commitment to present as seriously as they used to, which can wreak havoc on a conference schedule that folks have spent a lot of time trying to craft into a coherent and complete slate. I have a lot more empathy with conference organizers now that I've faced this issue myself - often the reason for a weird session with four mismatching talks combined is the result of several other people flaking out on their promise to present at the last minute.

    I always work toward the first deadline for anything, but people like you and me are *not* the norm. Most students register in the days right before our classes start, for example.

  2. OGC joins the parade! http://www.directionsmag.com/pressreleases/ogc-announces-new-deadline-for-submissions-to-participate-in-major-interope/457832

  3. URISA looked at the calendar on Jan 14 (https://twitter.com/URISA/status/687656844479746048) and updated a deadline.

    "Abstract Submissions are due by January 15, 2016.

    (Since Monday is a US holiday, we've extended the deadline to the morning of Tuesday, January 19)"

  4. Expected this (https://twitter.com/GITAssociation/status/689701545730924544). GITA (Geospatial) ‏@GITAssociation
    #UMGEOCON #Geospatial Conf. abstract call extended. Cutoff now Mon., Jan 25. http://bit.ly/1JXv3qi


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