Okay, I’ll just say it flat out: I am no longer certain what the point of submitting papers to the annual meeting is.
Well, that’s not completely true. I get the informal purpose: we like to see friends who have migrated to other departments, the book sale is cool, it’s a great chance to network,* and every now and then there are some interesting presentations. Specifically, every now and then other people give interesting presentations. All the “interesting” seems to get sucked out of mine before I actually go to the conference.
The thing is, does anyone actually know what the formal purpose is supposed to be?
Consider, if you will, the submission criteria provided by the ASA:
Papers must reflect original work or major developments in previously reported work.
Papers are NOT eligible if they have been:
read previously at ASA or other professional meetings,
published prior to the meeting or accepted for publication before being submitted to organizers for consideration, or
modified in only secondary respects after similar readings or publication
Length and Style
Papers as submitted are limited to 20 double-spaced pages, including footnotes, tables, and bibliographies. Lengthier versions are more suitable for subsequent publication than for oral presentation at the Annual Meeting. Organizers have been instructed by the Program Committee not to consider abstracts, letters, email communications, or telephone calls in lieu of full papers. [bolding original, underlining added]
So, to sum up, our submissions have to be original, have to be full papers and cannot have been presented elsewhere. Fair enough. Thing is, they have to be- in their entirety- not longer than twenty pages double spaced. I’ll be honest with y’all: I have never, ever written a complete paper that was less than twenty pages once references, tables, and graphs were included. Seriously, not once. Moreover, I have never written a first draft of a paper that was that short. I have never published a paper that short. Research note? Sure. Full-on paper? No. I don’t start writing until I have enough- theory, methods, results, conclusions- to make a complete paper. And as the term suggests, a complete paper has all the parts, therefore making it longer than 20 pages.
Basically, in order to submit to the ASAs I have to write a special draft of a paper. It has to be complete but, nevertheless, so short that I essentially have to take a paper at some preliminary stage of development and lobotomize it. I will never do anything with this version of this paper ever again as it is too short to survive peer review. So, really, presenting at the ASAs demands an investment of effort that at best will yield the privilege of presenting in a panel rather than a round table. Is this a good use of my time?**
Am I missing something? Do I just write differently than everyone else or, in fact, is this process as screwy as I think it is?
* And, for some of us, hook up.
** Although in perfect honesty, complaining online about having my time wasted is an irony too rich to describe.