Call for Proposals is Closed for the 2016 AIR Forum

Thank you to those who submitted a proposal for the 2016 AIR Forum. Our review process will take place October-January. Notifications will be sent to proposal authors in January 2016.

More than 350 AIR members read, evaluate, and comment on proposals each year. Each proposal receives a minimum of five reviews. They are recruited and selected through an annual call for volunteers. Reviewers must have attended a prior Forum and so have experienced firsthand the quality and range of sessions offered at the Forum. Reviewers use a standard rubric to rate each type of proposal.

You do not have to be a current AIR member to submit a proposal. However, all Forum presenters must register for the Forum and purchase a 2016-2017 membership to attend.

A lead presenter submits the proposal and lists the co-presenters and contact info. Co-presenters will receive an automatic email notifying them to confirm their participation. All co-presenters must be confirmed and registered by March 25, 2016 to appear in the program book.

The AIR Forum annually draws 1/2 of the AIR membership. 2,000 professionals in institutional research, assessment, planning and related fields attend. Each year, about 1/3 of the Forum attendees are attending for the first time. (Click here to see breakdown of the 2015 Forum attendees by field, office size, sector).

Any session can be designated as a scholarly paper session. To be designated as a scholarly paper session in the Forum program book and online listing, a scholarly paper of academic nature must be uploaded by March 25, 2016.

High quality draft versions are acceptable (though outlines, PowerPoint presentations, or speaking notes are not). The authors retain all copyright to the paper and are free to submit the final version to an academic or practitioner scholarly journal. Scholarly papers typically are 8-30 pages in length and contain research questions, methodologies, literature reviews, and findings (though variations are acceptable). Only .PDF, .DOC, and .DOCX formats can be uploaded.

All scholarly papers and authors will be highlighted in a special section of the AIR Forum program book and on the Forum website if uploaded by the deadline. Forum presenters who upload scholarly papers will be prompted to list the names of all authors when the paper is uploaded. Forum attendance is not required for authors to be recognized in Forum materials for the contribution to the field of IR scholarship. All scholarly papers presented at the Forum are eligible for the 2016 Charles F. Elton Best Paper Award.

More than 350 AIR members read, evaluate, and comment on proposals each year. Each proposal receives a minimum of five reviews. Reviewers are recruited and selected through an annual call for volunteers. They must have attended a prior Forum and so have experienced firsthand the quality and range of sessions offered at the Forum. Reviewers use a standard rubric to rate each type of proposal.

View the 2016 Rubric

Reviewers are randomly assigned to specific proposals and so there is the potential for a reviewer to be assigned a proposal in which he/she has a vested interest or close connection. Reviewers declare conflicts of interest, when they arise, and are reassigned to other proposals. AIR trusts reviewers to determine what constitutes a conflict of interest that would create an unfair review environment and to recuse themselves from evaluating such proposals.

Proposals undergo a half-blind review process, meaning that reviewers are not revealed to the session proposers but session authors are revealed to reviewers. The half-blind review process was implemented in 2012 as part of a series of efforts to improve the consistency of quality sessions at the Forum.

A successful concurrent session requires great content and organization, as well as a presenter who has the background and experience to handle the topic. The half-blind review allows presenters to share with reviewers their backgrounds, affiliations, and any other evidence of their expertise. Often, it is critical to know that a presenter has access to data or technologies. The half-blind review puts all presenters on a level playing field to build the case for their expertise.

Why does AIR use a full-blind review for publications and a half-blind review for Forum sessions? When reviewing a print manuscript the full evidence of the author’s mastery of the topic is in the document itself. Reviewers have the actual product to review. But in Forum session reviews there is only a brief description and “promise” of what will be delivered. The presenter’s capacity to fulfill the promise is legitimately part of the selection process.

Proposals are evaluated by AIR members using a rubric that includes ratings from session quality and potential popularity. Proposals are then ranked based on reviewer ratings. Because there are usually more high quality proposals than space available, additional screening is required to reduce the number of sessions and balance the overall program in terms of topics and sector representation. It is unfortunate, but space limitations usually mean that some high quality sessions are not accepted. Approximately 150 of the anticipated 400 speaker session proposals are accepted. See the 2016 rubric.

This six-member volunteer group reviews the accepted sessions holistically for an appropriate mix of topics across the program and breaks ties between proposal scores as needed. This committee is advisory to the Executive Director on all aspects of assuring that the educational program at the Forum meets the needs of members and maximizes the learning for our attendees.

Presentations that are not accepted in the first round of reviews may be invited to resubmit in a different format for a second review. Discussion groups and poster presentations are highly respected, highly valued educational offerings at the Forum and can be selected for a second-round proposal.

Note: Not all proposals are invited to resubmit in a different format. Resubmissions must adhere to the guidelines for the format for which they are being resubmitted (i.e. posters must be a visual display of data and do not include AV; discussion groups must have three-to-five questions listed to guide the discussion and do not include AV).

This topic area includes case presentations of IR studies conducted for institutional decision support at a campus, district, or system office. Presentations may focus on study methodology, data sources, analytics, or results that inform decision making or inspire similar efforts.
Presentations in this area are scholarly, theoretical, and/or focused on broad understandings of higher education issues or research/analytical methods. Emphasis is on the tools, methods, data sources used, or national policy issues rather than individual campus decisions.
Topics include case studies, methods, theories of assessment of student learning, accreditation, and program review, as well as other assessment or institutional effectiveness topics.
This topic includes technologies used in conducting IR studies. The emphasis is on technology and may include a demonstration. Examples include data storage, manipulation, and analysis; dissemination of results (e.g., dashboards, scorecards, fact books); reporting automation; and other technologies that support IR, institutional effectiveness, and assessment.
The focus of this area is on reporting to external entities. Case studies may include designs that improve efficiencies or practices for producing and tracking mandated reports. Also included are consortium and other data-sharing initiatives.
This area focuses on the organization and management of IR offices and functions. Topics include tracking requests, organizing/archiving past studies, reporting to various stakeholders, staffing, resources, relationships with other operational areas (e.g., IT), and legal standards (e.g., FERPA). Studies about the field of IR and ethical issues are also included.

Speaker Sessions share innovative applications, research practices, and professional work products in IR, assessment, planning, or other data-centered functions. Room Setup and Technology: Speaker Sessions will be set-up in theater style seating with standard audio/visual including: Materials Table, Podium, Microphone, Projector, and Screen. Internet access is not provided and presenters must bring a laptop.

This is the most competitive format. Approximately 150 of the anticipated 400 proposals for this format will be accepted.

Panel Sessions include multiple perspectives about an IR application, practice, or topic of interest. Panels are composed of three to five presenters with one member serving as a moderator. Panelists should represent different functions within a college (e.g., IR, IT, Dean), or presenters from different organizations and always have identifiable, unique points of view about the topic. Room Setup and Technology: Panel Session will be set-up in theater style seating with basic audio/visual including: Materials Table, Podium, Panelist Table, 2 Microphones, Projector, and Screen. Internet access is not provided and presenters must bring a laptop.

Discussion Group Sessions are highly interactive group discussions that focus on a current topic or issue in the field. The session leader (presenter) briefly presents opening remarks to define the session and set the context. Three to five questions submitted with the session proposal provide the structure for the discussion that follows. The session leader’s role also includes encouraging participants to share their perspectives and provides a summary and closure to the discussion. Discussions may be led by an individual or two co-leaders. Technology: A flip chart and markers are available upon request. No A/V, laptop, projector, or internet access is provided or available.

Poster Presentation Sessions visually communicate the purpose, research approach, data sources, and outcomes of a scholarly or applied research project study. Poster Presentation Sessions are displayed on shared board space (two per board) with each poster allotted an area approximately 4x4 feet (half of a 4' x 8' board). Posters will be scheduled at a pre-assigned board in or near the Exhibit Hall. Audio/visual support and Internet access is not provided or available.

Engage participants in learning about practical tools and techniques, research, or statistics. The ideal workshop includes a mixture of lecture style teaching, along with individual/group exercises, demonstrations, and discussions. Workshops will be set-up in either classroom or crescent round style seating with basic audio/visual including: Materials Table, Podium, Speaker Table, 2 Microphones, Projector, Screen, and VGA projection cable. Internet access not provided unless requested, and approved. Presenters must bring a laptop.

Important Dates

Thursday, September 3, 2015

  • Call for Proposals Opens

Monday, October 5, 2015

  • Proposal Submission Deadline

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 – January 8, 2016

  • Proposal Reviews and Acceptance Decisions

January 2016

  • Final Proposal Status Notifications Sent

Friday, March 25, 2016

  • Scholarly Paper Upload Deadline for Recognition in the Program Book
  • Presenter Registration Deadline to be Listed in the Program Book

May 31 - June 3, 2016

  • AIR Forum


Send a member of the Forum Team an e-mail at or call us at 850-385-4155 ext. 201.