SMH Conference Program FAQ

Conference Update:
With the move of the SMH 2021 Conference from March to 20-23 May, the window for regular and Young Scholars (BA/MA) submissions will remain open through March for all proposals, at a minimum.  While we hope this will encourage/enable more people to attend in person, we are examining the technical requirements to include online presentations as well.   Watch this site for more info.

What constitutes a panel, if I wish to submit a panel proposal?
A panel usually comprises three papers, a commentator who addresses themes of the papers, and a chair that manages panelist timings, introductions, and the Q&A.
The commentator and chair may be the same person.

We have a proposal ready to go, but have not yet found a panel chair or commentator. Are we required to find a commentator and/or panel chair before submission?
If you have gathered the abstracts and CVs of all panelists, you may submit your panel proposal as is. Volunteers have been offering to serve as chairs and/or commentators at SMH2021, and will be assigned to panels lacking them. If you have a late-coming panel chair and/or commentator to add after the October 17 deadlines, please email with the panel information, the contact information of your chair/commentator, and their one-page CV.

What are the differences between panels and roundtables?
Panels comprise presenters delivering prewritten papers. Roundtables are discussions that are structured by a predetermined theme. Roundtable participants are scholars in the theme’s field, and their conversation is moderated.

What sort of financial support options are there for those wanting to attend or participate in SMH2021?
There are several competitive awards for graduate students and non-academic historians to attend SMH2021. Application instructions can be found at

What is the length of an abstract?
Proposals consist of a 300-word abstract regarding the overall panel, and then 300-word abstracts for each panelist.

What is the length of a conference paper?
There is not a set length for conference papers. Depending on the panel type and the number of panelists, presenters have approximately 15-20 minutes for each paper. A rule of thumb is that is takes 1.5-2 minutes to read one double-spaced page aloud, perhaps up to 2.5 minutes per page if there are audiovisual elements to be explained. Thus, conference versions of papers should be approximately 8-10 pages.

Is there a minimum and maximum number of panelists?
As a rule, panels should include three paper presenters. SMH has had panels with four presenters, but that abbreviates the time per-panelist and Q&A time.

What are the rules about using audiovisual aids? What does SMH provide?
Panel rooms are equipped with a projector, a screen, and a microphone. If you intend to use audiovisuals, please plan to use your own laptops and dongles to connect to projectors.

Can I submit both an individual paper and a panel proposal?
You may make one submission to SMH2020.

Can I participate on more than one panel?
Participants may present one paper, serve on a roundtable, or provide panel comments. They generally may not  fill more than one of these roles during the conference, with the following exceptions:  
  • Members who act as panel chairs may deliver a paper, serve on a roundtable, or offer comments in another session. 
  • Members who serve as both the chair and commentator of a single session generally may not present in another session. 
  • These restrictions do not apply to members invited to participate in Presidential and Vice Presidential sessions. 
  • Members resubmitting an accepted proposal from the cancelled 2020 meeting may attach themselves to new proposals in roles that would normally violate this guidance with the understanding that the Program Committee retains the prerogative of granting or denying exceptions at its discretion. 

Are there sample previously accepted abstracts I can read?
We do not have accepted abstracts from former panels to use as examples at this time.

What are the differences between conference panels and Young Scholars panels?
Conference panels comprise academic historians (including advanced PhD students) and other professional historians. Young Scholars panels showcase the excellent research of BA- and MA-level students.

The SMH 2020 Program Committee selected my paper/panel as part of the Young Scholar program.  Do I/we need to resubmit our paper/panel proposal for SMH 2021?
Great question. Yes.  All presenters selected last year by the SMH 2020 Program Committee will automatically advance to present at SMH 2021.  To ensure the most updated info for the conference planners, however, you will need to resubmit your paper/panel proposal to the Young Scholars submission site.  The window for Young Scholar submissions will open on/about 1 Dec.  Until then, we recommend you contact your panel (if appropriate) and reaffirm all necessary information, to include their willingness and availability to present at SMH 2021 in Norfolk.
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