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This year’s deadline for paper submissions to the American Sociological Association’s annual conference is tomorrow, January 6 at 3 pm. Like previous years, this deadline is ridiculous. Also like previous years, I am scrambling to “finish” my paper in time. According to the categories of ASA submission types that I made up five years ago, I am aiming for the “papers with promise” target and hoping that the promise will be fulfilled between now and August. Someday I will attain my goal of submitting a “completed research paper” that is ready for journal submission, but tomorrow will not be that day.

Edit: And here are some submission tips from Elizabeth Popp Berman at Orgtheory.

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It’s a new low!

In Chicago this year I felt particularly busy. Between sessions, meetings, and hanging out at Kitty O’Sheas, I hardly had any time to explore the conference itself. I never made it to the book exhibit or poster presentations, I never found the unisex restrooms, and I never even posted on social media about ASA or ate a meal alone! I did, however, manage to wander around the various floors of the Hilton wondering how practical it was to give each floor its own confusing layout. I also found the ASA App to be useful, though I wish that it would have been more friendly to those without wi-fi or wireless signals by only updating when requested.

In the end, I completed 13 of 30 scavenger hunt items, including: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 17, 19, 20, 21, 28, 29, and 30. Next year promises a new location that is even more distracting since I’ve never been there, but can it match Kitty O’Sheas and Meli Cafe? I’ll let you know in 12 months.

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At the American Sociological Association conference in Chicago I noticed something else that demonstrates the ways that faculty members are just as bad as students when they are in the audience instead of standing at the front of class. During several presentations audience members took pictures of PowerPoint slides so that they did not have to write information down. This practice was made worse by the fake camera noises that their phones made as they took the pictures (I’m not sure whether or not all phones have the ability to turn the camera noise off). The most egregious example of this was in a presentation with a lot of references on slides. Those who wanted to record the references just took pictures. Worst of all was the fact that the presenter made very clear at the beginning that he would send the complete presentation via e-mail to anybody who was interested.

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Conference bingo cards are fun to read but fail because bingo can’t actually be played unless everybody is in the same room. Conference scavenger hunts are infinitely better. Thus, for the fourth straight year I give you the ASA Scavenger Hunt! You can download the 2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt and, for your convenience, I have also listed the items below. Post your progress and results in this SJMR thread. Good luck!

2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt

Instructions: Record the dates, times, locations, and/or session numbers for the items below between Friday, August 21 and midnight on Tuesday, August 25. Post your results in the “2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt” thread at SJMR. Good luck!

  1. Attend a friend’s roundtable session
  2. Hear a presenter explain technological difficulties with, “I’m used to my Mac”
  3. Hear somebody refer to the Chicago School in a presentation
  4. Attend a workshop
  5. Attend a great talk by an “unknown” sociologist
  6. Check out the poster presentations
  7. Use the ASA App
  8. Walk past the Employment Service area and observe the job candidates
  9. Discuss the pros and cons of replication
  10. Overhear a sociologist make a racist/sexist/homophobic (etc.) comment
  11. Talk to somebody about SJMR
  12. Eat some candy at the book exhibit
  13. Turn the paper part of your nametag upside-down to make tag-checking more obvious
  14. Find the unisex restrooms and rate their implementation on a scale of 1-10
  15. Pour one out for DAN
  16. Get a free drink at a section reception
  17. Spot Fabio (bonus points if he’s wearing a fanny pack)
  18. Talk to somebody from a liberal arts school about his or her research
  19. Talk to somebody from a research school about his or her teaching
  20. Talk to somebody on the job market about his or her ideal job
  21. Introduce two people you know to each other
  22. For Faculty: Buy a student coffee or a meal; For Students: Accept coffee or a meal from a faculty member
  23. Eat a meal alone
  24. Have an awkward conversation with an acquaintance
  25. Post on social media about ASA
  26. During conversation, move somebody across the room by slowly inching closer to them
  27. Walk to the Navy Pier
  28. Spend an entire day in Chicago without attending a session
  29. Take a picture with that shiny bean (a.k.a. Cloud Gate Chicago)
  30. Eat deep-dish pizza

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At the American Sociological Association conference, the cool departments have private parties. For the rest of the departments around the country, there is DAN, or the Departmental Alumni Night. Traditionally, DAN was an event where you could get together with faculty and fellow graduates of your uncool institution and purchase high-priced, standard-quality beer and wine while slowly watching Indiana graduate students claim the tables of other schools. Today, DAN is on life support.

Things weren’t always bad. According to the ASA program, at least 45 departments participated in DAN in 2006 (I say “at least” because it appears that departments can pay to participate later even if they don’t make the cut for inclusion in the program). In 2009, the year after “the crash,” however, only 25 departments participated. 2010 saw a slight increase to 31, but the writing was on the wall. In 2012 and 2013 only 12 departments were listed in the program. Last year, only 10. This year? The ASA app only lists five.

Unfortunately, I doubt that DAN’s decline has been the result of a surge in private parties. Maybe it is easier today to use technology to meet up with the people at ASA that you actually want to see. Maybe nobody from uncool schools can afford to come to ASA these days. Maybe their semesters have already started. In any case, it appears that it is time for the ASA to pull the plug and put DAN out of its misery.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook for more ASA-related fun via your news feed. And don’t forget to write a living will. You don’t want to end up like that lady in The Other Side of Darkness.

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As I said on Facebook, today’s last-minute 24-hour ASA extension was like cancelling school when the kids are already there. It did nothing to help those who thought they wouldn’t have time to prepare a paper due to the ridiculously early deadline. It did nothing to help those who stayed up late and got up early in order to meet the original deadline (if the deadline had been extended last night I could have gone to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late and submitting my paper by 2 pm). Instead, it seems more like a favor to some “famous” sociologist who needed a bit more time to finish his or her paper.

Worst. Extension. Ever.

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As you may know, the ASA’s submission deadline is tomorrow, January 7, at 3 pm EST. As you may have noticed from the title of this post, I think that this deadline is ridiculous. It is a ridiculous deadline because it falls in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week. It is a ridiculous deadline because those who have jobs that require substantial amounts of teaching probably don’t have much time to work on their papers until winter break, the first few weeks of which are likely filled with traveling and family visits, leaving a few days to throw something together. It is a ridiculous deadline because the ASA wants a completed paper seven months before the conference (though how complete that paper needs to be appears to have been relaxed, as Jeremy noted). And finally, it is a ridiculous deadline because session organizers can’t even access the submissions until a week later. If you take a look at the Call for Papers webpage (excerpted in the image below), you will see that the module for session organizers opens on January 14:

Session OrganizersCurious about why papers need to be submitted a full week before anybody can actually start looking at them, I sent an e-mail to ASA using the “meetings@asanet.org” e-mail address. The response I received was that “Once the submission site is closed, ASA staff has to then do some things in the system before we open it up to the session organizers.” I don’t know what these “things” are, but I have doubts that they take a week. Thus, I propose the following changes to the ASA deadline:

  • Stop requiring full papers.
  • If #1 isn’t possible, make the submission deadline January 31st every year, with notifications due by March 31st
  • If #1 and #2 aren’t possible, make the submission deadline midnight on the Sunday before session organizers are given access. This year, that would be January 11, giving ASA workers the ability to start doing their “things” on Monday morning when they get to work and finish them by Wednesday.

We are the ASA, so there should be no reason that we need to continue punishing ourselves like this, struggling to finish our work in time for a mid-day mid-week deadline and hoping that DC will get enough snow to push the deadline back.

Since today’s snow did not appear to be enough to push back the deadline, there is only one remaining question:

Elba - WritingAnd now you’re distracted…

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