2015 Call for Proposals

UPDATE: The 2015 Gatlinburg Conference Call for Proposals is now closed. Thank you for your abstract submissions. Notifications will be issued by the end of November.

General Guidelines for Submissions

  • Presenters can be first author on one symposium and on one poster.
  • Since the Gatlinburg Conference is a research meeting, program descriptions, clinical case reports, or literature reviews will not be accepted for presentation.
  • Original empirical evidence must be reported in the abstract for which data have already been collected. A good abstract format includes: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Key References.
  • The text for each abstract, including key references but not including title and author information, is limited to a maximum word count of 600.
  • Provide as much information about your research as possible in the abstract.
  • Submissions related to the conference theme are encouraged but certainly not required.
  • Authors who have a relationship with a member of the Gatlinburg Conference Executive Committee will be asked to disclose this relationship.

For each abstract submission, you will be asked to enter the following information into an online form:

  • Title of presentation/poster
  • Author(s)
  • Institutional affiliations
  • E-mail addresses of designated contact person and travel award applicants
  • There will be a place to indicate if the first author is applying for a travel award
  • You will be able to cut and paste the text of the abstract into the online form. Please note: we can only accept alpha-numeric text. Use of symbols such as Greek letters will not translate via REDCap.


  • Poster boards will be four feet by eight feet.
  • Posters are presented over a two-hour period.


In addition to the individual abstracts within a symposium, each symposium chair will also enter the names and affiliations of the chair and discussant. Symposium chairs are encouraged to include a discussant as well as presenters from more than one institution.

  • The chair may enter all the symposium information into the online form, including travel awards (if any) for which first author students wish to apply. Alternatively, the online submission can be saved and forwarded to other symposium members for them to complete their portions.
  • The strongest symposia span multiple research groups, disorders, or methods. Additionally, the most successful symposia feature discussants who facilitate dialogue and integration of sessions. approaches.
  • Symposium presentations are 90 minutes.

Other Information

Student Awards

We offer six types of travel awards to help defray travel costs incurred for the conference:

  • Laraine Masters Glidden Undergraduate Student Award (for undergraduate students)
  • David Zeaman Student Awards (for graduate students)
  • Theodore Tjossem Postdoctoral Awards (for postdoctoral fellows/trainees)
  • John G. Borkowski Diversity Travel Awards (for graduate students who are under-represented in the sciences, e.g. minorities, those with a disability)
  • Dissertation Award (for doctoral candidates who present an abstract that is part of their thesis)
  • American Psychological Association-Division 33 Graduate Student Award (for a student enrolled in a graduate program in psychology or closely related field and who is a student member of Division 33)

In order to be eligible for the awards, the applicants must:

  • Be a student or post-doc
  • Be the first author on a poster or a presentation within a symposium that is accepted for the conference. The abstract must reflect relevance to intellectual and developmental disabilities research, and demonstrate both a high level of scientific merit and quality of research.
  • Not have previously received one of the above awards. Example: If an attendee won the Zeaman Award at a previous conference, he/she cannot apply for the Zeaman Award again, but is welcome to apply for any of the other travel awards

Applicants will indicate during the abstract submittal process that they wish to apply for an award.

Note that if you are part of a symposium and are applying for a travel award, you should inform your chair as to the award for which you are applying. Please note that travel award recipients are required to arrive on Mar. 31, 2015, the day before the conference starts, to ensure that they are present for the entire conference and are expected to leave no earlier than Friday afternoon, Apr. 3, 2015. Award winners incur the travel expenses up front (airfare, hotel, parking, meals, etc.) and are reimbursed after the conference, upon providing original receipts.


Judging Criteria

Each abstract will be screened by the conference Planning Committee and then reviewed by two members of the Executive Committee. Abstracts are assigned to a committee member based on their expertise in the field that is the subject of the abstract.

An Executive Committee member does not judge an abstract submitted by someone with whom they have a relationship (e.g. advisor, colleague, former mentor, etc.)

Each abstract will be ranked using the NIH scoring system of 1 to 9:

  1. Exceptional: Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses
  2. Outstanding: Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses
  3. Excellent: Very strong with only some minor weaknesses
  4. Very Good: Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses
  5. Good: Strong but with at least one moderate weakness
  6. Satisfactory: Some strengths but also some moderate weaknesses
  7. Fair: Some strengths but with at least one major weakness
  8. Marginal: A few strengths and a few major weaknesses
  9. Poor: Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Minor Weakness: An easily addressable weakness that does not substantially lessen impact
Moderate Weakness: A weakness that lessens impact
Major Weakness: A weakness that severely limits impact

Submissions are then sorted by score and then accepted based on the highest ratings.


If you have questions, please contact our staff.

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