Knowledge Base

Guidelines for Developing Effective Working Group Proposals

Looking for tips on putting together a great working group? Check out our suggestions below!

Connect with ISA HQ

We recommend that you discuss your proposed working group with ISA HQ prior to submission. Kristy Belton, our Director of Professional Development, is available to help answer your Working Group-related questions ( and can share past experiences with you.

Set Your Team

Putting together and running a working group is a big undertaking - you'll have 25 participants and speakers to manage. We generally recommend working with an organizing committee to help plan and prepare.

Choose Your Sections

Align your working group with a specific section within ISA to attract attendance, facilitators, and support. For example, if you are considering discussing an issue analyzing the role of women and international security, it might be useful to partner with FTGS and ISSS.

Envision Your Audience

Gear the development of your working group to appeal to their interests. Do you want to reach professionals whose backgrounds fit a very small niche of research, or do you want to reach out to a broader audience?

Define Your Goal

What do you want to come out of this working group? The strongest proposals are those that clearly describe the expectations for the working group. Are you trying to create a network? A publication? Initiate an in-depth discussion on a particular topic? The more you can focus on what you would like to walk away with, the better your proposal will be.

Craft Your Agenda

The best proposals are ones that have a clear schedule for the day, including when speakers will present, time for coffee breaks, discussion groups, and other planned activities. Changes can always be made later but providing a tentative look of what the first day will encompass will lend strength to your proposal.

Develop Guiding Questions

Develop a set of questions to guide discussions. This will not only strengthen your proposal by helping you develop your objectives, but it also gives ISA HQ a better grasp of your goals as well. Furthermore, if you can show how your specific topic or series of questions relates to the Annual Convention program theme, this will make the proposal that much more competitive.

Outline Your Speakers/Facilitators

We recommend that you have your speakers lined up ahead of time - this adds to the cohesion of your proposal, clarifies the theme of the working group and assists you in building your schedule. We find it helps to also think of what each speaker brings to the table: do they have unique experience to share? Background in a specific research area? How do your proposed invited speakers/facilitators fit in with your goals and projected audience?  

Define Your Technical Needs

Internet access, projector, whiteboard, or other equipment? If you need more than chairs and tables, we need to arrange that ahead of time.

Initiating & Continuing the Dialogue

Working groups are unique because of the volume of people who need to collaborate together, both prior to the event and during the Annual Convention. As part of your proposal, develop a strategy to connect with participants prior to the Convention to facilitate discussion, and perhaps even after the Convention to further collaboration (possibly LinkedIn, Elluminate, Facebook, Dropbox, or an ISA blog).

Posted in: Conferences