5 Tips and Tricks to Submitting Your Chapter Report

May is upon us, which means that the Student Chapter Report submission deadline is creeping up! If you are not already aware of the deadline, reports are due in to Manuscript Central by Wednesday, May 23, 2012!!!

For those of you who don’t know, student chapter reports give chapters an opportunity to inform ACS about their activities, voice concerns from the academic year, provide suggestions, and become eligible for a Student Chapter Award. To remain active, a chapter must submit a report at least once every three years.

We want to make sure that you are comfortable and confident with completing and submitting your report, so below are some ACS staff and peer reviewer suggestions that will help you to turn in a successful chapter report.

1.  First, the obvious…Fill out the template.

The ACS Undergraduate Programs Office has provided you with a template to make your reporting easier. The best piece of advice we can give you here is to fill out this report form as completely as possible, and read the directions before doing so. Yes, there are 5 sections (one of which is optional), and yes, each section has 3 or 4 subsections. This may seem lengthy, but all the information you provide is essential. We have faculty advisors review your work for the year, and they read every detail carefully to make their award decisions.

With that being said, we know that some chapters are new, some are recently reactivated, while some don’t have the members or resources to participate in as many activities as some other chapters, and that’s ok. The tables and open-ended prompts in the template will guide you through the type of information we are looking for. (And don’t forget to fill out the financial template too.)

2. Pictures, links, flyers, oh my!

“What is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?” Lewis Carroll and our peer reviewers like to see images and other supplemental materials to support your text. We need your descriptions to understand all of the details of each of your activities, but pictures really do go a long way. Show us the fun you had during an NCW event or a chapter bowling night. Upload a flyer that you made for a guest speaker or screen shot of your new ACS student chapter website. Keep in mind, though, that each chapter has roughly 2.5 MB of storage when uploading materials to Manuscript Central. This will limit the number of photos you can upload, BUT that doesn’t mean there aren’t loop holes. For example, many chapters provide their best pictures in their reports and then they’ll provide a link to their Facebook page or web photo album (i.e. Picasa, Flickr, etc.)

3.  So, what are the reviewers looking for?

Once you submit your report we assign them to be reviewed by chapter faculty advisors from all over the country. Each report is reviewed by 3 of these faculty advisors, and this process is to ensure your reports are reviewed fairly and so you are given feedback from experts. The more organized and complete your comments are, the easier it is for a reviewer to accurately provide feedback, plus a well assembled report is more likely to impress your reviewers. Simply put, when a peer reviewer looks through your report they’re looking to see that the report is written by a student, that your chapter is active in your community and at your university, and that you’re taking chemistry outside of the classroom. For each section of the report we’ve outlined some really helpful criteria and considerations which will guide you through providing the exact details that reviewers are hoping to see.

4.  Divide and conquer, or not.

Filling out the report seems daunting, sure, but there are ways to make it easier. One way to lessen the burden is to assign sections of the report to different members of your chapter. For example, maybe your president can be responsible for 1-2 sections, your vice president for another 1 to 2 sections, your secretary for another, and so on. Sharing the work will prevent one person from having to take ownership of the entire report. If this method isn’t ideal for your chapter, there’s nothing wrong with having one person step up to the plate and take ownership. The key is to make it as easy as possible for you and your fellow chapter members to complete.

5.  Start early, start often.

Source: University of Minnesota Psychology Blog

Let’s face it…procrastination happens, and everyone does it. While it seems more convenient than finding time get things done immediately, it isn’t exactly the best method to use for completing your chapter report. Filling in a chapter report template and providing links and pictures are tasks that are far from difficult, but waiting until the last minute to get this done will make the process just a little cumbersome. The best way to complete the report is to fill it out as you go. It becomes available on the undergrad site every September, so you can fill out your activities once an event happens and remember every detail. Since the deadline is less than a month away, you can’t try this now (maybe next year), but it’s not too late to start gathering you materials, reflecting back on your chapter activities, and writing up your report! Just remember: “Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” (Mason Cooley, American Literary Academic & Aphorist)

Use these tips and the resources on our ACS Student Chapter Reports page to help you with your submissions. We love receiving your chapter reports each year, and every chapter activity you conduct is valued by your community and ACS.
We look forward to seeing all that you’ve accomplished this year!

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