5 Tips for Completing your ACS Student 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 22, 2013!!

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 3 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 (this link is broken) to make your reporting easier. The best piece of advice we can give you here is to fill out this report form (this one too) 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. Faculty advisors carefully review the report of your year-round activities, and they read every detail 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 that reviewers are looking for. (And don’t forget to fill out the financial template (link broken)too.)

2. Pictures, links, flyers, oh my!

“What is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?”  (Lewis Carroll)
Our peer reviewers like to see images and other supplemental materials to support your text. We use your descriptions to understand the details of each of your activities, but pictures tell more than words ever could. Show us the fun you had during an NCW event or a chapter bowling night, or upload a flyer that you made for a guest speaker. 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 ensures your reports are reviewed fairly and that 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. 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 (link broken) which will guide you through providing the exact details that reviewers are hoping to see.

4.  Divide and conquer, or not.

teamworkFilling out the report seems daunting, but there are ways to make it easier. Lessen the burden by assigning 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.

Let’s face it…procrastination happens, and everyone does it. While it seems convenient, it isn’t exactly the best method 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 will make the process cumbersome at best. The best way to complete the report is to enter the activities as you do them. The report 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 your 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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