Call for Participation

Join EPIC2023—a treasured annual gathering of people across all disciplines, sectors, and industries who use ethnography to drive understanding, innovation, and change.

Now in its 19th year, EPIC conference is a warm, inclusive event that combines practical learning, meaningful networking, and the inspiration and debate that we need in a changing world. EPIC is a nonprofit organization powered by members and volunteers; learn more.

Anyone can attend EPIC2023—registration opens May 2. This page includes detailed information about submitting a proposal to present your work in the Main Program.

The core EPIC2023 program is created through a proposal submission, anonymous review, selection, and curation process. This year the Program Committee invites proposals for these formats: Case Studies, Papers, PechaKucha, Visual Ethnography, and Graduate Colloquium. We welcome proposals from anyone, in any discipline and sector, who creates ethnography or applies ethnographic principles and expertise.

Please read the conference theme and all submissions requirements below. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions—we want you to be successful! conference@epicpeople.org

Friction is a function of the everyday. The experience of friction can feel uncomfortable or constraining: impeding our personal and professional goals, disrupting flows of data, erecting barriers to participation and inclusion, disrupting innovation. As ethnographers, however, we also understand friction as a generative force. We can address it as a challenge to overcome or harness it as a productive tension. The diverse perspectives, unexpected partnerships, and conflicting goals that friction yields can open time and space to plot creative paths forward.

 

Our keenest insight and most powerful impact comes when we challenge entrenched practices and prevailing wisdom. Those moments both embrace friction and are friction. Join us in Chicago to grapple with and harness friction for all its complex and productive powers. READ THE FULL THEME

Review Process

Proposals are evaluated and selected by independent committees of EPIC community members. Paper proposals undergo double-anonymous peer (authors and reviewers are both anonymous to each other) by external reviewers and committee members. Case Studies, PechaKucha, and Visual Ethnography Graduate Colloquium proposals undergo double-anonymous review by committee. Graduate Colloquium proposals are reviewed by committee and are not anonymous.

Reviewers of Paper, Case Study, PechaKucha, and Visual Ethnography proposals are asked to consider the following in their assessment of submissions:

  • Does the submission make a valuable contribution to EPIC? Reviewers consider whether new ideas, practices, or analyses are offered. Originality, creativity, bridge-building, and synthesis are all forms of contribution.
  • Is prior work adequately considered and built on?
  • Are the evidence and argument compelling and credible?
  • Is the proposal composed and presented clearly?
  • Does the proposal productively engage the EPIC2023 theme Friction?
  • Is the proposal a good fit for the format (paper, case study, PechaKucha, visual ethnography, or graduate colloquium)?

Specific guidelines and evaluation considerations for each submission format are detailed below.

Submission Requirements

// You may submit only a single proposal as a primary author. The exception is the Graduate Colloquium (applicants to the Colloquium may submit to another track). 

// Committee members may not submit a proposal to their own track. 

// At least one co-author must register for and attend the conference to present the work. Presenters are encouraged to contact us about equity and financial inclusion grants: conference@epicpeople.org.

// Authors must have all permissions required to present and publish all data, research, and materials they intend to include. ‘Permission’ refers not only to legal requirements and policies of employers and clients, but also the documented informed consent of all those represented in the work, with consideration for their agency and power to consent and within their own social and cultural contexts. 

// If your proposal is accepted, you will work closely with a curator to develop and refine great presentations and published texts. You will commit to deadlines for submitting draft and final versions of both. Before submitting a proposal, please ensure all co-authors have the time and interest to engage in this process. 

// Papers and Case Studies authors will create both presentations and full-length articles. Articles (and abstracts for other formats) will be published in the open-access journal Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings (ISSN 1559-8918) and in the EPIC library. All co-authors are required to sign a publication agreement.

// All presenters must sign media agreements that allow EPIC to video record conference events and share video on epicpeople.org.

Case Study Proposals

Case studies are real-world examples of ethnographic work that demonstrate business or organizational impact. They are teaching tools to learn from each other and build value for ethnographic approaches in organizations.

Cases should emphasize how ethnographic practice and theory shaped and solved a specific organizational challenge /opportunity and made a substantive impact for the organization, stakeholders, and users/consumers (perhaps in conjunction with other approaches). The emphasis is not on methods as much as the business/organizational context and how ethnography fueled solutions and concrete organizational outcomes.

Cases are expected to offer lessons learned for wider applicability in the community.
Although case studies must offer demonstrable, valuable outcomes, they need not be simplistic, sunny, linear narratives. In the spirit of our theme Friction, we invite proposals that address resistance, the nonlinear nature of collaboration and change, productive tensions, and the value of learning from failures.

These proposals undergo double anonymous peer review by committee. Authors submit written case studies for publication and make a presentation at the conference.

A case study is:

  • An in-depth look at one project (or a small number of closely interrelated projects within an initiative)
  • Grounded in specific examples from the project; ideally based on first-hand experience
  • Demonstrating the impact and outcome of the work
  • If methods based, pushing the bounds and edges of our practice through novel or creative means

A case study is not:

  • Only high-level or abstract findings
  • An analysis across multiple projects (consider submitting a Paper proposal instead)
  • Focused solely on foundational, widely documented methods

Preparing Your Case Study Proposal

Proposals must include the following elements:

  • Title
  • Abstract of 500 words maximum that includes citations in the body of the abstract (only cite material that is discussed directly in your abstract; the full reference list is a separate section of your proposal)
  • 1-page outline demonstrating the anticipated order of your case study’s main points, which must include organizational or business impact
  • List of references to the relevant literature, research, and data sources from which your case draws
  • A statement on your submission’s contributions to the EPIC community, 150 words maximum

To facilitate anonymous peer review, do not name or reference the identity or affiliations of any co-authors within the proposal document itself. You will enter this information separately in the submission process.

> SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE
*Note: the submission system is not connected to your account on epicpeople.org

Questions? CaseStudies@epicpeople.org

Paper Proposals

We invite paper proposals that advance our field and emphasize the interplay between theory and practice. Papers are original works that expand our community’s knowledge and reflect constructively on frameworks, methods and methodological advances, or issues of the day. They go beyond reporting on individual projects to synthesize areas of work, catalyze new directions, and address shared challenges and opportunities we face across a range of contexts. Papers must demonstrate the links between new insights and ongoing debates in ways that build on the work of others, referencing other projects, concepts, or data sources.

The Papers committee particularly encourages proposals that address the following topics:

  • Friction in ethnographic approaches and methods, for example the relationship between local and global; differing interests among communities ethnography engages; the triangulation of methods and approaches
  • Navigating organizational flux, change, and multiple perspectives, particularly as related to the planning, implementation, and outcomes of ethnographic work
  • Friction introduced by the intersection of ethnography and other disciplines and approaches
  • Complicating the ubiquity of seamless user experiences and the unintended consequences of minimizing friction
  • Challenges and successes in behavior change, either within an organization or among the people and communities that organization serves
  • Friction in service of equity, mitigating bias, and creating the space and comfort with discomfort necessary for combating racism and discrimination
  • Friction in service of responsible innovation, particularly in response to climate change
  • Friction that challenges “first in the west, then in the rest” tendencies in innovation.
  • Friction that emerges during the process of replacement and displacement of labor through automation.

Papers undergo double-anonymous peer review. Authors write a paper for publication and make a presentation at the conference.

Preparing Your Paper Proposal

Proposals must include all of the following elements:

  • Title
  • Abstract of maximum 750 words including citations (only cite material that is discussed directly in your abstract; the full reference list is a separate section of your proposal). Identify your main argument, sources (whether original research or a critical review of others) and key insights (what a reader will gain from your paper)
  • 1-page outline demonstrating your argument and progression of main points
  • List of references to literature, research, and data sources (in addition to those cited in the abstract) from which the paper will draw
  • A statement of 150 words maximum on your submission’s contributions to the EPIC community. What will we learn? How can those learnings be applied by others?

To ensure anonymous peer review, do not name or reference the identity or affiliations of any co-authors within the proposal document itself. You will enter this information separately in the submission process.

> SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE
*Note: the submission system is not connected to your account on epicpeople.org

Questions? Papers@epicpeople.org

PechaKucha Proposals

Powered by PechaKucha (pronounced: “peh-cha-ku-cha”) presentations are captivating performances of 20 image-rich slides that show for 20 seconds each. Total presentation time is 6 minutes, 40 seconds. PechaKucha are performance poetry with visual punch. They offer a visual and reflective format for sharing unique insights, perspectives, juxtapositions, and provocations about ethnographic work. These proposals undergo double anonymous review by committee.

EPIC PechaKucha may not be mini project debriefs (stuffed with findings and results). Rather, they should tell a compelling, relevant story by expanding outward from a single research moment, insight or study participant; or by taking on a compelling concept or theme across different studies, field sites, even whole careers. Here is your chance to make research visually and verbally lyrical.

Preparing Your PechaKucha Proposal

Proposals must include the following elements:

  • Title
  • Abstract of your overall story, 200 words maximum
  • A draft PechaKucha presentation with 20 slides and draft performance script (bullet points acceptable) for each slide. Images in the proposal should be low–medium resolution to reduce file size (this will not affect the evaluation of your proposal!).
  • A statement on your submission’s contributions to the EPIC community, 150 words maximum
  • To facilitate anonymous peer review, do not name or reference the identity or affiliations of any co-authors within the proposal document itself. You will enter this information separately in the submission process.

> SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE
*Note: the submission system is not connected to your account on epicpeople.org

Questions? PechaKucha@epicpeople.org

Visual Ethnography Proposals

Film / Animation / Photography

Visual approaches have long been part of ethnographic work. The “eye” of the filmmaker/animator/photographer and the multi-sensory nature of visual media create a different connection between viewer and ethnographic subject than words alone.

This track provides a venue for critical discussion about how these works are constructed and read, and how they create unique ethnographic artifacts and understanding. Submissions should showcase forays in visual research and storytelling by screening examples and discussing the limits and possibilities of the image—whether moving or still. We invite all ethnographers who critically and creatively engage with visual media—film makers, animators, photographers, game developers, immersive experience designers—to submit proposals.

Preparing Your Film/Animation Proposal

Film submission can either provide a trailer or a final cut. Please note that the final version should be a maximum of 15 minutes. If filmmakers and animators have longer, uncut versions of their work which they want to show, they will have the opportunity for online screenings for the EPIC community. Proposals are reviewed anonymously by committee.

Proposals must include the following elements:

  • Title
  • Synopsis of 200 words maximum
  • Context description, 500 words maximum. This should describe the context of production and screening, and how this piece speaks to visual ethnography and advances our understanding of film. Please be clear as to whether you are submitting a trailer or a final cut.
  • A link to a 5–7 minute trailer if your film is a work in progress, or a final cut of no more than 15 minutes. The film can be hosted anywhere online. The link to your trailer or film must contain no identifying information. An easy way to do this in Google Drive is to use the link under “Share” that says “anyone with this link can…”
  • A statement on your submission’s contributions to the EPIC community, 150 words maximum

To enable anonymous peer review, do not name or reference the identity or affiliations of any creators within the proposal or film. You will enter this information separately in the submission process. We realize that fully anonymizing a film that could include your voice or face might be more difficult than a written piece. Please make as much of a good faith effort as is feasible.

Preparing Your Photo Essay Proposal

Photo Essay submission will be presented as a slideshow with a voice over narrative by the author. Proposals are reviewed anonymously by committee.

Proposals must include the following elements:

  • Title
  • Synopsis of 200 words maximum
  • Context description, 500 words maximum. This should describe the context of production and screening, and how this piece speaks to visual ethnography and advances our understanding of using the still image in ethnography.
  • A pdf containing 10 images that will be part of the final photo essay.
  • A statement on your submission’s contributions to the EPIC community, 150 words maximum

To enable anonymous review, do not name or reference the identity or affiliations of any co-authors within the proposal document itself. You will enter this information separately in the submission process.

> SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE
*Note: the submission system is not connected to your account on epicpeople.org

Questions? Visual@epicpeople.org

Graduate Colloquium Proposals

The Graduate Colloquium is a forum for PhD and Masters students engaged in supervised thesis research to discuss their research, present challenges or issues of concern, and receive feedback from a panel of experienced EPIC practitioners, other student participants, and members of the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech community.

We welcome applicants from a broad range of disciplines who incorporate ethnographic principles in their work, including the social and behavioral sciences, cognitive and computer sciences, design, business and organizational studies, public health and health research, and other fields.

Applicants’ research should involve the application of ethnographic theory and method in the context of private or public sector organizations. Selection will be based on the overall quality of the application and relevance to the EPIC mission of promoting the integration of social and cultural perspectives, theory, and method into business and organizational practice. Participants will be expected to give short, informal presentations of their doctoral or masters research during the Colloquium, to be followed by discussion. Networking and career mentorship opportunities also will be part of the cohort experience.

Proposals will be evaluated for:

  • Overall quality and clarity of the proposal
  • Relevance of the applicant’s research to ethnography in or of organizations
  • Ability of EPIC mentors to support the applicant’s goals

We encourage students to seek their own funding, but a limited number of volunteer positions and subsidies will be available. Please contact us about these opportunities (funding is not considered by the colloquium committee in the evaluation of your submission).

Preparing Your Graduate Colloquium Submission

Submissions must include the following elements:

  • Title
  • A 1–2 page overview of your doctoral or masters research, including a statement of your research problem or rationale, research questions and methods, the status of current work, and expected contributions to your field of interest.
  • A brief statement of your career objectives, 150 word maximum. These may be either academic or non-academic.
    A brief statement of Colloquium goals, 150 word maximum. This should describe what you hope to gain from attending EPIC2023 and being part of the colloquium cohort.
    A brief biographical sketch, 150 word maximum.
  • Optional: A letter of recommendation from a research mentor or advisor, sent directly to colloquium@epiconference.com.

> SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE
*Note: the submission system is not connected to your account on epicpeople.org

Questions? Colloquium@epicpeople.org

KEY DATES

FEBRUARY 22:
EPIC2023 Global Kickoff Event! Details coming soon.

MARCH 17:
Submission Deadline

MAY 2:
Registration Opens

MAY 22
Acceptance Notices

JULY 10
First Drafts Due

SEPTEMBER 18
Final Articles Due

SEPTEMBER 24
Final Presentations Due