Guidelines for Category Readers


The Beacon Conference would not happen without Category Readers. After the conference co-directors receive submitted papers and assign each to its appropriate subject category, each category’s papers (usually 8 to 10) are sent to three qualified readers from Member Institutions to be reviewed.

Without knowing who submitted the papers or how other readers ranked those papers, each reader evaluates their set of papers using conference guidelines and ranks their set of papers from best to worst.

Conference organizers use the rank scores from the three readers for each category to select the top three papers in each category. The authors of those papers are then invited to present their work at the conference.

General Guidelines

Readers follow specific guidelines that are sent to them with papers submitted for their respective categories. Those guidelines include information and instructions regarding the logistics of the process and any additional information the host institution finds pertinent or useful.

The guidelines below are intended to describe, in a general sense, what Category Readers are expected to do.

Category Readers are sent papers in early to mid-March and are expected to evaluate the following aspects of each submission in a timely fashion:

  • The extent to which the paper demonstrates results of research, reflection, and an original perspective, per the conference submission guidelines.
  • The appropriateness of the methods and tools of research and/or analysis relative to the paper’s specific discipline.
  • The quality of the research in terms of the data, methods, or sources.
  • The quality of the argument advanced in the paper.
  • The paper's engagement with and understanding of sources.
  • The quality of the writing itself in terms of organization, correctness, clarity, and documentation.

Readers then rank the papers based on their overall quality and submit rankings to the conference co-directors per the instructions sent to readers along with the papers.

How to Become a Category Reader

Category Readers are qualified individuals employed as faculty and staff at Beacon Conference member institutions. Individuals interested in serving as readers should contact

Readers are awarded a $50 honorarium after submitting their rankings.