Guidelines for Panel Judges


The Beacon Conference relies on expertise of professors at four-year colleges and universities in the mid-Atlantic region to determine the Panel Award Winners for each panel on the day of the conference. Our conferences tend to have 15 to 18 panels, each requiring a Panel Judge.

A few weeks before the conference, each Panel Judge is sent the three highest-ranked papers for the panel. Each Panel Judge is expected to evaluate the papers carefully and to prepare questions to ask the students who present their work at the conference.

On the day of the conference, Panel Judges appear for their respective panels, attend the presentations, ask questions and offer comments, and, ultimately, determine Panel Award Winners.

During the awards ceremony that concludes the conference, the co-chairs of the conference announce each Panel Judge’s decision and share with attendees a few brief comments about each panel.

Panel Judges receive a $100 honorarium for their efforts.

General Guidelines

Panel Judges have the following responsibilities:

  • To read the three highest-ranked papers for the assigned panel.
  • To attend the presentations for the assigned panel.
  • To pose questions to each presenter about their work after the panel’s presentations conclude.
  • To provide a few brief written comments regarding each paper that can be read at the awards ceremony.
  • To identify the most outstanding paper and presentation from the panel.

Panel Judges’ responsibilities are complete once they submit their decisions and comments to the attendant in the Panel Judges’ Room, but they are welcome to spend the entire day at the conference: they may attend other panels, have lunch with us, and attend the Awards Ceremony.

What to Expect as a Panel Judge

Your room will be hosted by a Moderator. The Moderator will introduce you and the student presenters to all who are present in your room.

Then, each student will have twenty minutes to give their presentation, and the Moderator will manage each student’s presentation time:

  • When the student has been speaking for 15 minutes, the Moderator will hold up a sign with the number “5” to indicate that there are 5 minutes remaining.
  • When one minute of presentation time remains, the Moderator will hold up a sign with the number “1” indicating that there is 1 minute remaining.
  • Once the student been speaking for 20 minutes, the Moderator will state that the presentation time has concluded and will request that the student stop presenting.

After all the presenters in the room have completed their presentations, the Moderator will invite you to ask each student at least one question about their paper, their presentation, their ideas. Each presenter should have approximately five minutes in which to respond to your questions. The Moderator may interject to prevent a presenter from using too much time.

If time permits, consider asking the students to consider relationships between ideas in each others’ presentations.

After asking each presenter at least one question, you are welcome to invite the audience to ask questions, too.

Judges are welcome to retire to the Panel Judges’ Room to reflect on the experience, determine a winner, and record a few positive comments regarding the presentations and the presenters.

Scoring the Papers and Presentations

We trust your expertise and your discretion in determining whose paper and presentation, combined, deserve the Panel Award.

We encourage you to rank the papers with the following guidelines in mind:

  • 70% of the score should be based the paper itself. Please consider the quality and originality of the research, the use of appropriate sources, and the organization and the clarity of written expression.
  • 30% of the score should be based on the presentation. Two thirds of this portion should be based on the student’s ability to answer questions at the end of the presentation. One third of this portion should be based on the quality of the oral presentation to the audience.

Presenters may use visual aids, including PowerPoint slides or Keynote slides, but such aids are not required.

If a student withdraws from the conference, the runner up will step in to replace the missing panelist, if possible. If this occurs very close to, or on, the date of the conference, then you will not have the student paper in advance. In that circumstance, a copy of the paper will be provided on the day of the conference. There will be time to review the written paper in the Judges’ Room after the presentations.

How to Become a Panel Judge

Thank you for your interest in serving as a Panel Judge. Please email the current conference co-directors at to indicate your interest. They will be in touch if your services are required.