Call for Submissions

Event Details

The submission deadline has passed. Decisions notifications will be emailed by the end of November 2021.

Download the Call for Submissions

Note: Those previously accepted for 2020 meeting do not need to re-submit and should have already been contacted regarding their intent for the 2022 program. Please contact with any questions.

At this time, we anticipate that this special topic meeting will be taking place on-site in St. Louis, MO. Therefore, all presenters will be expected to attend in person. The conference hotel, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, has instituted Hilton CleanStay protocols to ensure a safe experience for their guests.

About This Meeting

Both theory and research suggest that children learn through playing, hearing stories, and engaging in imaginative activities of all kinds. But how, exactly, does this process work? Which characteristics of play and imagination best facilitate children’s learning, and why? How do children play, imagine, and learn across developmental time and in different cultural contexts? Which types of activities and interactions are best suited for learning various skills and content? 

This special topic meeting addresses these questions and more by fostering interdisciplinary conversations and incorporating diverse viewpoints. The meeting’s primary aim is to encourage dialogue about play and imagination across disciplinary boundaries, specifically drawing on expertise beyond traditional research programs in developmental psychology. Join us to expand perspectives on learning through play and imagination, identify gaps in the literature, and propose evidence-based strategies for how play and imagination can best be used in early education.

Invited speakers will present new ideas and connect child development to experts in playground design and construction, media creation and production, anthropological studies of children around the world, and play in non-human animals.


Submission Guidelines

  1. Submission Limits: There is no limit for presenting roles for either members or nonmembers of SRCD.
  2. Presenting Roles, Defined:
    • Chair of a symposium
    • Discussant of a symposium
    • Presenter of a paper
    • Presenter of a poster

Additional Considerations:

  1. Only presenting roles will be protected from schedule conflicts (see role definitions above).
  2. There is no limit to the number of authors for a paper or poster. Non-presenting author roles are not protected from schedule conflicts.
  3. Do not submit the same material more than once, (e.g., as a poster and as a symposium presentation or as a paper in two symposia).
  4. SRCD normally does not accept submissions that have been presented or published before the meeting unless they differ from the original in additional data or new findings or additional comparisons, etc. Even in cases where SRCD members may not have had access to your original presentation, the current submission should not duplicate an earlier presentation.
  5. During the submission process, you will be asked to select both a primary and secondary review panel.
  6. Plan ahead and submit early!
    • The Submission site will open early August.
    • You may edit your submission at any time prior to the submission deadline, September 15.
    • View and/or print your submission proof and review it carefully.
    • No changes can be made after the submission deadline, September 15.
  7. SRCD membership is not required to submit; however, we encourage you to take advantage of the benefits of membership: Members in the Society are offered a significant discount on conference registration in addition to eligibility for a variety of Society resources and initiatives.

Questions? Please contact the Meetings Team at


Submission Review Panels

Submitters will choose one primary review panel and an optional secondary review panel:

  1. Adult support for learning through play/imagination
  2. Cross-species play
  3. Exploratory/ Sensorimotor play
  4. Games and other rule-based imaginative activities
  5. Movies, television, and other digital media
  6. Physical play/ Rough-and-tumble play
  7. Pretend play
  8. Storybooks and Narratives

Submission Formats

Submissions will be accepted in the following formats and all will be peer-reviewed.

  1. Individual Poster Presentation.
    Posters are individual, free-standing research presentations. They are the appropriate format when material can be explained briefly, is suited for graphic or visual presentation, and/or the presenter would benefit from high levels of interaction and discussion. Each poster occupies one 8’ wide x 4’ high poster board for the entire session.
  2. Individual Paper Presentation.
    Individual papers are free-standing research presentations. Highly rated individual papers will be considered by panel chairs for presentation in a Paper Symposium composed of up to 4 Individual Paper Presentations that are thematically related. Individual papers that are highly rated but cannot be accepted for a Paper Symposium (either because there are not 4 related papers on the topic or the maximum number of paper symposia has been reached) will become Individual Poster Presentations if and only if submitters have indicated that they would like to present the research as a poster.
  3. Paper Symposium.
    A cohesive cluster of research presentations and theoretical perspectives focused on a specific topic and emphasizing conceptual issues and an integration of findings with representation from multiple institutions. In the traditional format, the chair briefly presents the theme of the symposium, presenters speak for 15 minutes each, and a discussant provides an overview. At least 15 minutes MUST be set aside for audience discussion. Requirements: 1 chair with optional 2nd chair if there is no discussant, 3 presentations plus 1 discussant or 4 presentations.

Review Process and Criteria for All Submissions

  1. Submissions are rated according to the following criteria:
    • Clarity of formulation/conceptualization
    • Adequacy of methods
    • Appropriateness of interpretations
    • Importance of topic
    • For multi-presenter formats: Cohesion among presentations, relevance of presentations to the topic, and expression of different views.
  2. A submission that does not adhere to the rules and procedures will receive a low rating. For example,
    • Do not include author names, unless required, or other identifying material (i.e., grant support) as part of the integrative statement or the abstract.
    • Submitting material more than once could result in a submission not being reviewed.
    • The abstract lacks sufficient data—coded and analyzed, even if not yet complete—to provide a basis for reviewer evaluation. Evaluation of the methods will be sensitive to qualitative and case study approaches as well as quantitative approaches.
  3. Reviewers may consider SRCD's strategic plan when evaluating submissions that are of equivalent scientific merit.
  4. Symposia must have representation from multiple institutions.

Download the Call for Submissions