Article / conference paper
Conference papers: initial planning
- the type of talk you will be expected to give:
- informal chat, seminar discussion, or formal talk?
- Presenting novel concepts to the audience, or building upon their prior knowledge?
- the audience: specialists or generalists?
- the time allotted for the talk: the longer the talk, the more freedom you will have to explore the topic. A short talk needs to be very clear and to address the topic directly.
Conference papers: structure
Decide on a structure for presenting your talk:
- Chronological: an arrangement where there is a procedure to follow, one step must come before another step to make sense.
- Thematic: try to identify central themes in your talk, and group points under the theme best suited to those points. Then prioritise the themes to present the most relevant first, and the least relevant last.
- Cause-effect relationship: identify factors then show how they effect a situation.
- Problem-solution: useful for persuading the audience.
Briefly outline what you are going to cover in your talk at the beginning. Clarify or define any key concepts early to avoid confusion.
State your objectives at the start of your talk, then recap them again at the end of the talk. In between, discuss how your material relates to these objectives. Be mindful of any questions or problems the audience could raise about the information you are presenting. Attempt to address these issues in the talk.
Use short sentences with simple constructions, and decide what aspects of your talk would benefit from being presented as a visual aid.
Move from one section / issue / point in your talk to another in such a way that will help your audience to follow the link from one issue to the next. For example, pose a question to introduce another point, or explain your own discovery of the link's existence; briefly highlight the similarities between what was covered before and what is coming up.
Conclusion: Signal that the summary or conclusion is beginning (“In summary/ In conclusion,…”). Summarise the main concepts you've discussed, and affirm that you have demonstrated what you set out to do.
Conference papers: length
One of the crucial tasks of any talk is to keep within the time limit you have been given.
The following offers a method to ensure that you keep to time:
- Estimate a rate of 100 words per minute (this is slow!).
- Within this, each concept will need to be supported by 3 to 4 statements.
- Each statement will require an average of 12 words.
One A4 typed page, 2cm page margin, with a 12 point font equals about 5 minutes of talking at a moderate pace.
You should shorten your talk by removing details, concepts, and information, not by eliminating words. If it becomes essential to supply details, supplement your presentation with a handout. Make about 10% more handouts than you think you'll need.
Conference papers: visual aids
When should you use visual aids? Some points to consider:
- What is most effective for getting your message across?
- Time constraints: PowerPoint involves setting-up time and resources.
- The more technology you use, the more chance things can go wrong outside your control.
- Make a hard copy back-up if using PowerPoint.
Conference papers: fine tuning
Practise, practise, practise! Read out loud and vary voice pitch. Use silence effectively.
Do a mock presentation in front of others, if possible in the same room in which the presentation occurs. Make changes according to critical feedback from others. You may have to take out information. It is better to fall within the time limit than say too much and go over time.
Ensure that you are familiar with the equipment.
Check to see that accessories are present: chalk, whiteboard markers, and a pointer. Check whether you are going to need a microphone, and if so, organise it the day before.
Articles: varieties of publication
- presentations within one's school
- conference papers (national and international)
- occasional papers and research reports
- newsletters of professional, community, and academic associations
- semi-popular magazine articles and newspaper items
- book reviews
- contributions to books and reference works
- journals (refereed and non-refereed)
- monographs and books
Articles: the process of publishing in journals
Before writing or revising an article, decide on the target journal. Consider the following:
- is it appropriate to subject matter and theoretical perspectives?
- what is the standing of the journal? Is it national or international?
- what is the size of circulation and frequency of citation?
- is the journal refereed or non-refereed?
Weigh up the risk of rejection versus the standing of the journal. It is essential to follow the advice to contributors published in the most recent edition of your chosen journal (if this is not available, ask the editors to send you a copy). Tailor your contribution to the style and content of the journal. You can check their potential interest in your paper, but don't ask for a commitment in advance.
Include a brief covering letter offering the manuscript for publication in the journal. Remember that editors do not want material that has been submitted elsewhere. After receiving an acknowledgement of receipt, get on with your life (you may have a long wait).
Acceptance is usually conditional on making some amendments. Rejection must be regarded as a normal part of the process, but don't give up: this is not the end of the process unless you say so. A rejection letter is usually accompanied by comments from editor and referees; sometimes it indicates that the paper was not properly understood. The fault may not be entirely yours, but rather than writing back an angry letter treat the feedback you received as useful advice: revise the paper and submit it elsewhere.
This video lecture examines various avenues that postgraduate students may wish to pursue to get their research disseminated in the academic community.
References and further reading
Davidson, C., & Lunt, N. (1998). Getting published is easy: The art and science of writing academic journal articles. Massey University. [Massey Library link]
Davidson, C., & Lunt, N. (2000). The art of getting published: A guide for academics. Dunmore Press. [Massey Library link]
Fondiller, S. H. (1999). The writer's workbook: Health professionals' guide to getting published (2nd ed.). Jones and Bartlett Publishers. [Massey Library link]
Luey, B. (2010). Handbook for academic authors (5th ed.). Cambridge University Press. [Massey Library link]