There have been times when the suspicion that, if I had the chance, I’d be living a life of travelling from conference to conference (note the anti-ecological implications of air travel), and/or convening/helping to convene symposia-workshops-summer schools… back to back locally (so they MUST invent alternative airplane fuel), has been more of a real budding possibility (one more black point a/st “tar sands” and Co.). I mean, I truly love not even to present but to be there and (literally!) feel the vibes of energized thought flow; to have a great choice of talks, to meet people who are like minded and challengingly, or at least curiously, differently minded or educated, whether in my bunch of disciplines or other disciplines; to chat informally in the breaks, exchange cards, even if – let’s face it – I never get to use the contact. (Oh, you too?)

To my thinking, a good conference is a space&time where people are intensely intelligent and generously giving. And don’t even think of bringing me down from the clouds on this point, to where most of my existence, shall we say, occurs, as it is:)

Disclaimer-Invitation:) Links listed below are OK as of today, May 21, 2010. But, no guarantee re how long, or that they are the best there is – for you – so search and “dare to trust your own understanding” (if I may thus synthesize numerous translations of Kant’s injunction, “Sapere aude!”).

Putting Together an Abstract
(adapted from UT tips online + personal exp.)

  1. Introduce the topic of the paper and the problem to be solved, viz. restate/rephrase the title unfurling any unconventional metaphors you may have used, spell out any acronyms, which would help to “tag” your work thematically and situate it within (a cluster of) theoretical approaches.
  2. Summarize what has been achieved (or not) on this problem so far (refer to both recent and not so recent publications/sources)
  3. I’d go more general here and say, explain what motivated you to do the research – (straightforward) mistakes, major or minor, unaddressed aspects, introduction/discovery of new approaches/technologies that are better than those previously used, or may need to be (re-)tested, e.g., using the former as the control.
  4. Elaborate on the research: I’d say, state your “research question(s)” here (compared to/in contrast to previous studies), mention sources you used, citing the year, what difficulties you encountered and dealt with, presumably successfully. The humanities may be content with stating a question properly (in a new or better way) and elaborating on the challenges; also evaluating other theories and positioning the abstract author(s) with respect to those theories, whether by backing one or the other, or borrowing from all, or bringing them all down, for that matter. The sciences would be presenting evidence, hypotheses confirmed or rejected, experiments conducted, models tested – what would look like a tangible result.
  5. Give yourself kudos, to the extent that you dare:)
  6. Yes, I agree with what you’re thinking – do it intelligently, and if it doesn’t ring true to you, stick to a neutral recap of what you set out to do and did do.

  7. Pace your rhetorics by not exceeding a certain sentence length, or else you run into problems with clarity, flow, even ambivalent anaphora (e.g., the pronoun “it” can equally refer to a mop and a butterfly), which is bound to push the reader off track. After all, if you’re to be rejected, that had better be for mistakes you did make, not for ghost ones that your convoluted style created.

Never ever even think of submitting an abstract listing as co-authors people who have not explicitly accepted and, one would hope, knowingly contributed to the research presented. It may not be appreciated, to say the least, however self-evident and harmless, even generous the act may seem to you.
Just as important, if you’re still considering your options and working out your theoretical commitments, or if you’re in the process of conducting tests, avoid like the plague presenting expected outcoumes as a sure thing. Or else, you may have to face the exercise of going back on your abstract-word in front of an audience, if you get that far, so in a conference abstract aim for “concrete” and “actual”.

PRESENTATION: PowerPoint or Comparable Format

Critical Development Studies – A global research network site:
A quote to motivate you to take a peek:

We have all suffered through slide presentations filled with paragraphs of text, mind-numbing and unreadable charts, and endured presenters whose monotone delivery could cure insomnia permanently.

More software support from there:
Apart from Microsoft’s PowerPoint, there is Keynote for Apple Macintosh, both OpenOffice and NeoOffice offer the (free) open-source program Impress.
(Note to self to look into the popularity of the alternatives to the MS and Apple giants)

A PSU hub – not huge but more than enough to give one handy criteria to decide what/how/when to prioritize. Gives the “basics”: Planning, Layout, Fonts, Color, Images:

Resources pasted FYC below: