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Scholarly Communication and Publishing

This guide is designed for those wishing to publish their research.

Presenting Your Research

blue figure putting in last white puzzle piece

Royalty-free photo from pxfuel

There are many ways to present the results of your research, from conferences to webinars and guest speaking. Continue below to explore different venues for disseminating your work in presentation formats.

Conference Presentations

Conferences can be a great way to get your work out there in front of broad audiences with a specific interest in your field.

How Do I Present My Research at a Conference?

Academic conferences are the shop windows of the academy. You present so that:

  • Your work gets out there. Other people know what you have to say.
  • You get yourself known. Other people know who you are and what you do.
  • You make contacts with people who work in the field and people who might publish your work.
  • Plenary sessions: One or two of the well-known figures in a discipline or field get to have their say on a particular issue. If you are at the level where you are being invited to speak in these sessions, then you already know what you need to do to get noticed.
  • Panel discussions: A set of three to five people talk about a topic. These can be very good and people do attend them. Often they are organized by sub-groups of the academic body organizing the event. You get invited to participate by being known to the organizers of that sub-group.
  • Thematically organized sessions for paper presentations: Here you present a formal paper, often circulated in advance or available as a download or on a conference CD. These days you do not “read a paper.” Rather, you go through key themes, usually with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation. As with panel discussions, these are often organized by sub-groups of the academic body. Most conference organizers will also request submissions for thematic sessions from members of the relevant organization. You can make a submission for a session or strand of sessions.
  • Open sessions for paper presentations: These used to be the norm at academic conferences. Now they are essentially a residual category for papers within the general interests of the conference but which do not fit into thematic sessions.
  • Poster presentations: Here you make a poster for a session where people can come and look at your poster and you tell them about your research. This is usually a form of presentation for postgraduate students.

Conferences are announced through email lists and the websites of the organization holding the conference. There are now both national learned societies and international learned societies. For example, the British Sociological Association, the European Sociological Association, and the International Sociological Association all organize regular conferences and you might submit proposals for papers to any or all of them.

Abstracts matter because:

  • Papers are selected by conference or theme organizers on the basis of them.
  • Most conferences publish a list of abstracts both online and in paper documentation.
  • People choose which sessions to go to in part on the basis of the abstracts so this is one way to attract an audience.

Attending sessions

You can move between thematic strands at a conference or you can stick with one thematic strand. The latter often works better. Not only do you get to know a set of people with similar interests, you also get people to sit with at meals and talk to in the bars. A good thematic strand is one in which an ongoing debate develops. This draws on the papers as they are presented and attempts some kind of synthesis based on all of them.

Coffee breaks

Coffee breaks matter a lot, as they are often where you have the opportunity to “network.” Do not be afraid to approach people you want to talk to.

Meeting publishers

Conferences are a great way to meet publishers. You can make appointments in advance, but do not be afraid to go up to a stand and say, “I would like to talk to you about a proposal—when would be convenient for you?” Publishers are always looking for material and you might be able to deliver just what they are looking for.


Locating Webinar Opportunities

Presenting webinars happens in a variety of ways, not just by invitation of the webinar sponsor. Here are some tactics to help locate presentation opportunities:

  • Subscribe to listservs for the professional associations in your field. These often publicize requests for proposals for speakers (at conferences or to present webinars). 
  • Create an academic scholar website for yourself and publicize your willingness to present to the public, to scholars, to students, and to other interested parties.
  • Once published, communicate with your publisher that you are willing to present on your topic. That not only promotes your work but the publisher as well.

Tips to Create Engaging Webinars

According to Siobhan Graham, "48% of attendees have said that webinars were least enjoyable when there was a poor presenter." In her article, "Top 10 Tips Webinar Presenters Should Know This link opens in a new window," she gives advice for presenters to help ensure their information comes across in an engaging and effective way:

  • Be passionate and energetic 
  • Share personal experiences
  • Encourage audience engagement
  • Meet audience expectations
  • Present to a global audience
  • Keep cool, calm, and collected
  • Create engaging slides
  • Be punctual
  • Think outside the box
  • Practice, practice, practice!

For more details on each suggestion, click on Siobhan's name above!