Presenting Conference Papers in the Social Sciences

by Writing Center Staff

Content

For your topic, choose a major theme or question that represents a "thin slice" of the field's current debates. Be on the cutting edge. 

On the first page, locate the question in a body of knowledge/literature.

Make the theoretical significance of your ideas clear.

Have a strong, creative research design. Anticipate possible critiques when setting up your research design.

Use clear terminology, but use as little specialized terminology as possible.

Consider the paper a legal brief that makes a persuasive case and fits it into an ongoing dialogue. 

Use a "bullet" conclusion. In the final part of the paper, repeat the question posed, then explain how you addressed the question, and why the question is relevant. End with a statement of the larger implications of your question. 

Presentation

Because you have limited time, avoid complicated arguments. Make only a few points and make them clearly.

Write/speak with the active voice.

Use signal words as you speak (thus, therefore, first, second, finally).

Construct sentences with frequent closure.

Avoid derived words ("isms," "ations").

Use metaphors and analogies to help the audience better understand your concepts.

Don't show the entire thought process, just the end points.

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