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Advice on writing an abstract for BritGrad

By Holly Ellis (BritGrad Co-Registrar 2024)

For many postgraduate students, BritGrad may be the first conference that you choose to present at. Therefore, this post aims to offer advice about abstract writing and the Call for Papers process.

What is an abstract? 

Try to think of your abstract like a mini introduction to an essay, chapter, or dissertation. Your abstract needs to give the reader a clear sense of your topic, key texts, themes and argument within the space of 200 words. You may also want to give the reader a sense of your methodology and what you aim to achieve through your research - what are you aiming to comment about or add to your subject? 

You should aim to write an abstract or proposal as if your paper or workshop already exists, so your abstract gives the reader a summary of your work. Ideally your abstract will present as the introduction to a paper you have already done the research for.  

Key things to consider including in your abstract:

Outline - what is your paper, workshop, seminar or panel about? 

Texts - what texts are the focus of your research?

Methodology - what critical framework are you using to approach your work? (For example, will you be using a historicist, feminist or psychoanalytical approach to a reading of one of your key texts?)

Context - what else has been written on your research topic? How does your research interact with existing scholarship? Are you filling a gap in the field?

Argument – what is the argument you are presenting within your paper, seminar or workshop? Are you offering a new approach to your research topic? Will you develop or dispute existing critical arguments? 

Questions – what questions will you ask or answer within your paper, seminar or workshop?

Conclusions – what conclusions are you expecting to draw?

Important things to remember: 

Scope – When writing your abstract, remember that BritGrad papers are only 20 minutes in length. Please do not propose a paper that you cannot present in full within the given time limit.  Similarly, please bear in mind that workshops and seminars will be no more than 60 minutes in length. We advise prospective delegates to propose sessions that offer detailed analysis of a particular aspect or section of their research, as opposed to a comprehensive summary of their dissertation or thesis.

Title – Remember to include a title when you submit your abstract or proposal. Pun-based titles are always very well received at BritGrad, but there is no pressure to include humour! You may wish to use your title to give a (very brief!) summary of your presentation topic.

Abstract Prize

There will be a prize for the best abstract, and the winner will be awarded £100! All successful abstracts will be considered for this prize. The committee will produce a shortlist of exceptional abstracts, and these will then be judged anonymously by academic staff at the Shakespeare Institute.

Submission Information:

The deadline for submissions is 5pm GMT on Thursday 28th March 2024.

To apply for BritGrad 2024, you must:

1) Complete the registration form, which can be found at the bottom of the 'Call for Papers' page on our website, and 

2) Submit an abstract or proposal via email to

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