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Writing an Abstract for BritGrad

Updated: May 7

By Sarah Hodgson (BritGrad 2022 Registrar)

Since BritGrad is often the first academic conference that many postgraduate students choose to attend, this blog post aims to offer advice to prospective delegates and to demystify the Call for Papers process.

What exactly is an abstract?

An abstract is a concise summary of the research paper that you are proposing to present at the conference. It is designed to give a general outline of the subject matter that you are proposing to address in your paper. A BritGrad abstract should be no more than 200 words.

What should I include in an abstract?

Writing an abstract is a difficult task. Whether you have already written your paper and are struggling to summarise it in 200 words, or whether you are still formulating your ideas and are yet to put words on a page, here are some tips and key points to think about when writing your abstract:

· Outline – What is the general subject matter of your research paper?

· Texts – What are the key texts that you will be discussing in your presentation?

· Methodology – How are you approaching your topic and key texts? Will your paper adopt a specific critical approach (e.g., a feminist or psychoanalytical reading of a particular text)?

· Context – Are you demonstrating an awareness of existing studies relating to your paper’s subject matter? 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 line of argument that you are presenting in your paper? Are you offering a new approach to your research topic? Will your paper develop or dispute existing critical arguments?

· Questions – What questions will you ask or answer in your research paper?

· Conclusions – What conclusions are you expecting to draw?

These bullet points are by no means an exhaustive list and there may be other factors that you wish to consider when drafting a summary for your paper. Likewise, you do not have to address all of the questions listed above in your BritGrad proposal, the list is merely designed to give you some pointers to help you to get started with writing your abstract!

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.

· Title – Remember to include a title when you submit your paper. 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.

· Keywords – This year we are asking prospective delegates to submit up to five keywords at the end of their abstracts. Don’t worry, this is in addition to your 200 words! The keywords will help the committee to group research papers thematically into panels. The papers in each panel will complement one another, allowing you to increase your connections with researchers in your field.

Abstract Prize

There will be a prize for the best abstract, and the winner with 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

Once you have written your abstract, please submit it to Sarah Hodgson, our Registrar for the 2022 conference, at Please do not submit your abstract without also submitting the availability form which can be found here.

With your abstract, you may also wish to submit a short bio containing information such as the subject that you study, your year of study and the institution where you are undertaking your research. This is not a submission requirement, but you may wish to include this information within the body of your email when you submit your abstract.

Please submit your abstract as an attachment, as opposed to pasting the text into the body of your submission email.

If you have any queries in relation to writing or submitting an abstract for BritGrad, please do not hesitate to contact

The Twenty-Fourth British Graduate Shakespeare Conference Call for Papers will close at 5pm on Thursday 31st March 2022, please ensure you submit your abstract and availability form before this deadline.

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