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Publishing Conference Presentations

Writer(s): 
Charles Moore, Concordia University

Presentations and the Potential for Publication

For TESOL instructors looking to begin their writing career, giving a presentation at a conference and subsequently publishing the content of the presentation in a journal or conference proceedings is a brilliant way to begin. As is well known within the circle of educators in Japan, publishing one’s work is an essential part of career development and one that cannot be ignored for long (Beaufait, Daly, Edwards, Moore, & Ockert 2015; Beaufait, Edwards, & Muller, 2014). Japanese universities value having their teachers accomplished in carrying out and publishing research (MEXT, 2009), and this includes those that teach English as a second language. The good news is that presenting at a conference is not a very difficult hurdle to overcome. Within Japan, both the JALT International Conference and the JALT PanSIG Conference offer the yearly opportunity to submit presentation proposals, and the additional opportunity to publish your presentation in their post-conference proceedings publication as well. 

Besides the fact that you can publish your work post-conference, giving presentations in itself has several key benefits for one’s career that would be wise to remember. A post from the APA Science Student Council lists some benefits of making presentations that are also applicable to those in the language acquisition and TESOL fields. Benefits listed include: “Contribute to and learn about the most recent advances in YOUR field”, “Learn how to talk about your data”, “Contribute to your overall research profile”, and “Meet other researchers in your field and potential contacts for future positions” (Dunn, 2007). Notice that the reasons listed can both enhance one’s resume and bring personal growth as an educator. If we only rely on a few methods to develop professionally, such as our personal reading intake or sharing ideas between peers, this can consequently stunt our growth as teachers. Pettis (2002) says about development as a teacher, that “Employers and professional organizations may support our pursuit of professional development by funding us to the occasional conference or organizing a workshop, but as educators we must make a personal commitment to our own ongoing professional growth” (p. 395). Giving presentations brings growth to us as educators regardless of whether we publish their content or not. That being said, publishing is a highly desired goal, and the theme of this article, so let us move on to how to transform our presentation into a workable manuscript that can be submitted for publication.

From Presentation to Manuscript

There are different styles of conference presentations, but the most common is the paper or research presentation that revolves around a monologue towards the audience featuring PowerPoint slides or another type of visual aid (Lehman, n.d.). A good beginning to transforming your presentation to a written format is to first find the thesis statement of your presentation, as it is going to be the pivotal idea which the arguments of your paper will hinge upon (Edwards & Moore, 2015). Once your thesis statement is put into writing, then your methods, description of study, ideas for future research regarding your topic, and the other components of the outline can follow suit. For your speaking presentation, you may have organized the flow of your content by speaking points, but this will need a more organized structure for your paper. For another reference dealing with formatting an outline, please see Ockert’s (2015) “Making a working outline: The basic organization of a paper” for an alternate and more detailed example of a manuscript outline.

Figure 1 also shows an example of the possible organizational change that is necessary when transforming a presentation into a manuscript. This is based on a prior structure given in Edwards and Moore’s (2015) article on constructing a thesis statement. Following a format such as this one will help create a paper with a structure that should align well with journal submission guidelines.

A Word on Content

The next step will be inserting the content of your presentation into the outline you created. If your presentation was information rich, you might have to adjust your writing to be very dense and concise in order to meet word limits. Another problem that writers can encounter is finding they actually need to add more research or define their content more: 

Because of time constraints, oral presentations usually cover only a fragment of the information associated with a research study or program development description. Journal articles based on oral presentations frequently must be expanded and reorganized to cover their topics more thoroughly. (MLA Publications, n.d.)

Lastly, remember to keep the theme of your paper consistent and clear; remember, more than just presenting the facts through your writing, you need to present an intriguing and well laid out argument to the reader. (Drake & Sneider, 2011). When your peers read your paper, they will probably only remember the problem and solution presented in your writing. Everything else is there to support those central ideas.

Conclusion

Presenting is an excellent opportunity for those aspiring to develop themselves and break into the field of publishing their work. If you do not have the confidence to begin to write an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, an alternative initial step is signing up to make a presentation at a conference in your area. If that conference also publishes a proceedings afterwards, that could be a chance to begin your writing career. Schrager (2010) suggests that the reason why some people who make presentations at conferences do not follow through in publishing their work is because they “may not have the tools (knowledge, academic support, time) to take their presentation through the process of publication” (p. 268). If this is the case, please consider using peer support for feedback and guidance, such as a more experienced colleague at work. The JALT Writers’ Peer Support Group is also always available if you need help vetting your own writing, so please contact them if you need support! And lastly, always remember that publishing work takes time. Many writers spend a great deal of time and effort on one paper before it is finally accepted for publication (Drake & Sneider, 2011). So remain tenacious and keep writing!

References

  • Beaufait, P., Daly, C., Edwards, L., Moore, C., & Ockert, D. (2015). Introduction to the Writers’ Workshop! The Language Teacher, 39(3), 43-47. 
  • Beaufait, P., Edwards, L., & Muller, T. (2014). Writing for academic publication: Participation and collaboration. In R. Chartrand, G. Brooks, M. Porter, and M. Grogan (Eds.), The 2013 Pan-SIG Conference Proceedings, pp. 339-346. Retrieved from <http://www.pansig. org/2013/2013PanSIGProceedings.pdf> 
  • Drake, L., & Sneider, L. (2011). Turning a seminar or conference paper into a publishable article [PDF document]. Working With Writers Symposium. Retrieved from <http://www.unm.edu/~wac/events/GRC_Publishing.pdf> 
  • Dunn, K. (2007, November). Why it’s important for you to present your data at scientific conferences. Psychological Science Agenda. Retrieved from <http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2007/11/student-council-1.aspx> 
  • Edwards, L., & Moore, C. (2015). “Defining the argument”: Developing thesis statements. The Language Teacher, 39(5), 35-37. 
  • Lehman, J. D. (n.d.). Tips for successful conference presentations [PDF document]. Purdue University. Retrieved from <http://www.edci.purdue.edu/lehman/edci59100/Conference_Presentation_Tips.pdf>
  • MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology). (2009). Quality assurance framework of higher education in Japan. Tokyo: MEXT. Retrieved from http://www.mext.go.jp/english/highered/1307524.htm
  • MLA Publications. (n.d.). How to convert an oral presentation to a manuscript. Retrieved from <https://mla.socious.com/p/cm/ld/fid=283>
  • Ockert, D. (2015). Making a working outline: The basic organization of a paper. The Language Teacher, 39(4), 36-40.
  • Pettis, J. (2002). Developing our professional competence: Some reflections. In Renandya, W. A., & Richards, J. C. (Eds.), Methodology in Language Teaching (pp. 394-396). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schrager, S. (2010). Transforming your presentation into a publication. Family medicine, 42(4), 268-272. Retrieved from <https://www.stfm.org/fmhub/fm2010/April/Sarina268.pdf>
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