Top Tips: How to write a Great Conference Review

A conference review is a critical response to a conference by an attendee or delegate. Essentially it is similar to a book review and should involve a summary of the aims, audience, limitations and strengths of the event in question.

It should offer a synthesised summary of the panels, highlighting the representative themes and the more surprising contributions, a paragraph summary of keynote address(es), and the questions it provokes during and after the conference.

The review should be both informative and critical, with the reviewer’s own knowledge of the area crucial for contextualising and extending featured debates.

A Few Tips:

  • Anchoring the review around the keynote address(es) may help bring out the aims of the conference and central debates.
  • In describing panels, synthesize recurring themes to offer representative summaries and reference particularly vivid topics to show diversity. We are as interested in the surprising contributions as we are in the representative.
  • Imagine the reader already has a copy of the programme to hand when writing up your panel sections, so try to avoid a one-sentence synopsis of each paper.
  • Ideally, we want a review to emphasise thoughts, queries and critical problems discussed in question and answer sessions – Q&A > panel summary.
  • Take note of key critical texts, events, images and videos to reference in post so you can anchor any abstract ideas. Please provide three images or equivalent if possible.
  • Follow online discussions (twitter, hashtags) and reference other reviews that may have appeared. Incorporate some relevant tweets.

Some questions to think about:

  • What larger questions did the conference provoke for you? Did it provoke any state of the field, or state of the sub-field, reflections?
  • How well were your interests or discipline represented?
  • Were there any limitations to the programme and scope of the conference? Likewise, did this conference pull off something new and unusual that might be worth noting for future conference organisers?

The review should not go beyond 1,200 words, with the recommended word count being 700 to 1,000 words.

Last, but by no means least…

A conference review should be enjoyed both by the reviewer and the reader. This is the reviewer’s time to offer their opinion on a conference and draw parallels to concepts in their own research.

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For all queries and submissions, contact the editors at usso@baas.ac.uk

 

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