The Written Text

Although the conference paper is delivered orally, it is useful to have a summary version available as a hand-out during the talk. Handouts help listeners follow the presentation and grasp its overall structure. It may be helpful to reproduce copies of any of the key PowerPoint slides, but it is unwise just to present them all in reduced size. The handout needs to be readable, and much is lost if the spoken accompaniment to the slides is omitted. The hand-out should also contain the title of the talk, the speaker's name and institutional address, and the date and place of delivery. These are all useful features for listeners who might want to refer to it at a later date, or to write to the author to ask for an update or further information.

It is also helpful to have a full version of the paper available for distribution at the end of the talk and for later enquirers. Some authors these days do not provide actual copies of their papers at the conferences themselves, but let people know where they can be obtained. As one group of authors put it: 'The first author used to copy and pass out manuscripts at conferences, now she simply passes out a card indicating a www address where interested individuals can access the manuscripts via the Internet' (Murphy et al., 2003, p. 5).

No matter what the format, the conference paper should contain the same features described above for the hand-out. It is indeed remarkable that much of this information is often missing. Table 3.4.1 shows that, in one particular study of conference papers, only half of the papers stated where and when the paper had been delivered, and only half gave a sufficiently detailed contact

Table 3.4.1 Information provided (%) in a sample of 50 conference papers given at the American Educational Research Association's Annual Conference, 2004



Information on where the paper was delivered



Contact address in sufficient detail to send for a copy









Tables and/or figures






address. Furthermore, when these two features were combined, only twenty-five per cent of the papers had both of these pieces of information.

If you send for a conference paper today, you will find that what you receive may not be an actual copy of what was said at the conference, but rather a more detailed paper upon which the conference presentation was based (Hartley, 2004). What you receive may be a prepublication version of a journal submission or, indeed, a prepublication copy of a future book chapter. This reflects the fact that it is now normal practice for researchers to provide their latest findings on request.

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