The Radical's Tips for Giving a Good Paper

Kelly Baker

Since AAR is right around the corner, I thought I would link to a post by Tenured Radical on giving good academic papers. Her post is mainly directed at graduate students and those of us on the job market, but in her beautifully snarky way, she points out etiquette that I think is important for us all. Her number one is possibly the most significant. She blogs:

Never exceed your share of the time for more than a minute or two; indicate that you are aware when you have hit the time limit; and reassure your audience that you are wrapping it up. If you are on a panel or a conference roundtable, it is just rude to use other people's time: it shows a deep lack of awareness and consideration for the people with whom you are supposed to be working cooperatively. It also shows a lack of planning. Importantly, it leaves less time for questions, which is often where a panel can get really fun for most of the people in the room -- your audience. It also helps you shine, Miss Graduate Student On The Market. Many people can competently present their own research, but fewer people can relate their own work to someone else's when put on the spot.

She points out one of the biggest problems for most academics: our inability to quit discussing topics of our own interest. My relatives no longer ask me what I work on for fear of a long-winded (and absolutely stimulating) lecture about the nuances and complexities of the 1920s Klan. Perhaps, the Radical’s advice applies to more than an upcoming conference.


John Fea said…
I second Kelly's recommendation of Tenured Radical's tips on presenting papers. I also strongly recommend Linda Kerber's piece on the same subject. (Tenured Radical links to this piece at the end of her post).

Kerber helped me to correct my bad habit of using my fingers to make quotation marks whenever I wanted to read an excerpt from/quote from one of my sources during a presentation.