Conference information for students


Attending the NASSS Conference: Information for Grad Students

 Most information on this page was created and compiled by former graduate student representatives Emma Wensing and Michele Donnelly. It is currently edited by graduate student representatives Letisha Brown and Mark Norman. This page is meant to assist graduate students attending the NASSS conference.


Registration and Abstract Deadlines

The call for abstracts and registration deadlines are typically circulated on the NASSS listserve and posted on the NASSS website. The best way to stay informed of these deadlines is to make sure that your membership is current and that you are receiving listerve emails. Registration is for the calendar year (January-December) and must be renewed annually.


Submitting an Abstract

Check the deadline for conference abstracts on the NASSS website. The following are suggestions for abstract submissions:

  • Write an abstract that attracts people’s attention (and makes them want to attend your presentation), but, if necessary, keep it more general.
    Note: it is bad conference form to present a topic that is completely different from the abstract you submitted.
  • Browsing through the proposed sessions (available on the conference page of the website) may help you to decide what you want to present, especially if you are trying to choose between multiple topics.
  • Consider submitting your paper for the Barbara Brown Student Paper Award competition, and you could win your conference expenses. Details are available on the BBSPA page of the NASSS website.

Writing your abstract

  • Consult the directions for abstract requirements posted on the conference page of the NASSS website.
  • Stick to the word limit! All abstracts are printed in the conference program, and if you exceed the word limit, your abstract will be abbreviated (once it has reached the maximum number of words). So, get to the point!
  • Have other people read your abstract. They can help you make sure that your abstract is clearly written and accurately reflects your proposed topic.
  • Write a title that is brief and clear (no longer than 10 words). Cryptic/abstract titles might sound good, however, they make it difficult for people to know what you are going to talk about (and could deter them from attending your session).
  • Be sure that your title and abstract match (i.e., they clearly refer to the same topic).

Now you have to decide to which session (and session organizer) you want to submit your abstract. Often, you will be able to find a session that seems like a good fit (whether you are interested in nationalism, gender, media, etc.); however, sometimes this just is not the case. If you are unsure whether your paper will fit in a session, or are trying to decide between two sessions, contact the session organizer(s).

If your paper idea does not fit clearly into any of the proposed sessions, do not panic. You may still submit your abstract to the conference organizers, and it will be considered for an open topic session. Please be aware that the paper sessions listed on the web are guideposts, and do not constitute the final program.

Presenting at the Conference

A few tips about your presentation:

  • If you do not know your session moderator, try to find and meet them ahead of time during the conference.
  • Practice your presentation to ensure that you will finish within the time limit. Moderators will cut you off if you run over your allotted time. You will need to decide how to turn a lengthy paper into a 15 to 20 minute conference presentation (approximately ten double-spaced type written pages) – what will you be able to include, and what needs to be left out? Choose one or two main points that you can address effectively in a presentation.
  • If you are using Powerpoint or Prezi, check with your moderator ahead of time to make sure that your A/V needs will be covered. Typically sessions have a projector, but someone needs to supply a laptop. If you are using Prezi you will likely need to bring a laptop that can run it, as many laptops will be unable to do so.
  • Given the limited amount of time, make sure to focus your presentation on the key aspects of your paper. Remember, you are speaking to an audience of your peers. As a result, you may be able to spend less time explaining concepts or reviewing literature with which people will be familiar and focus more time on the major significance of your research. However, do not assume that everyone will possess the same knowledge as you – and if you are unable to explain a concept or issue in depth, be sure to invite questions about them. Doing a practice run with peers before the conference can be a great way to get feedback about which areas of your presentation you could reduce or elaborate.
  • If you do find yourself running low on time during your presentation, be sure to take the final few minutes so summarize your key points – make sure to get your message across before the presentation ends!

Grad Social

Each NASSS conference features a Grad Social, which typically takes place on the Thursday at a restaurant or pub near the conference hotel. Check your grad rep emails for updates or speak with one of the grad reps at the start of the conference for more details.

Grad Breakfast Meeting

 The Graduate Student Meeting takes place on Thursday morning of the conference. This is a great event at which to meet other grad students, hear updates from NASSS that are relevant to grad students, and participate in elections for the incoming Grad Rep. It is also a chance to enjoy a free breakfast!

If you would like to run for Grad Rep, you must attend this meeting. Grad Reps commit to serving a two-year term and attending each of the NASSS conferences during their tenure. If you plan to run for this position, please show up on time and ready to present a brief speech outlining your background and interest in the position.

 Grad Panel

Each year the Graduate Reps organize a panel sessions during the NASSS conference on a topic of interest to grad students. Typically the panel will be an interactive session that is focused on an aspect of professional development (publishing, find a post-doc, etc.) and that will feature a variety of experts in this area. Please check the Conference Program for more details about this year’s panel.

 Take a Student to Lunch

 One of the more popular events for graduate students during the conference,

Take a Student To Lunch is a great way to meet faculty members in an informal setting.  This event occurs on Friday during the conference.  Please utilize the new online form found here to TaSTL register for this event.