Call for Submissions & Awards

Call for Submissions

Please make sure to read the following information in its entirety as there are NEW changes to this year's overall format!

Graduate student presentations may include a portion of a thesis or dissertation or a successful seminar. The conference welcomes the presentation of talks or posters previously presented elsewhere. To address the interdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary goals of this conference, each poster or oral presentation must include the following brief introductory components (abstract) directed toward helping those outside the discipline understand the work.

  • An overview of the topic’s significance within the discipline (discipline-specific context)
  • A brief discussion of the research methodology or approach to the topic
  • A statement of the topic’s relevance or interest outside of the discipline.

This general introduction should be followed by a discipline-specific presentation, with modest adjustments in terminology, focus, or other to include a broad audience. Each abstract should include an introductory paragraph addressing each of the three points noted above. 

The 5 presentation disciplines are as follows: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Social Sciences, Humanities, and Visual and Performing Arts.  You will be asked during the submission process to choose which category your work should be presented in. 

IMPORTANT - For additional information on printing/uploading posters, presentations format, and set-up for GradCon on Friday, February 22nd, please visit the Day of Presentation page.

GradCon attracts a general audience composed of students and faculty in all disciplines. Your intentions must be communicated in a manner that is intelligible to all audience members.

Submission Process

  • Submissions may be made for an oral, poster, or visual & performing art presentation.
  • To apply, all applicants must have their faculty research mentor review and approve their abstract prior to submission. Click HERE for the Abstract/Personal Statement Rubric 
  • Complete the Online Submission Form (Is now CLOSED). You may edit your submission (i.e. updates to abstract, data & authors) at any time prior to the submission deadline on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 5:00pm - Extended to Tuesday, January 22nd at Noon!
  • Abstracts (circa 500 words) must include the following elements (as applicable to your field): Your abstract/artist statement must be specific to this presentation. It should be revised to reflect your most recent work on the project.  See Sample Abstracts
    • Title – Describe your topic in language that is intelligible to a general audience.
    • Purpose – State your main thesis or rationale.
    • Methods – How did you carry out this project?
    • Originality – What is new about this approach?
    • Significance – Explain the contribution of this project to your field and/or to society.

Visual & Performing Arts
GradCon is excited to feature Visual & Performing Arts Sessions during the conference.  All graduate students are invited to submit a visual entry (sculpture, painting, etc.) or performance (dancing, playing instrument, reading, etc.) no more than 15 minutes total (12 minutes for presentation & 3 minutes allotted for questions).  A submitted artist statement will serve in lieu of an abstract to be considered as a presenter.  All submissions (including artist statements) are to be made through the "Submit Abstract" button above. In order to be eligible for a "Best of GradCon" Award, a Presentation Set-Up Description must be included when submitting the abstract. 

Items to include in the Set-Up Description:

  • Title & Medium
  • Dimensions of work in inches or intended presentation - think of this description as how you would explain to a gallery or theater the intended design to "best display" your work
  • Description of work and all producers and/or contributors

**Important - Please read!
The presentation types are the following 3 categories: 15 minute Oral Presentations, 15 minute Visual & Performing Arts Presentations, followed by Poster Presentations. (See Day of Schedule

There is a limited number of presentation spaces for each of these categories, please sign up early!  Once the slots are filled the selection will no longer exist and another choice must be made should you wish to present at GradCon. 

It is also mandated by the committee that you be available for a 1 hour block as your scheduled time (even though presentations are slotted for 15 minutes). This will ensure that all speakers will be presenting to an audience.  All efforts will be made to group together similar subject matter in the designated blocks. 

Due to the overwhelming response, the GradCon submissions deadline was extended to Tuesday, January 22nd at Noon.  Submissions for GradCon is NOW CLOSED.  Thanks to all those who submitted!  Please be on the lookout for an email on February 1st with addtional information. 

Available Assistance Workshops

If you would like to have additional assistance in prepping your presentation or would like to practice with feedback, the Writing and Public Speaking Center is offering the following workshops:

Hands-on Abstract Writing Assistance Workshop
Wednesday, January 16th at 4pm in Lommasson Center, room 272. Click here for a printable flyer.

Preparing to Present: GradCon Oral and Poster Presentation Workshop
Tuesday February 12th, 3 - 4pm. Lommasson 272 (Please RSVP to Gretchen McCaffrey)

Practice your GradCon Presentation!
Sign up for an individual practice and feedback session
Wednesday, February 20th and Thursday, February 21st – All Day
To sign up, go to the Writing and Public Speaking Center online schedule:

Please email Gretchen McCaffrey with any questions.

Award Eligibility & Judging

Best of GradCon Awards - The Research and Creative Scholarship Fund (RCSF) will be offering cash awards for those chosen as the "Best of" in the following categories: 

  • Oral Presentations - STEM, Social Sciences, Humanities 
  • Performing & Visual Arts Presentations
  • Poster Presentations - All Categories

Personal Statement
Explain the importance of your work. Why should it be considered for a "Best of GradCon" award?  What is the value of your work?  That value could include value to yourself as an individual, to the University of Montana, to our community, or more broadly - to humanity. It is an opportunity to talk about your work outside the constraints of an abstract and lead the judging panel to want to hear more about this opportunity.  See Judging Rubric link listed below.

For students who self-selected into consideration for a "Best of GradCon" awards, your abstract/artist statement & personal statement (both circa 500 words) will be collected in the submission process and sent to the judges. **Visual & Performing Arts submissions must also include a Presentation Set-Up Description to be eligible for an award.  Judges will pick the “Top” submissions in the listed categories. This is considered to be Round 1 of the judging.  Your submission should compel the judges to want to see more.   Abstract/Personal Statement Rubric.

Round 2
– You will be notified on February 1st by email if you have been requested to move to the 2nd round of judging. 

The next step for Round 2 will include uploading a video submission to a specified UM Box account by the Friday, February 15th deadline.  If your video has not been uploaded by 5:00pm, your submission will automatically be disqualified. Videos should be no more than 12-15 minutes in length, this includes poster presentations.  Tailoring the presentation to a general audience is one of the most important factors in obtaining a “Best of GradCon” Award.  So, take the time to get it right.  This is excellent opportunity to introduce yourself and to explain the importance of your project.  Presentations will judged based on the Presentation Rubric.

Students may use their own video recording system OR can access the free, One Button or the Lightboard Studios located in the Mansfield Library.  These studios have been designed as an intuitive & easy way to create video content.  Reservations to reserve the room must be made prior to your arrival (click on above links for more details).  **Please note - Be MINDFUL of your time in the studio! Reservations should be for no more than 1/2 hour, especially around the deadline date.  Presentation Practice Sessions will be also be available through the writing center should you want to practice prior to recording.  Make sure to bring a (larger gig) USB drive to save & upload to the specified UM Box.

Judges will deliberate and awardees will be announced (ONLY) at the GradCon Award & Poster Session 5:00-6:30 pm.  You'll want to be present during this exciting moment or have a representative available to accept your "Best of GradCon" award should you not be able to attend.

**Note – You may also want to upload your final presentation (or poster) into the UM Repository for archiving to the Conference (see Scholarworks page for more info).

For more information on the "Day of Logistics" please CLICK HERE or visit the Day of Presentations page.