Call for Submissions & Awards

Call for Submissions

Please make sure to read the following information in its entirety!

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 3 presentation disciplines are as follows: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Social Sciences/Humanities, and Visual and Performing Arts (includes Creative Writing). 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, 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. 
  • Complete the Online Submission Form. You may edit your submission (i.e. updates to abstract, data & authors) at any time prior to the submission deadline - January 21, 2020 at 5:00pm. Submissions are NOW CLOSED.  For those who have submitted, please watch your emails for further logistics on February 4th.
  • 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. In order to be eligible for a "Best of GradCon" Award, Visual & Performing Artists must complete the Presentation Set-Up Description section in the submission form.

Items to include in the Presentation Set-Up Description:

  • Description of work - what will be presented (i.e. planning on showing a PowerPoint or video, dancing, an art display, reading, etc.)
  • Dimensions of desired space - think of this description as how you would explain to a gallery or theater the intended area to "best present" your work
  • List all producers and/or contributors – make sure to include ALL presenters and any potential scheduling conflicts (this information will ensure that co-collaborating presentations are not scheduled at the same time) 

**Please note the conference will supply the presentation space in the ballroom (no stage), large TV, laptop, and seating for the audience.  Any further requirements will need to be provided by the presenter (i.e. display stands, microphone, speakers, musical equipment, etc.). Remember set ups should be fairly simple - there is only a 5 minute transition time between presentations. Please contact conference coordinator, Michelle Eckert with any additional questions or concerns.


**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

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. 

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
Friday, January 17th from Noon-1:00pm, Lommasson 272

Preparing to Present: GradCon Oral and Poster Presentation Workshop
Friday, February 14th from Noon-1:00pm, Lommasson 272

Practice your GradCon Presentation!
Wednesday, Feb. 26th and Thursday, Feb. 27th appointments will be available through the Writing and Public Speaking Center’s online scheduler.

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 
  • Poster Presentations - STEM & Social Sciences/Humanities
  • Performing & Visual Arts Presentations (includes Creative Writing)

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 4th 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 Tuesday, February 18th at 5:00pm.  If your video has not been uploaded by the deadline, 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.