Kshitij Tiwari Ph.D.

Demystifying conference manuscript preparation

13 min read

So, you have done a thorough literature review and have found a research question worth addressing. Now, it’s time to prepare a manuscript and submit it for possible publication, say at an upcoming conference.

Writing for conference manuscript and having it published at a top tier venue can be a great opportunity to share your research and ideas with a wider audience. It allows you to present your work at conferences, connect with other professionals in your field, and gain valuable feedback and insights. In this blog post, we will explore some tips and guidelines to help you write a successful conference publication.

Selecting the right conference venue

Choosing the appropriate conference venue is crucial for the success of your manuscript. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision:

  1. Relevance: Look for conferences aligned with your research field to ensure your work resonates with the audience.

  2. Scope and Size: Assess the conference’s scope and size to determine if it attracts experts and provides networking opportunities.

  3. Impact: Consider the reputation and impact of the conference in your field, as it can enhance the visibility and credibility of your research.

  4. Submission Guidelines: Review the conference’s submission guidelines to ensure your manuscript aligns with their requirements.

  5. Publication Opportunities: Investigate if the conference offers publication opportunities, such as proceedings or special journal issues.

  6. Location and Accessibility: Evaluate the conference’s location and accessibility to ensure it is feasible for you to attend.

  7. Timeline: Check the conference dates and ensure they align with your manuscript’s progress and submission timeline.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the right conference venue that maximizes the visibility and impact of your research. For instance, top robotics conference include IEEE IROS, IEEE ICRA, RSS, and then there are some a bit more specialized given your area of specialization within robotics.

Understanding manuscript preparation guidelines

To ensure your conference manuscript meets the required standards, it is essential to understand and follow the preparation guidelines provided by the conference organizers. Here are key points to consider:

  1. Structure and Formatting: Familiarize yourself with the required structure, such as abstract, introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion. Adhere to formatting guidelines for font, spacing, margins, and referencing style.

  2. Page Limit and Word Count: Pay attention to the specified page limit and word count for your manuscript. Trim unnecessary details and refine your writing to meet the requirements.

  3. Title and Abstract: Craft a concise and engaging title that accurately reflects your research. Write a clear and informative abstract that summarizes the key aspects of your study.

  4. Figures and Tables: Follow the guidelines for including figures, tables, and other visual aids. Ensure they are appropriately labeled, referenced, and contribute to the clarity of your manuscript.

  5. Citations and References: Use proper citation style and include a comprehensive list of references. Check if there are any specific citation guidelines provided by the conference.

  6. Language and Writing Style: Write in clear and concise language, ensuring your ideas are effectively communicated. Proofread your manuscript for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

  7. Ethical Considerations: Address ethical considerations, such as plagiarism and conflicts of interest. Clearly state any funding sources or potential conflicts in your manuscript.

By understanding and adhering to the manuscript preparation guidelines, you can present your research in a professional and organized manner, increasing the chances of acceptance and publication at the conference.

Often times, conference organizers typically provide ready to use templates both in LaTex and Word for authors to easily prepare their manuscript and most of the basic typesetting is already done in this case. I always prepare my manuscript using Overleaf (LaTex).

Structuring conference manuscript

Structuring your conference manuscript is a crucial step in preparing the manuscript for final submission to your chosen conference venue. Typically, I ask my mentees to split this into following two stages prior to the final rounds of proof reading and eventual submission:

Draft-0: Setting the Foundation

In the initial draft of your conference manuscript, known as Draft-0, focus on establishing a strong foundation for your research. Follow these steps:

  1. Craft a Relevant Working Title: Develop a concise and self-explanatory working title that highlights the problem you are addressing, any specific niche, and your novel contribution.

  2. Prepare a Rough Abstract: Create a preliminary abstract that succinctly explains the problem, the limitations of existing solutions, your proposed contributions, and placeholders for performance metrics. This can be expanded later during the final submission stages.

  3. Start Writing the Introduction: Begin drafting the Introduction section, which serves as a comprehensive overview encompassing the introduction, motivation, related works, limitations of existing approaches, and your proposed novel contributions. Log ideas as bullets to ensure all relevant arguments are included.

  4. Include a Visual Abstract: If applicable, include Figure 1 as a visual abstract in the Introduction section. This figure, along with the title and abstract, should serve as an elevator pitch, capturing the essence of your work and convincing readers and reviewers of its significance.

Draft-1: Refining Your Manuscript

Once Draft-0 is complete and approved by co-authors, it’s time to move to Draft-1. Focus on refining your manuscript with the following steps:

  1. Write the “Method” Section: Detail your novel contributions in the Method section, providing all relevant information about your approach. Begin brainstorming the experiments that will be conducted for empirical evaluation and the performance metrics to be used.

  2. Polish the Manuscript Content: From this stage onwards, write the manuscript as if it were final, avoiding random notes. This approach will help streamline the polishing process during the final submission.

By following this structured approach in drafting your conference manuscript, you can effectively communicate your research and increase its chances of acceptance and recognition in the academic community.

Presenting data and visuals

Effectively presenting data and visuals is crucial in a conference manuscript to convince peer reviewers and readers about the relevance of your contributions and claim to becoming the next state of the art. Follow these guidelines to structure your experiments and present your findings convincingly:

  1. Experiment Design: Clearly outline the experimental design, including the methodology, datasets used, and any preprocessing or sampling techniques employed. Ensure the experimental setup is robust and aligns with the research objectives.

  2. Data Collection and Processing: Describe the process of data collection and any preprocessing steps undertaken. Clearly specify the variables and measurements involved, providing sufficient details for reproducibility.

  3. Results Analysis: Present your results in a logical and organized manner. Use tables, charts, or graphs to summarize the data and highlight key findings. Ensure that your visualizations are clear, easy to interpret, and effectively communicate the main insights.

  4. Interpretation and Discussion: Analyze and interpret the results, linking them back to your research question and objectives. Discuss the implications of the findings and how they contribute to advancing the field. Address any limitations or unexpected results, providing possible explanations or future directions.

  5. Comparisons and State-of-the-Art: Compare your results with existing state-of-the-art methods or relevant benchmarks. Highlight the advantages and strengths of your approach, emphasizing the improvements or breakthroughs achieved. Use visual comparisons, such as performance curves or charts, to showcase the superiority of your proposed solution.

  6. Addressing Uncertainty and Robustness: Acknowledge and address uncertainties or variations in the experimental results. Discuss the robustness of your approach and present sensitivity analyses or additional experiments to demonstrate the reliability of your findings.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively structure your experiments, analyze the results, and present the data and visuals in a compelling manner. Remember to prioritize clarity, coherence, and relevance to maximize the impact of your conference manuscript.

Submission for peer review

Submitting your conference manuscript for peer review is a critical step towards publication. Follow these guidelines to ensure a smooth and successful submission process:

  1. Review the Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with the conference’s submission guidelines, including formatting requirements, page limits, and submission deadlines. Adhere to these guidelines meticulously to avoid any issues during the review process.

  2. Proofread and Edit: Thoroughly proofread your manuscript for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. Ensure the clarity and coherence of your writing, making it easy for reviewers to understand your research and findings. Consider seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors to refine your manuscript further.

  3. Cover Letter and Abstract: Write a concise and compelling cover letter highlighting the significance of your research, its novelty, and its alignment with the conference’s theme. Craft a well-structured abstract that succinctly summarizes your study’s objectives, methodology, key findings, and contributions.

  4. Select Appropriate Reviewers: Many conferences allow authors to suggest potential reviewers. Take advantage of this opportunity by recommending experts in your field who are knowledgeable about your research area. Choose individuals who have published relevant work or have expertise in the methodologies or theories you employ.

  5. Submission Platform: Follow the conference’s instructions to submit your manuscript through their designated platform. Prepare all required documents, such as the manuscript file, cover letter, and any supplementary materials, in the specified format (e.g., PDF or Word document).

  6. Peer Review Process: Once submitted, your manuscript will undergo a rigorous peer review process. Be prepared for constructive criticism and feedback from the reviewers. Address their comments and suggestions thoughtfully, revising your manuscript accordingly to strengthen your research and arguments.

  7. Revision and Resubmission: If your manuscript receives a revise-and-resubmit decision, carefully analyze the reviewers’ comments and revise your work accordingly. Clearly address each comment, explaining the changes made and providing justifications when necessary. Prepare a detailed response letter to accompany your revised manuscript.

  8. Ethical Considerations: Ensure that your research adheres to ethical guidelines and standards. Obtain any necessary permissions for data usage or human subjects’ research. Clearly mention any ethical considerations or potential conflicts of interest in your manuscript.

  9. Timely Responses: Throughout the review process, promptly respond to any communication from the conference organizers or reviewers. Be respectful and professional in your interactions, addressing any queries or concerns promptly and thoroughly.

  10. Celebrate Success or Learn from Rejections: Whether your manuscript is accepted or rejected, remember that the peer review process is an opportunity for growth and improvement. Celebrate the acceptance of your work and embrace the feedback from rejections as a chance to enhance your research and writing skills.

By following these guidelines, you can navigate the submission and peer review process effectively, increasing your chances of having your conference manuscript accepted and published.

Presenting findings at conference venue

Presenting your research findings at a conference is an exciting opportunity to share your work with fellow scholars and gain valuable feedback. Follow these tips to effectively present your findings and make a lasting impression:

  1. Prepare an Engaging Presentation: Create a visually appealing and well-organized presentation that highlights the key aspects of your research. Use clear and concise slides, incorporating visuals, charts, and graphs to illustrate your findings. Keep the text minimal and focus on delivering a compelling narrative.

  2. Know Your Audience: Understand the background and expertise of your conference audience. Adapt your presentation to suit their level of knowledge, avoiding excessive technical jargon or assuming too much prior understanding. Strive to strike a balance between providing necessary context and presenting the novel aspects of your research.

  3. Start with a Strong Introduction: Begin your presentation with a concise and attention-grabbing introduction. Clearly state the research problem, explain the significance of your study, and outline your research objectives. Engage the audience from the start, setting the stage for the rest of your presentation.

  4. Highlight the Methodology: Briefly describe the research methodology or experimental design used in your study. Emphasize the rigor and validity of your approach, ensuring that the audience understands the soundness of your methods. This builds confidence in your findings and contributes to the credibility of your research.

  5. Focus on Key Findings: Present the most important findings of your research in a structured and logical manner. Highlight the novelty and impact of your results, emphasizing how they contribute to the existing body of knowledge in your field. Use visuals and data to support your claims and make your findings more tangible and accessible to the audience.

  6. Discuss Implications and Significance: Go beyond presenting the results and discuss the broader implications and significance of your findings. Explain how your research advances the field, addresses existing challenges, or opens new avenues for future investigations. Connect your findings to real-world applications or potential benefits, demonstrating their relevance and value.

  7. Engage in Q&A and Discussion: Be prepared to answer questions from the audience during the question-and-answer session. Listen attentively, provide clear and concise responses, and engage in a respectful and constructive discussion. Be open to different perspectives and use this opportunity to gain insights and refine your research further.

  8. Practice and Rehearse: Practice your presentation multiple times to ensure smooth delivery and timing. Rehearse in front of colleagues or mentors to receive feedback and make necessary improvements. Consider recording yourself to evaluate your speaking style, body language, and overall presentation skills.

  9. Be Mindful of Time: Respect the allocated time slot for your presentation and adhere to it strictly. Plan your presentation accordingly, allowing sufficient time for introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Practice timing your presentation to ensure that you cover all essential points within the given time frame.

  10. Network and Seek Feedback: Take advantage of networking opportunities during the conference to connect with other researchers and scholars in your field. Engage in discussions, exchange ideas, and seek feedback on your research. These interactions can provide valuable insights, potential collaborations, and opportunities for further development of your work.

Key takeaways

Writing for conference publication is an opportunity to showcase your research and engage with professionals in your field. By carefully following the conference guidelines, structuring your paper effectively, and presenting your findings clearly, you can increase the chances of your paper being accepted and making a meaningful impact in your field of study. So, get started on your first draft and make the most of this exciting opportunity!

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