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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

Call for abstracts and recruiting judges

When you have a date for the conference and the event branding, including the website (optional), is ready, it is time to ‘call for abstracts’.

This chapter includes information on how to create a registration form, email templates for registration and abstract submission, and the recruitment of judges for the event day (optional).

See Chapter 3 for the ‘Save the date’ email and Chapter 9 for both the selection of abstracts for posters/talks and criteria for the judges.

You can create an online form for registration and abstract submission (for instance, Google or Microsoft Forms). This allows you to download an overview of all responses in an excel document (.csv files can be opened in excel).

Registration of all attendees, not only (potential) presenters, is important for ordering catering and to make sure that you do not exceed the room capacity (although keep in mind that not everyone might attend the whole day or turn up at all, or in contrast, unregistered visitors might come along).

Below an example of a registration form of a hybrid postgraduate conference:

Section 1:

General information

  • Full name
  • Email
  • Department
  • At which campus are you studying?
    • Streatham
    • Penryn
    • St Luke’s
  • Level of study
    • Masters
    • PhD 1st year
    • PhD 2nd year
    • PhD 3rd year
    • PhD 4th year
    • Staff
    • Other: ….
  • Your supervisor’s name (optional)
  • Please select your participation (this can be in-person or online)
    • Attendance only
    • Poster (A0 or A1 size, Portrait)
    • Talk (Insert time + Insert time of questions)
    • Poster & talk

Section 2:

Talk/poster submission

  • How do you wish to present at the conference?
    • In person (Streatham campus)
    • Virtual (online)
  • Abstract submission
    • I will submit my abstract today
    • I will email my abstract to Insert email address by Insert date
  • Title of talk/poster (Maximum Insert word count)
  • Abstract: Please limit your abstract to Insert word count for a poster, Insert word count or less for a talk. Please include 5-6 keywords below the abstract.

Section 3:

Mode of attending the conference

  • How do you wish to attend the conference?
    • In person (Streatham campus)
    • Virtual (online)

Section 4:

Dietary Requirements

  • Please select dietary requirements:
  • No dietary restriction
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten free
  • Other: …

You can make separate sections in the form, which will present as different pages for the registrant. In this way you can select to which section the registrant automatically should go based on their given answer. For instance, in the image below someone who selects ‘Attendance only’ would not have to fill out the ‘Talk/poster’ section for submitting an abstract.

If you are planning to take pictures during the conference and want to share them, for instance on social media (Chapter 5), you could ask all registrants for consent in the registration form.

Now it is time to distribute the registration/abstract submission form you have created. Email the link to the online form to everyone who is eligible to participate. If you have a website, don’t forget to add the registration form here, as this is the first place people go to for information on your conference.

In your email, be clear who can register for the conference (eg all academic staff within the faculty/department) and who can apply for a presentation (eg only postgraduate students). Additionally, communicate whether the event is a poster only, talk only, or poster and talk conference.

Decide on a registration/abstract submission deadline that gives you enough time to select abstracts and gives the selected presenters enough preparation time after they are informed. For instance, plan 1.5 weeks for abstract selection after the extended registration deadline and inform the selected speakers 2 weeks before the event date.

Email template:

“Dear All,

We are excited to announce that the registration is now open for Insert name conference!

What:  Insert name conference
When: Insert date
Where: Insert room

Insert name conference is a great opportunity to showcase your research to Insert audience, spark ideas and collaborations. Bring a poster, present a talk, or just come along and listen!

Please register at the Insert website. / Please follow this Insert link to register for the event. Here, postgraduate students are also invited to submit an abstract for a talk and/or poster presentation. Your poster/talk doesn’t have to be results orientated. You can submit your abstract in the form OR register and submit it later via email to Insert email address.

Poster abstracts should be no more than Insert word count

Talk abstracts should be no more than Insert word count

Deadline: Please register & submit your abstract before Insert date

We hope to see you there!

Organising Committee”

Send a reminder email 1.5 weeks before the registration deadline by adjusting the previous email. If your conference is a faculty broad event and you notice that there are less applications from a certain department, you could send this Department additional (tailored) reminders.

Email template:

“Dear All,

Here’s a friendly reminder that Insert name conference registration is still open! Thank you to those who have already registered. If you have not yet registered for Insert name conference, now is your chance to secure a place at this friendly academic conference. Register today to ensure that you don’t miss out on our series of exciting keynote talks, engaging presentations, and valuable opportunities to meet and network with other researchers within Insert faculty/department.


If the registration deadline is approaching, but there is space for more participants/presenters, you can extend the deadline by 1 week. Send this email 2-5 days before the initial registration deadline.

Email template:

“Dear All,

We are extending the registration deadline for Insert name conference until Insert date! You can register now and then submit your abstract later (until the deadline). This conference is free! Why not register today so that you don’t miss out on our series of exciting keynote talks, engaging presentations and valuable opportunities to meet and network with other researchers within CLES.


See Chapter 9 for the selection of abstracts for posters/talks.

Poster and/or talk prizes can be very rewarding and boost someone’s CV. If you decide to award prizes, you need to think about judges. Judges can be recruited within the research community. For instance, post-docs could judge the poster/oral presentations of postgraduate students.

Email template:

“Dear all,

We’re writing to you as post-docs in Insert faculty/department, hoping that some of you might be willing to spare a few hours of your time to help the PGR community within our faculty/department.

Insert name conference is happening Insert date and can be attended in-person as well as online. As part of this, we need help in judging posters and talks (spread between 4 sessions).

The amount of time you donate can be completely up to you. You will be provided a sheet with judging criteria. If you join us in-person, you will be provided refreshments and lunch.

If you would like to volunteer for talks, we ask that you commit to judge at least 2 full sessions (morning or afternoon), and it would be preferred if you could attend in-person.

For posters, the workload will be spread between all the judges, but ideally you will not have to mark more than 4 posters. Marking can be done at any time (in-person and online), but we’d highly encourage you to interact with the presenters to better experience their poster (in-person or via a chat box on the online platform).

We are including the tentative schedule below so that you can decide on the level of time commitment you could offer.

This should be a simple but rewarding job, with the exciting opportunity to learn about research happening not just in your Department, but across the entire college.

Please do reach out to us at Insert email address if you have any questions at all regarding judging.

You can register Insert link as judge if you are interested in helping out.

Many thanks in advance,

Organising Committee


Tentative schedule:


Allocate at least 2 judges per poster/talk. If the conference is within the faculty, try to have a judge from a different department than the presenter, as the presentation should be understandable for all attendees.

See Chapter 9 for criteria to judge poster/oral presentations.

Keynote speakers are an important way of building support and knowledge exchange within and across the University.  They provide an opportunity for scholars to engage with topics that they might otherwise not be exposed to, either drilling down into the specifics of a topic or engaging attendees with the less known details of life in the subject area.  Keynote speakers can discuss the specifics of their research, uncover some interesting insights in the academic or industrial world or if you are very adventurous, you might even propose a question or theme that you ask them to address in their talk.  For example: What is one thing you would tell your younger self? or What is one thing that you wished more people knew about your subject field?


You are welcome to select keynote speakers in a similar way to the recruitment of conference speakers.  However, we would recommend that you consider contacting potential keynote speakers personally.  Furthermore, if you can accommodate more than one keynote speaker in your programme, it is worth contacting selected experts across a range of departments/faculties/organisations.  To create an inclusive and diverse representation of speakers, do keep in mind the demographic representation of your speakers; think about gender, ethics, neurodiversity, disabilities etc.

Email template:

“Dear Insert name – Hope this finds you well.

I am on the committee for the Insert conference name this year.  The conference is due to take place on Insert conference date and I have been tasked with securing a keynote speaker from the Insert department/faculty name.  Given your expertise in the area of Insert field, would you be available to take our keynote speaker slot for Insert department?

We have four sessions running on the day (two morning and two afternoon) but you would only have to present your talk in one of them.  Talks should be around 15mins with ~5mins for Q&As.

If you could contribute, could you let me know and I will send you more details.

Also, if you have any more questions in the meantime, please do reach out to me at Insert email address!

Best wishes

Insert name”

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