The guidance in this section has been designed to support participants in how to prepare and structure their Stage One submission of either 400 words or a two minute video. Please note the Academic Review Board (ARB) do not want to limit participant’s submissions to a fixed structure and they encourage participants to take other creative approaches that deliver compelling arguments.
Don’t let form of submission dictate substance be sure that you have included a well-structured argument that showcases the key merits of your ideas.
For video submissions, be sure to combine spoken content with visuals (foreground or background) a well created visual can convey significant messages.
Before you start sketch out at least three scenarios which characterize how the political orders could look like, be sure to understand what are the key drivers of each scenario.
Think hard about which of these scenarios are most likely and why.
Submissions will benefit from a compelling introduction which highlights the significance of this issue.
Be sure to leave enough text/time to describe the key elements of your scenarios. Make sure each is presented in a differentiated fashion.
A concluding section might explain why these two scenarios should be taken seriously and the differences in the implications of each scenario.
Do not underestimate how much time will be required to get such a short submission to your desired standard, often, it is harder to decide what to leave out than what to include.
Stage 1 Evaluation Criteria
The following criteria are used to evaluate Stage 1 submissions. The criteria are listed in no particular order of importance:
• Relevance – Direct relevance to the question asked.
• Coherence – Coherence of the sequence of material presented.
• Presentation of multiple-step arguments – Easy-to-follow presentation of multiple-step arguments.
• Sophistication – Sophistication of argument appropriate for matter being discussed.
• Convincing and Original – The answer is compelling and introduces novel arguments or conclusions of argument.
• Marshalling of evidence – Identification and credibility of supporting evidence.
• Succinctness – Video submissions should not last longer than 2 minutes, extended abstracts no longer than 1 (max. 400 words) page, use the time/space wisely.
• Creativity – think about your submission given the time/space limitations how can the submission be differentiated.
Make sure your submission does not fail any one of these eight criteria.
SOME ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS THAT MIGHT IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF YOUR SUBMISSION
1. Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare your submission as it will no doubt conflict with other important priorities.
2. It is often better to compose a submission over a number of sittings. Most submissions benefit from having time to reflect on whether each and every sentence is necessary and, if so, could be better formulated.
3. There is no need to address your submission to a particular person, persons, or institution.
4. Do not think there is necessarily a single, correct answer to a question.
5. Where appropriate, use the submission as an opportunity to show what tools and skills you have learned at your university or in your professional career.
6. Acknowledging caveats and counter-arguments need not be a sign of weakness, indeed, if skilfully employed, they can add to the credibility of the submission by not appearing to claim “too much” for the argument(s) being advanced.
7. Get used to presenting sophisticated, multi-step arguments, often as separate points. There should be precise exposition within each point, showing mastery of terms, appreciation of the facts, and a critical perspective.
8. Be sure to include succinct, clear explanations of those terms absolutely necessary to understand an argument. Avoid irrelevant or superfluous ideas and concepts.
9. Make sure your submission has informative introductory and concluding statements, that leave the audience in no doubt as to the nature of the subject matter discussed, its importance, and the final arguments or implications that you have drawn.
10. For written submissions: once you have drafted your text, read it out loud, ideally in front of a loved one or someone you are not too embarrassed to read in front of! Logical flaws are somehow easier to spot when spoken, and grammatical errors become too. Correct the text and reread it before submitting it.
11. For videos: once you have prepared your video submission, review the content and re-rehearse and record it at least once before submitting it. Be sure to watch your final version at least once before submitting.
12. Please ensure your audio and video quality is high enough to allow review.
13. To maximize the likelihood of being understood, please add subtitles to your video.
PREPARING A VIDEO SUBMISSION
Well designed and executed video presentations allow analysts to make a compelling case in a visually attractive manner that keeps the attention of watchers sometimes more than readers of written reports.
With a video presentation, the spoken word can be combined with text and diagrams over time, making it possible to make a sophisticated, multiple-step argument that demonstrates excellent technical knowledge, originality, and presentational skills. Video presentations, therefore, are a superb vehicle to demonstrate thought leadership in an era where the audience wants to learn a lot as quickly as possible.
The fact that video presentations have so many dimensions—spoken word, visual images (not just PowerPoint text), and time—means that a premium is placed on planning a presentation carefully.
The image-by-image or slide-by-slide nature of video presentations easily exposes logical deficiencies, false inferences, and exaggerated conclusions. No amount of flashy imagery will cover up for poor content, so make sure the underlying material, frameworks, and their applications are well understood.
A video presentation does not have to be long to cover a lot of ground. Many viewers absorb ideas from videos faster than they read, so a presentation may require far fewer words than a written essay. The rich informational content of video presentations also means that typically they cannot be too long as the attention span of many viewers is limited.
A good starting point is to sketch out step-by-step the argument to be made, break the story being told into logical steps. Then, for each step the associated visual images should be identified. It is quite possible that in making one step in the argument several visual images that build upon each other are used. Indeed, viewers tend to lose concentration if they listen for too long without seeing movement on the screen in front of them.
Before starting to plan a presentation it is often useful to watch some better practice, short video presentations. Doing so will stimulate creativity.