We are pleased to announce the 2019 Salford Postgraduate Annual Researcher Conference (SPARC) to be held at MediaCityUK, 3 - 4 July 2019.

With a unique focus on innovation and the Salford five research beacons, the event brings together leading postgraduate research, provides an opportunity to develop the presentation of your research and communicate this to both specialist audiences and the general public. The program includes a mix of engaging presentations, workshop formats to fast-paced Pecha Kucha talks and showcases.

This year the conference theme is 'Fake News and Home Truths', and submissions that tackle this very current issue are encouraged. 

Abstracts from all session types will be published in the SPARC Book of Abstracts, and you can view previous SPARC publications via USIR.

The call for papers is now open!

The deadline for final submissions is 29th March 2019.


Long Format Sessions

Researcher Showcase Symposia. A 60-minute session including 7/8 participants (one from each School or research centre, open to University of Salford PGRs only). These sessions will be held in the main plenary and represent the highest quality research taking place across Salford. The presentations will be selected based on the Abstract submission.

Workshops. A 20-minute interactive session where organizers engage participants in a hands-on learning activity or the framing and analysis of a problem or concept. Workshops are highly participatory. Make things, build things, test things —the sky’s the limit! Workshops must be a collaborative and delivered by two or more researchers, working together across disciplines to be eligible.

Short Format Sessions

Ignite Talks. Highly engaging, punchy 5-minute talks designed to engage the audience with your research. The ignite talks will be part of the research beacon themes and will run as a series of 5 talks and panel session delivered Pecha Kucha style (5 slides in 5 minutes).

3 Minute Thesis. SPARC hosts the annual 3 Minute Thesis Final. Contact your School PGR Director to enter your school heat: the two best presentations from each school will be entered into the SPARC final. You can find more information about the 3 Minute Thesis rules on the Vitae website.

Hall of Failure. NEW for SPARC 2019, an opportunity to present lessons learned and research that took a different direction. This format is about demonstrating resilience and showcasing the success that came from failure. We welcome open and honest discussions about the challenges of Research and that it’s absolutely OK to fail!


Posters are ideal for those who wish to engage in informal, face-to-face discussions about work in progress with colleagues and other conference attendees. Dedicated time is given in the schedule for poster presentations as well as an opportunity to present informally during refreshments and lunchtime. Posters are to be a maximum of A1 size.


Submissions must include BOTH a Research and a Lay abstract (suitable for a non-expert audience and members of the public), each abstract must not exceed 250 words. Specific training is available on selected dates prior to the submission deadline to help you to write your lay abstract.

The research abstract is required so that you have the opportunity to develop this type of abstract and to help you to summarise your research succinctly. This abstract is not used as an assessment criteria for SPARC but may be used if you are invited to publish in the conference proceedings. Your research abstract should be suitable for a researcher in your field.

The lay abstract will be used to decide if your submission should be accepted for SPARC and the format this should take. It is your Lay Abstract that will appear in the conference booklet. The abstracts must be different and tailored for their respective target audiences; it is not acceptable to copy and paste the same abstract for both criteria. You must ensure that your LAY abstract is suitable for a non-expert audience – this means your research must be presented and understandable to a 14-16 year old. This will often mean writing your abstract differently to what you have been used to. Many academic conferences now also request a lay abstract and SPARC is a perfect opportunity to practice and refine this type of writing skill.

BOTH abstracts must be submitted to be considered.

Abstracts must be carefully crafted to link to the research beacon themes and the emphasis is on the submitter to incorporate or make their research narrative connect with these. This is an important part of the training and development experience and abstract selection criteria. Training and an online thematic development tool is available to help you to do this.

Your abstract must be tailored to include one or more of the following conference themes:

  • Industry 4.0
  • Ageing and bio-health
  • Environmental Quality and Sustainability     
  • Energy, housing & infrastructure
  • Resilience & Leadership

It is up to you as the author to adapt your abstract and craft it to relate to one or more of the themes. This can be achieved by considering:

  • your target audience
  • possible applications or implications of your research
  • why the public should know about the research you are doing
  • or how your research ‘fits’ into the broader landscape of your field

In either abstract you are not permitted to include references and figures. Should you be successful, References and Figures are permitted in the final talks or posters.

Participants will need to obtain approval and endorsement from their main supervisor prior to submission, and copy them in to the submission email.

Talks will be livestreamed and archived on the conference website and on submission, you will be asked for your consent. If you do not wish to appear in the livestream or video archive, you must state this at the point of abstract submission.

How to submit
To submit your abstract, you will need to complete the Microsoft Word template and email this to by midnight on 29th March 2019


For further information about SPARC and to view last year’s event go to:




Conference dates announced

February 14-18th

Call for papers

February 26th

Abstract Writing workshop, 10-12pm

The workshop is designed to help you write your abstract in real time.

March 14th

Abstract Writing workshop, 2-4pm

The workshop is designed to help you write your abstract in real time.

Midnight 29th March 2019

  • Submission deadline for abstracts
    (Please note the deadline is absolute, you should plan around any bank holidays and vacation periods).

15th May 2019

  • confirmation of acceptance and final schedule communication

4pm, 24th May 2019

  • submission of final PowerPoint presentations and posters for printing (presentations and posters are to be submitted one month in advance, to confirm your supervisor has approved content, produce publications and arrange printing)

4pm, 10th May 2019

  • last call for PGR chairs

Week commencing 17th May 2019

  • PGR Chair training

Week commencing 17th June 2018

  • practice presentation training available

3rd & 4th July

  • SPARC – all PGRs are expected to attend

12th July 2019

  • communication on how to collect posters and follow up resources distribution


For any queries, please contact in the first instance. You can also contact Davina Whitnall or Tracy Ireland in the Doctoral school.