2.2 Activity: Describing your own research

Read the following examples of some three-sentence elevator pitches written by researchers. Notice how they condense complex topics into concise and engaging summaries. Then try writing your own pitch, using the principles which I outlined above in Section 2.1. When you have done so, read my discussion in Section 2.3 ('Discussion: Describing your own research').

(As you work on this exercise you may also like to think about how you might adjust your own pitch depending on whether you were writing or speaking it in the course of a conversation.)

1. "I’m writing an account of the lives of the wives, children, enslaved, and freed members of Roman officers' households who lived on the frontiers of the empire almost 2,000 years ago. People said for years that these people didn’t live in Roman forts, but their letters have been discovered at Vindolanda fort and there are Latin inscriptions and finds like hairpins and jewellery and even milk teeth from many different forts that show they did live there! So I'm using these to find out what sort of people were in these households and the sorts of things they did."

Claire Millington, PhD candidate in Classics, King’s College London

Blocks of post-it notes in bright colours 2. “My book examines rhetoric about homicide in the Athenian courts in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Homicide was a distinctive crime in the Athenian imagination, and the way it was tried in the Athenian legal system stood apart from other crimes. This led to it being discussed in particular ways in the courts and with various focuses, including its religious connotations, the ideology surrounding certain laws governing it, and the potential for legal procedures for homicide to be abused.”

Dr. Christine Plastow, Lecturer in Classical Studies, The Open University

3. “I run a website called Bad Ancient, which collects examples of ancient history being misused or misreported in the media and fact checks those claims. The ancient world is used and misused to sell us things, to convince us of things, to persuade us of things, and indeed to even believe things about ourselves and the world around us. Thus it is important for the public to see how false history is being used to manipulate us, and the best way to achieve this is to show people how it is being done.”

Dr. Owen Rees, historian and author

4. “My book is an evolutionist's account of the rise and fall of ancient Mediterranean cities. Stack of notebooks in rainbow coloursThere were hardly any cities at the start of the last millennium BC but by the first century AD there were nearly 2000. No one planned this urban civilization and no-one organized its slow collapse after 200 AD; my book investigates the process - economic, ecological, political - that shapes this great narrative of rise and fall.”

Prof. Greg Woolf, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies