At a conference, delegates may be provided with conference abstracts ahead of or during the conference to help them decide which sessions they want to attend. Your abstract will almost certainly be used to help conference organisers decide whether or not your paper will be accepted for presentation at the event. Learning to write an abstract for your research work, whether for a conference, an academic journal or a research database, is therefore a key skill.
Most abstracts are about 100-250 words long and offer a window in to your research so that others can learn whether they want to know more. As such, your abstract needs to be accurate, interesting and relevant in order to ensure that (the right) people engage with your work. There should be a logical chronology to your abstract, which will match your presentation, and ensures that your abstract doesn’t suddenly contain new information you forget to present at the conference.
One important thing to remember about an abstract is that it shouldn’t be a ‘teaser’ like the blurb on the back of a book. Your abstract should be a summary of your whole paper – what you did, why you did it, how you did it, what your results were and (if relevant) where your research is going from here or the future possible implications of your research.
Writing an abstract for ICUR
Because ICUR is an interdisciplinary conference it is important to write your abstract in a way in which an international audience, comprised of students and researchers from any discipline or area, will understand. Using clear language, avoiding subject specific jargon and emphasizing the context of your project will allow the full impact of your research to be understood by those outside of your subject area and will attract delegates to attend your presentation at the conference itself.
Selection of abstracts
Each abstract received is reviewed by a panel of academics, students and administrative staff based on the following criteria:
- Clear statement of the original research question and contribution to field
- Clear statement of methods used and findings (or potential findings)
- Clear expression of the context and potential impacts of the research
Responses you may receive to your abstract submission include:
- Acceptance for the conference
- Rejection of abstract with feedback from panel
- Request for revised abstract to be submitted based on panel feedback, to be reviewed before a final decision is made
Tips for structuring your abstract
(Reproduced from: Writingcenter)
The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not.
- Reason for writing:
What is the importance of the research?
Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
What problem does this work attempt to solve?
What is the scope of the project?
What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study.
Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project.
Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work?
How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?
- Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
- Clear, concise, and powerful language.
(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.”)