The length of the abstract will be restricted to the limit set by the conference. They are often about 250 words (about 15 sentences). The abstract consists of 5 linked parts – background, problem or research questions, methods, results, and what your results mean to others. You need to get the attention of the reader with the abstract – make them interested in your work. You want to make them chose you to give a presentation!
Make sure your project, and the description of your project in the abstract, fits within one of the themes of the conference. If it does not, your presentation will likely not be considered. Don't be discouraged though! There are lots of conferences out there and there will be many that will fit your type of research project. Just keep looking until you find the right one.
Make sure your abstract is submitted by the deadline. Conferences do not usually consider abstracts that are submitted late.
Your abstract needs to be written in complete sentences and should be no more than one (rarely two) paragraphs in length. You will not specifically identify the categories below but each of these key areas need to be outlined in your abstract.
Provide a brief and concise title for your proposed presentation. Try to keep your title to 10-12 words and make it interesting while still letting people know the topic of your research. Feel free to play with words and think of interesting ways to describe your project.
You need to list all of the authors or contributors on your project, and what institution or group they work with. You will likely need to include their addresses as well. You will need to have your co-authors and supervisors review and sign off on your abstract submission, so be sure to leave yourself enough time before the deadline to have them review your writing.
Briefly set up the background and context to the study, its rationale and significance. How or why did this project get started?
Here you need to identify the particular question(s) you are addressing in your research, the purpose of the study, and any specific research objectives or questions.
Outline the approach you took and the methods you used to study the problem or project. Describe the extent of the study, what you did or measured, and how you did it. Specify the location of the study and when it was performed.
Give any important findings. Be specific, not vague. Avoid words such as "most" or "some" if you have the specific numbers. State the major findings and how the findings relate back to the original research question.
Finish by stating the contribution of the work and its meaning to your audience, community or your area of research. Do your results have general or specific meaning to others? This is another great area of your abstract where you can target specific audience members to attend your talk.
In order to become good at writing abstracts, you need to read others’ abstracts to get a sense of how this all works. We will be posting examples of conference abstracts for you to look at. When reading an abstract, think about the structure described above and how you can do the same in your own abstract. When writing your own, give yourself time to produce revised drafts and try to read it as someone reading it for the first time, meaning one of the conference judges or someone from your audience.
1) Make your own work sound interesting and exciting!
2) Avoid long, complex sentences, but do make sure you touch on all the key points of your project.
3) Try to write your abstract in plain language. Only use specific scientific or research-based words when absolutely needed.
4) Keep within the specified word limit.
5) Don’t overstate your findings and their meaning!
6) Abstracts for conferences are usually no longer than 100-300 words. This means your abstract should be one or two paragraphs at the most.
7) Have other people on your project, in your office, friends, family, colleagues read your abstract and make suggestions.
8) Get someone who has written an abstract before help you with yours (if you don’t know anyone, see below. We have a list of people who are willing to help!)