An abstract can be defined as something which is a summary of a research article, or possibly of a thesis, or the notted down points of a conference presentation, etc. One of the main purposes of an abstract is to help the readers quickly understand the paper’s purpose. This purpose can be achieved in many ways. Out of the many ways, two are mentioned below.
- In an abstract, we can provide a summary of a larger paper or presentation so that the reviewers, as well as the readers, also can judge the adequacy of the research conducted earlier.
- Another way is that in the abstract we can summarise in (usually) a short paragraph about the major components of a research paper so that it will be easier for the readers to grasp the motive of the research paper.
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There are various genres of abstracts. Below is a detailed description of each one of them.
The term ‘dissertation’ means a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done to receive a degree in college or university. So we can say that dissertation abstracts simply mean to summarise the dissertation.
They are usually written long in the sense that it almost takes a full page and a half to cover up everything. They mainly emphasize the main arguments of the thesis. These abstracts are generally read in conjunction with the thesis.
Mabe & Amin in 2002 said, ” readers only read one-tenth of the articles when scanning titles, and only half of the articles when they read abstracts”.
These abstracts are usually written once the paper is complete. Then the next step is to submit those with the paper to journal editors. Once the article abstracts are published, they serve to sell the article to readers. Here a point that can be noted is that the abstract can be poor, but the article can still get accepted somehow.
Abstracts for calls for proposals (CfP)
Calls for proposals are requests for proposals for the inclusion of papers to an edited collection or special journal issue. These abstracts consist of a summary of the research paper but should also at the same time respond to the call and are usually long, i.e., between 1000 to 2000 words. The surprising point here is that these are often written before the research is written up, so the writer needs to write as if the research has been written. Here the work of the readers is to assess if the paper will fit into a specific collection of papers or chapters. One should remember that if these abstracts are weak, they are unlikely to be accepted by others.
As the name suggests, these abstracts summarize the conference presentation. Sometimes, the conference abstracts can be short, i.e., between 250 to 500 words, but sometimes, if the organizers want, then one has to write a long one, i.e., between 1000 to 2000 words. The purpose of these abstracts is to convince conference organizers or reviewers of the value of one’s presentation for the conference. Many times conference-goers choose a presentation based on the abstract, which is published in an Abstract book. We should remember that these abstracts sell our research ideas. Hence, making these interesting and appealing to a conference audience is necessary or mandatory.
In this article, we will focus on how to write an abstract for a conference. If you are writing an abstract for a conference, you should definitely remember the below listed 3 points. They are as follows.
- Why should the conference audience care about your research?
- What do you plan to find?
- How are your findings going to lead the targeted field forward?
A person who is writing an abstract for a conference should remember that he or she should present it to the conference organizers or hosts in such an interesting, detailed and edited way that they would be convinced that he/ she will definitely bring on something unique which would make the conference audience stick to their seat till the end.
The first step in creating a conference abstract is determining what a person’s story is all about. For that, first, he/she should think about what were the hypotheses that were coming up when he/she was collecting the required data. If he/she has already started doing his/her data analysis, then the next thing he/she should do is think about the possible conclusions that can come out of the research. Once he/she has those hypotheses and conclusions, then he/she can kind of organize them in a way that is apt to tell a story, and that then becomes the research story that he/she intends to put into his/her research abstract. Then finally, he/she can draft the research abstract.
The next step is to make the conference audience aware of the background of his/her research abstract that is necessary for them to know. He/she should talk about the methods he/ she applied to get the results at the end of his/her work process.
If he/ she would not have completed the research, he/she can also talk about what he/she hypothesized to find and what he/she would do to research that.
One very important point to remember here is that the abstracts are very conference specific. For example,
Suppose someone is writing a conference abstract on the topic ‘Analyzing steroids’. In that case, he/she should specifically address the steroid analysis process and should not delve into the analytical chemistry part.
In the final step, a conference abstract should point out to the conference audience about the future of one’s specific field and what and how his/her own findings/research can contribute to the upliftment of that future.
To conclude this article, I would like to jot down some of the precautions that one should take while writing a conference abstract. They are as follows.
- A person should always pay attention to abstract specifications. By the term ‘abstract specifications’, I mean he/she should adhere to the word length, font, etc.
- A person should write the abstract so that he/she can respond correctly to the theme/ call of the conference.
- A person should use short sentences rather than long, complicated ones. He/she should also avoid acronyms/ abbreviations if possible.
- A person can sometimes safely avoid the research questions and the conceptual framework in his/her conference abstract if only the need to include that is not that much vital.
- People say “first impression is the last impression“; hence one should be bold in his/her opening sentence and should convey his /her results in a crystal clear manner.
- Last but not least, one should definitely revise, edit, cut, check components, get specific feedback, and get his/her conference abstract proofread before handing it to the desired organization/person.
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