Updated on September 4, 2017 RoadMonkey moreContact Author What’s an abstract? If you are writing a conference article, or want to submit an article for consideration for a conference paper you may very well need to submit an abstract ahead of time. The organising committee will then decide, on the basis of the abstract you submit, whether or not to ask you to submit the full article, i.e. whether or not to accept it for presentation or for a poster session. If you are writing an academic article for a journal, you will probably have to write an abstract for it and this will be published at the start of your article. So what is an abstract? An abstract is a mini version of your article, your article in brief or a distilled version of it. It is a short piece of writing, often only 300 – 500 words in length, that provides all the main points of your full article but in a brief summary form.

Some people will cite your article in their work on the basis of having read your abstract, so it’s very worth while making the abstract the very best that you can. The abstract also provides a good place for ensuring keywords for your research are included, so that your paper can be found when researchers are looking for papers on your subject. Some people write the abstract as their last piece of work on a particular paper. This makes sense, as you will have done all the work on the paper at that point and will have all the information in your head, so you should be easily able to create a short summary of it. On the other hand, other researchers often submit abstracts to conferences, without having written the particular paper and only write those papers where the abstract is accepted. They then use the submission date for finalised conference papers as their target date, to encourage them to write the paper! It’s one form of time management and saves you writing a paper that may not be accepted for a conference.

The abstract is NOT just an introduction to your article, it is a mini-article, summarising what you did and what you found, together with your conclusions on this. The length needs to follow the guidelines given in the journal or call for papers that you are interested in submitting to, so it may be between 100 and 500 words. Check out abstracts in your area. Look up academic articles or published conference proceedings to see what was included in successful abstract submissions in YOUR area. They will differ from subject to subject. In general, where abstracts are requested (and not all areas require abstracts), you will need to include one sentence on the following: AOMRC (Aim, Objective, Methodology, Results, Conclusion) but they do not need to be included in that order. For instance, you could have your Aim, Objective and then Conclusion at the start, as the most important, followed by the methodology and results. Again, check abstracts in YOUR area.

2. OBJECTIVE. This is where you say what YOUR research covered. 5. CONCLUSION. This is what you concluded from your research, ie your ideas on what was happening or why it happened or how it relates to other research in the area. When writing your abstract, even if you have a list of headings to use for writing, it can still seem a tough job. Here’s a hint my daughter passed on (she already has her Ph.D.). Take a piece of A4 paper and put 5 sheets of sticky paper on it. Label one piece with the term “Aim”, one as “Objectives”, one as “Methodology”, one as “Results” and one as “Conclusions”. Now you only have to fill a small piece of yellow sticky note with writing, rather than a whole sheet. It also means that if you want to rewrite a part of your abstract, you can just peel off one sticky note and replace it with another.

Also, your abstract does not have to be written in the order given, it may look better in a different order and you can move the sticky notes round the page to find the order you like best. What do I know about it? How come I’m an expert? I’m not an expert. I am a doctoral student. I need to know how to do this and I am writing down what I have found out, so that I can remember it for the future. By studying what works, I hope to be able to use my time productively and to be able to submit abstracts quickly, without much head scratching. Discuss the information here with your supervisor, to make sure it fits what YOU need for submitting YOUR abstract. If these links do not suit your area of study, or the dates have passed, then use a search engine and type in “Calls for Papers” (without the quotes) and add the year and your study area.

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