Writing a Conference Abstract


So the call for papers has been publicised and now it is up to you to write a 250 word abstract by the 4th April. I remember the first time I had to write an abstract for a conference, I wasn’t lucky enough for it to be the MDX Research Student Summer Conference though. My first conference was an external tourism specific conference in Turkey and I had to write an extended abstract. An extended abstract is similar to a full paper, only shorter and there are pros and cons to writing one which we won’t go into here.

The next time I had to write an abstract for a conference they only required a ‘short abstract’, 300 words to be precise. Yet, as I hadn’t written one before I frantically googled what was expected of me and this means that I can now convey that information to you. You do not need to include citations in a conference abstract (but this may vary across disciplines), it must be something that those who are not familiar with your field can understand, it must also be well written (remember to spell check). Think of your abstract as a synopsis for your presentation/paper, it should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The beginning needs to tell me why your area is important and/or interesting, why your research needs to be done, the middle might discuss the way in which you propose to study the phenomena or even include any key findings, and the end will conclude the abstract. Finally, remember that  abstracts serve two purposes, to create interest and intrigue the reader so that they will select it for the conference, and to serve as an outline of your work to be published in the book of abstracts.

Here are a few points to check as you write your abstract:

  • Limit citations, only use if absolutely essential to your argument, as references will be included in the presentation/paper
  • Look at past abstracts/conference papers for that specific conference and take note of style
  • Ask (nicely) one of your supervisors or a colleague to read through it before you submit
  • Submit before the due date and follow formatting requirements
  • Ensure you include your name and affiliation details.

For more ideas on writing abstracts check out the following:

The Professor is in blog Helen Kara blog academic conferences page and Ruth Fillery-Travis’ blog

This post has been written by Heather Jeffrey for more on her musings please check out her blog at the Huffington Post