How to write an abstract Henriëtte de Swart Two types of abstracts • Abstract preceding a published article (typically one paragraph). • Abstract sent in for a conference; author wants to be selected to present a paper/poster. • Common features: topic, background, approach, results, insights. • Style: accessible, attractive, motivating, raise interest. Abstract for conference • Aim: get your paper accepted for a presentation (paper/poster). • Research feasibility (some conferences are easier to get into than others). • Note: most reviewing procedures are anonymous, so you get in by quality, not by fame! Don’t identify yourself. Starting point • Match your research to a conference (topic, approach, area). • Respect requirements: adapt your abstract to guidelines, respect deadlines. • Make your abstract the right length: neither too long, nor too short. • Use the space for data and argumentation, not for long lists of references. Take your time • Writing an abstract is difficult!! • Take your time, rewrite and polish over several days. • Get a student/colleague/supervisor to read your abstract. • When you get comments, ask them to motivate their judgment: were they convinced? Were they interested? Would they go to the talk? Keep the reader in mind • Reviewers are typically required to read quite a few abstracts, so yours is one of many: grab their attention! • Respect your reader: don’t underestimate or overestimate him. • Give an attractive title. Keep sentences short, use ‘flow’, add pictures. • Use rhetorics and convince your reader: sell your work! Contents • Show what your contribute to the field: New data/observations that cannot be accounted for by existing theories. New theoretical insights that improve upon earlier analyses (for old or new data). Application of analyses from one domain to another. Structure • 1) introduction of topic and your new claim about it. New data/ observations. • 2) a paragraph that shows you are familar with previous literature, and to criticize it on the basis of new data or theories, wrong predictions, etc. • 3) the core of the abstract: your solutions supported by solid arguments • 4) Conclusion: provide a punchline. Promise more. Show implications. Assignment for paper • Sell the paper under a different title, that you think is better suited to get the paper accepted at a conference. • Write a one-page abstract respecting the guidelines given here.