Top Tips to Help Prepare Your Abstract


The purpose of a conference abstract is to summarise the main points of your research, audit or service evaluation. The content needs to convince the conference organisers that you have something important and valuable to add to the conference. It therefore needs to be focused and clear in explaining your topic and the main points of research that are relevant to the audience who will be attending.

Abstracts for conferences are fairly formulaic and although the sections may not have the same or include specific headings the formula tends to be: topic area + title + motivation + problem statement + approach + results + conclusions = conference abstract

Follow the conference abstract guidelines carefully – if you don’t your abstract will automatically be rejected.

Double-check the conference guidelines for abstract style and spacing, the online process is intended to help this. Pay attention to the formatting guidelines.

Here’s further information as a guide to help you write the content and be successful.

1. Abstract topic

How will your abstract convince the conference organisers that you’ll add to the discussion on a particular topic at their event? When writing content choose an angle that fits the conference topics and consider your abstract through that lens. 

2. Abstract title

What is your conference paper about and what makes it interesting? A good rule of thumb is to give your abstract a title of 12 words or less. 

3. Motivation

Why should your readers care about the problem and your results? This section should include the background to your research, the importance of it, and the difficulty of the area. 

4. The problem

What problem are you trying to solve? Are you using a generalised approach, or is it for a specific situation? (If the problem your research addresses is widely recognised, include this section before motivation.) Clearly state the topic of your paper and / or your research question in this section.

5. Study design

How did you approach solving the problem or making progress on it? How did you design your study? What was the extent of your research? 

6.  Results and findings

What findings or trends did your analysis uncover? Were they as you expected, or not? Be concise.

7. Conclusions

What do your results mean? How will they contribute to knowledge in the field? Will they shake things up, speed things up, or simply show other researchers that this specific area may be unfruitful. Are your results general, generalisable, transferable or highly specific? Make sure ANY conclusion is supported by your results. Sweeping statements unsupported by data will lead to rejection.

Look at previous conference examples of abstracts – Familiarise yourself with previous conference abstracts that have been accepted and published from previous years, examples are online – if you can’t find it online email BAPEN office.

Undertake the final edits with fresh eyes – Don’t just rely on spell check! Once you’ve drafted your abstract (and likely edited and refined several times), give yourself at least a day away from it. Editing it with fresh eyes can help you be more objective in deciding what’s essential. Get colleagues and peers to also look and comment (constructively), especially those with experience in publishing.

Avoid fillers and jargon – Space is limited, so be as concise as you can by cutting words or phrases that aren’t necessary. Keep sentences short enough that you can read them aloud without having to pause for breath. And steer clear of jargon that’s specific to one field as you are submitting to an interdisciplinary conference.

Remain Focused and Establish Your Ideas – The main point of an abstract is to catch the attention of the conference organizers. So, you need to be focused in developing the importance of your work. You want to establish the importance of your ideas within the total abstract wordcount (400 words).

Carefully select your abstract keywords – Abstract keywords help other researchers find your work once it’s published. These should be the words that most accurately reflect the content of your paper.