8 Tips for Writing a Conference Abstract

An excellent way to boost your professional credibility and that of your company – to gain recognition as experts in your field – is to make presentations at industry conferences. Your first goal is to secure a spot on the program. To do that, you submit an abstract (summary) of your proposed topic. The downside is that not all abstracts are accepted for presentation or publication.

Increase your chance of acceptance by following these 8 steps:

  1. Choose a subject that aligns with the preferred topics or themes listed in the call for papers.
  2. Print and comply with the conference’s current guidelines for preparing abstracts.
  3. Draft your abstract in a word processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word). Whether structured (with headings) or not, most abstracts are organized by sections for:
    • Introduction: Summarize the problem
    • Methods: What you did or researched
    • Results: Conclusions of your activity or research
    • Discussion: Why this work is important to solve the problem or to your industry
  4. Run the spelling and grammar checker and, one suggestion at a time, make thoughtful, learned decisions about whether to click Change or Ignore or to make a different edit.
  5. Sleep on it. After a day or two, re-read your abstract, asking yourself:
    • Does your abstract comply with all the guidelines for abstracts including the word limit?
    • Is it organized, logical, lacking repetition?
    • Are all the words correctly used and spelled (there, their, they’re; your, you’re; than, then; imply, infer; loose, lose; farther, further, etc.)?
    • Can you expand audience appeal and readability? Rewrite to shorten long sentences. Delete or rewrite any jargon. Use plain language. Spell out acronyms on first use.
    • Are there phrases that you can shorten to meet the word count or to increase readability (inflated phrases and redundancies), such as:
Change From Change To
on a daily (weekly, monthly, consistent, etc.) basis daily (weekly, monthly, consistently etc.)
at the present time now
add together add
the color black black
prior to before
following after
once after (or, when)
utilize use
methodology method (or methods)
actually, definitely, generally, special (and others) [delete]
  1. Ask someone (a professional editor; a colleague) to read your abstract, looking for such glitches as spelling, grammar, punctuation; repetitious, confusing, or contradicting statements; long and maybe convoluted sentences. A professional editor can check for compliance with the guidelines for authors. A colleague can check for technical accuracy.
  2. Finalize the abstract: make necessary changes, run spelling and grammar check again, re-read one more time.
  3. Submit: copy and paste the text into the paper-based or online abstract form, re-read it one last time to make sure you lost nothing while pasting, and submit it on or before the deadline.

Remember, success is not in the writing, it’s in the rewriting. Your credibility and that of your data is directly relative to the organization, logic, and clarity of a well-written abstract that meets the requirements of the conference.

Good luck!

Additional Resources

Inflated vs. Concise. Thumbpress. Online at http://thumbpress.com/inflated-vs-concise/#sthash.J9eyxs8j.dpbs Accessed: January 22, 2020.

Okrent, Arika, December 17, 2015. 7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical. MentalFloss. Online at https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/49238/7-sentences-sound-crazy-are-still-grammatical  Accessed: January 23, 2020.

Ross, Brittney. 30 Commonly Confused Words in English. Grammarblog. Online at https://www.grammarly.com/blog/commonly-confused-words/  Accessed: January 22, 2020.


Contact me for a professional, fresh eyes review of your next abstract.
Marlane Kayfes, Technical Writer & Editor

mkayfes@outlook.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s