Writing Conference Presentation Abstracts

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Writing Conference Presentation AbstractsIf your proposal/paper has been accepted to a conference, you will atleast be required to submit an abstract that will be included in the published proceedings. How to write the conference presentation abstract? Here’s some of what I learned in the process of writing those…

Structure can vary, but this is what I recommend :

  • Research Question (RQ)– I say start big with what the research question is, framed as a question. One sentence only, frame this in the most interesting way you can.
  • RQ background – two or three sentences on where this research question came from.
  • What’s missing – a short sentence on is the research gap, the unique phenomenon, or generally – what is missing from the literature so far.
  • Model –  your proposed model or what you’ve investigated.
  • Method  – a very brief mention of the method you used to explore or test the model.
  • Findings – very briefly mention the data and move on to a sentence or two of what you found. Write this as a conclusion, not a suggestion.


But I’m not as experienced as others, so you might want to get some more advice. Here are a selected few with tips I found useful :

Mary Bucholtz’s Writing Conference Abstracts


Select a clear, informative title that contains all the key elements of your presentation (e.g., a key concept, the language or group under study, a general sense of your argument). Very short and very long titles are not recommended. Using a title and a subtitle separated by a colon is often a good way to maximize informativeness in a short space. It’s easiest to choose a title after writing the abstract. […]

How to structure the abstract

Section 1

The main focus of the first paragraph or two should be a general statement about some issue in the field that your study contributes to […]

Section 2

State here that your study offers a solution to the problem described in section 1 and how. Briefly give details about the study–where it was conducted and with whom (number and background of participants, sources of data), how long the study lasted and/or how much data was collected (e.g., hours of recordings). Then summarize your research findings. […]

Section 3

You now need to return the big picture: How do these findings address the issue raised in Section 1? What does this imply for the field? […]

Preparing a Structured Abstract for Presentation at a Scientific Conference :

Getting started
In general, abstracts are limited to 200-300 words (not including Author affiliations). The structured format includes and demonstrates:

Title – Ten to twelve words that capture the relevance and essence of the research
• Introduction or Background – Why the research is important
Aims or Objectives – The purpose of your research
Methods – What the research involved
Findings or Results – What the research discovered
Conclusion, Summary or Discussion – What the research implies


• Submit your abstract on time.
• Submit your abstract to a conference that is appropriate to your area of research.
• Use the past tense, e.g. “Our research demonstrated…” when writing, as mixed tenses create confusion and reduce the quality and flow of your information.
• Consider that you are writing for an audience who has limited knowledge of your research.
• Ask a peer to critically review your final abstract before submission.
• Remember that original research will impress your audience more than research that is simply interpreted as re-inventing the wheel.
• Never be tempted to submit an abstract without results, as no study can ever be complete without results.
• Stay within the word limit.

Collected tips from a workshop presentation on writing abstracts :

Usually written before the results are in or the
paper is finished
Write as though you are done
Less formal than journal abstracts
Use only the space needed, not given

One to two sentences for:
Topic and research question

If many results, only present the most important


Got any other tips? let me know.

Good luck.

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