Tips on writing an abstract for a conference paper

Ruth Fillery-Travis

Presenting at conferences is an important part of entering academic society, and grad students are usually encouraged to present their PhD work at least once to a major conference. But before you even get to the stress of writing a presentation, you have to be successful in the scrum that is abstract submission.

Considering the brevity of these documents – typically less than 500 words – the amount of effort required to write one seems disproportionate! Whilst some conferences provide detailed examples of what they wish to see, others do not even give formatting guidelines.

I’ve had mixed success in the past, and the current abstract is intended for a particularly important conference which I really want to present at, so I’ve been trying to create an explicit pathway for creating the best abstract I can. Some aspects of abstract writing remain a bit of a mystery, so I’d appreciate…

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