Tips for Writing Your First Conference Abstract

July 17, 2019

Communicating your research is an important part of being a scientist. While submitting an abstract to a national conference can seem overwhelming, it is one of the best ways to communicate your science and get your research in front of a large audience.

Students interested in learning how to write an abstract should review these helpful tips that describe components of a competitive abstract. Also review the below suggestions from ASM education specialist, Dr. Christopher Skipwith, on best practices for preparing your first abstract for a scientific conference.

Read the Instructions

Although this may be obvious, many times, abstracts are rejected because they are missing key components. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the submission requirements before starting your abstract.

Understand the Target Audience

Who will be reading your abstract? Whether you are submitting to a field-specific or general conference, make sure the language you use can be easily understood by your target audience. Field-specific language may be appropriate for specialized conferences, however plain language must be used for conferences that cover a wide range of fields.

When using acronyms, remember to always provide the full phrase on the first mention accompanied by the acronym in parenthesis.

Clearly State the Hypothesis/Statement of Purpose

Not every project has a hypothesis, but all projects have a purpose. Figure out the research questions you are trying to answer and include the hypothesis or purpose of your research in the abstract. It is imperative to communicate your hypothesis/statement of purpose clearly so the reader can get a better context of your research goals and understand the importance of your research.

Tie Results and Conclusions Back to the Hypothesis/Statement of Purpose

After you have written your results and conclusions, go back to your hypothesis/statement of purpose. Do the results and conclusions clearly support your research purpose? What did the results say about your hypothesis? Make sure the links between these components are obvious to the reader.

Review, Then Review Again

Re-read your abstract against a copy of the abstract guidelines. As you go through, check off each guideline to ensure your abstract is complete. Remember that even if it has all the requirements, a poorly written abstract will not be accepted. Then have multiple people, including your Principal Investigator, read it over. Incorporate their feedback to ensure a strong submission.

The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) provides poster and oral presentation opportunities for undergraduates, postbaccalaureates, and masters students.

Author: Christopher Skipwith, Ph.D.

Christopher Skipwith, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Skipwith is an education specialist for ASM, responsible for coordinating education and training for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).