The following resources have been provided as a stepping stone for those who require more information about how to prepare for a research conference. Some of the sites are tailored for specific fields of study. Please speak with your faculty mentor or adviser if you need more assistance.

Tips on writing an abstract for your submission

Abstracts precede papers in research journals and appear in programs of scholarly conferences. In this conference, the abstract is the advertisement on why the paper deserves the audience's attention.

The abstract allows readers to make decisions about your project. Your faculty mentor can use the abstract to decide if your research is proceeding smoothly. The conference staff uses it to decide if your project fits the conference criteria. The conference audience (faculty, administrators, peers, and presenters' families) uses your abstract to decide whether or not to attend your presentation. Your abstract needs to take all these readers into consideration.

The audience for this abstract covers the broadest possible scope--from expert to lay person. You need to find a comfortable balance between writing an abstract that both shows your knowledge in a professional setting and yet is still comprehensible to lay members of the audience. Limit the amount of technical language you use and explain it where possible. Always use the full term before you refer to it by acronym [DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs), for example]. Remember that you are an expert in the field that you are presenting about--don't assume the reader will share your insider knowledge.

Think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole project. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question. Similar to the abstracts that researchers prepare for scholarly conferences, the abstract you submit for the R&CW will most likely reflect work still in progress at the time you write it. Although the content will vary according to field and specific project, all abstracts, whether in the sciences or the humanities, convey the following information:

  • The purpose of the project identifying the area of study to which it belongs.
  • The research problem that motivates the project.
  • The methods used to address this research problem, documents or evidence analyzed.
  • The conclusions reached or, if the research is in progress, what the preliminary results of the investigation suggest, or what the research methods demonstrate.
  • The significance of the research project. Why are the results useful? What is new to our understanding as the result of your inquiry?

General research help

Help presenting

Contact the Presentation Practice Center on campus to ensure your presentation is professional and up to the standards of the R&CW.