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?
Tips on Presenting Your Project
1) BE CONFIDENT! You've worked on this project. You know what it's about, and you know why it's so great; so don't scare yourself into thinking otherwise. Be confident about it. Give us a smile too. People are generally more willing to listen to presenters who smile and look confident. It's half the battle.
2) Find a Hook. According to Time magazine you only have people's attention for 15 seconds before they start to lose interest. So, you need to find a way to keep that interest. Find something in your project that is the most interesting. Perhaps it's a startling statistic you found or something you discovered that could better people's futures. Whatever it is, test it on a few friends to see if it gets their attention, and if not, try again.
3) Slow and Steady. Many times when we get nervous, we tend to speed up and forget the details. If you're having trouble, stop, take a deep breath and pace yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.
4) When in Doubt Write it Out. If you have trouble putting together something coherent about your project, write it on notecards first. You can make revisions, and then say it again with or without the notecards. Don't try to memorize your information, but use the cards just as a way to better understand your thoughts. Writing things out will help you to remember all you have to say and help you to maintain a good speed.
5) Feedback is Your Friend. Some people are afraid to tell their ideas or test their speech, because they're concerned others wont like it. However, feedback and critiques are your biggest resource to help you understand if you're presenting in an interesting and understandable manner. Don't be afraid to ask others to listen for a moment while you tell them about your project. Use their opinions and advice to make your project better.
For more help, we recommend talking to the Practice Presentation Center in the Smith Building. They're great guides and professionals who can help you perform your best.
General research help
Contact the Presentation Practice Center on campus to ensure your presentation is professional and meets the standards of the R&CW.