5-Step Model for Writing ‘Abstracts’ for Academic ConferencesMuhammad Babur
Writing an abstract for a conference requires refined academic skills; however, abstract writing is often not taught or attended to separately in most of the university courses. With expanded possibilities to join and present at academic conferences, the usefulness of developing specific skills for abstract writing has increased. How ‘abstract’ is viewed commonly? Well, at least, three metaphors are quite common:
Among these, the most common metaphors are – abstract as an ‘introduction to the paper’ or as a ‘summary of the paper’. A good abstract, however, is a creative mix of all the three elements mentioned above!
A 5-step model for abstract writing is being shared here, the intention is not to take a simplistic view of abstract writing, but to simplify the process for novice researchers and writers.
5 Simple Steps to Write an Abstract
Step 1: Purpose/ Aim of your Submission (2-3 lines)
Purpose is the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of what you want to share with the academic community. The purpose, for instance, could be any or a combination of the following:
- Sharing insights based on an experience
- Sharing insights based on a critical review of literature
- Sharing a new idea
- Sharing results of application of a theory/ model to a particular context
- Analyzing something using a different lens
Example: The purpose of the paper is to describe and analyse the key strengths of ‘blogging’ as an enterprise…
Step 2: Describe the Process (Methodology)
This is a description of the methods through which you developed the insights or reached the conclusions shared in your paper. Using 3-4 lines, describe your ‘research/ arrival methods’. This should correspond closely with the above item.
Beside the more traditional research methods and tools used in Social Sciences Research, the processes could also include, for instance, systematic reflection on professional experiences.
Step 3: Results/ Findings
As an important element of the abstract, it is important to share some key findings of your study/ work.
Some Useful Phrases
The major finding of the study is ……
One of the most interesting/ relevant findings of the study is
Step 4: Implications
Your findings will have implications. This, in a way, is also an opportunity to highlight the significance of your work, which could be addressed to any section/ category of human activity/ actors.
- For future researcher
- For educators
- For policy makers/ business leaders
Step 5: Anchoring
This is the most significant and interesting aspect of your abstract (however, it is mostly done poorly or simply ignored).
‘Anchoring’, in the context of academic conferences implies establishing a strong link to the thematic focus of the conference. You can add 2 – 3 lines description of how your thesis/ concept/ insights relate to the focus/ theme of the conference.
It is appropriate to add the description where you describe the very purpose of your submission (though you may also reiterate it towards the end where you highlight the key contribution and implications of your paper.
Note: The above template has been ‘tested’ and found useful by several research educators. Please, feel very welcome to share your comments/ thoughts.