How to Write a Compelling Abstract
To participate in the scientific process, your ideas need to be written and presented effectively. With the abstract deadline for the 2019 APS Annual Meeting in Milwaukee coming up (October 1st), here is a brief primer on writing an effective abstract sure to be considered for acceptance into the scientific program.
The APS does not accept structured abstracts, however, it is good practice to organize your paragraph with the following categories in mind: Background, Aim/Purpose, Methods & Experimental Design, Results, & Conclusion. The abstract is limited to 300 words which should be organized into complete sentences. Therefore, it is important to be concise, including points that aid in comprehension of the project and that convey the results and their interpretation. It’s a good idea to have a colleague or advisor check for grammar, spelling, and comprehension.
- A short and factual title (≤20 words) that conveys the research focus and major findings of the project.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms in the title, use key words
- A sentence or two at most of background to set the stage for the upcoming hypothesis or the problem addressed.
- Identify the problem the research aims to address, do not cite references, be specific.
- Abbreviations /acronyms should be used when necessary, and must be defined. Use words here and throughout that will help search engines find this abstract.
- Provide the hypothesis tested, or the overall goal of the project, or well-defined objectives of the study
- How was the study conducted? Give the experimental design, methodologies used, and information on the subjects.
- Describe the major findings. Results should be provided in the abstract.
- Although statistical information is welcomed, the abstract may list the key findings. Precise language is important to accurately reflect the data.
- Abstracts describing studies that are planned and do not have results at the time of submission may not be accepted.
- Conclusions should be based on the data presented. What are the significant implications of the findings? How might this study progress the field or change future practice?
For Early Career professionals, top abstracts will be selected for the annual poster competition with the winners highlighted at the APS Scientific Meeting in Milwaukee and on the APS website. Check out ECAG's tips on creating an aesthetic and informative poster.
Steve Davidson, PhD
Chair, Early Career Advisory Group