Abstract Guidelines - Presented Orally in 1-2 Minutes
by Dr. Sarah J. Greenwald
An abstract is an important part of research.
An abstract should be thought of as an advertisement
or commercial that others can use
in order to decide whether they wish to find out
about your research. At conferences, there are
often many talks and posters
that occur at the same time. Hence, people use abstracts to decide which
talk to attend from among possibly many talks or posters
that they are interested in at the given time.
Conference abstracts are usually due many months before a conference.
Hence, it is not imperative that you follow the abstract exactly when
presenting the talk, since many people find that by the time they prepare
their talk, related but new material is of interest. An abstract should
be your best guess of what you will talk about in the allowed space.
It should also
include some big picture ideas that discuss the importance and relevance
of your talk content and place it into the bigger context
of related fields.
Abstracts are usually a few paragraphs long, and sometimes have space limitations on the number of characters or words.
Your abstract will be presented to the class orally, in 1-2 minutes.
While the final project may well be different, the abstract should be at
least loosely adhered to since otherwise
attendees will be confused and sometimes angry that the final product
was unrelated to what you said it would be. After all, attendees are giving
their valuable time to you, and might instead have chosen a different
The first step in writing an abstract is to choose a creative title.
The title should be chosen carefully to summarize the content of your
At a conference,
some people may not read the abstract (it is sometimes published in a
separate book from the schedule), and may use only the title in order to
decide whether they will attend.
Here is an example of some of my abstracts, after my bio:
Everyone! Mathematical Morsels from The Simpsons and Futurama