How to Write a One-Page Abstract


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Tips for how to write an abstract that will be submitted to an academic conference with the hope that your paper can be presented there.

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  • UNPAD, 2 March 2012
  • These 6 points are discussed in detail in this presentation.
  • Even a fluent non-native speaker will find it difficult to express the ideas in an academic paper.
  • If the instructions from the specific conference contradict the advice in this presentation, please follow the instructions from the conference!
  • Do not try to sound important. Do not use big words and complicated sentences. The goal is to communicate very clearly.
  • This is very clear, but it could be more direct.
  • Here the communication is more simple and direct. Remember that the reviewers will be reading A LOT of abstracts – and QUICKLY.
  • This part of the abstract (objectives) must be very easy to understand.
  • Ong, W. J. (2002 [1982]). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. New York, Routledge.
  • If your study is not interesting and/or not adding something new to the field of study, then there is no reason for your paper to be accepted!
  • Sometimes the sentences about theory do the OPPOSITE — theymake the author sound LESS than expert.
  • These sentences demonstrate that this author really does understand his theory very well. He shows his authority by the way he discusses the theory. Soffer, O. (2010). Silent orality: Toward a conceptualization of the digital oral features in CMC and SMS texts. Communication Theory, 20(4), 387–404.
  • These will be discussed in detail.
  • Do not add any subtitle! There is only one title for an abstract.
  • Superscripts may be used after the authors’ names. If there is only one author, the author’s name and institution may appear together on one line.
  • Remember that your GOAL is to COMMUNICATE clearly with another human being – the one who is reading your abstract.
  • Remember to follow the instructions from the specific conference to which you send the abstract. If they say NO references, then DO NOT include them.
  • And to do it QUICKLY, briefly, EFFICIENTLY.
  • The keywords are not important in the process of accepting or rejecting an abstract. However, they will be important if the abstract is later published online, or included in a database.
  • UNPAD, Jatinangor, Jawa Barat, Indonesia,2 March 2012. Presentation to lecturers in FIKOM.
  • How to Write a One-Page Abstract

    1. 1. THE ABSTRACTHow to prepare a one-page abstract forconference submission
    2. 2. Outline of key considerations1. Language (use an editor)2. Instructions from the conference3. Clarity of writing4. What makes your study unique and interesting5. Convince the reader that your paper is a good one (authority)6. Formatting
    3. 3. 1. LANGUAGEIf the abstract must be written in English,hire a native speaker to edit it
    4. 4. 2. INSTRUCTIONSMany conferences provide specific guidelinesfor the contents and format of the abstract(especially: word count)
    5. 5. 3. CLARITYIdeas in the abstract must be expressed clearlyand simply
    6. 6. Example 1The primary feature of social media is conversation. Thereare social media conversation practices in Indonesia thathinder the formation of a public sphere that is characterizedby free and deliberative discussion. One of the problems isthe inappropriateness of conversation in the discussions.KASKUS as the largest online forum in Indonesia alsofaces the same problem. The inappropriateness in the formof flaming, spamming, and trolling become obstacles tofoster a healthy and rational debates, especially in thecontext of political discussion.(81 words)
    7. 7. Revised example 1The primary feature of social media is conversation. Somesocial media conversation practices in Indonesia hinder theformation of a public sphere that is characterized by freeand deliberative discussion. In online forums, inappropriatepractices such as flaming, spamming, and trolling becomeobstacles to healthy and rational debates, especially in thecontext of political discussion.(55 words: 26 fewer, a reduction of more than 25%)
    8. 8. Example 2KASKUS, as the largest online forum in Indonesia, alsofaces the same problem. …The objective of this paper is to map the relation betweeninappropriateness in the political discussions in theKASKUS online forum with the oral tradition by criticallyreviewing the concept of orality in the context of computer-mediated communication and using orality to analyze thetexts of the political discussion in the KASKUS onlineforum.(68 words)
    9. 9. Revised example 2KASKUS is the largest online forum in Indonesia, whichhas a long and rich oral tradition. Using the concept oforality (Ong, 2002 [1982]) to analyze the texts of thepolitical discussion in the KASKUS forum, this paper mapsthe relationship between inappropriateness in social mediaconversations and the oral tradition.This paper also critically reviews the concept of orality inthe context of computer-mediated communication.(66 words; no significant reduction)
    10. 10. 4. UNIQUENESSThe people who read your abstract must see that yourstudy is interesting and offers something new
    11. 11. 5. AUTHORITYThe abstract should indicate that the qualityof the paper is very good, and that the authorreally understands the topic
    12. 12. Example 3: AuthorityThere is disagreement on whether computer-mediatedcommunication represents secondary orality or residualorality (Soffer, 2010). Given that the KASKUS forumparticipants are writing texts and do not produce sounds,this paper argues that their interaction demonstratesresidual orality, which is characterized by habits, thoughts,and expressions that have roots in the oral tradition. Theirinteraction does not constitute secondary orality, because...
    13. 13. 6. FORMATTINGTitle, author(s), institution(s),structure of the body of the text, references
    14. 14. Title of the abstract• First — at the top of the page• Upper- and lowercase letters (not all caps)• About 10 to 15 words — usually okay (maximum 20)• No more than 2 lines!• Clear and direct: Describe the study, not the results• Represent the contents of the paper honestly• Include the type of method in the title:  A case study  A content analysis  A survey• Do not be ―clever‖; simple is best
    15. 15. Examples of abstract titles• Corporate social responsibility for image repair: A case study of BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis• Transparency in environmental communication: A survey of PRSA members• How gender cues and individual motivations influence perceptions of credibility: An experiment with multiple blog posts
    16. 16. Authors and institutionsMary Smith [1], John R. Anderson [2], and Susan Franklin [3] 1 First University Name, City, Country 2 Second University Name, City, Country 3 Third University Name, City, Country• Each line is centered.• These lines appear directly below the title.
    17. 17. Structure of the abstract text1. Rationale  Usually one sentence that introduces the topic  Do NOT repeat the title!2. Objective(s)  What were you trying to find out?  Why was this study done?3. Methods (be very clear!): Examples on next slide4. Results: State what you found (real data, but brief)5. Conclusions  Say what it means  Why is it important?
    18. 18. Examples of methods• A framing analysis of 500 newspaper articles published from September 2005 to September 2010 …• Transcripts of structured interviews with 12 victims of police corruption were analyzed by …• Surveys were completed by 431 healthcare practitioners; 29 surveys were eliminated because more than 10 percent of questions were not answered (N=402). A statistical analysis of the responses showed …
    19. 19. Structure: Guidelines for length1. Rationale: 1 sentence2. Objective(s): 1–2 sentences3. Methods: 2 sentences4. Results: 4–6 sentences5. Conclusions: 1–2 sentencesHint: Try saying each one of the 5 out loud, in your firstlanguage, until you can do it in the recommended numberof sentences. Then write that. Then translate it.
    20. 20. References• Not always required• Some conferences give instructions not to include these• Where? At the bottom of the page• Style: Correct reference/citation style, e.g., Chicago or APA style• Number: Usually no more than 3; 1 or none — okay• Hanging indent: Not necessary (unless required)• Do not include them unless they really help the abstract (for example, by allowing you to omit an explanation)
    21. 21. Example: ReferencesOng, W. J. (2002 [1982]). Orality and literacy: Thetechnologizing of the word. New York, Routledge.Papacharissi, Z. (2004). Democracy online: Civility,politeness, and the democratic potential of online politicaldiscussion groups. New Media & Society, 6(2), 259–283.Soffer, O. (2010). Silent orality: Toward a conceptualizationof the digital oral features in CMC and SMS texts.Communication Theory, 20(4), 387–404.
    22. 22. WHY AN ABSTRACT?The main purpose of the abstract is to communicate thereasons for, and the value of, your study
    23. 23. Choosing keywords• How many? 5 to 8 — not more• How to choose them? Think of searching: What will people type into a search engine if they are looking for a paper like yours?• Do not use duplicate words, e.g., reporter and reporting• Do not use common words that already appear in your abstract, e.g., online• Do use terms that are commonly applied to your topic, e.g., social media
    24. 24. THE ABSTRACTPresentation by Mindy McAdamsUniversity of Florida,