Write a Scientific Abstract

Tips for Writing a Scientific Abstract for a Conference or Symposium:

Check the conference abstract submissions guidelines for the required abstract format. This will allow you to identify the word limit and any specific formatting requirements for the abstract. For many conferences, abstracts that do not adhere to submission guidelines may be rejected.

Use sample abstracts from previous years’ meetings, and/or sample abstracts provided in the conference abstract submission instructions as a guide.

Required headings/abstract sections may vary by conference type. In general, most scientific abstracts follow a similar format which includes: (1) title; (2) authors and department and/or institution affiliation; (3) background/rationale; (4) methods; (6) results; (6) conclusions/discussion.

  • Title: Your title should be descriptive enough to give the reader a sense of the research conducted. Many conferences impose a word or character limit on abstract titles, so you will want your title to be concise, but also interesting. Titles should accurately reflect the research conducted and should not be misleading
  • Author block: Make sure to check the conference abstract submission guidelines for the author block. Some conferences, for example, request only institution affiliation for all authors, while others may also want departmental affiliation. Make sure that all authors listed have agreed to be listed on the abstract, that their names are spelled correctly, and that their titles (PhD, MD, etc.) are correct (if required in the author block).
  • Background/Rationale: Begin with a brief introduction of the overall problem you are trying to address with your research, and any information the reader may need to understand the importance and rationale for your research. The level of detail that you include in the background of your abstract may depend upon the conference audience and/or word limit of the abstract. Your background/rationale section should include a statement of the study purpose or aim(s).
  • Methods: Your methods section should include a brief overview of the general experimental approach of your study. The level of detail that you provide will depend, in large part, on the word limit allowed for the abstract. Make sure to review abstract submission guidelines – some conference, for example, require a statement about your statistical approach to be included in your methods section. The methods section does not need to provide every detail of your experimental design, but should give the reader a general idea about your experimental approach. More detail about your research methodology is typically included in your poster or oral presentation.
  • Results: Provide a brief overview of your study results, including statistical results, if appropriate. Present the most important/highest impact or main analysis results first, followed by any secondary analyses or lower impact results. The results section should contain results only – save any discussion of your results for the conclusions/discussion section of your abstract.
  • Conclusions/Discussion: This section should include a brief discussion of how your results fit within the general research topic you described in the background/introduction. This is your chance to provide the “big picture” or real world application of your research. If you have space in the word limit parameters of your abstract, you might also include future directions or planned experiments at the end of your abstract. These can provide information about how your results fit into your area of research, and they also provide a preview to any updated results you might include in your poster or oral presentation at the conference.
  • Additional Points to Consider: When writing your abstract, keep in mind that attendees will use your abstract to determine whether they are interested in visiting your poster or attending your talk. Make sure that your abstract is easy to understand and highlights the importance of your findings in a way that will be interesting for conference attendees.

NCWU Sample Abstracts

Click the links below to access sample abstracts submitted for presentation by NCWU faculty and students.