Ready to share your research at a medical conference, but struggling to craft the perfect abstract? Let's unlock some of the secrets of writing a compelling abstract.
Attending scientific conferences are a good opportunity to showcase your work and network with like-minded academics in your field. However, acceptance to present at a conference can be competitive and spaces for poster exhibitions or oral presentations limited.
A scientific abstract that grabs the attention of reviewers can make the difference between being selected to attend a conference, or not. Here, I provide 4 key tips on how to write a compelling abstract for a scientific conference.
- 1. Carefully read, and follow the conference guidelines.
A study showed that 72% of abstract rejections were for failure to follow submission guidelines. Pay attention to important dates, the required word count and any specific formatting. A convincing abstract needs to be concise, demonstrating the key points of the project. It should stand alone and convey a succinct message. This should inform the reader of the relevance of your work.
- 2. Identify the who, what, why and how of the abstract.
The usual sections of a structured abstract are the background, methods, results and conclusions. To help with the formulation of these main sections, follow the guidance below. An abstract can typically be categorised into four basic parts:
Who is your audience? Identify who you are targeting and tailor your writing to suit the listeners. Generally speaking, use about 12 words for the title. If you need to take another breath when reading it, then the title is too long!
What is the research question, or problem, you are trying to solve? This is the single most important point for the rest of your writing. It needs to be concise and unambiguous.
Why is this work important? State if this work addresses a gap in knowledge. Consider if it is novel or has not been adequately answered in previous research, or if it supports existing research.
How was the research question addressed? Here is where you discuss the methodology. Use this opportunity to highlight any unique methods or techniques that were undertaken.
Make bullet points for what, why and how the research objectives were addressed. They then need to be linked with sentences. Ensure that these sentences follow a logical sequence.
- 3. Link the results and conclusion back to the research question or statement of purpose.
The findings are the most important part of the abstract. Allow this section to be somewhat longer than the others. Then the range and quality of results are not compromised. It is a good idea to then summarise the key findings in one sentence. The conclusions should be impactful. The reader should have a take-home message from this work. Use short, sharp sentences where every word counts.
- 4. Fresh eyes: Review, walk away and review again.
Once you have written the abstract, leave it! If time allows, sleep on it and return the next day with fresh eyes for another final review before submission.
Following these four simple tips will give you a good chance of getting your abstract accepted for a scientific conference. However, if you get stuck, our expert medical writers at Elion Medical Communications are here to help.