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ABRCMS Online will be accepting webinar proposals for the 2020 Webinar Series. Submit a webinar proposal to engage attendees in cutting-edge scientific research and enhance their professional development skills through ABRCMS Online.

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Webinar Proposals Solicitation Posting Date: June 1, 2019

Due Date: Friday, September 20, 2019

"Writing a Compelling Abstract" - General Abstract Tips

This webinar is intended to help potential entrants understand the criteria that reviewers use to rate abstracts for ABRCMS and the elements of successful abstract submissions.

If you're interested in maximizing your ABRCMS 2018 experience and want to put your best foot forward in your abstract, you’ll want to listen in! Tips on writing a great abstract as well as examples from previous ABRCMS awardees will be shared.

Ramesh Raghupathi Faculty Presenter: Prof. Ramesh Raghupathi, Professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University


Webinar recordings are hosted by Adobe Connect. To test your connection, please visit:


You may view a recording of the webinar by clicking on the button below:




Please use the viewer below to navigate through the slides used in the webinar.


We have compiled a list of questions and answers from the webinar:

Q: When presenting at the conference, am I limited to only presenting the results I reported in my abstract or can I report results that were found after the deadline for abstracts?

This is a very common issue with abstract submissions, since the deadline often occurs well before the conference. You may report results that were acquired following the abstract submission deadline, on the condition that your project is not significantly changed by the incorporation of new data. The motivation, hypothesis, and approach described in your abstract should remain consistent.

Q: What if I don't have results yet but will have them soon? Can I still mention what we expect to see?

If you have no data, then it is too early to submit an abstract. However, if you have partial results but not enough to make definitive statements, you can present the data as preliminary making descriptive comments such as “the observations suggest that…” or “there is a trend in..” You should indicate that “ongoing experiments seek to increase the number of subjects..” You will certainly have more results at the time of the conference, and these may be updated on your poster (for poster presentations) or slides (for oral presentations) after abstract submission, as long as the project does not change significantly.

Q: If my project has three components, is it ok to discuss data and results for each component individually or should all data be grouped followed by all results?

Note: This question, as worded, does confuse some terminology, however the answer will address multiple possibilities.

That depends if you can make a cohesive story out of all components of the project. It would be best to try to weave the three components of your project into a "story" that incorporates elements of all three throughout the description. You may indicate multiple hypotheses for multiple approaches and list all of your results--simply be sure to clearly link your hypotheses to the proper procedures, results, and conclusions. If you mean “methods and results”, then I strongly discourage going back and forth. If you mean “results and conclusions” then I recommend presenting all the results then providing concluding statements.

There are cases when there are multiple parts to a bigger project and one is logical continuation of the other and the data of one part serves a basis for the next one. If that is the case, results of each component should be given right after description of methods of the certain individual component as without it, that might be hard to understand whole story. However, there might be that in different components of the project you are comparing multiple variables/conditions in the same model, like for example if you are testing effect of three different drugs on colorectal cancer tumors in mice. The same model( mice strain, type of cancer, etc.) stays constant and one variable under study varies, in that case that makes sense to present your all of you results together after the description of methods.

Q: How do you express your results when they may only be partially conclusive?

The "partially conclusive" interpretation, itself, is very valuable. It is based on an interpretation of your results, however. Present your results without interpretation and make sure that you indicate that they are not entriely conclusive in your conclusions statement. Use terms as “partially suggest that…” or “the data, in part, suggest that…” or “there is a trend towards…” 

Q: When you say that citation will be removed, do you mean parenthetical citations or references used in the background section which refer to those listed in the bibliography?

For your abstract submission, there should be no bibliography included. Nor should your abstract text contain any references, citations, or keywords. You should include your bibliography or works cited on your poster (for poster presentations) or on your slides (for oral presentations).

Q: I hope to attend and present my research at ABRCMS. However, my mentor doesn't want my abstract to be available to public in case they get scooped. Is it possible for me to attend the conference without showing my abstract to the public?

While it is a great honor to present at a scientific conference, the issue that you’ve posed is common in the sciences. The best advice that I can give is that you shouldn’t present your work at the conference if there is a credible threat to the integrity or uniqueness of your work. By the conference, you are generally far along enough in your work that it is not reasonable for someone to “catch up” to you and scoop you, even with a massive amount of resources and connections.

If the concern is not only regarding the abstract, but the presentation as well, then you should definitely consider not presenting. However, if the concern is only regarding the abstract, this appears to be a timing issue. The abstracts will be available to the public (meaning those with access to the online program planner) around the time of the conference in November. You should discuss with your PI whether the timing of the abstract publication matters for their concerns.

Regardless of the outcome, you should definitely have a conversation with your PI regarding how to best protect the integrity of your work while taking advantage of the opportunities presented by sharing your work.

Q: Can we refer to figures and tables attached after the end of the text in our abstract and explained in a figure legend?

There are no figures allowed in your abstract, even as attachments. The abstract is meant to be a text description of background of your project, what you hypothesized, what you did, your results, and conclusions. If there are particularly compelling figures or tables that add to your description, please formulate them to describe the data or concept in the text of your abstract.

Q: Does the abstract have to be a one big paragraph? Can we break it up into different paragraph?

You may formulate your abstract in a manner that makes it clearly and concisely presented. Some abstracts may need to be split into seperate paragraphs to convey the point, while others are fine as a single paragraph. One rule of thumb is to split completely separate ideas or thought streams into separate paragraphs. This is typically NOT needed with most abstracts. Please see the 2017 student examples for insight.

Q: Will the subheadings, if I choose to do a structured abstract, count in the 2,500 characters limit?

If you choose to do a structured abstract, the subheading WILL count against the 2,500 character limit.

Q: Will research that is ongoing and still developing be reviewed for presentation?

We understand that some research projects are not fully developed or completed by the time of abstract submission. Projects that are still ongoing will be reviewed. Please remember to keep your results in perspective.

Q: Would we receive the critique sheet from our reviewers? I might be helpful to improve our writing skills.

You will not be able to receive the evaluation sheet from reviewers. You are encouraged to have as many people (faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, other students, scientific colleagues) as possible review your abstract prior to submission.

Q: The guidelines state not to use any "references, tables, or keywords", what is meant by keywords?

Keywords are sometimes included with abstracts from published journals to orient readers to terms that capture the most important aspects of the article. They are typically used for indexing and citation purposes. These keywords are not allowed in the submission of your conference abstract.

Q: Since parenthetical citations are not allowed in the text of the abstract, is a works cited/references page required?

A works cited/references page is not required. You should include your bibliography or works cited on your poster (for poster presentations) or on your slides (for oral presentations).

Q: The guidelines state that "only the first letter is capitalized", however the examples presented showed all letters capitalized. What is the proper format?

A point of clarification: the guidance that "only the first letter is capitalized" refers to each word in the title. It DOES NOT refer to ONLY the first word of the entire title. In addition, prepositions are not capitalized (the, and, of, with, etc.), no part of the title should be bold, the title should not have a period at the end of the sentence, and only scientific names should be italicized.

Q: How do you consider abbreviations or acronymns in abstract titles?

There are very common abbreviations and acronymns that exist in scientific fields (such as "DNA"). These are generally acceptable terms to use in titles. Abbreviations or acronymns that are highly specific to your field or research project (i.e. something that a general scientific reviewer would not immediately recognize) should be written in full in the title.

Q: If abstracts don't contain citations/references, how can we avoid plagiarism?

It's important to remember that your abstract is meant to be a summary of the field, your approach, your hypothesis, your results, and your conclusions. Here, more than ever, it is important to articulate knowledge from your field in your owns words. You should abolutely cite sources on your poster/presentation, but your abstract (if well-written), should not be at risk of plagiarism. What would be considered plagiarism, however, is if your abstract attributes ideas or interpretations to you that aren't yours.

An example is that, if you are presenting prior research to establish background, your language must indicate that the work is that has already been established in the field such as, "it has been shown" or "previous research has demonstrated". As long as what you are presenting is your recap of prior work and not represnted as your own work, it is acceptable. 



Please click on the links to view the other webinars in the "Writing a Compelling Abstract" series:

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"Writing a Compelling Abstract" – Specific Abstract Tips for Biomedical Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences/Public Health "Writing a Compelling Abstract" – Specific Abstract Tips for Chemical Sciences and Engineering/Physics/Mathematics

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