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“Writing a Compelling Abstract” – Specific Abstract Tips for Chemical Sciences and Engineering/Physics/Mathematics

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!

Note: This session will provide feedback from reviewers of abstracts from Chemical Sciences and Engineering/Physics/Mathematics, as well as information about example abstracts from the fields in these disciplines.

Webinar participants will:

  • Review criteria that reviewers use to rate abstracts for ABRCMS
  • Describe the elements of successful abstract submissions 
  • Explore tips on writing a great abstract
  • Discuss examples from previous ABRCMS awardees
Micheal Johnson Faculty Presenter:  Prof. Michael Johnson, Assistant Professor of Immunobiology at University of Arizona


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

Q: You mentioned that reported conclusions must be supported by the data presented in your abstract, but students must not include figures, tables or citations. How can we articulate that our results are supported by data when we cannot include experimental data in the abstract? Could you please clarify?

Think of your abstract as the verbal articulation of your results. While there are some people who can very clearly convey the results of a figure or table in words, there are others that may struggle with it. Literally say our results show that x is more than y. You don’t need numbers, what would you put in the figure legend title is a good thing of what you would put in the abstract.

Q: How do you word your results section if the research is still on-going?

I would just notate that you found new data but if you are comfortable, it is perfectly fine to discuss that data. Judges and other people present at the conference will be interested on what is forthcoming even if expected results were not acquired.

Q: What are the ABRCMS guidelines for using the passive voice when writing? My PIs were completely anti-we/our/I, but I noticed that in your examples, you said, "we found this result, etc., etc.,".

This is PI specific and I would go for the rules of your lab. Some people will fight you with on both sides. There is not total consensus.

Q: Are superscripts and subscripts allowed in the text of your abstract, such as that used for compounds? Will the formatting hold when we submit it through the website?

Subscripts and superscripts are allowed in the abstract, and are enabled by the abstract submission portal. Any entered formats will be preserved.

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

It is hard to say these things if you have not yet done the experiment. You could say that you expect to see, but not having done the experiment will probably result in harsher abstract judgement. Is there something novel about the technique that you can talk about?

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

With honesty. “more studies are needed to confirm x phenotype” State the truth when it comes to your results and make sure that you know the reasoning behind why the results are in the state they are.

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

By keeping things more general/with general knowledge. Citations can be on your poster to reference info on your poster. Just write it in your best words and avoid copy paste.



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" – General Abstract Tips "Writing a Compelling Abstract" – Specific Abstract Tips for Biomedical Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences/Public Health

Additional Info

  • Presentation Date: Tuesday, 21 August 2018

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