How to Write an Abstract

AbstractAn abstract is a brief but comprehensive summary of your poster, presentation, or performance. Because the exact content of an abstract varies across disciplines, you should develop your abstract in consultation with your project supervisor. Nevertheless, the following information should serve as a starting point for the different types of abstracts.

Posters and Presentations
A good abstract should be accurate, coherent, readable, and concise (250 words maximum). The problem or topic under investigation should be stated briefly, in one sentence if possible. There should be an explanation of the nature of the research, training, or study that went into the project. In other words, define your methods. For example, you should explain if the project was based on a literature review, survey research, interviews, or laboratory experiments. You should report the basic findings or results of your project. Finally, your abstract should include the significance, theoretical or policy implications, and applications of your work.

A performance abstract/description will differ from research-oriented presentations, but the basic goal of writing a clear and concise summary (250 words) remains. You should explain to what genre and techniques your performance applies, what training and study went into it, and how your style compares to others in your field. The description may also take the form of an artist's statement akin to notes accompanying gallery exhibits or appearing in performance programs. Such an approach might include background information to guide the audience or a brief description of the development process. It could also provide more personal thoughts ranging from a general vision to a specific mention of inspiration for the work or how it responds to another form of expression.