How to write a great abstract

Abstracts are now open for the NRM Science Conference 2018. Before you submit your abstract, be sure to read the Conference Guidelines to find out about the abstract submission process and presentation types.

Importantly, abstracts for the conference will be collated and published on the website. These abstracts will be searchable and free to read online. This is a great opportunity to share your work, even after the conference has finished. To make the most of this opportunity, we’ve compiled our top tips to writing a great abstract.

Traditionally, science abstracts have followed the same pattern: background information is first presented, followed by results and discussion and the final summarising points.

But abstracts could be more effective and engaging if this pattern was flipped. Readers (i.e. stakeholders) want to first know the bottom line and why it’s important, before getting into further detail. This is best represented in the following diagram:

In each of these three points, the audience is critical and comprise stakeholders that are unlikely to have specialist knowledge of your field. Stakeholders may well include your direct peers, but also policy makers, managers, researchers and practitioners. Consider these people as you prepare your abstract, ensuring that your abstract is written in plain English.

The point: What is the bottom line of this piece of work? If the audience was to only take home one message from the talk, what would it be? Distill your work into a digestible key message that stakeholders can appreciate and share with others.

Why should I care?: Showcase the relevance of your work and how it relates to stakeholders. Expand on your key message and create a connection between your work and the problems or situations faced by your stakeholders.

Background information: Think about the level of detail in the abstract. Most stakeholders won’t have specialist knowledge in your field. Moderate the details so they may be appreciated by the majority. Less detail won’t detract from your abstract but more detail will. If the reader requires more information, they will ask for it. Abstracts are a stepping stone to more discussion.

For more tips on writing a great abstract, read the following links:


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