How to Write a Compelling Conference Abstract

By Jennifer Toyoda posted 10-07-2021 14:48


This blog was crafted by the Communications Subcommittee of the Graduate Student Leadership Committee.

For graduate students, conferences are among the best places to network and share research with a wide range of potential collaborators, employers, and mentors. The first step to presenting at a conference is submitting your abstract. Additionally, you want your abstract to be accepted and read and to compel attendees to visit your poster or talk. Your abstract can even win awards! Abstract submissions for the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting are due December 1. Let’s get started!

  1. Follow directions! Look up the abstract guidelines and follow the assigned limits on character length and format. Don’t get passed by because your abstract doesn’t meet the standards.
  2. Topic/title: Your title contains the first words (and, if not compelling, maybe the last!) that conference-goers will receive from you. Use your title to grab attention and to clearly express the topic of interest. A good title tells viewers how your research fits into the conference, so consider the Poster Session categories you’re targeting (Neurotoxicity, Food Safety, Carcinogenesis, etc.).
  3. Rationale: What is the problem you are solving? What is the purpose of the study? Provide background to help the reader understand the motivation, scope, and importance of your research. Make them care about getting the answer to your research question.
  4. Methods: Briefly describe how you did it. Tell your reader how you approached the problem. You can include the experimental design, research methods, test compounds, etc.
  5. Results/data: OK, you’ve got them hooked. Now is the part where you show off the results of all that hard work. What did you find out? SOT asks for specifics here. Don’t leave them hanging—the abstract needs to stand on its own aside from your conference presentation.
  6. Conclusions: This is your chance to make sure the audience receives your intended message. Provide your expert interpretation of the results and remind them why it is important in the larger field of science.
  7. Don’t click “submit” yet! Reread your abstract, edit it, look at it with fresh eyes in the morning, and forward it to your mentor and colleagues for comments. Avoid unnecessary jargon, typos, or overstatements. Look for ways to make your sentences more concise, meaning use fewer words that convey more information. International Science Editing offers tips on reducing wordiness in scientific writing.

These tips will get you on your way to stronger abstracts. The more abstracts you write, the better they will become. Have fun with it! Submit your abstract for the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting by December 1, 2021! We can’t wait to see you at the Annual Meeting!