Tips for Writing an Effective Abstract

The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference offers many postgraduate students their first opportunity to present an academic paper. This can be simultaneously exciting and daunting, so we’d like to offer up some tools and resources that might help you to prepare for your first conference presentation.

As is standard with most conferences, the first step to presenting at BritGrad is submitting an abstract. Writing an abstract for the first time can be a challenging task, as it requires you to clearly and concisely present your research with a certain degree of specificity whilst adhering to a limited word count. (In this case, it’s 200 words.)

The following points can help guide you in figuring out the most important areas of your chosen topic to discuss in your abstract:

  • Subject – What are you writing about?
  • Purpose/Aim/Objective – Why write about it?
  • Nature of Field and Contribution – What else is written on this subject? Is your paper related to a larger field of study? How are in interacting with existing scholarship and discourse?
  • Evidence – What sources/textual references do you use to support your argument? Is there anything unique about the nature of this evidence?
  • Approach – What is the angle? What might be unique about the research you’ve done or the evidence you provide?
  • Argument – What is your overall claim or main argument?
  • Conclusions – What conclusions do you make? Are there areas still open for exploration on this subject?

Remember that these points are guidelines and are not intended to be followed in a particular order. They can be rearranged and combined as you see fit.

Need some examples? Curious to see what other students have presented at BritGrad? Click here to see programmes from past years which contain a variety of abstracts written by past presenters.

Don’t forget that the deadline for abstracts is 23:59 GMT on 21 March 2017. We look forward to reading your abstract. Good luck, and happy writing!


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