Abstract Guidelines


Advice for Writing an Abstract

An abstract is a concise summary of your completed project that provides a snapshot of it as a whole. The abstract should be written as a single paragraph of 250 words or less (not including title, authors, department) and include the following elements:

1. Motivation/rationale for the project: What did you set out to do and why? Why is it important/significant/interesting? What problem does the work attempt to solve, or what intellectual or theoretical gap does it aim to fill?

2. Methods/procedure/approach: What did you do and how? What is the scope of the project?  What models or specific approaches did you use?  What sources of evidence did you rely on?

3. Results/conclusions:  What did you find/learn/conclude? An abstract of a scientific project may include specific data.  Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.

4. Implications: What does it mean and how does it relate to what else is known? How does this work add to the existing body of knowledge?  What are the implications for the problem/issue identified in part 1?

It can be helpful to look at models of abstracts from your discipline.  We’ve included a few sample abstracts from previous Expo participants to help.

General tips

  • Write your abstract for a general (non-specialist) educated audience.
  • Proofread your abstract.  The abstract you submit will be published in the printed program. Make sure your mentor/advisor has approved your abstract.
  • Avoid parenthetical citations and footnotes. Short abstracts do not typically include references, a Works Cited list, or footnotes. 

    *adapted from Northwestern University