Many conferences, including Hospice UK's National Conference, are extremely competitive when it comes to selecting papers and presentations.
Make sure you stand the best chance of being selected by following our ten top tips on how to write an abstract.
Ten top tips: how to write an abstract
- 1. Be concise and stick to the word limit
- 2. Be clear
- 3. Keep it anonymous
- 4. Be original
- 5. List a maximum of five references
- 6. Correctly structure your abstract
- 7. Include enough detail under each heading
- 8. Compare your work to sample abstracts
- 9. Make use of a mentoring scheme
- 10. Submit your work on time
1. Be concise and stick to the word limit
The first tip on how to write an abstract is simple: the text of your abstract should not exceed 300 words, excluding the title, authors’ names and references. The title should not exceed 100 characters.
This also helps readability for the reviewers, who will be wading through many abstracts. You'll want to help yours stand out by being easy to read.
2. Be clear
It's important to use plain English, and if you use abbreviations then be sure to explain them.
For instance, try to use generic rather than proprietary names of drugs. Where appropriate, mention the source of any funding of your work or any conflicts of interest.
3. Keep it anonymous
Don’t mention the names of authors or the organisation(s) concerned in the text of your abstract or its title.
In order to give everyone an equal opportunity for their abstract to be selected, the review process is anonymous - reviewers are not told the names or workplace of people whose abstracts they review.
4. Be original
This may seem obvious, but if your work has been presented or published elsewhere, then usually abstracts about it cannot be considered.
5. List a maximum of five references
You are encouraged to list a maximum of five references to underpin your abstract; these are not included in the word count.
Abbreviated references may be added to your abstract by the call for papers team if your abstract is accepted for presentation.
Use the Vancouver referencing style. Find more information about the Vancouver style of referencing from the library at the University of York.
6. Correctly structure your abstract
If your abstract isn't using the correct headings, you may find that it gets marked down - so it's important to structure your abstract using the same headings which the reviewers will use to score your work.
Each abstract is independently scored against a set criteria of headings by two reviewers. These scores then inform decisions made at the final abstract decision meeting (held later in the summer).
You can view a copy of the scoring sheet used by the National Conference reviewers.
7. Include enough detail under each heading
Sometimes, an abstract can be let down by not filling in all the sections adequately.
You should give enough detail under each of the headings so that the reviewers can allocate scores for your abstract.
In the Hospice UK conference application, all sections are scored so all sections should have content (except for the Conclusion section for abstracts relating to work in progress).
8. Compare your work to sample abstracts
It's handy to look at sample imaginary abstracts to understand why work may or may not be accepted for presentation.
Here are some examples of sample abstracts for the Hospice UK National Conference:
9. Make use of a mentoring scheme
If you're less experienced in writing for publication, you might consider making use of a mentoring scheme - if available.
For instance, Hospice UK's panel of volunteer mentors can share their knowledge and experience in writing abstracts and help you to increase the chance of your work being accepted for presentation.
Evaluation of this scheme for 2022 showed that all of the authors who took part benefitted from their mentorship. Find out more about our mentorship scheme.
10. Submit your work on time
If you don't submit your abstract on time - no matter how good it is - it will not be accepted!
The deadline for submitting an abstract for Hospice UK's National Conference 2023 was midday on Monday 15 May.
Once you have submitted your abstract, you will not be able to edit the content - so it's important to get it right.