How to Be a Hot Pick: Tips for Writing Abstracts

How to make sure your abstracts are a hot pickCommunicating about your research to raise awareness and to get noticed is a critical skill. To be sure your abstract is a hot pick for talks, it’s important to use the right approach. Here are some tips and resources that can help your abstract get chosen.

Consider Each Audience

Reviewers will select your work for oral presentation when they are interested enough to read your whole abstract. Program committees will give your abstract priority if key themes are evident in its title and contents. Conferees will attend your session when your abstract convinces them to devote 20 minutes listening to your presentation. This range of enthusiasm is not easily achieved and requires careful thought. So create a good abstract by answering YES to these questions:

Do you have a great title?

Many people read ONLY the title. If you have not caught their interest with the title, they will not read further.

  • Is your title a concentrated version of your abstract?
  • Does it embody the relevance and interest of your work in only a few words?
  • Is it concise yet not too catchy? Cleverness can be both a plus and a minus.

Is your research significance unmistakable?

Relevance is hard to overemphasize. Even people in top labs from your own area may not recognize the full impact of your findings. Other scientists outside your immediate area pose a still greater challenge. So to be selected, your abstract must give a full account of the relevance of the research.

  • Does your work contribute significantly to fundamental understandings in your area?
  • Are there applied implications; does your research span a spectrum from molecular to whole-plant or ecosystem levels?
  • Do any aspects of your work clearly delineate to multiple species?

Are you describing the science itself as fully as possible?

Do not skimp on the hypothesis, approach, results and discussion. These central aspects of the research are as important as fully explaining relevance. A good balance is essential.

  • Did you share enough of your logic for others to follow?
  • Does your abstract represent a complete story?

Additional Resources:

While you are thinking about preparing abstracts for upcoming meetings, why not submit an abstract to Plant Biology 2014?


This post was written and contributed by Dr. Karen Koch, a professor of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Florida and the ASPB Secretary and Program Committee Chair.

If you are interested in contributing a post to the ASPB Plant Science blog, please let us know.

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