Creating Your Abstract

Once you have chosen the work you wish to submit and the format you wish to employ, you will need to submit an abstract via the online application form. It is not uncommon that your research be incomplete when submitting the final version of the abstract.  You will have the opportunity to share your findings during your presentation. 

Your abstract needs to be 250 words or less. Here are some helpful tips for getting started and for crafting a clear and concise abstract, along with three sample abstracts.

Tips for Clarity

  1. Be concise:  Say only what you need and intend to say.
    • Avoid unnecessary adjectives
    • Avoid tangents and unneeded commentary
  2. Use the narrative voice:  Form a logical narrative of ideas, not a story of the experience
    • Avoid step-by-step coverage outside of describing critical procedures, important causal phenomena, etc.
    • Avoid speculation, deviation from main idea or line of inquiry
  3. Limit Your Scope: Include only the information needed to make your point
    • Use illustrations and figures only to show new techniques, results or to support your argument

Language to Use

  1. Use formal diction: no casual or colloquial phrasing
  2. Avoid jargon whenever possible
  3. Do not use contractions (couldn't, didn't, etc.)
  4. Use abbreviations to avoid repetition, but only after you have defined them
  5. Do not include personal narrative, opinion or commentary
  6. Use active voice when possible

Idea Starters

Consider the following questions when composing your abstract:

  1. What was the purpose of the research? Importance?
  2. What does the current research say? What problem did you address?
  3. How did you attempt to solve this problem?
  4. What method(s) were used? What was done?
  5. What significant data were collected?
  6. What new ideas, problems emerged? What can be concluded?

Sample Abstracts

Africana Studies

Jeremy Arnold '10 (Dr. Shirleen Robinson) Oral Presentation

In the decades leading up to World War II, Seattle maintained a longstanding reputation as one of the more racially tolerant urban cities in the United States. However, tolerance did not translate into economic equality or communal identity for African Americans. Economically overpowered by whites and outnumbered by other minorities, living conditions did not improve for African Americans until the emergence of 34 night clubs on Jackson Street. From 1940-1950, Seattle attracted roughly 12,000 African Americans, many of which chose to live near Jackson Street in Seattle’s Central District. Yet how did Jackson Street establish a strong communal identity for such a geographically, culturally, and musically diverse population of African Americans? In order to answer this question, I demonstrate Jackson Street’s impact on Seattle’s Central District by tracing the communal and political climates a few decades before the war. Additionally, I examine African American population growth, economic conditions, musical adaptability and migration trends up until 1950. Ultimately, I conclude that Jackson Street fostered a diverse cultural infrastructure that not only promoted economic independence, but also created a system of contact and networking that helped Central District African Americans overcome the limitations of early segregation and discrimination. It is no surprise that by the end of the Jackson Street Era, African Americans had become for the first time ever, the largest minority in Seattle.


Charles R. Zange '11 (Dr. William Bowman) Oral Presentation

The purpose of work was to research soccer history and to present its early years (1848-1938). I studied three topics in my research: global spread (how fast did uniform regulations spread?), professionalism (how did soccer’s professional leagues evolve), and media analysis (where were soccer’s first major enters?). Firstly, an analysis of soccer’s spread showed kicking sports existed in various forms all over the world. It was also found that soccer spread first to Western Europe and then along trade routes European colonies overseas. Secondly, a study of early professionalism showed that paying players was an international controversy at the turn of the twentieth century. In Brazil, laws against salaried players were used to suppress worker’s clubs and limit competition with the landed elite. Finally, soccer’s media evolution occurred relatively late in the time-line of analysis. This was in part due to technological limitations of the era, but also related to the tension in international politics, especially between England and the rest of the world. Today, there are more countries that have memberships to FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, that to the United Nations. Soccer’s history is the world’s history. As authors like Franklin Foer (How Soccer Explains the World, 2004) have demonstrated, soccer can be used as a current and historical model for understanding international politics, cultural rivalries, and social divisions on this planet. 


Bryce Carpenter '10 & Matthew Margotta '11 (Dr. Jacquelynne Milingo) Poster

Through the collaborative efforts of undergraduates and faculty at Gettysburg College, Franklin & Marshall College, and Widener University we present new photometry for three K-type stars in the Pleiades. These young stars have light curves with V-band variations due to BY Draconis-type behavior (modulation due to rotation of a star with non-uniform surface brightness). With 10+ years of photometry reduced, measured and compiled we are now in a position to probe the V-band variations in these stars for indications of the extent of brightness asymmetry in the photosphere, and characteristics of the long-term activity of these stars (analogous to the 11/22 year sunspot cycle). These observations were acquired at the national Undergraduate Research Observatory, operated by Lowell Observatory and Northern Arizona University. This work is supported by Gettysburg College, the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, and Arizona Space Grant.