Writing an Abstract

Abstract Deadline: February 15, 2017




An abstract is a brief summary of a student(s) research project. Abstracts must be reviewed and approved by the Faculty Sponsor prior to the online submission of the abstract by the student. The SRC Committee will not proofread abstracts.

Abstracts should be one paragraph between 100 and 300 words with no figures.

In the abstract, address the following:

  • Provide the background and rationale for the project. Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical, or artistic gap is your research filling?
  • Provide the method(s)/procedure/approach for how you completed your project. (e.g. analyzed 3 novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17 students).
  • As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you learn, invent or create? What is the most important implication or interpretation to know about your results?
  • Interpret your results for a broader audience. What are the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem/gap identified above.

Be sure to proofread your abstract carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. Reading it out loud will also help catch errors that you might otherwise miss.

The staff at the Write Place are an excellent resource to use for reviewing your abstract!

Submitted abstracts must be reviewed and approved by faculty sponsors. The Student Research Colloquium Committee will not proofread abstracts.

Abstract Guidelines and Tips


  • Write in past tense.
  • Spell out acronyms the first time they are used. For example, write "American National Standards Institute" when first mentioned, and write "ANSI" any additional times it is mentioned.
  • Provide definitions for terms. For example, write, "Positron Emission Tomography is an imaging technique that uses radioactive tracers to map the metabolism of chemicals in the brain; the more active an area of the brain, the greater the metabolic activity in that area." rather than, "We used PET to measure the uptake of radioactive tracers to map brain function."
  • Write clearly and simply. Emphasize only the most important details of your project.
  • Everything mentioned in the abstract should be a summary of what is mentioned in the presentation. Topics not mentioned in the presentation should not appear in the abstract.
  • Avoid verbosity and jargon.
  • Consider your audience. Colloquium attendees may or may not share your area of expertise and knowledge.