Guidelines for abstracts

Submission may include a wide array of concepts, research at all levels of progression, programs, evaluations, and ventures.  Abstracts should be approximately 500 words and will undergo peer-review. For information on poster specifications, how to develop your poster, sample abstracts and posters, please review the various tutorials on this website.

Your abstract should include the following information:

  • Introductory sentence(s)
  • Statement of hypothesis, purpose or question of study
  • General methods/procedures used, i.e., interviews, research, prior course integration
  • Primary result(s)
  • Primary conclusion of the work
  • General statement of the significance of the research

An abstract is simply a summative paragraph about your research, concept, program or initiative, or innovation. Below is a topic list of sentences that should guide your audience and inform them of your work. Usually, abstracts should be no longer than about ten sentences.

Motivation: Why do we care about the problem and the results? If the problem isn't obviously "interesting" it might be better to put motivation first; but if your work is incremental progress on a problem that is widely recognized as important, then it is probably better to put the problem statement first to indicate which piece of the larger problem you are breaking off to work on. This section should include the importance of your work, the difficulty of the area, and the impact it might have if successful.

Problem statement or Question: What problem are you trying to solve? What is the scope of your work (a generalized approach, or for a specific situation)? Be careful not to use too much jargon. In some cases it is appropriate to put the problem statement before the motivation, but usually this only works if most readers already understand why the problem is important.

Prior Knowledge: This is important if you are conducting research or evaluating a program or initiative. What have others done that informed your work?

Approach: How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem? Did you use simulation, analytic models, prototype construction, or analysis of field data for an actual product? What was the extent of your work (did you look at one application program or a hundred programs in twenty different programming languages?) What important variables did you control, ignore, or measure?

Results: What's the answer? Specifically, most good computer architecture papers conclude that something is so many percent faster, cheaper, smaller, or otherwise better than something else. Put the result there, in numbers. Avoid vague, hand-waving results such as "very", "small", or "significant." If you must be vague, you are only given license to do so when you can talk about orders-of-magnitude improvement. There is a tension here in that you should not provide numbers that can be easily misinterpreted, but on the other hand you don't have room for all the caveats.

Conclusions: What are the implications of your answer? Is it going to change the world (unlikely), be a significant "win", be a nice hack, or simply serve as a road sign indicating that this path is a waste of time (all of the previous results are useful). Are your results general, potentially generalizable, or specific to a particular case?


Presenting a poster or paper at a scientific conference is almost always proceeded by the submission of an abstract on the work to be presented. An abstract is a summary of the research to be presented, which begins with brief introductory statements about the research and concludes with a statement of the significance of the research project. It is imperative that you write a quality abstract in order for it to be accepted. In addition many conference participants choose which posters/talks to attend based on the information contained in the abstract. A well-written abstract can help you draw an interested audience to your research presentation. 

  1. Your abstract should include the following information: 
  2. Introductory sentence(s) 
  3. Statement of hypothesis, purpose or question of study. 
  4. General methods/procedures used. 
  5. Primary result(s) 
  6. Primary conclusion of the work 
  7. General statement of the significance of the research 

Before submitting your abstract, double check your grammar, run a spell check and a word count, and be sure to submit it by the deadline. Always print out a copy to read, as it is much easier to catch typos that don’t involved misspelled words (e.g. if vs. is; both are words, so your spell check program will miss the difference). 


  1. Grammar & spelling: If you find errors, make corrections.
  2. Overlong and run-on sentences. Sentences should never be 3 lines long. If there is a long sentence, suggest a way to shorten it or to divide it into two sentences. 
  3. Clarity. Do you have a clear understanding as to what the project is about? Are there any terms you do not know or that have not been defined? Circle them to let the author know you don’t know what they mean.
  4. Does the abstract include: 
    • Introductory sentence(s)
    • Statement of hypothesis, purpose or question of study. General methods/procedures used.
    • Primary result(s)
    • Primary conclusion of the work
    • General statement of the significance of the research 
  5. Is it interesting? Does reading the abstract make you want to read the rest of the paper or see a poster on the topic. Write a note.
  6. Do you think the author fulfilled all the requirements? Why? Write a note. 
All information courtesy of the Undergraduate Research Science Center at UCLA