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The Clinical Inquiry Process Resource Guide

The goal of this guide is to provide nurses a resource to understand and carryout the steps of performing an evidence-based practice (EBP) project.

Tips For Writing an Abstract

What is an Abstract

Abstract:  Brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article, project or presentation that allows the reader to survey the contents quickly and understand what will be addressed (Iverson, 2007).

  • Should highlight the major content and key concepts that will be presented and demonstrate the quality and relevance of the paper, project or presentation.
  • Needed for:
    • Paper
    • Poster
    • Podium Presentations
  • Two Types:
    • Structured: Abstracts that contain specific subheadings.
    • Unstructured: Abstracts that tend to be just one paragraph with no specific subheadings.
  • General Rule:  Carefully pay attention to the requirements for submitting your poster abstract whenever you are responding to a “call for abstracts” for a conference/meeting.  Many times if an abstract does not follow the instructions/requirements included in the “call” it will not be considered by reviewers.

What Should the Topic of an Abstract Be?

  • Must Be Relevant to the Conference Audience/Theme.
  • What is the Hot Topic?
  • Evidence-Based Practice Project -  Need to Have Pre & Post Intervention Data
  • Practice Innovation or Novel Approach
  • Dissemination of Idea or Project with Help Others
  • Topic you are an expert on
  • Topic that you are passionate about 

           (Altman, 2015 ) 

Common Pitfalls & Things to Keep in Mind When it Comes to Abstracts

  • What presentation option is best?  Poster or Paper?
    • Be sure that the content of your abstract is appropriate for the presentation option that you choose. This is something that can be determined by the amount of information to be presented, the time needed, as well as the individual's comfort level with presenting. If what you are discussing is something that needs a great deal of explanation or more time, then a paper presentation is the best option. 
  • Needs to have a clear link to the theme of the conference/symposium.   
    • If you submit an abstract that is too generic or does not make a clear connection, it is most likely going to be rejected. 
  • Needs to be clearly written clearly and concisely.
    • Be sure that the objectives, aims and content of your abstract are clear.  If these items are too vague or lack a clear explanation your abstract is one that will not be attractive to reviewers or potential audience members. 
    • How does your idea resolve a known problem or address a knowledge gap?
    • Questions to Consider:
      • What is the central or take home message of the abstract?
      • Are explanations concise, specific and through?
      • Are terms define accurately and consistently?
  • Needs to be free of grammatical and spelling errors. 
    • Not only should the author proofread use spell check on the abstract, but also should get a colleague to look at it to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.  Having another read the abstract also provides a different perspective that could help in making sure things are phrased correctly and written clearly. 
    • Do not use jargon, abbreviations and colloquialisms.  Be sure you are writing in a way that can be easily understood.
  • Submission needs to follow the instructions laid out in the "Call for Abstracts"
    • Word Count
    • Abstract Format  -  Structured or Unstructured
    • Size & Font Used  – Arial and Times New Roman, 12 pt. 
    • Citation Style -  APA, AMA, Chicago, etc. 
    • Included All Required Forms 


Altman, M. (2015, May). Dare to Step Forward and Submit: Ten Steps to Create Conference Abstracts. Presentation presented at  the meeting of the National Teaching Institute & Critical     Care Exposition, San Diego, CA.

Iverson, C., American Medical Association. (2007). AMA manual of style: A guide for authors and editors. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Lewanowicz, W. (2015). Writing a good EBP project abstract . Unpublished manuscript.

Saver, Cynthia.,Sigma Theta Tau International.,. (2011). Anatomy of writing for publication for nurses.