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Abstract Guidelines

Abstract/ Artistic Statement Overview

All disciplines rely on a consistent statement format that frames expectations and describes processes and results of scholarly work. At PLU, this statement takes the form of an abstract or an artistic statement.

This statement is a concise summary of your project that describes the motivation, the method/approach, the results/product, and the conclusions/implications of your work. A well-written statement will invite others to want to learn more about your research, read your poster, view your work, or attend your presentation. Statements also serve as a summary of your work so it can be categorized and searched by subject and keywords. This statement consists of a single paragraph (text only) and does not include any graphs, charts, images, references, or acronyms. Statements submitted for the PLU Undergraduate Research Symposium must adhere to a strict guideline of one paragraph, no longer than 250 words.

See the guidelines below, categorized by the types of scholarly methodologies employed for your scholarly project.

*Arts Students: In addition to an abstract, arts students will submit a required video excerpt (performing arts), or a digital folder of image files (visual arts).

Guidelines by Scholarship Type

Quantitative research is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques. Quantitative research methods are concerned with collecting and analyzing data that is structured and can be represented numerically. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories, and hypotheses pertaining to phenomena.

Quantitative research abstracts should include the following presented in this order:

  • Research Question or Problem: What is the purpose or objectives of the study? What is the key point of investigation? What problem are you trying to solve? What question are you pursuing? What hypothesis/idea are you testing?
  • Research Method: What methods did you employ or approach to resolve your problem/question or to test your hypothesis/idea? What was your experimental design and protocol? What was involved in the planning, design and implementation of the project?
  • Results: What were the results of your research? What information resulted from your investigation? What did you find during the course of your scholarly work? Specifically, what new insight did you gain? What did you learn, create or discover that potentially advances your discipline?
  • Conclusions: Based on your results, what are your main findings and conclusions? Were your results consistent or inconsistent with your original hypothesis? How do your results inform your original question? What are the broader implications of your findings, especially as they relate to your original hypothesis or your question? What weaknesses or limitations remain?

A literature synthesis is a way of drawing upon existing literature to create a new understanding of a topic. A literature synthesis is more than a review and includes comparing/contrasting, interpreting, and critiquing literature reviewed. When conducting a literature synthesis, it is important to specify procedures for identifying literature to review, as well as what was included/excluded and why (e.g. 15 peer reviewed articles on K-3 STEM education, using peer reviewed sources from 2010-2018).

Literature synthesis abstracts include:

  • Purpose: What is the question, focus, or problem you are investigating? How does your synthesis fill a gap in the current knowledge base?
  • Criteria for inclusion: How many studies were included? What criteria did you use to include/exclude studies?
  • Results: What are the key findings of your literature synthesis?
  • Conclusions/Discussion/Implications: What is the broader significance/implications of your literature synthesis?

Qualitative research is an umbrella term that includes a range of research genres (e.g. case studies, ethnography) and draws upon a range of empirical data gathered from human participants (e.g. observations, interviews, open-ended questionnaires). Qualitative research is an approach to gaining understandings of human processes, experiences, motivations; as well as provide a building block to developing new or revising existing conceptual frameworks.

Qualitative abstracts include the following presented in this order:

  • Purpose: What is the focus/purpose of the research?
  • Methods: Who were your participants? What data did you collect and how did you collect it? Did you use a particular conceptual framework to analyze the data
  • Results: What are key findings of your study? (If study is in progress, what does your interim analysis suggest?)
  • Conclusions/Discussion/Implications: What is the broader significance/implications of your research?

This type of scholarly work defends an original thesis statement by using specific evidence that is drawn from a text, film, or piece of art. It also frames its thesis argument in light of a larger critical conversation, by citing and interacting with published critics who have previously made arguments about this material.

Abstracts for these papers should include:

Background: What have critics previously discussed about the material you’ll be analyzing?

Gaps: What is still missing from the critical conversation?

Intervention: How will your paper address these gaps in the conversation? (Will it use a new theoretical lens? Broach an undiscussed topic? Put one text or artifact in dialogue with another one for the first time?)

Thesis: What will your piece argue as it makes its intervention?

Implications: Why is it important to defend this thesis statement? (Does this thesis, for example, add new context to our understanding of an idea? Or cast doubt on previous interpretations, for a particular reason? Or speak on behalf of vulnerable groups in a way that has not yet occurred?)

A creative project is research that culminates in an expressive product or performance. These projects can take the form of: a musical, theatrical, or dance performance or design, or documentation of a performance/design; a performance art piece or documentation/design; a work of fine art such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, print, or digital/electronic art; a work of creative writing; or an “applied art” — a creative work that represents a media industry product, such as graphic design work, journalistic work, branding or promotional materials/PR work, a website or other new media or multimedia product, an audio recording, an app, or a video. Innovative creative projects may also fall outside these established categories.

Creative project abstracts/artistic statements include:

  • Form: What form of creative research does your work represent? If selected, how do you plan to present your work?
  • Motivation: What compelled you or inspired you to create this work? If applicable, is there a client or audience for which this creative work was produced
  • Methods/Materials: What were the means by which you created this work? If applicable, what were the materials used? If applicable, what technology/software was used? If applicable, was this work created using an established methodology?
  • Interpretation: What message or objective does the work carry? Is there an reaction or response the work is intended to elicit? For narrative works, what is the synopsis of the story?
  • Social/Cultural Significance: How does the work resonate within contemporary contexts? Why is this work important to our social and/or cultural lives?

In addition to submitting a written abstract/artistic statement, those in the arts must submit a 3 minute video excerpt (performance arts, film) or digital images (visual arts). Students will be prompted to upload these supplemental materials within the application.

Music
Supplemental materials for music students vary according to the type of project. The following materials according to your type of project should be submitted in addition to the written abstract/artistic statement:

  • Original composition: students must submit a significant portion of the score plus a video excerpt from a performance of the work (3 minute minimum). A full score must be available at the time of the symposium.
  • Lecture recital: a video excerpt from a performance of the work (3 minute minimum).
  • Research project: no additional application materials required

The applicant’s name, title, composer, and type of musical ensemble must be included in the item description when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

Dance
In addition to the written abstract/artistic statement, students must submit a video excerpt from a performance of the work (3 minute minimum). Name, title, choreographer, and idiom of the piece (modern, ballet, jazz, etc.) must be included in the item description when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

Theatre
In addition to the abstract/artistic statement, students must submit a video excerpt from a performance of the work (3 minute minimum). Name and title of the piece must be included in the item description when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Digital Media and other Applied Arts
In addition to the written abstract/artistic statement, students must submit digital scans of their work and an artist’s statement. No original work should be submitted. Please include applicant name, title of the work, medium, dimensions, and date for each piece of work in the item description when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

Video and Film
In addition to the written abstract/artistic statement, students must submit a video excerpt or film trailer (3 minute maximum). Students must include their name and the title of the piece when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

Creative Writing
In addition to the written abstract/artistic statement, students must submit an excerpt from the piece no more than 250 words in length (PDF file format). Students must include their name and the title of the piece when uploading supplemental materials within the application.

• Make sure your abstract/artistic statement is understandable to a wide audience.
• Consult with your faculty mentor as to whether your abstract/artistic statement should be written in the first or third person, and what is appropriate for your project.
• Take time to prepare your abstract/artistic statement. Write drafts and revise in order to capture your project precisely.
• Create a clear title that incorporates the keywords, key points and findings, and/or main ideas of your project.
• Review your abstract/artistic statement carefully before submission, checking for errors, typos, and clarity.
• Seek input from your faculty mentor and be sure to receive your mentor’s approval.

HPRB approval is necessary for research with human subjects that is going to be presented publicly, and this needs to happen before data is collected. Questions can be addressed to each academic unit’s HPRB Designate, a Board member, or the Chair (hprb@plu.edu). More information is also available at www.plu.edu/hprb.

If your research was completed through a non-PLU institution or program, please provide proof of human subjects review from that institution (approval number, letter, etc…).

IACUC approval is necessary for research with vertebrate animals that is going to be presented publicly, and this needs to happen before data is collected. Questions can be addressed to a Committee member or the Chair (eggejj@plu.edu).  More information is also available at www.plu.edu/iacuc.

If your research was completed through a non-PLU institution or program, please provide proof of animal review from that institution (approval number, letter, etc…).