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Abstract Guidelines

Abstract Overview

An abstract is a concise summary of your project that describes the motivation, hypothesis, methods, results and conclusions of your work. A well-written abstract will make the reader want to learn more about your research, read your poster, or attend your presentation. Abstracts also serve as a summary of the research so the paper can be categorized and searched by subject and keywords. An abstract consists of a single paragraph (text only) and does not include any graphs, charts, images, references or acronyms.

*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).

How long is an abstract?
Abstracts submitted for the PLU Undergraduate Research Symposium must adhere to a strict guideline of one paragraph, no longer than 250 words in length.

What are the components of an abstract?
Project Description
What was the research question? What was your rationale or motivation? What practical, theoretical, scientific, or artistic contribution is your project making to your discipline?

Methods or Approach
What did you actually do to obtain your results? Did you analyze three novels, survey 75 students, write a screenplay, conduct an experiment, invent a better technology, research primary documents, create a musical arrangement or translate a poem? Did you approach your subject using a specific theoretical or creative framework, technical procedure, or methodology?

Results or Product
By conducting the above activities, what did you learn, create, or invent?

Conclusions or Implications
What are the larger implications of your research and creative work? What is the significance?

Students speaking at the Holocaust Conference

Discipline Specific Guidelines

Abstracts vary in style and format by field and discipline. Please consult the following questions and categories as guidelines for your given field as you prepare your abstracts (Adapted from SCCUR guidelines).

• Topic: What is the subject area of your research?
• Question: What is the problem or question that your research attempted to solve? What is its importance?
• Thesis: Based on your investigation and analysis, what is your main argument? Your thesis should encapsulate your main findings and interpretations.
• Evidence and Methodology: What is your evidence for this thesis? How did you collect this evidence? How did you arrive at your thesis?
• Conclusions: What is the significance of your findings?

Abstracts vary in style and format by field and discipline. Please consult the following questions and categories as guidelines for your given field as you prepare your abstracts (Adapted from SCCUR guidelines).

• Research Question or Problem: What is the purpose or objectives of the study? What is the key point of investigation?
• Research Method: Was your study theoretical or empirical? If empirical, how ere the data collected or generated?
• Results: What were the results of your research? What information resulted from your investigation?
• Conclusions: Based on your results, what are your main findings and conclusions?

Abstracts vary in style and format by field and discipline. Please consult the following questions and categories as guidelines for your given field as you prepare your abstracts (Adapted from SCCUR guidelines).

• Hypothesis or Question: What problem are you trying to solve? What question are you pursuing? What hypothesis/idea are you testing?
• Rationale: Why is your problem/question/idea relevant or innovative? What is the broader scope and significance of your project?
• Methods: 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? The methods may cover theoretical or empirical approaches in classical research, as well as procedures used in applied research and projects (e.g., innovative projects, case studies, service projects).
• Results: 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: 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? What are the original, creative contributions of your work to your discipline and how will your work potentially advance your field of specialization?

Abstracts vary in style and format by field and discipline. Please consult the following questions and categories as guidelines for your given field as you prepare your abstracts (Adapted from SCCUR guidelines).

• Overview: What type of creative activity did you engage in? What is the format or medium for your work?
• Subject: What is the subject of your work? Describe the main topics, themes, and ideas that make up your project.
• Theories and Methodologies: Which theories and methodologies inform your work?
• Audience: Describe the audience(s) for your work.
• Meaning: What is the meaning, message, or significance of your project?

In addition to submitting a written abstract, 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:

1. 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. 2. Lecture recital: a video excerpt from a performance of the work (3 minute minimum). 3. 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

• Make sure your abstract is understandable to a wide audience.
• Consult with your faculty mentor as to whether your abstracts should be written in the first or third person, and what is appropriate for your project.
• Take time to prepare your abstract. 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 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.

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.