Presentation proposals for the Undergraduate Research Symposium include an abstract of students' original research, creative work, or community-based projects. To present a poster, paper, or creative work at academic conference, such as the symposium, presenters must prepare an abstract, which simply represents a summary of the research to be presented. The Undergraduate Research Symposium organizers and Faculty Review Committee read and evaluate the submitted abstracts to determine who will present at the symposium. Additionally, symposium attendees read abstracts published in the official printed and online program to determine which presentations to attend. Therefore, it is imperative that researchers learn how to write professional abstracts that succinctly convey their research to the intended audience.

Elements of a Good Research Abstract Infographic [Click to download PDF]

Elements of a Good Research Abstract

Abstract FAQs

At what point in my research project should I submit an abstract for the Undergraduate Research Symposium?

Students may submit abstracts after the completion of their research project/creative work. Students are also encouraged to submit abstracts while their work remains in progress. The submission deadline for presentation proposals and abstracts is March 10 and the Undergraduate Research Symposium is scheduled for May 18. Hence, students will have nearly two months to continue their research and creative work after the abstract deadline. The Undergraduate Research Symposium organizers and Faculty Review Committee recognize that abstracts may represent tentative or projected findings, conclusions, or outcomes.

The Faculty Review Committee will also provide abstract authors with qualitative feedback on the format, content, and style of their abstracts, which can also contribute valuable critiques and advice both during and after the research/creative work project.

Posters can be presented at almost any stage of a research project and are an excellent way to get feedback on work in-progress. Typically, students who have been doing research for two terms are in a good position to present a poster.

If possible, discuss your research progress with your faculty and research mentors. They should assist you in the abstract-writing process.

Where should I present my work?

The University of Oregon’s Undergraduate Research Symposium offers a supportive environment to present your work and to receive informal feedback that can help prepare you for regional and national academic conferences in your field of study. Consult your faculty mentor or research advisor for recommendations of conferences to attend and/or present at.

What are abstract guidelines?

Every conference will have guidelines for submitting an abstract. Be sure to check the guidelines and to follow them (otherwise, you risk your abstract being rejected immediately).

Abstract deadline date—These are usually very strict. An abstract received after the deadline will not be accepted.
Word count restriction—Most meetings have a word (or character) restriction (typically 200–250 words). Abstracts that exceed this word count will be cut off at the restricted number when published or not accepted.
Format—All meetings will require a specific format for an abstract, including specific margins, font, and/or font size. They will also require a certain way to list the authors and to present their affiliations.

How do I write an abstract?

Your abstract should include the following information:

Introductory sentence(s)
Statement of thesis, hypothesis, purpose, or question of study
General methods/procedures used
Primary result(s)/finding(s)
Primary conclusion of the work/and or implications
General statement of the significance of the research

Before submitting your abstract, always proofread your writing and ask a friend to perform an additional proofreading. Always print out a copy to read, as it is much easier to catch typos that don’t involve misspelled words (e.g., if vs. is; both are words, so your spell check program will miss the difference). Double check your grammar, run a spell check and a word/character count, and be sure to submit it by the deadline. 

Where can I go for feedback or to get help with my abstract?

Ask your faculty or research mentors to help with writing an abstract. The Undergraduate Research Symposium organizers and ASUR Undergraduate Research Student Group also offer preparatory workshops and one-on-one tutorial appointments. Get in touch with us to schedule a date/time by emailing ugresearch@uoregon.edu.

Abstract workshops run by ASUR are held weekly throughout winter term. For questions contact ASUR at ugresearch@uoregon.edu.

Sample Abstracts

In Humanities

Title: ‘The Good and Bad of that Sexe': Monstrosity and Womanhood in Early Modern England
Author: Brenner, Alletta (UO History and Women’s and Gender Studies Major, Marshall Scholarship and Undergraduate Library Research Award Recipient)
Abstract: Monsters. In the modern mind, they have come to occupy a mere periphery. Rejected by the orderly nature of our scientific universe, they are either subsumed into the categories of routine, abnormal results, or delegated to that of the supernatural—those things which have no place in our system, and thus cannot exist. However, not so long ago, monsters occupied a very different space. Monsters were evidence of the wondrousness of our world, signs of the vastness and variety of God’s creation, and portents of his wrath. Monsters informed and reflected the way we understood our world. In recent times, historians have increasingly looked to monsters as ways of understanding the historical periods in which they appear. Daston and Park, in their extensive work on the history of wonder, have drawn this connection in terms of the heavenly and prodigious qualities perceived of monsters, and how this tied to historical circumstance. These scholars, along with several others, have drawn a clear line between the rise of monsters and periods of social, religious, and political unrest. For whenever war, famine, or discord have come to pass, monsters, as virtual embodiments of uncertainty and strife, have swelled in quantity, growing at times to such numbers as to become even strikingly ordinary.

Word Count: 209

In Science

Title: Characterization of a Gene Required for Cell Fate Specification in Drosophila Photoreceptors
Author: Oluloro, Ann (UO Biology and Biochemistry Major, McNair Scholar)
Abstract: During the development of an organism, cells undergo differentiation in order to perform specialized tasks. To understand how cells differentiate as neurons, our research focuses on identifying genes required for the development of photoreceptor neurons (R cells) in the fruit fly, Drosophila. In this study, we used a technique known as Mosaic Analysis with a Repressible Cell Marker (MARCM) to create mosaic flies in which undifferentiated precursor cells were homozygous for a new z6 mutation. We then characterized the phenotype caused by the z6 mutation and observed that in mutant z6 adults, R1/R6 cells adopted the fate of R8 cells but not R7 cells. Through a series of complementation tests, we were able to create a preliminary map of the location of the gene that z6 disrupts.

Word Count: 127

In Social Science

Title: Oregon’s Wheelmen: Oregon Bicycle Culture and Advocacy During the Golden Age of the Wheel (1885-1900)
Author: Kurushima, David (UO Humanities Major, Student Undergraduate Library Research Award Recipient)
Abstract: Bicycle culture and bicycle advocacy, as a social and environmental movement, are considerably dynamic forces in Oregon today; yet, to the astonishment of many Oregonians, the history of bicycling and bicycle culture in the state dates back to well over a 120 years. In the 1890’s, before the proliferation of the automobile and the subsequent development of related environmental, economic and social concerns, the bicycle enjoyed a brief golden age in Oregon as it did across the U.S. Although the bicycle’s Belle Epoch was most evident in the heavily urbanized cities and towns of the north eastern United States, the bicycle frenzy that swept the country in the late 19th century did not by any means pass unobserved by Oregonians. By the mid 1890’s a nascent yet considerably extensive bicycle culture had taken root in the state. Unsurprisingly, many of the characteristics and trends that had come to define this early bicycle culture in other parts of the U.S. were consciously and, in many cases, inevitably replicated in Oregon. As they had in more urbanized states, such as Massachusetts and New York, newly formed cycling clubs and wheelmen associations—overwhelming composed of well-to-do white males—became the driving forces behind Oregon’s early bicycle movement. Although these groups were fairly exclusive organizations, they came to define a cohesive bicycle culture and became the nearly forgotten symbols of a brief yet intriguing period in the state’s history.

Word Count: 236

In Art

Title: Campus Sculptures
Author: Brown, Alison, Spanish Major
Abstract: The lost wax method of casting a bronze sculpture is centuries old, yet pieces from ancient times still survive to tell the stories of our ancestors. This is the spirit of a bronze: an emotion and a message, immortalized.  As a bronze artist, I believe it is my purpose to celebrate the tales we tell as humans through sculpture. To tell my own story, I have gathered my experiences of joy and intrigue from the University of Oregon and have commemorated them in a statue of the Oregon Duck Mascot. As an entrepreneurial sculptor, my goal is to share my creativity with other alumni who want their experiences remembered in bronze.

Word Count: 111

Please consult the past Undergraduate Research Symposium programs to review more abstracts from across the disciplines.