As we approach the end of 2023, the Local Authority Public Health Research Network (LAPHRN) is gearing up for its inaugural conference on 26 March 2024. The call for abstracts to participate in this conference is still open - click here to visit the conference webpage!
We have received some feedback that submitting an abstract might not be an easy task. The following blog provides some very useful guidance shared at the most recent LAPHRN meeting by Alexandra Levitas. Alexandra works in the Knowledge and Intelligence Team across Camden and Islington Councils and is seconded for one day a week as an embedded researcher funded by the Clinical Research Network (CRN) North Thames. She submitted her first abstract to a public health research conference in 2023.
In the meantime, please get in touch via email to email@example.com, as we would be happy to discuss ideas at any stage.
Writing a conference abstract can be a daunting task, especially if you’re still in the midst of a project or haven’t yet written up the final report. Moreover, fitting everything you want to say in 350 words can feel overwhelming, if not impossible! Remember, however, that your abstract doesn’t have to include everything in your study or project – instead, think of it as a “movie trailer” for your project, building up curiosity among your future audience, and giving them a taste of your methodology and findings.
Below are my 5 top tips to support the conference abstract drafting process:
- Think about your audience
Think about who you are presenting your research to, what they know about the subject already, and why your findings might matter to them. For example, a clinical NHS audience may have a different understanding of a public health topic, compared to a local authority audience. Bear in mind that your audience might change depending on the conference you’re attending, so being able to clearly articulate who you’re speaking to and reframing accordingly is key in a positive abstract outcome!
- Lead with why your research matters
Tell people why your research should matter to them: what makes it different than other research already out there? What valuable gaps does it fill? Identifying why your research is important upfront will build your audience’s investment and make them want to know more!
- Give succinct but sufficient context
It’s important not to overwhelm your audience with context, but you also need them to understand that your research isn’t happening in a vacuum. It can be useful to think about this as placing your research “in conversation” with other research, evidence, or trends that are already out there.
- Present your “headline” findings
This can be the most challenging step given the necessary brevity, so remember you’re only giving your audience a flavour of your whole project. Presenting an overview of your main themes, headings, frameworks used, or significant statistics is the best place to start. And if you don’t have findings yet, share what questions you’re exploring, or what kind of knowledge you anticipate generating.
- Be clear about your implications and impacts
Finally, remember to “sell” yourself - talk about why people should care about your findings! This is similar to the line on why your research matters, but now you’re addressing your findings directly. By conducing research, you have generated new knowledge - give your audience some indication of the impacts this new knowledge might have. And – importantly - why it would be worth having you present at the conference you’re applying for.