Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts

After many years of “benign neglect”, there has been a recent upsurge of discourse-analytic research into abstracts, exploring similarities and differences across disciplines and across languages. It is timely that these findings be consolidated and made available to practitioners (tutors, editors, translators, and the like).

Developer/facilitator: John M. Swales, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Director of the English Language Institute (1985-2001), The University of Michigan

Purpose: To review current research in this area and to make it available and applicable to participants.

Description/Structure: In this workshop I first briefly describe the recent upsurge of discourse-analytic research into this part-genre. Next, (again briefly) I discuss similarities and differences among abstracts of journal articles, conference presentations and PhD theses. Most of the session, however, will be spent on a series of activities designed to raise awareness on the part of authors, editors and instructors about the structure, shape and style of these small but important texts.

Who might attend? Instructors of English for academic and research purposes; communication supporters (translators, author’s editors) especially if working with authors from several different disciplines.

Outcomes: Participants will take away a substantial handout, providing quantitative information and qualitative points for discussion relating to these short texts. The handout also contains a series of consciousness-raising activities of potential value to participants and their subsequent clients.

Pre-meeting information: It would be most helpful if participants could bring with them a couple of abstracts of the type they are most likely to be involved with; also valuable would be some prior reflection on typical difficulties abstract writers encounter.