Writing Abstracts in the Human and Social Sciences

Short description

This workshop is a one-day intensive training session on writing research abstracts - a key form of scholarly communication - in the humanities and social sciences. Essential for gaining acceptance to speak at conferences (and an audience for your presentation), and for attracting readers to your journal articles, they are of critical importance for raising the profile of your research and developing an academic career.  This short form of description, representing the essence of a research contribution, places particular demands on academic writing style, in terms of clarity, economy and precision.  The workshop is designed to develop the necessary skills, encouraging participants to find clear, concise and powerful ways to summarize their research and make an impact.  Non-native speakers will receive feedback designed to improve their written English, including questions of style and tone.  There will be a mixture of presentation, group discussion and interactive exercises; handouts will provide reference material and further resources for continuing to develop the skills learned in the workshop. 

Participants will be required to submit a short, draft abstract, to work on during the session.  The workshop coverage will be as follows:


What are abstracts for?

Group discussion

What makes a good abstract?

An exercise in critical thinking

Key elements

Rationale  – Research question  –  Methods  –  Results  –  Conclusions - Implications

Differing conventions between subject areas

Identifying norms and expectations in your discipline

Abstracts for Conferences

Abstracts for Journal Articles

Writing, Revising and Editing

Exercise – revising your draft abstract; editing your colleague’s abstract



Josie Dixon

Workshop tutor Josie Dixon is an international publishing and research training consultant. Following a 15-year career in academic publishing, she has given training workshops for postgraduates, postdoctoral researchers and staff in the humanities and social sciences in over 70 universities in the UK, USA, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Belgium.  More details can be found at http://www.lucianconsulting.com


Content category & Target groups:

Central PhD Office content category:

C          Academic Writing and Publishing 


PhD target groups:

III        Advanced doctoral researchers   24 months – year of defense

IV         Senior doctoral researchers       Year of defense



1 ECTS for active participation during the workshop + making the necessary preparations (see below) before the workshop.



Participants will be required to submit a short, draft abstract, which they will work on during the session. The abstract must be send to doctoral [dot] schools [at] vub [dot] ac [dot] be before 15/11/2017 !!


Practical Information

When?              7th of December 2017, from 10am until 4pm

Where?             Campus Etterbeek, room M.420 (oval building, 4th Floor)


Registration (max. 16 participants)


We kindly ask you to register only once and only when you can actually participate. In case you have already registered but are not able to participate, please be so kind as to notify us by sending an e-mail to doctoral [dot] schools [at] vub [dot] ac [dot] be so we can offer your place to one of your PhD colleagues on the waiting list.

Please be aware of the fact that the cancellation and no-show policy of VUB applies. Cancellation of your participation is only allowed up to 48 hours before the start of the course. Otherwise, the policy as described on the doctoral school website will be followed.

Registration Rules: http://www.vub.ac.be/phd/english/workshopsENG.html#RegisRules
No Show Policy: https://my.vub.ac.be/en/phd/regulations-forms