Writing Effective Abstracts and Summaries Webinar

Writing Effective Abstracts and Summaries Webinar

by Adrienne Sponberg


One of my favorite things about ASLO is the way the society values participation by early career researchers and students (watch for an upcoming post on this!). This month, two of our programs for early career students collaborated on a recent webinar. The webinar was sponsored by the NSF-funded Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange (LOREX) program. LOREX provides training in international research collaboration for graduate students. The program hosts periodic webinars, each focusing on a particular part of the research process. And since any successful collaboration should lead to a scientific paper (or more!), a webinar on scientific writing seemed like a great idea. And who better to lead such a webinar than our current Raelyn Cole Editorial Fellow (RCEF), Kelsey Poulson-Ellestad?

For those unfamiliar with the Cole Fellowship program, it is a two-year opportunity for an early career researcher to work with the editor of an ASLO journal (in this case L&O Letters) to gain hands-on experience in the editorial process. Kelsey is the second Cole Fellow and co-hosted a workshop at the 2019 Aquatic Sciences Meeting on how to write effective abstracts and summaries for publications. Attendance and feedback at the workshop were great, and after hearing Kelsey’s presentation, I can see why! Below are just a few key points from the webinar. There’s a lot of information in the presentation, so we hope you’ll make the time to watch the recording and learn more about how to effectively use keywords and abstracts to make your research more discoverable!

Key take-homes:
  • The majority of traffic to Wiley’s Online Library (which hosts >1,500 journals, including ASLO’s) comes from search engines, so search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to making your paper more discoverable.
  • The abstract is way more important than you think!! Remember: abstracts are always free to read, and they are the most important way for others to see your research. Include approachable language and good keywords in your abstract. The first two sentences of your abstract are the most read sentences, so make sure they pack a punch!
  • New summary formats such as graphical abstracts, video abstracts and lay summaries provide a way to communicate both with peers and non-academics. They are also easily translatable to social media, blogs, and press releases which further boost your paper’s visibility.
  • In the webinar, Kelsey provides a list of resources and online tools anyone can use to de-jargon-ize your writing, create a graphic summary, and more. Check it out!

Thank you, Kelsey, for a great webinar! I also want to acknowledge Laura Falkenberg, inaugural Cole fellow, who co-created the workshop that was the basis of this webinar. Laura will be sharing her experiences as a Cole fellow, as well as an international researcher, with the LOREX students at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego.


You can watch the webinar below or on our YouTube channel:
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