Month: February 2017

How to write a conference abstract?

Attending and giving talks to conferences is part and parcel of academic life and of the process of writing academic papers. If you want to take part in a conference, you will have to submit an abstract summarising the essence and the main directions of your talk. The abstract should state the thesis of the paper clearly, and present the proposed structure of the talk, including a short argument in favour of the thesis.

In this post, we provide some dos and don’ts on how to write a conference abstract.

Dos:

  • It is essential to be unambiguous and to use clear terms.
  • Structure and articulation need to be clear; it is advisable to make paragraphs or numeration.
  • The novelty of the conclusion is an important point of the evaluation, thus the clearness of the author’s own contribution is required in the abstract.
  • Making the abstract rich in content and to the point at the same time is of major importance.
  • It is advisable to refer to publications from recent years which either support or are in contrast with the arguments of the thesis.
  • Indicating at least the directions of your answers to possible objections against the thesis might be useful.
  • It is also advisable to introduce the method with which you work, if that is an unusual one.

Don’ts:

  • An abstract which merely summarises the given philosophical work or the related known literature is not acceptable.
  • The abstract does not have to go deep into all the details and it is not recommended to list all your examples either.
  • The abstract should contain only a moderate number of citations.
  • Refrain by all means from exceeding the length limit.

Text: Tamás Paár

Edit: Megyer Gyöngyösi, Nikoletta Hendrik

Translation: Dalma Eged, Laura László

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Blank page panic? On writing an argumentative piece

In philosophy, the ability of defending or rejecting positions on the basis of carefully constructed arguments is usually considered crucial. Argumentative essays, where the author presents an argument with the pros and cons of supporting an argumentative issue, are therefore a central component of a philosophical training.

In this post, I highlight a few pieces of advice on how to write an argumentative essay, mainly inspired by the R&P Lab’s guide to writing an argumentative piece. However, the Lab’s suggested selection of materials on the topic also includes Jim Pryor’s “Guidelines on writing a philosophy paper”, Kyle Stanford’s “Seven deadly sins of argumentative writing”, Jimmy Lenman’s “How to write a crap philosophical essay”, and Simon Rippon’s “A brief guide to writing the philosophy paper”. But here are the recommendations:

  • Keep the personal out. Your goal is to convince the reader that an argument is good, not that the belief of the author is important;
  • How to keep it philosophical? Remember that justifications for the position you want to defend are required!
  • How to not get bored due to the overly conventional argumentative style? In the case of a term paper, check with your professor to what extent you can follow your inclination for a more original style. In the case of a paper for publication, check how much the journal breaks the standard rules; also: distinguish writing from writing-for-publishing: creative the former, rule-following the latter;
  • How to select the ‘right’ idea among the many? By forgetting! Once you stop reading (you will have to), your attention will focus to the ideas which survived the ‘forgetting process’;
  • How to avoid putting too much background? Once you have mapped out a debate, you have to make decisions and zoom in into the branch you want to deal with.

Michele Luchetti