Writing the Abstract for your CHI (or any) paper

The deadline for submitting to the CHI conference is around the corner. I often write the introduction and abstract for my papers in the end, after writing the other sections. In writing my introductions, I have found the recent post by Niklas Elmqvist very helpful. It has helped me craft short and coherent introductions in very less time. These beginning sections, i.e. abstracts and introductions, shape your paper and prime your readers and reviewers. Hence it is important to write them well. Following Dr. Elmqvist’s example, I have made a template for quickly constructing the abstract for a paper. This can come in handy, especially considering the 150-word limit for CHI abstracts.

Writing an Abstract:

1. Write a fairly-specific, overarching statement about the problem domain – (1 sentence)
e.g., Narrative visualizations are increasingly used for visualizing sports stories. Or, Food decision-making has been studied in the context of grocery shopping.

2. State the problem connected to the above statement — what has not been done/known (and why it is important) – (1 sentence + the importance is optional)
e.g., Yet, [some particular aspect] has not been looked at and this is important because … Or, However, [some aspects] have not been considered to help practioners make decisions regarding…

3. State your method/solution to the above problem with some specific details – (1-2 sentences)
e.g., To address these shortcomings, we conducted a card-sorting study by [doing this and this]… Or, We designed [some interface] based on studying people in their work contexts…

4. State your contributions/what you found – (1-2 sentences)
e.g., Based on our analysis, we present a design space of … Or, We found that our participants performed better on [interface A] than that on [interface B]

5. State how your results or contributions can be useful – (1 sentence – optional)
e.g., Our results have useful implications for how technology should be designed to support the grocery shopping experience … Or, Our characterization can be used to understand how this process works …