Academic Editing Tips: How to use your abstract as a tool to create new publishing opportunities

Abstract Translation and Editing: the key for publishing your work, ensuring greater exposure in the research community

Abstracts are intended to preface published work in order to give readers a condensed overview of an academic article, lecture, or book. A strong abstract is helpful when applying to present a paper at a conference and in getting the attention of editors when submitting work to a journal for potential publication. However, many scholars have yet to recognize the power of an abstract as a ‘mini-proposal’ to generate publishing opportunities for material still in early stages of development.

Abstract Editing – clearly spelling out your article’s agenda

The way to turn an abstract into a mini-proposal is by using it to pitch a book chapter or an article idea to an editor in order to gain a potential publishing opportunity in an edited volume or special journal issue. Since scholars usually have more research and data on hand than finished projects, they sometimes feel the need to wait until they can write up that material, only then write an abstract, and finally start looking for venues of publication. But, with greater initiative—and greater attention to the various “call for papers” scholars receive each month—strong abstract writing can secure newfound publication opportunities before the article is even written.

An example of the usefulness of a strong abstract for a paper is the path of one of my recent publications. I recently sent an abstract of a lecture to a national education conference, and it was accepted. This particular conference is one where the organizers publish all the accepted abstracts in the conference program for attendees to review when deciding which panels to attend. After the conference a colleague who was putting together an edited volume on education policy contacted me via email. The colleague had gone through all the titles and abstracts in the program and sent the initiation to take part in his book to the candidates with the strongest abstracts.

I had material to publish based on my presentation, but had not yet taken the time to put it in formal article structure, so I used my abstract writing skills to answer the call for chapters. I used the material from the presentation abstract my colleague had found interesting, shaped it to conform to the call for proposals he sent out, and it was accepted to be part of the edited volume. Therefore, from one simple conference proposal abstract I was able to add two lines to my CV and, more importantly, had two different opportunities to get my work out to the public—neither of which I had actually written before I started sending out abstracts. This process illustrates how the abstract can be a mini-proposal that can immediately expand your publication opportunities, and it works equally well for edited volumes or special issues in top-ranked journals.

The danger with using the mini-proposal’ method is being able to guarantee that you can complete the writing in time for publication. Therefore it is very important to be well aware of the important deadlines throughout the process. Often two separate deadlines exist: the abstract deadline to be considered for the publication and the article deadline for submitting the final paper. The first deadline is often rather close to receiving the call for papers, roughly one month. The deadline to submit the finished draft, however, can range from three to nine months after receiving acceptance notification for inclusion in the project depending on the editor’s plans. Scholars should plan on working quickly after acceptance to ensure they can submit the finished project by the appropriate deadline.

I have successfully procured three different book chapters in this manner, adding to an ever growing publication record. With assistance from professional academic translators and editors, academic scholars can shape powerful abstracts that gain publishing opportunities they may otherwise overlook.