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Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Abstract Guidelines

All registrants must submit an abstract along with their registration info. An abstract is a paper used in academic research to summarize a completed study or other project.  If done well, it makes the reader want to learn more about your research.

Compose your abstract in MS Word using the Guidelines outlined below.  Once you have it completed, submt it to your faculty mentor/sponsor for his/her final approval.   DO NOT WAIT until you register to compose your abstract !


  • Only 1 registration per student (choose either a poster or oral presentation, not both);
  • The student registering must be the presenter (no substitution allowed except for emergencies);
  • Only 1 registration per project (multiple students cannot give separate presentations on the same project)


For guidelines on how to write and format your abstract,
view the PowerPoint slideshow:

"How to Compose an Abstract for your Research Project"


When do you compose and submit your abstract?  View a helpful Timeline for your preparation activities.

Abstracts that do not comply with the guidelines may be rejected.  You may refer to the Sample Abstract at the bottom of this page as a good example.

Guidelines for Composing Your Abstract:

  • An abstract does not contain any references or illustrations.  It is a paragraph written in your own words, describing your project.  Please see the bulleted items below for an outline of the different parts of an abstract.

  • In general, your abstract should be informative about the entire project.  Judges will look for relevance of the study to the discipline, and also for whether it is written such that persons outside the discipline can understand it.
  • TITLE:  The title of your abstract should be in ALL CAPS, and should indicate the overall subject matter of your project.  It doesn't have to be "catchy", just informative.
  • AUTHORS' SECTION:  The authors section should consist of a list of all authors' name(s), i.e. students and faculty, in that order, who have worked on your project, followed by their respective affiliations (department, college, university, city, and state). The first author listedMUSTbe the student presenter/speaker.  

    If there is a single student author and a single faculty sponsor/mentor, place the word "and" between their names, then list their respective departmental affiliations..

Example of Authors Section with single student author

Jane Doe and Dr. John Doe, Department of Environmental Health, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee

If there are multiple authors from different departments, areas, or organizations,  list all authors first, then their affiliations in respective order, using superscript numbers to match affiliations.

Example of Authors Section with multiple authors

Laura Lusk 1, Matt Mutel 2, Elaine S. Walker 3, Dr. Foster Levy 1, and
Dr. Cecilia McIntosh1.
1 Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee
State University, Johnson City, TN;
2 Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville, NC;
3 Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN.

Please note that credentials for completed terminal degrees only should be listed -- pending degrees should not be included.


  • BODY TEXT:  The abstract text is a paragraph written in your own words, describing your project.  It should be written in one single paragraph and the length of that paragraph should be no more than 3000 characters (including spaces), or about 500 words.  Your abstract paragraph should have three (3) distinct parts:
      1. an introduction which specifically identifies the projects objective(s) and briefly states the question and hypothesis.  Your question and hypothesis statement should answer the questions:  "Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling?";
      2. a thorough description of the methods and processes used.  This is a very important section, as it should include details of what you actually did to get your results; and,
      3. a summary of the results and any conclusions.   You should NOT say "The results will be discussed".  Instead, you should answer the question "As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you learn/invent/create?"  Any conclusions drawn should explain the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem/gap identified in the introduction.  Judges will look to see if your conclusions tie back to the question.  Note:  if your project is not yet completed, you may describe the expected outcomes.
  •  Limit your abstract text to approx. 500 words ( 3000 characters including spaces).  Microsoft Word has a Word Count feature -- please use it.
  • For some tips on what NOT to do in your abstract, visit our Abstract Tips page.

Remember these points: 

  • Before pasting and uploading your abstract into the registration form, ensure that it is accurate and error-free, as no changes will be allowed after the deadline date has passed
  • Once you've pasted and uploaded it, make sure that it is complete and appears how you want it to appear in the Program Book.  Some special characters, such as scientific symbols, etc., may not transfer properly to the online form-field.  If you use special characters, please put a note at the beginning of your abstract paragraph that "special characters are used". 
  • Submit your registration and abstract before the deadline, as no late submissions will be accepted, no exceptions.

The deadline for registration and abstract submission is
11:59 pm on Thursday, March 1, 2018
for both oral and poster presentations.

If all classes at the University are cancelled on March 1 due to inclement weather, the deadline will be March 2, 2018.

Sample Abstract


Cerrone Foster and Dr. John Laffan, Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

The immune system is a complex and varied defense mechanism used to fight disease and infection.  One way the body recognizes infection is through recognition of Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs).  Two known PAMPs, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and glucan, are microbial products that can activate the immune system. However, the intracellular signaling pathways of the immune system are not clearly defined.  It has recently been found that Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are involved in this signaling process.  Stimulation of these receptors by PAMPs can initiate a signaling cascade, resulting in activation of genes needed to illicit an immune response.  We therefore investigated the quantitative regulation of TLR2 and TLR4 in the presence of LPS and glucan.  Using a mouse macrophage cell line (J774a.1 cells), LPS and glucan were added (1 ug/ml) to the cells or equal volume of carrier was added as a control. RNA was isolated at 1,4, and 24 hour time intervals.  The RNA as reversed transcribed using a oligo dT primer and that cDNA was quantified using Quantitative PCR.  Primer sets specific for TLR2 and TLR4 were designed and the reactions were run in a BioRad iCylcer real-time PCR machine.  In the presence of LPS, TLR2 and TLR4 decreased during the early time intervals and dramatically increased at the 24-hour interval.  In the presence of glucan, there was no significant change in TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA over time.  Results of this work identified an early down regulation as well as late up regulation of TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA in the presence of LPS.  This work will be a useful tool in understanding the roles of TLR2 and TLR4 in the immune response.  Understanding the role of these TLRs during immune response can lead to the development of novel drugs to treat disease and infection.

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