Guidelines for Writing a Paper Proposal Abstract

Abstracts are an important tool in assembling the program for the Law and Society Association annual meeting so that papers can be grouped into the most intellectually coherent panels. In addition the program committee hopes that requiring a longer abstract than in the past will insure that those who submit a proposal or agree to organize a roundtable are serious about their planned participation in the meeting in New Orleans. Hence, we now require all participants in paper sessions to prepare a minimum 1,000 word abstract for papers and a minimum 500 word abstract for roundtable sessions. To assist you in preparation and make the abstracts as useful as possible, we’ve adapted some guidelines from the website of the Linguistics Society of America
A suggested outline for paper abstracts is as follows:

  1. Choose a title that clearly indicates the topic of the research in no more than 300 characters.  Note that your choice of title has considerable influence on how your paper is grouped with others to form thematically coherent sessions. This is important even if your paper proposal is part of a panel proposal because it is sometimes necessary to reassign papers if too many members of the original proposed panel choose not to register by the March deadline. A clear relationship between the title and content of your abstract will help ensure it is assigned to an appropriate session, either if it is submitted independent of a full panel proposal, or in the situation that it has to be reassigned.
  2. State the problem or research question raised by prior work, with specific reference to relevant prior research.
  3. State the main point or argument of the proposed presentation.
  4. If your research presents the results of an empirical study, also indicate explicitly the nature of the empirical materials you have or will be collecting and the specific hypothesis to be tested or question to be answered.
  5. If you have completed some or all data collection, report what results you've already obtained in sufficient detail that your abstract may be evaluated. If you have not yet completed any of the data collection, please provide a detailed timetable for the completion, and explain how you will analyze the materials you will be collecting.
  6. State the relevance of your ideas to past work or to the future development of the field of law and society. If you are taking a stand on a controversial issue, summarize the arguments that lead you to your position.
  7. While citation in the text of the relevant literature is essential, a separate list of references at the end of the abstract is generally unnecessary. 
  8. When you submit your abstract to the website, please identify as accurately as possible both primary and secondary keywords that most align with your topic’s general area.

Adapted from