A good abstract provides an idea of why the original research this paper is based upon provides an added value to the conference and the ongoing dialogue in the field. It is obviously not easy to squeeze the research of an entire PhD thesis into a few lines. You will need to focus on one specific angle, answering four straightforward questions:
a) What is the problem you address?
b) What method(s) do you use to research this problem?
c) What data have you been able to produce or process?
d) What (intermediary) findings will you be able to discuss?
In answering these four questions in a succinct manner, the usual 200 to 300 words of an abstract are quickly used up.
And take your time! A good abstract is not written in just a few minutes. Even experienced researchers prefer to go over it several times.
Most authors agree that it is harder to write a short description of something than a long one. Here's a tip: for your first draft, don't be overly concerned about the length. Just make sure you include all the key information. Then take your draft and start crossing out words, phrases, and sentences that are less important than others. Look for places where you can combine sentences in ways that shorten the total length. Put it aside for a while, then come back and re-read your draft. With a fresh eye, you'll probably find new places to cut. Before you know it you will have a tightly written abstract.
“context—that is, information on the historical period, the geographic region, the social conditions surrounding the human creations being investigated
“subject—the literary or artistic works being discussed, their creators and dates
claim for significance—announcement about the uniqueness of the period or your approach to it
“theoretical framework—often more suggested than stated, the theory you are using to discuss the subject, such as feminist or psychoanalytic approaches
argument—what your analysis of the subject revealed about the subject, current approaches to the subject, or society
“proofs—your evidence for your argument about the subject, or the elements of the subject that you analyze (textual passages) (p. 57)”