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I just started my 2nd semester of my part-time master, I was given a thesis topic last week and expected to submit an abstract this week. Because advisor told me -> I would have not choice. However, I just wonder: Is it normal to submit an abstract to a conference when the research is NOT completed? Or people normally completed the research then write the abstract?

I read a topic asking about how to write an abstract without having the result How to write abstract for conference when you have no results yet? So I have basic understanding of what I should not write in my abstract.

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"Because advisor told me -> I would have not choice." This attitude will cause you no end of trouble in grad school. You have free will. Or, to paraphrase Thomas Aquinas: your advisor may set the goals (at first), but that should not prevent you from pursuing those goals via your own path. –  Dnuorg Spu Jan 20 at 19:43
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Or, to paraphrase Miley Cyrus: it's your mouth you can say what you want to. –  Dnuorg Spu Jan 20 at 19:46
    
@DnuorgSpu, I guess we always have to do things that we do not want to do. I do not say that I hate working on my thesis in this case but I feel kind of strange to have the abstract done before my research done. –  user7226 Jan 20 at 21:18
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A small note of warning: while the answers here are correct for some fields, others (especially within Computer Science) place a much higher value on conferences. In these fields, papers without conclusive results are unlikely to be accepted to the conference. –  Mangara Jan 21 at 13:49
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2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Is it normal to submit an abstract to a conference when the research is NOT completed?

Sure. There are plenty of fields where the purpose of a conference is to discuss research that is "still cooking." In fact, many journal publications can be viewed as interim reports on larger research programs that are still in progress.

You might use this opportunity to set a goal for (roughly) the piece of your thesis you want to have done by the date of the conference. It's ok if that piece is relatively small, and nobody at the conference will hold you strictly to what you say in the abstract.

In fact, some people submit abstracts on one thing and then talk about something entirely different... I won't advocate that behavior as an intentional strategy, but I will say that many people (myself included) prefer a great talk to exacting consistency with the abstract.

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Thanks - I got lot of confidence now after reading your answer. –  user7226 Jan 20 at 21:23
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@user7226 - I'm in an empirical field and I tend to put something like: "Preliminary results (N=3) suggest that..." This makes it clear there's more to come, and that I'm mostly speculating for the time-being. –  Ana Jan 20 at 23:17
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Yes. The idea of the conference is to talk about the current research, not about the published articles. Conferences can also be used to discuss works that may or may not evolve into articles. And while conference abstracts are not rated as high as articles, they do help PhD student to support the significance of the work - especially when, because of various reasons, the article at the end have not been published.

However if your work is close to completion, or even there is already an article in preparation, or otherwise the topic is very successful and highly promising, professor may suggest to avoid disclosing details that may help for potential competitors.

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