64

Some conferences ask for an extended abstract. What are the differences among "abstracts," "extended abstracts," and "full papers?"

  • 4
    The answer could be conference specific but generally a full paper is about 10-15 pages long, an extended abstract would be 1-4 pages long (generally 1 or 2 pages with figures and explanations) and an abstract is generally a few thousand words long.. – dearN May 1 '12 at 21:19
  • 11
    @DNA: I think you mean a "few hundred words" for an abstract. – aeismail May 1 '12 at 21:51
  • 3
    @aeismail Bingo! A few hundred words it is!!! I was thinking about an application essay that needed to be a few thousand words while I was doing this! Thanks for pointing it out! – dearN May 1 '12 at 23:59
45

An abstract is a preliminary submission that summarizes the contribution of a paper. There are usually strict limits on the length of an abstract, either in terms of words or of total characters (rarely do they exceed 1000 words or 5000 characters; they are often substantially shorter than this.

An extended abstract and a full paper are nearly the same; the primary difference is that an extended abstract tends to be somewhat shorter than a full paper; I've seen extended abstracts from 2 pages up to 6 pages, while conference papers run from 4 up to about 12 or 15, depending on the space allotted.

One other important difference—outside of computer science, extended abstracts almost never go through a formal peer-review process before being published, while a conference paper will typically have at least one reviewer. (I think this is the case for almost all such papers, but there may be exceptions.)

  • According to Jukka they go similar peer review but you say extended abstract almost never go through formal peer review. – Atilla Ozgur May 2 '12 at 6:36
  • 9
    Computer science is different. – JeffE May 2 '12 at 13:13
  • 4
    @JeffE: CS seems to be an exception in many ways. This is probably tied in some way to the fact that conference papers carry much more weight than journal publications in CS, but the reverse is true in almost every other scientific area I'm aware of. But I've edited the answer to take advantage of this. – aeismail May 2 '12 at 16:59
22

In computer science conferences, the terms "full paper" and "extended abstract" are often used interchangeably.

For example, STOC calls it an "extended abstract" while SODA calls it a "full paper". In this case there is no difference that you can infer from the choice of the terminology: they are of the same length (approx. 10 pages + appendix) and they go through a similar peer review process.

  • 9
    I think the reason for the "extended abstract" terminology is historical. In the early days of CS conferences, it was thought that calling the conference papers "papers" might conflict with later journal publication, while calling them "extended abstracts" preserved the idea that they were merely summaries of longer journal papers to come. (This was especially true in more mathematical areas, since math has far fewer conferences that publish papers.) By now, the idea that conference papers can later be expanded to journal papers is well established and you can call them whatever you want. – Anonymous Mathematician May 2 '12 at 1:17
  • 5
    Actually, there is a very important difference between STOC and SODA: STOC papers are limited to 10 pages, while SODA allows up to 20 pages. A typical STOC paper has to omit details to fit in the page limit; a typical SODA paper does not. – JeffE May 2 '12 at 13:11
  • @JeffE: True, not a perfect example. Incidentally, ESA lets the authors pick whichever term they prefer: "Authors are invited to submit an extended abstract or full paper of at most 12 pages and an optional appendix". – Jukka Suomela May 2 '12 at 13:29
  • 1
    Evidence to the contrary is e.g. William Pugh's guidelines for authors of extended abstracts pages.cs.wisc.edu/~fischer/pldi96/pugh.html -- it appears to have been developed for the SIGPLAN 1991 conference, a computer science for programming language research. Apparently, the conference committee wanted to be able to cover a lot of submissions, hence went for extended abstracts instead of full papers. – tripleee Oct 14 '15 at 19:18
6

Reading the other answers, it is definitely not the case that all disciplines understand the same when speaking about extended abstracts (while they can agree on abstracts and full papers).

In Economics, an extended abstract is something between an abstract and an introduction - being more close to the introduction. That is, it includes the What, the Why and a little bit of the the How, along with references and results. Results are, however, only preliminary, which is why there is only an extended abstract. There are usually no tables nor graphs in it. There are also no chapters.

I believe the Why is the most important part, as it distinguishes your work from the literature and shows what you are going to add.

  • Even a short (normal length) abstract should summarize real results. Preliminary results are what you find in a proposal. – Ben Voigt Oct 7 '15 at 5:16
  • I agree with the first sentence, but not with the same. In a proposal in Economics you don't even have preliminary results - you just propose that it's worth getting to them. – MERose Oct 7 '15 at 9:19
0

My view is that in economics an extended abstract is a short version of the paper. Conferences that accept extended abstracts usually expect them to include results, methodology and a short discussion, to be able to gauge the plausibility of findings and appropriateness of the methodology.

In terms of lengths, I'd say 2-6 pages, while a full paper is anything from 15 to 100 pages. So, while very different in terms of length, the main contributions in the paper should be found in the extended abstract.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.