I have abstracts on my mind, we are collecting the hoard submitted for the Spiritual | Complaint colloquium, and arranging them into possible sections for the book, while hoping for more for the Isaiah and Empire colloquium which otherwise looks like requiring each participant to write two chapters ;)
In the meanwhile I was writing to a nervous postgraduate researcher who has to produce an abstract for a presentation to our research seminar. I had commented that the function of an abstract was to “sell” your paper as interesting and something the reader might want to hear. She suggested mentioning chocolate, so I replied:
“I think outright bribery is frowned upon, but massaging the abstract, or filling it with wishful thinking is normal.
“This paper will explore...” means “I really hope that this line of approach, that I have not tried yet, sounds really interesting to me, and I hope that maybe it will allow me to have something worthwhile to say by the time the event comes round.”
“Previous research has shown...” either means “I think I read somewhere, but can’t for the life of me be sure, that…” or possibly “This current paper is a rehash of work I did last year which I am tarting up in the hopes of another publication, because I am too busy to think of new ideas.”
Do you have suggested “translations” for similar stock phrases from abstracts? (Not phrases you have used, of course, but ones that others might use that have a similar split between surface and deep meanings ;)