Guidelines for Writing Abstracts
Anyone wishing to give an oral or written presentation at a GRS course should submit an abstract for evaluation. The abstract should normally be no more than 250 words, include 4-6 keywords and cite between 2-4 references.
What is an abstract?
The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the contents of the paper. Key points to remember:
- An abstract briefly explains the salient aspects of the content.
- Abstracts should be accurate and succinct, self-contained, and readable.
- The abstract should paraphrase and summarise rather than quote from the paper.
- Abstracts should relate only to the paper to be presented/assessed.
Structuring your Abstract
It is difficult to define the “ideal” structure for an abstract as abstract writing varies between academic disciplines, genres and styles of writing. However, below are three widely used formats for abstracts that may be applicable for GRS candidates.
Abstract Structure Example #1
The abstract for empirical articles (qualitative or quantitative) should usually reflect the IMRAD format
Abstract Structure Example #2
- Research questions or hypothesis
- Theoretical Frame underpinning the questions/hypothesis
- Methods used to address the research question/hypothesis
- Results of the investigations
- Conclusions, applications, or implications
Abstract Structure Example #3
- Research questions
- Summary of content
Swales, John, M. and Feak, Christine B. (2009) Abstracts and the writing of abstracts Volume 1 . (Michigan Series in English for Academic and Professional purposes). University of Michigan Press.
Gaw, Allan. (2011) Abstract Expressions: A Quick Guide to Writing Effective Abstracts for Papers and Conferences . SA Press.
How to Write a Good Abstract: 5 Golden Rules
Writing an abstract is one of the most important skills for researchers who are ready to share their work. Whether you are submitting your scholarly article to a journal or preparing your research abstract for consideration at a conference, mastering how to write a good abstract with the following five rules will make your abstract stand out from the crowd!
1. Follow the guidelines.
Abstracts for scholarly articles are somewhat different than abstracts for conferences. Additionally, different journals, associations, and fields adhere to different guidelines.
Thus, make sure that your abstract includes exactly what is asked for, that the content ties in appropriately, and that you’ve followed any formatting rules.
Be sure to check the guidelines to determine if the journal or conference has specific expectations for the abstract, such as whether it should be a structured abstract or just one paragraph.
A structured abstract contains subheads and separate paragraphs for each elements, such as background, method, results, and conclusions.
2. Be sure the abstract has everything you need—no more, no less.
An abstract should be between 200 and 250 words total. Readers should be able to quickly grasp your purpose, methods, thesis, and results within the abstract.
You need to provide all this information in a concise and coherent way. The full-length article or presentation is for providing more details and answering questions.
For a conference presentation, it may also be necessary to narrow in on one particular aspect of your research, as time may prevent you from covering a larger project.
In addition, an abstract usually does not include citations or bibliographic references, descriptions of routine assessments, or information about how statistics were formulated.
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3. Use keywords.
In the age of electronic database searches, keywords are vital. Keywords should be added in a separate line after your abstract.
For example, the American Psychological Association recommends using natural language—everyday words you think of in relation to your topic—and picking three to five keywords (McAdoo 2015).
For example, keywords for a study on hawks might include: hawks, prey, territory, or behavior .
For more information on choosing appropriate keywords,
view our recent article:
6 Tips for Choosing Keywords for Your Scientific Manuscript
4. Report your results and conclusions.
An abstract should report what you did, not what you plan to do, so avoid language like hope , plan , try , or attempt . Use the past tense to indicate that the study was already completed. Your results, thesis, and a brief summary of your conclusions should also be included.
Many readers often don’t read past the abstract, so you want to give them a clear snapshot of not only what your research was about but also what you determined. Be sure to also include the “so what”—the conclusions, potential applications, and why they matter.
5. Make your title strong.
Your title is your first impression—it’s your chance to draw in your readers, such as conference reviewers, colleagues, and scientists outside your field. Before your abstract will be read, your title must catch their eye first.
In no more than 12 words, the title should convey something about your subject and the “hook” of your research as concisely and clearly as possible. Focus on what you investigated and how.
Don’t repeat your title in your abstract though; you will need the space for the details of your study in your abstract.
Tip: Using active verbs can strengthen a title. A brief search of scientific articles brought up titles with verbs like “mediate,” “enhance,” and “reveal.” Use a thesaurus or style guide for more ideas for strong verb choices.
Because you have to put so much into a short body of text, writing an abstract can definitely be challenging. As with any writing, it helps to practice as well as to study other examples.
To improve your abstract-writing skills, review abstracts of articles in journals and in conference proceedings to get an idea of how researchers in your field approach specific subjects and research.
As with any work, having someone read your work for feedback is highly desirable before submitting it.
You can also submit your abstract for free editing by a PhD editor at Falcon Scientific Editing.
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Andrade, C. (2011). How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 53 (2): 172–175. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.82558
Council of Science Editors. (2014 ). Scientific style and format: The CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers, 8th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
McAdoo, T. (2015). Keywords in APA style. APA style . Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2015/04/keywords-in-apa-style.html
Shaban, R.,& Macdonald, R. (2007). Preparing a structured abstract for presentation at a scientific conference. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine 5 (2). Retrieved from https://afte.org/uploads/documents/meeting-abstract.pdf
Wood, G.J. & Morrison, R.S. (2011). Writing abstracts and developing posters for national meetings. Journal of Palliative Medicine 14 (3): 353-359. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2010.0171
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An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.
Writing an Abstract. The Writing Center. Clarion University, 2009; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Importance of a Good Abstract
Sometimes your professor will ask you to include an abstract, or general summary of your work, with your research paper. The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information [e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.] must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.
How do you know when you have enough information in your abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing a similar study. Then ask yourself: if your abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the amount of information presented there? Does it tell the whole story about your study? If the answer is "no" then the abstract likely needs to be revised.
How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Undergraduate Research. University of Kentucky; Staiger, David L. “What Today’s Students Need to Know about Writing Abstracts.” International Journal of Business Communication January 3 (1966): 29-33; Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.
Structure and Writing Style
I. Types of Abstracts
To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.
Critical Abstract A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.
Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less. Informative Abstract The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
Highlight Abstract A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.
II. Writing Style
Use the active voice when possible , but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.
Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.
Composing Your Abstract
Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].
Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words. The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
- A catchy introductory phrase, provocative quote, or other device to grab the reader's attention,
- Lengthy background or contextual information,
- Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
- Acronyms or abbreviations,
- References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
- Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
- Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
- Citations to other works, and
- Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century . Oxford, UK: 2010; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Never Cite Just the Abstract!
Citing to just a journal article's abstract does not confirm for the reader that you have conducted a thorough or reliable review of the literature. If the full-text is not available, go to the USC Libraries main page and enter the title of the article [NOT the title of the journal]. If the Libraries have a subscription to the journal, the article should appear with a link to the full-text or to the journal publisher page where you can get the article. If the article does not appear, try searching Google Scholar using the link on the USC Libraries main page. If you still can't find the article after doing this, contact a librarian or you can request it from our free i nterlibrary loan and document delivery service .
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Writing an Abstract
What is an abstract.
An abstract is a 150- to 250-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick overview of your essay or report and its organization. It should express your thesis (or central idea) and your key points; it should also suggest any implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper.
According to Carole Slade, an abstract is “a concise summary of the entire paper.”
The function of an abstract is to describe, not to evaluate or defend, the paper.
The abstract should begin with a brief but precise statement of the problem or issue, followed by a description of the research method and design, the major findings, and the conclusions reached.
The abstract should contain the most important key words referring to method and content: these facilitate access to the abstract by computer search and enable a reader to decide whether to read the entire dissertation.
Note: Your abstract should read like an overview of your paper, not a proposal for what you intended to study or accomplish. Avoid beginning your sentences with phrases like, “This essay will examine...” or “In this research paper I will attempt to prove...”
(The examples above are taken from Form and Style (10th ed.), by Carole Slade; The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers (5th ed.); and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.).)
Note: The following are specifications for an abstract in APA style, used in the social sciences, such as psychology or anthropology. If you are in another discipline, check with your professor about the format for the abstract.
Writing an Abstract for an IMRaD Paper
Many papers in the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering sciences follow IMRaD structure: their main sections are entitled Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. People use the abstract to decide whether to read the rest of the paper, so the abstract for such a paper is important.
Because the abstract provides the highlights of the paper, you should draft your abstract after you have written a full draft of the paper. Doing so, you can summarize what you’ve already written in the paper as you compose the abstract.
Typically, an abstract for an IMRaD paper or presentation is one or two paragraphs long (120 – 500 words). Abstracts usually spend
25% of their space on the purpose and importance of the research (Introduction)
25% of their space on what you did (Methods)
35% of their space on what you found (Results)
15% of their space on the implications of the research
Try to avoid these common problems in IMRaD abstracts:
1. The abstract provides a statement of what the paper will ask or explore rather than what it found:
X This report examines the causes of oversleeping. (What did it find out about these causes?) √ Individuals oversleep because they go to bed too late, forget to set their alarms, and keep their rooms dark.
2. The abstract provides general categories rather than specific details in the findings:
X The study draws conclusions about which variables are most important in choosing a movie theater. (What, specifically, are these variables?)
√ The study concludes that the most important variables in choosing a movie theater are comfortable seats and high-quality popcorn.
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How to write an Abstract for a Conference Paper
An Abstract is a short document that is intended to capture the interest of a potential reader of your paper. Thus in a sense it is a marketing document for your full paper. If the Abstract is poorly written or if it is boring then it will not encourage a potential reader to spend the time reading your work. Thus the first rule of Abstract writing is that it should engage the reader by telling him or her what your paper is about and why they should read it. Although strictly not part of your Abstract, the title of the proposed paper is also important. Short attention-catching titles are the most effective. However, it is also important, for a conference paper, to ensure that the title describes the subject you are writing about.
You should limit the length of the title to no more than 12 words. With regards the body of the Abstract you need to make a clear statement of the topic of your paper and your research question. You need to say how your research was/is being undertaken. For example, is it empirical or theoretical? Is it quantitative or qualitative? Perhaps it follows the critical research method. What value are your findings and to whom will they be of use? The Abstract should then briefly describe the work to be discussed in your paper and also give a concise summary of the findings. Finally your Abstract should not include diagrams and in general references are not required in the Abstract. The marketing of your proposed paper needs to be done within the word limit of 300 - 350 words.
Keywords and Key Phrases
Although not part of the Abstract as such, most journals and conferences now expect authors to provide key words at the same time as the Abstract. Key words or phrases are used by Internet search engines to locate the paper. Somewhere between 5 and 10 Key Words are normally required and they should be the words which most closely reflect the content of the paper. 12 points used in the Selection Process During the abstract selection process the following 12 points are used as a guide. We strongly recommend that you ensure your abstract satisfies these points.
- Does the abstract capture the interest of a potential reader of the paper?
- Is the abstract well written in terms of language, grammar, etc.?
- Does the abstract engage the reader by telling him or her what the paper is about and why they should read it?
- Does the abstract title describe the subject being written about?
- Does the abstract make a clear statement of the topic of the paper and the research question?
- Does the abstract say how the research was/is being undertaken?
- Does the abstract indicate the value of the findings and to whom will they be of use?
- Does the abstract describe the work to be discussed in the paper?
- Does the abstract give a concise summary of the findings?
- Does the abstract conform to the word limit of 300 - 350 words?
- Does the abstract have up to 5 keywords or phrases that closely reflect the content of the paper?
- Should the abstract be accepted?
Authors who do not follow these guidelines are more likely to have their work rejected.
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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper | Examples
What is a research paper abstract?
Research paper abstracts summarize your study quickly and succinctly to journal editors and researchers and prompt them to read further. But with the ubiquity of online publication databases, writing a compelling abstract is even more important today than it was in the days of bound paper manuscripts.
Abstracts exist to “sell” your work, and they could thus be compared to the “executive summary” of a business resume: an official briefing on what is most important about your research. Or the “gist” of your research. With the majority of academic transactions being conducted online, this means that you have even less time to impress readers–and increased competition in terms of other abstracts out there to read.
The APCI (Academic Publishing and Conferences International) notes that there are 12 questions or “points” considered in the selection process for journals and conferences and stresses the importance of having an abstract that ticks all of these boxes. Because it is often the ONLY chance you have to convince readers to keep reading, it is important that you spend time and energy crafting an abstract that faithfully represents the central parts of your study and captivates your audience.
With that in mind, follow these suggestions when structuring and writing your abstract, and learn how exactly to put these ideas into a solid abstract that will captivate your target readers.
Before Writing Your Abstract
How long should an abstract be.
All abstracts are written with the same essential objective: to give a summary of your study. But there are two basic styles of abstract: descriptive and informative . Here is a brief delineation of the two:
Of the two types of abstracts, informative abstracts are much more common, and they are widely used for submission to journals and conferences. Informative abstracts apply to lengthier and more technical research and are common in the sciences, engineering, and psychology, while descriptive abstracts are more likely used in humanities and social science papers. The best method of determining which abstract type you need to use is to follow the instructions for journal submissions and to read as many other published articles in those journals as possible.
Research Abstract Guidelines and Requirements
As any article about research writing will tell you, authors must always closely follow the specific guidelines and requirements indicated in the Guide for Authors section of their target journal’s website. The same kind of adherence to conventions should be applied to journal publications, for consideration at a conference, and even when completing a class assignment.
Each publisher has particular demands when it comes to formatting and structure. Here are some common questions addressed in the journal guidelines:
- Is there a maximum or minimum word/character length?
- What are the style and formatting requirements?
- What is the appropriate abstract type?
- Are there any specific content or organization rules that apply?
There are of course other rules to consider when composing a research paper abstract. But if you follow the stated rules the first time you submit your manuscript, you can avoid your work being thrown in the “circular file” right off the bat.
Identify Your Target Readership
The main purpose of your abstract is to lead researchers to the full text of your research paper. In scientific journals, abstracts let readers decide whether the research discussed is relevant to their own interests or study. Abstracts also help readers understand your main argument quickly. Consider these questions as you write your abstract:
- Are other academics in your field the main target of your study?
- Will your study perhaps be useful to members of the general public?
- Do your study results include the wider implications presented in the abstract?
Outlining and Writing Your Abstract
What to include in an abstract.
Just as your research paper title should cover as much ground as possible in a few short words, your abstract must cover all parts of your study in order to fully explain your paper and research. Because it must accomplish this task in the space of only a few hundred words, it is important not to include ambiguous references or phrases that will confuse the reader or mislead them about the content and objectives of your research. Follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to what kind of writing to include:
- Avoid acronyms or abbreviations since these will need to be explained in order to make sense to the reader, which takes up valuable abstract space. Instead, explain these terms in the Introduction section of the main text.
- Only use references to people or other works if they are well-known. Otherwise, avoid referencing anything outside of your study in the abstract.
- Never include tables, figures, sources, or long quotations in your abstract; you will have plenty of time to present and refer to these in the body of your paper.
Use keywords in your abstract to focus your topic
A vital search tool is the research paper keywords section, which lists the most relevant terms directly underneath the abstract. Think of these keywords as the “tubes” that readers will seek and enter—via queries on databases and search engines—to ultimately land at their destination, which is your paper. Your abstract keywords should thus be words that are commonly used in searches but should also be highly relevant to your work and found in the text of your abstract. Include 5 to 10 important words or short phrases central to your research in both the abstract and the keywords section.
For example, if you are writing a paper on the prevalence of obesity among lower classes that crosses international boundaries, you should include terms like “obesity,” “prevalence,” “international,” “lower classes,” and “cross-cultural.” These are terms that should net a wide array of people interested in your topic of study. Look at our nine rules for choosing keywords for your research paper if you need more input on this.
Research Paper Abstract Structure
As mentioned above, the abstract (especially the informative abstract) acts as a surrogate or synopsis of your research paper, doing almost as much work as the thousands of words that follow it in the body of the main text. In the hard sciences and most social sciences, the abstract includes the following sections and organizational schema.
Each section is quite compact—only a single sentence or two, although there is room for expansion if one element or statement is particularly interesting or compelling. As the abstract is almost always one long paragraph, the individual sections should naturally merge into one another to create a holistic effect. Use the following as a checklist to ensure that you have included all of the necessary content in your abstract.
1) Identify your purpose and motivation
So your research is about rabies in Brazilian squirrels. Why is this important? You should start your abstract by explaining why people should care about this study—why is it significant to your field and perhaps to the wider world? And what is the exact purpose of your study; what are you trying to achieve? Start by answering the following questions:
- What made you decide to do this study or project?
- Why is this study important to your field or to the lay reader?
- Why should someone read your entire article?
In summary, the first section of your abstract should include the importance of the research and its impact on related research fields or on the wider scientific domain.
2) Explain the research problem you are addressing
Stating the research problem that your study addresses is the corollary to why your specific study is important and necessary. For instance, even if the issue of “rabies in Brazilian squirrels” is important, what is the problem—the “missing piece of the puzzle”—that your study helps resolve?
You can combine the problem with the motivation section, but from a perspective of organization and clarity, it is best to separate the two. Here are some precise questions to address:
- What is your research trying to better understand or what problem is it trying to solve?
- What is the scope of your study—does it try to explain something general or specific?
- What is your central claim or argument?
3) Discuss your research approach
Your specific study approach is detailed in the Methods and Materials section . You have already established the importance of the research, your motivation for studying this issue, and the specific problem your paper addresses. Now you need to discuss how you solved or made progress on this problem—how you conducted your research. If your study includes your own work or that of your team, describe that here. If in your paper you reviewed the work of others, explain this here. Did you use analytic models? A simulation? A double-blind study? A case study? You are basically showing the reader the internal engine of your research machine and how it functioned in the study. Be sure to:
- Detail your research—include methods/type of the study, your variables, and the extent of the work
- Briefly present evidence to support your claim
- Highlight your most important sources
4) Briefly summarize your results
Here you will give an overview of the outcome of your study. Avoid using too many vague qualitative terms (e.g, “very,” “small,” or “tremendous”) and try to use at least some quantitative terms (i.e., percentages, figures, numbers). Save your qualitative language for the conclusion statement. Answer questions like these:
- What did your study yield in concrete terms (e.g., trends, figures, correlation between phenomena)?
- How did your results compare to your hypothesis? Was the study successful?
- Where there any highly unexpected outcomes or were they all largely predicted?
5) State your conclusion
In the last section of your abstract, you will give a statement about the implications and limitations of the study . Be sure to connect this statement closely to your results and not the area of study in general. Are the results of this study going to shake up the scientific world? Will they impact how people see “Brazilian squirrels”? Or are the implications minor? Try not to boast about your study or present its impact as too far-reaching, as researchers and journals will tend to be skeptical of bold claims in scientific papers. Answer one of these questions:
- What are the exact effects of these results on my field? On the wider world?
- What other kind of study would yield further solutions to problems?
- What other information is needed to expand knowledge in this area?
After Completing the First Draft of Your Abstract
Revise your abstract.
The abstract, like any piece of academic writing, should be revised before being considered complete. Check it for grammatical and spelling errors and make sure it is formatted properly.
Get feedback from a peer
Getting a fresh set of eyes to review your abstract is a great way to find out whether you’ve summarized your research well. Find a reader who understands research papers but is not an expert in this field or is not affiliated with your study. Ask your reader to summarize what your study is about (including all key points of each section). This should tell you if you have communicated your key points clearly.
In addition to research peers, consider consulting with a professor or even a specialist or generalist writing center consultant about your abstract. Use any resource that helps you see your work from another perspective.
Consider getting professional editing and proofreading
While peer feedback is quite important to ensure the effectiveness of your abstract content, it may be a good idea to find an academic editor to fix mistakes in grammar, spelling, mechanics, style, or formatting. The presence of basic errors in the abstract may not affect your content, but it might dissuade someone from reading your entire study. Wordvice provides English editing services that both correct objective errors and enhance the readability and impact of your work.
Additional Abstract Rules and Guidelines
Write your abstract after completing your paper.
Although the abstract goes at the beginning of your manuscript, it does not merely introduce your research topic (that is the job of the title), but rather summarizes your entire paper. Writing the abstract last will ensure that it is complete and consistent with the findings and statements in your paper.
Keep your content in the correct order
Both questions and answers should be organized in a standard and familiar way to make the content easier for readers to absorb. Ideally, it should mimic the overall format of your essay and the classic “introduction,” “body,” and “conclusion” form, even if the parts are not neatly divided as such.
Write the abstract from scratch
Because the abstract is a self-contained piece of writing viewed separately from the body of the paper, you should write it separately as well. Never copy and paste direct quotes from the paper and avoid paraphrasing sentences in the paper. Using new vocabulary and phrases will keep your abstract interesting and free of redundancies while conserving space.
Don’t include too many details in the abstract
Again, the density of your abstract makes it incompatible with including specific points other than possibly names or locations. You can make references to terms, but do not explain or define them in the abstract. Try to strike a balance between being specific to your study and presenting a relatively broad overview of your work.
If you think your abstract is fine now but you need input on abstract writing or require English editing services (including paper editing ), then head over to the Wordvice academic resources page, where you will find many more articles, for example on writing the Results , Methods , and Discussion sections of your manuscript, on choosing a title for your paper , or on how to finalize your journal submission with a strong cover letter .
How to Write a Good Abstract for a Research Paper?
An abstract isn’t just a summary of your paper – it’s a window into your research, playing a critical role in conveying the essence of your study and convincing conference organizers that your paper is worth presenting at their event.
A research paper abstract provides a condensed version of the key points of the paper, yet a thorough outline of your research work that allows the reader to understand the content and scope of the paper. Writing a powerful and engaging abstract is essential to ensure that your research is properly understood and appreciated by others in your field. In this article, we will discuss some guidelines on how to write a good abstract for a research paper.
What is the purpose of writing an abstract for a paper?
Submitting a research paper to a conference can be an intimidating experience. Whether you are a seasoned researcher or a graduate student presenting for the first time, one thing that you cannot overlook is the importance of an abstract. As conferences often receive many more submissions than they can accept, a well-crafted abstract can make the difference between being accepted or rejected.
In fact, some conferences only consider abstracts when selecting papers for presentation or publication, so how to write a good abstract for a research paper that showcases the value and relevance of your research is vital. Moreover, an abstract is a critical component of a conference because it helps the audience to identify what the research entails and enables them to determine whether it is relevant to their interests.
Understanding the purpose of writing an abstract is considered the initial step of abstract writing guidelines. A well-written abstract for a paper helps your paper get noticed by readers and also improves its visibility in search results. The primary purpose of an abstract is to give a quick overview of your research, conveying the main ideas, key findings, and conclusions of your research, without going into too much detail. So, readers can determine whether or not to read the full paper. Therefore, you need to keep it concise and to the point while still conveying the key points of your research.
What are the Abstract Types?
There are several different types of abstracts, each designed to serve a specific purpose as follows;
A descriptive abstract provides a simple summary of the main points of a paper. It includes a brief introduction, a summary of the research methods and findings, and a conclusion. Descriptive abstracts are typically shorter than other types of abstracts and are suitable for papers in fields where the methods are well-established and known.
Informative abstracts include information about the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of your study. This type of abstract provides readers with an overview of the study’s content and main findings, making it suitable for papers that present new or complex research.
A critical abstract is a detailed summary of a paper, including an evaluation of the quality of the research presented. It includes an analysis of the research methods, findings, and conclusions, and may also include a discussion of the implications of the study.
5 Top Abstract Writing Guidelines for a Research Paper
How to write a good abstract for a research paper can be a tricky question. As the abstract is the first impression that readers have of your research paper – it can make or break their decision to continue reading. An effective academic abstract will help draw readers in and make them want to read more about what you have written. Thus, here are some abstract writing guidelines on how to write a good abstract for a research paper:
- Structure your abstract
Identifying structure is essential to writing a good abstract for a research paper. Most abstracts typically comprise four essential parts as follows:
- Purpose: Clearly state the aim of your study and the main goal of the research after selecting the right research topic . This section outlines the question or problem that the research attempts to address.
- Methods: This section of the abstract briefly describes what methods did you use to conduct your research. It outlines the procedures or techniques that were followed to collect and analyze data.
- Results: Briefly describe the results and outcomes of your research, providing an overview of the main conclusions or results that were obtained.
- Conclusion: It highlights how the research contributes to the current state of knowledge on the topic and identifies areas for future research. As well as summarize the implications or broader significance of the research or article.
- Keep your Abstract Concise
One effective way to keep your abstract concise is to focus on the most important aspects of your research. This might include the main objective of your study, the methods you used to gather your data, your key findings, and the implications of your research for the broader field of study. By focusing on these key elements, you can ensure that your abstract is both informative and engaging, without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail.
Another strategy to keep your abstract concise is to avoid using overly technical or jargon-heavy language. While it’s important to demonstrate your expertise in your field of study, you should aim to make your abstract accessible to a wide audience, using simple, clear, and concise without overwhelming your readers with unnecessary detail.
- Use Appropriate Keywords
Your abstract should include relevant keywords that will help readers find your research when they search for related topics online. Use specific terms that accurately describe the subject of your research, utilizing 3-10 keywords for your paper, and try to include commonly used phrases and concepts in your field. This will help you to target a wider audience who are interested in your area of research.
- Highlight Your Findings
The findings of a research paper are the most important aspect and the culmination of your research efforts. Highlighting your findings and the key results of your research in the abstract can make a significant impact on your readers.
- Be specific about what you have achieved, and how it has contributed to the field.
- Use simple language to convey your results and focus on the most important aspects of the research.
- Avoid using technical jargon and stick to a language that is concise, clear, and easy to understand.
This can help readers quickly understand the significance of your research and determine whether or not it is relevant to their interests – which may lead them towards wanting even more details afterward.
- Proofread and Revise
Just like the rest of your research paper, your abstract should be well-written and free of errors. Take the time to carefully proofread and revise your abstract, making sure that it accurately reflects the content of your research and effectively communicates your key findings to catch the attention of readers and give them a clear understanding of your work.
Writing a good abstract requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Therefore, it’s essential to invest the necessary time and effort to create a summary that will be appealing and accurately convey the key aspects of your research, following the abstract writing guidelines above. By selecting the right research topic and honing the format of your abstract, you can increase the chances of your paper being accepted at a conference, helping you achieve your goals in the field. So, choose your topic wisely and create an abstract that highlights the potential of your research, and submit it at the relevant conference to get your research published in the Scopus-indexed ASTI book series by Springer.
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