How to Write an Abstract

An abstract is essentially a short version of a research paper. If scientists and researchers were to read all the research papers published each year, they wouldn’t be able to get much work done. Abstracts let them know what the main point of the paper is and whether or not they need to read the full study. For tips on how to write a successful abstract, see below:

 

  1. Try to keep the abstract short. It should be no more than 500 words for ease of reading. As it is a summary of the paper, only the most important points need to be covered and the rest can be included in the actual research paper.
  2. Be specific about everything that is included in the paper. People are not reading the abstract for vague ideas and nondescript answers. They want to know, quickly, what the paper is about and what it can tell them. The actual details come later.
  3. Even if the experiment or study is not concluded, you can create an abstract to let people know what the study is about. In this case, it is particularly important to explain the hypothesis that is being tested, as there will be no solid data yet. Present the data that has already been gathered, if any, and explain what the desired outcome is.
  4. What is the impact of the research you are presenting? The paper has meaning and it is your job to get this meaning across in the summary, which will help readers determine if they need the extra details and information that is found in the actual report or research paper.
  5. Consider including a list of references. While these should be included in the actual abstract, alongside the data presented, it can be helpful to have a list at the end for quick reference. This allows researchers to see at a glance if they need to familiarize themselves with anything they have yet to read up on.

 

Creating an abstract can be exhausting, as you try to compress dozens of pages of information into a few paragraphs. Stay focused and eliminate anything that is not specific to the main point and you’ll end up with an efficient piece to present.


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