How to Write an Abstract - A Step by Step Guide
Abstracts have played a critical role in describing the research study to journal editors and researchers. It is the most important part of any research paper that gives readers an overview of your paper and what to expect.
However, writing a convincing abstract is much more important today than it was before. It is important to spend time and energy on it because this is how potential readers decide if they want to read your work.
An abstract must also include the key information, e.g., summary, results, observations, and trends. Such elements will allow the audience to examine your work easily.
Read this guide to master the art of how to write an abstract. Also, learn to come up with unique ideas for captivating readers.
What is an Abstract?
An abstract is a short summary of your research. It tells the readers what the central point of your paper is and also describes the aims and outcomes.
A strong abstract further allows the audience to decide whether he wants to continue with your paper or not. It is an essential part of a research paper and a thesis, and no paper is considered complete without it.
It is about 150 to 250 words long and must be written after completing the paper. Moreover, this section comes after the title page and acknowledgments but before the table of content.
Types of an Abstract
There are four main types of abstract given below:
- Critical Abstract - This type of abstract allows the reader to critically evaluate the paper for analyzing its reliability. It is about 400-500 words in length.
- Descriptive Abstract - It usually states the type of information found in the research work in less than 100 words.
- Informative Abstract - Like the descriptive abstract, it also mentions the information along with the results, conclusion, and recommendation. The length of the abstract is no more than 300 words.
- Highlight Abstract - It is written to provide the complete picture of the research study to attract readers.
How to Write an Abstract?
Professors usually require students to include an abstract in the research paper. However, this section is often overlooked by the students. Thus, papers with weak abstracts are likely to be rejected by the reviewers.
Follow the important steps given below to write a good abstract.
1. Check Out the Instructions
Every research paper comes with a set of instructions. These instructions serve as guidelines that all students must follow when writing an abstract. So before starting a research paper, check out the instructions mentioned by your teacher.
These guidelines may include:
- The type of abstract to write about
- A proper structure or pattern to follow
- Any specific organization rules to apply
- The required word count
- Style and formatting requirements
Following these instructions will engage the readers to move forward with your paper.
2. Write the Research Paper First
It is better to write the abstract at the end of your paper. This section presents the important points of your work briefly. Thus, you cannot know these key points before you finish writing the body of your paper.
3. Add the Background of the Research Study
Add some background information on your research topic into the abstract. Avoid adding irrelevant and lengthy details and keep the information brief, concise, and focused on the main research question.
Only choose the facts that are related to your study. It will help you explain the significance of the expected outcome of your research.
4. Describe the Research Problem and Objectives
Start your abstract by clearly describing the purpose and objectives of your research. Explain its significance to the people and society and discuss which research question(s) do you aim to answer.
For this, use words such as evaluate, analyze, and investigate. Moreover, this section can be written in simple past or present tense but can never be in the future.
Answer the following questions while stating your research problem:
- Why are you conducting this research?
- How will the study contribute to the field?
- Why should the audience read the full paper?
- What is the main problem that your research is trying to solve?
- What is the scope of the study, i.e., specific or general?
- What is the major argument?
5. Mention the Research Methods
Every research work follows a specific methodology. An abstract will discuss the research methods that you have used to answer the research question.
It consists of 1 to 2 sentences that are usually written in the past tense. Do not try to explain everything in it. Rather, be concise and brief.
The main goal here is to give an overall idea of the approaches, procedures, and sources you have used. It can be qualitative, quantitative, case study, etc. Simply state your reasons for choosing a particular method and why it benefits your research.
6. Discuss the Previous Researches
Some abstracts discuss the relevant and previous researches on the chosen topic. After identifying them, make sure to mention that there is a unique perspective in your research. But it should not be too long and detailed. Just a brief overview of how your research is different from others.
An abstract is considered as a mini version of the research. Thus, add enough information to keep the reader engaged.
7. Summarize Findings and Results
Summarize the major findings and results of your study in this section. Write in simple past and present tense and avoid using vague qualitative terms.
Also, identify the contribution of your study in concrete terms, i.e., percentage, trends, figures, etc. Similarly, also compare the methods and results with the hypothesis by stating whether the study was successful or not.
8. State Your Conclusion
State the conclusion of your research in the last section of the abstract. It must explain the answer to your research question and problem.
Mention research limitations related to the sample size or the methodology. It will enable the audience to understand the credibility of the research and the circumstances in which it has been carried out.
A writer can also make suggestions and recommendations for future research and a call to action in this section. Make sure your results add value to the respective field of knowledge.
9. Use Keywords to Attract the Audience
Add a list of keywords at the end of your abstract to attract the audience. These should be the most common and relevant terms.
By referencing such keywords with your research, potential readers can find your paper easily during their searches. Thus, include 5 to 10 short words that are central to your research study.
Remember, the Publication Manuals of the American Psychological (APA) style has some specific requirements for formatting these keywords.
10. Read Some Abstract Samples
Learning through examples is the best and fastest way of learning anything. Before writing your paper’s abstract, read some online samples related to different subjects. These disciplines may include science, social sciences, and humanities.
Reading samples while writing a literature review gives a good idea of the type of abstract that each subject should have.
Here is a document that contains sample abstracts of different subjects.
Sample Abstracts (PDF)
11. Make a Rough Draft First
Make a rough draft of your abstract. At this stage, do not think of the word limit or the type of content you are using. Just focus on the main theme of your paper and write down everything that crosses your mind.
However, avoid adding the following elements in the abstract.
- Lengthy background details
- Unnecessary phrases, adverbs, and adjectives
- Repetitive information
- Acronyms or abbreviations
- References to other research work
- Incomplete sentences
- Ellipticals or jargon language
- Citations to others work
- Any type of image, table, or illustration
- Definitions of the keywords and terms
After writing, review and revise it thoroughly. Remove everything that gives away too many details. Make sure it is concise and just give a hint of the information included in the main sections.
12. Proofread Before Submission
No writing process is complete without the final and detailed proofreading. Once you are done writing the abstract, proofread and edit it carefully.
Many students try to avoid this part and submit the paper without proper proofreading. As a result, they end up with low grades.
Also, read the rest of the paper and double-check the results section before handing it over to your teacher. Refer to the below-given document to get a detailed idea of writing an abstract for a research paper.
How to Write An Abstract For A Research Paper (PDF)
Tips to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
Here are some useful tips for you to write an effective abstract for a paper.
- Write the abstract by using a reverse outlining process. Start with making a list of keywords. Write the sentences that summarize the central argument, and then revise them to get a clear framework of your abstract.
- Read other sample abstracts to get a better idea of the style and structure.
- Write clearly and concisely by avoiding unnecessary words and jargon language. Make sure that each sentence should present one major argument. It will make it easy for readers to understand the topic.
- Present the original contributions of your research instead of discussing other’s work.
Abstract Page Template and Examples
The following are the abstract examples and a template. Read them if you want to know more.
Abstract Template (PDF)
Sample Research Paper Abstract APA (PDF)
Sample Research Paper Abstract MLA (PDF)
Abstract Example (PDF)
Scientific Research Paper Abstract (PDF)
Writing an abstract is not hard. It requires proper structure and detail. But, it is something that you can do with practice and hard work.
This guide will help you write a perfect abstract for your paper if you follow it closely. But, not everyone has the talent to create a good abstract. So they might take help from an online paper writing service to make one for their research work.
MyPerfectWords.com is the best option if you need help with your academic assignments. Simply order a well-written abstract from our expert and professional writers now.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an abstract and an introduction?
The difference between an abstract and an introduction is that the abstract summarizes your entire study. In contrast, the introduction includes only some elements of what is in an abstract.