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How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on February 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 18, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

How to Write an Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis ,  dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the US during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

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You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book or research proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, right before the proofreading stage, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your dissertation topic , but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialized terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyze,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

Next, summarize the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalizability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarize the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or use the paraphrasing tool .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarizes the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis , dissertation or research paper .

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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How to Write an Abstract for Your Paper

Matt Ellis

An abstract is a self-contained summary of a larger work, such as research and scientific papers or general academic papers . Usually situated at the beginning of such works, the abstract is meant to “preview” the bigger document. This helps readers and other researchers find what they’re looking for and understand the magnitude of what’s discussed. 

Like the trailer for a movie, an abstract can determine whether or not someone becomes interested in your work. Aside from enticing readers, abstracts are also useful organizational tools that help other researchers and academics find papers relevant to their work.  

Because of their specific requirements, it’s best to know a little about how to write an abstract before doing it. This guide explains the basics of writing an abstract for beginners, including what to put in them and some expert tips on writing them. 

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What’s the purpose of an abstract?

The main purpose of an abstract is to help people decide whether or not to read the entire academic paper. After all, titles can be misleading and don’t get into specifics like methodology or results. Imagine paying for and downloading a hundred-page dissertation on what you believe is relevant to your research on the Caucasus region—only to find out it’s about the other Georgia. 

Likewise, abstracts can encourage financial support for grant proposals and fundraising. If you lack the funding for your research, your proposal abstract would outline the costs and benefits of your project. This way, potential investors could make an informed decision, or jump to the relevant section of your proposal to see the details. 

Abstracts are also incredibly useful for indexing. They make it easier for researchers to find precisely what they need without wasting time skimming actual papers. And because abstracts sometimes touch on the results of a paper, researchers and students can see right away if the paper can be used as evidence or a citation to support their own theses. 

Nowadays, abstracts are also important for search engine optimization (SEO)—namely, for getting digital copies of your paper to appear in search engine results. If someone Googles the words used in your abstract, the link to your paper will appear higher in the search results, making it more likely to get clicks. 

How long should an abstract be? 

Abstracts are typically 100–250 words and comprise one or two paragraphs . However, more complex papers require more complex abstracts, so you may need to stretch it out to cover everything. It’s not uncommon to see abstracts that fill an entire page, especially in advanced scientific works. 

When do you need to write an abstract? 

Abstracts are only for lengthy, often complicated texts, as with scientific and research papers. Similar academic papers—including doctorate dissertations, master’s theses, or elaborate literary criticisms —may also demand them as well. If you’re learning how to write a thesis paper for college , you’ll want to know how to write an abstract, too. 

Specifically, most scientific journals and grant proposals require an abstract for submissions. Conference papers often involve them as well, as do book proposals and other fundraising endeavors. 

However, most writing, in particular casual and creative writing, doesn’t need an abstract. 

Types of abstracts

There are two main types of abstracts: informative and descriptive. Most abstracts fall into the informative category, with descriptive abstracts reserved for less formal papers. 

Informative abstracts

Informative abstracts discuss all the need-to-know details of your paper: purpose, method, scope, results, and conclusion. They’re the go-to format for scientific and research papers. 

Informative abstracts attempt to outline the entire paper without going into specifics. They’re written for quick reference, favor efficiency over style, and tend to lack personality. 

Descriptive abstracts

Descriptive abstracts are a little more personable and focus more on enticing readers. They don’t care as much for data and details, and instead read more like overviews that don’t give too much away. Think of descriptive abstracts like synopses on the back of a book. 

Because they don’t delve too deep, descriptive abstracts are shorter than informative abstracts, closer to 100 words, and in a single paragraph. In particular, they don’t cover areas like results or conclusions — you have to read the paper to satisfy your curiosity. 

Since they’re so informal, descriptive abstracts are more at home in artistic criticisms and entertaining papers than in scientific articles. 

What to include in an abstract

As part of a formal document, informative abstracts adhere to more scientific and data-based structures. Like the paper itself, abstracts should include all of the IMRaD elements: Introduction , Methods , Results , and Discussion . 

This handy acronym is a great way to remember what parts to include in your abstract. There are some other areas you might need as well, which we also explain at the end. 

Introduction

The beginning of your abstract should provide a broad overview of the entire project, just like the thesis statement. You can also use this section of your abstract to write out your hypothesis or research question. 

In the one or two sentences at the top, you want to disclose the purpose of your paper, such as what problem it attempts to solve and why the reader should be interested. You’ll also need to explain the context around it, including any historical references. 

This section covers the methodology of your research, or how you collected the data. This is crucial for verifying the credibility of your paper — abstracts with no methodology or suspicious methods won’t be taken seriously by the scientific community. 

If you’re using original research, you should disclose which analytical methods you used to collect your data, including descriptions of instruments, software, or participants. If you’re expounding on previous data, this is a good place to cite which data and from where to avoid plagiarism . 

For informative abstracts, it’s okay to “give away the ending.” In one or two sentences, summarize the results of your paper and the conclusive outcome. Remember that the goal of most abstracts is to inform, not entice, so mentioning your results here can help others better classify and categorize your paper. 

This is often the biggest section of your abstract. It involves most of the concrete details surrounding your paper, so don’t be afraid to give it an extra sentence or two compared to the others. 

The discussion section explains the ultimate conclusion and its ramifications. Based on the data and examination, what can we take away from this paper? The discussion section often goes beyond the scope of the project itself, including the implications of the research or what it adds to its field as a whole. 

Other inclusions

Aside from the IMRaD aspects, your abstract may require some of the following areas:

  • Keywords — Like hashtags for research papers, keywords list out the topics discussed in your paper so interested people can find it more easily, especially with online formats. The APA format (explained below) has specific requirements for listing keywords, so double-check there before listing yours. 
  • Ethical concerns — If your research deals with ethically gray areas, i.e., testing on animals, you may want to point out any concerns here, or issue reassurances. 
  • Consequences — If your research disproves or challenges a popular theory or belief, it’s good to mention that in the abstract — especially if you have new evidence to back it up. 
  • Conflicts of Interest/Disclosures — Although different forums have different rules on disclosing conflicts of interests, it’s generally best to mention them in your abstract. For example, maybe you received funding from a biased party. 

If you’re ever in doubt about what to include in your abstract, just remember that it should act as a succinct summary of your entire paper. Include all the relevant points, but only the highlights. 

Abstract formats

In general, abstracts are pretty uniform since they’re exclusive to formal documents. That said, there are a couple of technical formats you should be aware of. 

APA format  

The American Psychological Association (APA) has specific guidelines for their papers in the interest of consistency. Here’s what the 7th edition Publication Manual has to say about formatting abstracts:

  • Double-space your text.
  • Set page margins at 1 inch (2.54 cm).
  • Write the word “Abstract” at the top of the page, centered and in a bold font.
  • Don’t indent the first line.
  • Keep your abstract under 250 words.
  • Include a running header and page numbers on all pages, including the abstract.

Abstract keywords have their own particular guidelines as well: 

  • Label the section as “ Keywords: ” with italics.
  • Indent the first line at 0.5 inches, but leave subsequent lines as is.
  • Write your keywords on the same line as the label.
  • Use lower-case letters.
  • Use commas, but not conjunctions.

Structured abstracts

Structured abstracts are a relatively new format for scientific papers, originating in the late 1980s. Basically, you just separate your abstract into smaller subsections — typically based on the IMRaD categories — and label them accordingly. 

The idea is to enhance scannability; for example, if readers are only interested in the methodology, they can skip right to the methodology. The actual writing of structured abstracts, though, is more-or-less the same as traditional ones. 

Unstructured abstracts are still the convention, though, so double-check beforehand to see which one is preferred.

3 expert tips for writing abstracts

1 autonomous works.

Abstracts are meant to be self-contained, autonomous works. They should act as standalone documents, often with a beginning, middle, and end. The thinking is that, even if you never read the actual paper, you’ll still understand the entire scope of the project just from the abstract. 

Keep that in mind when you write your abstract: it should be a microcosm of the entire piece, with all the key points, but none of the details. 

2 Write the abstract last

Because the abstract comes first, it’s tempting to write it first. However, writing the abstract at the end is more effective since you have a better understanding of what is actually in your paper. You’ll also discover new implications as you write, and perhaps even shift the structure a bit. In any event, you’re better prepared to write the abstract once the main paper is completed. 

3 Abstracts are not introductions

A common misconception is to write your abstract like an introduction — after all, it’s the first section of your paper. However, abstracts follow a different set of guidelines, so don’t make this mistake. 

Abstracts are summaries, designed to encapsulate the findings of your paper and assist with organization and searchability. A good abstract includes background information and context, not to mention results and conclusions. Abstracts are also self-contained, and can be read independently of the rest of the paper. 

Introductions, by contrast, serve to gradually bring the reader up to speed on the topic. Their goals are less clinical and more personable, with room to elaborate and build anticipation. Introductions are also an integral part of the paper, and feel incomplete if read independently. 

Give your formal writing the My Fair Lady treatment

Formal papers — the kind that requires abstracts — need formal language. But for most of us, that means changing the way we communicate or even think. You may want to consider the My Fair Lady treatment, which is to say, having a skilled mentor coach what you say. 

Grammarly Premium now offers a new Set Goals feature that helps you tailor your language to your audience or intention. All you have to do is set the goals of a particular piece of writing and Grammarly will customize your feedback accordingly. For example, you can select the knowledge level of your readers, the formality of the tone, and the domain or field you’re writing for (i.e., academic, creative, business, etc.). You can even set a tone to sound more analytical or respectful! 

Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s  Citation Generator  ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing abstracts in Chicago , MLA , and APA styles.

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Abstract Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips & Examples

Sumalatha G

Table of Contents

step-by-step-guide-to-abstract-writing

Introduction

Abstracts of research papers have always played an essential role in describing your research concisely and clearly to researchers and editors of journals, enticing them to continue reading. However, with the widespread availability of scientific databases, the need to write a convincing abstract is more crucial now than during the time of paper-bound manuscripts.

Abstracts serve to "sell" your research and can be compared with your "executive outline" of a resume or, rather, a formal summary of the critical aspects of your work. Also, it can be the "gist" of your study. Since most educational research is done online, it's a sign that you have a shorter time for impressing your readers, and have more competition from other abstracts that are available to be read.

The APCI (Academic Publishing and Conferences International) articulates 12 issues or points considered during the final approval process for conferences & journals and emphasises the importance of writing an abstract that checks all these boxes (12 points). Since it's the only opportunity you have to captivate your readers, you must invest time and effort in creating an abstract that accurately reflects the critical points of your research.

With that in mind, let’s head over to understand and discover the core concept and guidelines to create a substantial abstract. Also, learn how to organise the ideas or plots into an effective abstract that will be awe-inspiring to the readers you want to reach.

What is Abstract? Definition and Overview

The word "Abstract' is derived from Latin abstractus meaning "drawn off." This etymological meaning also applies to art movements as well as music, like abstract expressionism. In this context, it refers to the revealing of the artist's intention.

Based on this, you can determine the meaning of an abstract: A condensed research summary. It must be self-contained and independent of the body of the research. However, it should outline the subject, the strategies used to study the problem, and the methods implemented to attain the outcomes. The specific elements of the study differ based on the area of study; however, together, it must be a succinct summary of the entire research paper.

Abstracts are typically written at the end of the paper, even though it serves as a prologue. In general, the abstract must be in a position to:

  • Describe the paper.
  • Identify the problem or the issue at hand.
  • Explain to the reader the research process, the results you came up with, and what conclusion you've reached using these results.
  • Include keywords to guide your strategy and the content.

Furthermore, the abstract you submit should not reflect upon any of  the following elements:

  • Examine, analyse or defend the paper or your opinion.
  • What you want to study, achieve or discover.
  • Be redundant or irrelevant.

After reading an abstract, your audience should understand the reason - what the research was about in the first place, what the study has revealed and how it can be utilised or can be used to benefit others. You can understand the importance of abstract by knowing the fact that the abstract is the most frequently read portion of any research paper. In simpler terms, it should contain all the main points of the research paper.

purpose-of-abstract-writing

What is the Purpose of an Abstract?

Abstracts are typically an essential requirement for research papers; however, it's not an obligation to preserve traditional reasons without any purpose. Abstracts allow readers to scan the text to determine whether it is relevant to their research or studies. The abstract allows other researchers to decide if your research paper can provide them with some additional information. A good abstract paves the interest of the audience to pore through your entire paper to find the content or context they're searching for.

Abstract writing is essential for indexing, as well. The Digital Repository of academic papers makes use of abstracts to index the entire content of academic research papers. Like meta descriptions in the regular Google outcomes, abstracts must include keywords that help researchers locate what they seek.

Types of Abstract

Informative and Descriptive are two kinds of abstracts often used in scientific writing.

A descriptive abstract gives readers an outline of the author's main points in their study. The reader can determine if they want to stick to the research work, based on their interest in the topic. An abstract that is descriptive is similar to the contents table of books, however, the format of an abstract depicts complete sentences encapsulated in one paragraph. It is unfortunate that the abstract can't be used as a substitute for reading a piece of writing because it's just an overview, which omits readers from getting an entire view. Also, it cannot be a way to fill in the gaps the reader may have after reading this kind of abstract since it does not contain crucial information needed to evaluate the article.

To conclude, a descriptive abstract is:

  • A simple summary of the task, just summarises the work, but some researchers think it is much more of an outline
  • Typically, the length is approximately 100 words. It is too short when compared to an informative abstract.
  • A brief explanation but doesn't provide the reader with the complete information they need;
  • An overview that omits conclusions and results

An informative abstract is a comprehensive outline of the research. There are times when people rely on the abstract as an information source. And the reason is why it is crucial to provide entire data of particular research. A well-written, informative abstract could be a good substitute for the remainder of the paper on its own.

A well-written abstract typically follows a particular style. The author begins by providing the identifying information, backed by citations and other identifiers of the papers. Then, the major elements are summarised to make the reader aware of the study. It is followed by the methodology and all-important findings from the study. The conclusion then presents study results and ends the abstract with a comprehensive summary.

In a nutshell, an informative abstract:

  • Has a length that can vary, based on the subject, but is not longer than 300 words.
  • Contains all the content-like methods and intentions
  • Offers evidence and possible recommendations.

Informative Abstracts are more frequent than descriptive abstracts because of their extensive content and linkage to the topic specifically. You should select different types of abstracts to papers based on their length: informative abstracts for extended and more complex abstracts and descriptive ones for simpler and shorter research papers.

What are the Characteristics of a Good Abstract?

  • A good abstract clearly defines the goals and purposes of the study.
  • It should clearly describe the research methodology with a primary focus on data gathering, processing, and subsequent analysis.
  • A good abstract should provide specific research findings.
  • It presents the principal conclusions of the systematic study.
  • It should be concise, clear, and relevant to the field of study.
  • A well-designed abstract should be unifying and coherent.
  • It is easy to grasp and free of technical jargon.
  • It is written impartially and objectively.

the-various-sections-of-abstract-writing

What are the various sections of an ideal Abstract?

By now, you must have gained some concrete idea of the essential elements that your abstract needs to convey . Accordingly, the information is broken down into six key sections of the abstract, which include:

An Introduction or Background

Research methodology, objectives and goals, limitations.

Let's go over them in detail.

The introduction, also known as background, is the most concise part of your abstract. Ideally, it comprises a couple of sentences. Some researchers only write one sentence to introduce their abstract. The idea behind this is to guide readers through the key factors that led to your study.

It's understandable that this information might seem difficult to explain in a couple of sentences. For example, think about the following two questions like the background of your study:

  • What is currently available about the subject with respect to the paper being discussed?
  • What isn't understood about this issue? (This is the subject of your research)

While writing the abstract’s introduction, make sure that it is not lengthy. Because if it crosses the word limit, it may eat up the words meant to be used for providing other key information.

Research methodology is where you describe the theories and techniques you used in your research. It is recommended that you describe what you have done and the method you used to get your thorough investigation results. Certainly, it is the second-longest paragraph in the abstract.

In the research methodology section, it is essential to mention the kind of research you conducted; for instance, qualitative research or quantitative research (this will guide your research methodology too) . If you've conducted quantitative research, your abstract should contain information like the sample size, data collection method, sampling techniques, and duration of the study. Likewise, your abstract should reflect observational data, opinions, questionnaires (especially the non-numerical data) if you work on qualitative research.

The research objectives and goals speak about what you intend to accomplish with your research. The majority of research projects focus on the long-term effects of a project, and the goals focus on the immediate, short-term outcomes of the research. It is possible to summarise both in just multiple sentences.

In stating your objectives and goals, you give readers a picture of the scope of the study, its depth and the direction your research ultimately follows. Your readers can evaluate the results of your research against the goals and stated objectives to determine if you have achieved the goal of your research.

In the end, your readers are more attracted by the results you've obtained through your study. Therefore, you must take the time to explain each relevant result and explain how they impact your research. The results section exists as the longest in your abstract, and nothing should diminish its reach or quality.

One of the most important things you should adhere to is to spell out details and figures on the results of your research.

Instead of making a vague assertion such as, "We noticed that response rates varied greatly between respondents with high incomes and those with low incomes", Try these: "The response rate was higher for high-income respondents than those with lower incomes (59 30 percent vs. 30 percent in both cases; P<0.01)."

You're likely to encounter certain obstacles during your research. It could have been during data collection or even during conducting the sample . Whatever the issue, it's essential to inform your readers about them and their effects on the research.

Research limitations offer an opportunity to suggest further and deep research. If, for instance, you were forced to change for convenient sampling and snowball samples because of difficulties in reaching well-suited research participants, then you should mention this reason when you write your research abstract. In addition, a lack of prior studies on the subject could hinder your research.

Your conclusion should include the same number of sentences to wrap the abstract as the introduction. The majority of researchers offer an idea of the consequences of their research in this case.

Your conclusion should include three essential components:

  • A significant take-home message.
  • Corresponding important findings.
  • The Interpretation.

Even though the conclusion of your abstract needs to be brief, it can have an enormous influence on the way that readers view your research. Therefore, make use of this section to reinforce the central message from your research. Be sure that your statements reflect the actual results and the methods you used to conduct your research.

examples-of-good-abstract-writing

Good Abstract Examples

Abstract example #1.

Children’s consumption behavior in response to food product placements in movies.

The abstract:

"Almost all research into the effects of brand placements on children has focused on the brand's attitudes or behavior intentions. Based on the significant differences between attitudes and behavioral intentions on one hand and actual behavior on the other hand, this study examines the impact of placements by brands on children's eating habits. Children aged 6-14 years old were shown an excerpt from the popular film Alvin and the Chipmunks and were shown places for the item Cheese Balls. Three different versions were developed with no placements, one with moderately frequent placements and the third with the highest frequency of placement. The results revealed that exposure to high-frequency places had a profound effect on snack consumption, however, there was no impact on consumer attitudes towards brands or products. The effects were not dependent on the age of the children. These findings are of major importance to researchers studying consumer behavior as well as nutrition experts as well as policy regulators."

Abstract Example #2

Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. The abstract:

"The research conducted in this study investigated the effects of Facebook use on women's moods and body image if the effects are different from an internet-based fashion journal and if the appearance comparison tendencies moderate one or more of these effects. Participants who were female ( N = 112) were randomly allocated to spend 10 minutes exploring their Facebook account or a magazine's website or an appearance neutral control website prior to completing state assessments of body dissatisfaction, mood, and differences in appearance (weight-related and facial hair, face, and skin). Participants also completed a test of the tendency to compare appearances. The participants who used Facebook were reported to be more depressed than those who stayed on the control site. In addition, women who have the tendency to compare appearances reported more facial, hair and skin-related issues following Facebook exposure than when they were exposed to the control site. Due to its popularity it is imperative to conduct more research to understand the effect that Facebook affects the way people view themselves."

Abstract Example #3

The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students

"The cellphone is always present on campuses of colleges and is often utilised in situations in which learning takes place. The study examined the connection between the use of cell phones and the actual grades point average (GPA) after adjusting for predictors that are known to be a factor. In the end 536 students in the undergraduate program from 82 self-reported majors of an enormous, public institution were studied. Hierarchical analysis ( R 2 = .449) showed that use of mobile phones is significantly ( p < .001) and negative (b equal to -.164) connected to the actual college GPA, after taking into account factors such as demographics, self-efficacy in self-regulated learning, self-efficacy to improve academic performance, and the actual high school GPA that were all important predictors ( p < .05). Therefore, after adjusting for other known predictors increasing cell phone usage was associated with lower academic performance. While more research is required to determine the mechanisms behind these results, they suggest the need to educate teachers and students to the possible academic risks that are associated with high-frequency mobile phone usage."

quick-tips-on-writing-a-good-abstract

Quick tips on writing a good abstract

There exists a common dilemma among early age researchers whether to write the abstract at first or last? However, it's recommended to compose your abstract when you've completed the research since you'll have all the information to give to your readers. You can, however, write a draft at the beginning of your research and add in any gaps later.

If you find abstract writing a herculean task, here are the few tips to help you with it:

1. Always develop a framework to support your abstract

Before writing, ensure you create a clear outline for your abstract. Divide it into sections and draw the primary and supporting elements in each one. You can include keywords and a few sentences that convey the essence of your message.

2. Review Other Abstracts

Abstracts are among the most frequently used research documents, and thousands of them were written in the past. Therefore, prior to writing yours, take a look at some examples from other abstracts. There are plenty of examples of abstracts for dissertations in the dissertation and thesis databases.

3. Avoid Jargon To the Maximum

When you write your abstract, focus on simplicity over formality. You should  write in simple language, and avoid excessive filler words or ambiguous sentences. Keep in mind that your abstract must be readable to those who aren't acquainted with your subject.

4. Focus on Your Research

It's a given fact that the abstract you write should be about your research and the findings you've made. It is not the right time to mention secondary and primary data sources unless it's absolutely required.

Conclusion: How to Structure an Interesting Abstract?

Abstracts are a short outline of your essay. However, it's among the most important, if not the most important. The process of writing an abstract is not straightforward. A few early-age researchers tend to begin by writing it, thinking they are doing it to "tease" the next step (the document itself). However, it is better to treat it as a spoiler.

The simple, concise style of the abstract lends itself to a well-written and well-investigated study. If your research paper doesn't provide definitive results, or the goal of your research is questioned, so will the abstract. Thus, only write your abstract after witnessing your findings and put your findings in the context of a larger scenario.

The process of writing an abstract can be daunting, but with these guidelines, you will succeed. The most efficient method of writing an excellent abstract is to centre the primary points of your abstract, including the research question and goals methods, as well as key results.

Interested in learning more about dedicated research solutions? Go to the SciSpace product page to find out how our suite of products can help you simplify your research workflows so you can focus on advancing science.

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Undergraduate Research Center | Office of Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate Research Center

The following instructions are for the Undergraduate Research Center's Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference, however the general concepts will apply to abstracts for similar conferences.  In the video to the right, Kendon Kurzer, PhD presents guidance from the University Writing Program.  To see abstracts from previous URC Conferences, visit our Abstract Books Page .

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a summary of a research project. Abstracts precede papers in research journals and appear in programs of scholarly conferences. In journals, the abstract allows readers to quickly grasp the purpose and major ideas of a paper and lets other researchers know whether reading the entire paper will be worthwhile. In conferences, the abstract is the advertisement that the paper/presentation deserves the audience's attention.

Why write an abstract?

The abstract allows readers to make decisions about your project. Your sponsoring professor can use the abstract to decide if your research is proceeding smoothly. The conference organizer uses it to decide if your project fits the conference criteria. The conference audience (faculty, administrators, peers, and presenters' families) uses your abstract to decide whether or not to attend your presentation. Your abstract needs to take all these readers into consideration.

How does an abstract appeal to such a broad audience?

The audience for the abstract for the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference (URSCA) covers the broadest possible scope--from expert to lay person. You need to find a comfortable balance between writing an abstract that both shows your knowledge and yet is still comprehensible--with some effort--by lay members of the audience. Limit the amount of technical language you use and explain it where possible. Always use the full term before you refer to it by acronym Example:  DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs). Remember that you are yourself an expert in the field that you are writing about--don't take for granted that the reader will share your insider knowledge.

What should the abstract include?

Think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole project. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question.

Like abstracts that researchers prepare for scholarly conferences, the abstract you submit for the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativities Conference (URSCA) will most likely reflect work still in progress at the time you write it. Although the content will vary according to field and specific project, all abstracts, whether in the sciences or the humanities, convey the following information:

  • The purpose of the project identifying the area of study to which it belongs.
  • The research problem that motivates the project.
  • The methods used to address this research problem, documents or evidence analyzed.
  • The conclusions reached or, if the research is in progress, what the preliminary results of the investigation suggest, or what the research methods demonstrate.
  • The significance of the research project. Why are the results useful? What is new to our understanding as the result of your inquiry?

Whatever kind of research you are doing, your abstract should provide the reader with answers to the following questions: What are you asking? Why is it important? How will you study it? What will you use to demonstrate your conclusions? What are those conclusions? What do they mean?

SUGGESTED CONTENT STRUCTURE:  

Brief Background/Introduction/Research Context:       What do we know about the topic? Why is the topic important?   Present Research Question/Purpose:       What is the study about? Methods/Materials/Subjects/Materials:       How was the study done? Results/Findings:         What was discovered?    Discussion/Conclusion/Implications/Recommendations       What does it mean?

What if the research is in progress and I don't have results yet? 

For the URSCA Conference you can write a "Promissory Abstract"  which will still describe the background, purpose and how you will accomplish your study's purpose and why it is important.  Phrases like  "to show whether"  or "to determine if"  can be helpful to avoid sharing a "hoped for" result. 

Stylistic considerations

The abstract should be one paragraph for the URSCA Conference and should not exceed the word limit (150-200 words). Edit it closely to be sure it meets the Four C's of abstract writing:

  • Complete — it covers the major parts of the project.
  • Concise — it contains no excess wordiness or unnecessary information.
  • Clear — it is readable, well organized, and not too jargon-laden.
  • Cohesive — it flows smoothly between the parts.

The importance of understandable language

Because all researchers hope their work will be useful to others, and because good scholarship is increasingly used across disciplines, it is crucial to make the language of your abstracts accessible to a non-specialist. Simplify your language. Friends in another major will spot instantly what needs to be more understandable. Some problem areas to look for:

  • Eliminate jargon. Showing off your technical vocabulary will not demonstrate that your research is valuable. If using a technical term is unavoidable, add a non-technical synonym to help a non-specialist infer the term's meaning.
  • Omit needless words—redundant modifiers, pompous diction, excessive detail.
  • Avoid stringing nouns together (make the relationship clear with prepositions).
  • Eliminate "narration," expressions such as "It is my opinion that," "I have concluded," "the main point supporting my view/concerns," or "certainly there is little doubt as to. . . ." Focus attention solely on what the reader needs to know.

Before submitting your abstract to the URSCA Conference:

  • Make sure it is within the word limit.  You can start with a large draft and then edit it down to make sure your abstract is complete but also concise.  (Over-writing is all too easy, so reserve time for cutting your abstract down to the essential information.).  
  • Make sure the language is understandable by a non-specialist. (Avoid writing for an audience that includes only you and your professor.)
  • Have your sponsoring professor work with you and approve the abstract before you submit it online.
  • Only one abstract per person is allowed for the URSCA Conference.  

Multimedia Risk Assessment of Biodiesel - Tier II Antfarm Project

Significant knowledge gaps exist in the fate, transport, biodegradation, and toxicity properties of biodiesel when it is leaked into the environment. In order to fill these gaps, a combination of experiments has been developed in a Multimedia Risk Assessment of Biodiesel for the State of California. Currently, in the Tier II experimental phase of this assessment, I am investigating underground plume mobility of 20% and 100% additized and unadditized Soy and Animal Fat based biodiesel blends and comparing them to Ultra Low-Sulfer Diesel #2 (USLD) by filming these fuels as they seep through unsaturated sand, encounter a simulated underground water table, and form a floating lens on top of the water. Thus far, initial findings in analyzing the digital images created during the filming process have indicated that all fuels tested have similar travel times. SoyB20 behaves most like USLD in that they both have a similar lateral dispersion lens on top of the water table. In contrast, Animal Fat B100 appears to be most different from ULSD in that it has a narrower residual plume in the unsaturated sand, as well as a narrower and deeper lens formation on top of the water table.

Narrative Representation of Grief

In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go how can grief, an incomprehensible and incommunicable emotion, be represented in fiction? Is it paradoxical, or futile, to do so? I look at two novels that struggle with representing intense combinations of individual and communal grief: William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go . At first glance, the novels appear to have nothing in common: Faulkner's is a notoriously bleak odyssey told in emotionally heavy stream-of-consciousness narrative, while Ishiguro's is a near-kitschy blend of a coming-of-age tale and a sci-fi dystopia. But they share a rare common thread. They do not try to convey a story, a character, an argument, or a realization, so much as they try to convey an emotion. The novels' common struggle is visible through their formal elements, down to the most basic technical aspects of how the stories are told. Each text, in its own way, enacts the trauma felt by its characters because of their grief, and also the frustration felt by its narrator (or narrators) because of the complex and guilty task of witnessing for grief and loss.

This webpage was based on articles written by Professor Diana Strazdes, Art History and Dr. Amy Clarke, University Writing Program, UC Davis. Thanks to both for their contributions.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.

Why write an abstract?

You may write an abstract for various reasons. The two most important are selection and indexing. Abstracts allow readers who may be interested in a longer work to quickly decide whether it is worth their time to read it. Also, many online databases use abstracts to index larger works. Therefore, abstracts should contain keywords and phrases that allow for easy searching.

Say you are beginning a research project on how Brazilian newspapers helped Brazil’s ultra-liberal president Luiz Ignácio da Silva wrest power from the traditional, conservative power base. A good first place to start your research is to search Dissertation Abstracts International for all dissertations that deal with the interaction between newspapers and politics. “Newspapers and politics” returned 569 hits. A more selective search of “newspapers and Brazil” returned 22 hits. That is still a fair number of dissertations. Titles can sometimes help winnow the field, but many titles are not very descriptive. For example, one dissertation is titled “Rhetoric and Riot in Rio de Janeiro.” It is unclear from the title what this dissertation has to do with newspapers in Brazil. One option would be to download or order the entire dissertation on the chance that it might speak specifically to the topic. A better option is to read the abstract. In this case, the abstract reveals the main focus of the dissertation:

This dissertation examines the role of newspaper editors in the political turmoil and strife that characterized late First Empire Rio de Janeiro (1827-1831). Newspaper editors and their journals helped change the political culture of late First Empire Rio de Janeiro by involving the people in the discussion of state. This change in political culture is apparent in Emperor Pedro I’s gradual loss of control over the mechanisms of power. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. To explore the role of the newspapers in the political events of the late First Empire, this dissertation analyzes all available newspapers published in Rio de Janeiro from 1827 to 1831. Newspapers and their editors were leading forces in the effort to remove power from the hands of the ruling elite and place it under the control of the people. In the process, newspapers helped change how politics operated in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil.

From this abstract you now know that although the dissertation has nothing to do with modern Brazilian politics, it does cover the role of newspapers in changing traditional mechanisms of power. After reading the abstract, you can make an informed judgment about whether the dissertation would be worthwhile to read.

Besides selection, the other main purpose of the abstract is for indexing. Most article databases in the online catalog of the library enable you to search abstracts. This allows for quick retrieval by users and limits the extraneous items recalled by a “full-text” search. However, for an abstract to be useful in an online retrieval system, it must incorporate the key terms that a potential researcher would use to search. For example, if you search Dissertation Abstracts International using the keywords “France” “revolution” and “politics,” the search engine would search through all the abstracts in the database that included those three words. Without an abstract, the search engine would be forced to search titles, which, as we have seen, may not be fruitful, or else search the full text. It’s likely that a lot more than 60 dissertations have been written with those three words somewhere in the body of the entire work. By incorporating keywords into the abstract, the author emphasizes the central topics of the work and gives prospective readers enough information to make an informed judgment about the applicability of the work.

When do people write abstracts?

  • when submitting articles to journals, especially online journals
  • when applying for research grants
  • when writing a book proposal
  • when completing the Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
  • when writing a proposal for a conference paper
  • when writing a proposal for a book chapter

Most often, the author of the entire work (or prospective work) writes the abstract. However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Undergraduates are sometimes asked to draft abstracts of books/articles for classmates who have not read the larger work.

Types of abstracts

There are two types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. They have different aims, so as a consequence they have different components and styles. There is also a third type called critical, but it is rarely used. If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review . If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor (if the abstract is for a class) or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.

Descriptive abstracts

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 describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short—100 words or less.

Informative abstracts

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 writer presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the complete article/paper/book. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract (purpose, methods, scope) but 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 rarely more than 10% of the length of the entire work. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less.

Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts . Descriptive abstract:

The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided.

Informative abstract:

Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results. This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one.

Which type should I use?

Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.e., 100-120 words = descriptive; 250+ words = informative.

How do I write an abstract?

The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind:

  • Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
  • Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
  • Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
  • Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
  • Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?

(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.” )

All abstracts include:

  • A full citation of the source, preceding the abstract.
  • The most important information first.
  • The same type and style of language found in the original, including technical language.
  • Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
  • Clear, concise, and powerful language.

Abstracts may include:

  • The thesis of the work, usually in the first sentence.
  • Background information that places the work in the larger body of literature.
  • The same chronological structure as the original work.

How not to write an abstract:

  • Do not refer extensively to other works.
  • Do not add information not contained in the original work.
  • Do not define terms.

If you are abstracting your own writing

When abstracting your own work, it may be difficult to condense a piece of writing that you have agonized over for weeks (or months, or even years) into a 250-word statement. There are some tricks that you could use to make it easier, however.

Reverse outlining:

This technique is commonly used when you are having trouble organizing your own writing. The process involves writing down the main idea of each paragraph on a separate piece of paper– see our short video . For the purposes of writing an abstract, try grouping the main ideas of each section of the paper into a single sentence. Practice grouping ideas using webbing or color coding .

For a scientific paper, you may have sections titled Purpose, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each one of these sections will be longer than one paragraph, but each is grouped around a central idea. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement.

Cut and paste:

To create a first draft of an abstract of your own work, you can read through the entire paper and cut and paste sentences that capture key passages. This technique is useful for social science research with findings that cannot be encapsulated by neat numbers or concrete results. A well-written humanities draft will have a clear and direct thesis statement and informative topic sentences for paragraphs or sections. Isolate these sentences in a separate document and work on revising them into a unified paragraph.

If you are abstracting someone else’s writing

When abstracting something you have not written, you cannot summarize key ideas just by cutting and pasting. Instead, you must determine what a prospective reader would want to know about the work. There are a few techniques that will help you in this process:

Identify key terms:

Search through the entire document for key terms that identify the purpose, scope, and methods of the work. Pay close attention to the Introduction (or Purpose) and the Conclusion (or Discussion). These sections should contain all the main ideas and key terms in the paper. When writing the abstract, be sure to incorporate the key terms.

Highlight key phrases and sentences:

Instead of cutting and pasting the actual words, try highlighting sentences or phrases that appear to be central to the work. Then, in a separate document, rewrite the sentences and phrases in your own words.

Don’t look back:

After reading the entire work, put it aside and write a paragraph about the work without referring to it. In the first draft, you may not remember all the key terms or the results, but you will remember what the main point of the work was. Remember not to include any information you did not get from the work being abstracted.

Revise, revise, revise

No matter what type of abstract you are writing, or whether you are abstracting your own work or someone else’s, the most important step in writing an abstract is to revise early and often. When revising, delete all extraneous words and incorporate meaningful and powerful words. The idea is to be as clear and complete as possible in the shortest possible amount of space. The Word Count feature of Microsoft Word can help you keep track of how long your abstract is and help you hit your target length.

Example 1: Humanities abstract

Kenneth Tait Andrews, “‘Freedom is a constant struggle’: The dynamics and consequences of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1984” Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997 DAI-A 59/02, p. 620, Aug 1998

This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so. The time period studied includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies. Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports. This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Now let’s break down this abstract into its component parts to see how the author has distilled his entire dissertation into a ~200 word abstract.

What the dissertation does This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so.

How the dissertation does it The time period studied in this dissertation includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies.

What materials are used Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports.

Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to movement demands and the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Keywords social movements Civil Rights Movement Mississippi voting rights desegregation

Example 2: Science Abstract

Luis Lehner, “Gravitational radiation from black hole spacetimes” Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1998 DAI-B 59/06, p. 2797, Dec 1998

The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search for and analysis of detected signals. The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm. This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

This science abstract covers much of the same ground as the humanities one, but it asks slightly different questions.

Why do this study The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search and analysis of the detected signals.

What the study does The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm.

Results This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

Keywords gravitational radiation (GR) spacetimes black holes

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.

Koopman, Philip. 1997. “How to Write an Abstract.” Carnegie Mellon University. October 1997. http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html .

Lancaster, F.W. 2003. Indexing And Abstracting in Theory and Practice , 3rd ed. London: Facet Publishing.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on 1 March 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the UK during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

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You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic, but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialised terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyse,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

Next, summarise the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalisability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarise the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarises the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 150–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis or paper.

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2022, October 10). How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 19 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/abstract/

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  • How to Write An Abstract

Think of your abstract or artist statement like a movie trailer: it should leave the reader eager to learn more but knowledgeable enough to grasp the scope of your work. Although abstracts and artist statements need to contain key information on your project, your title and summary should be understandable to a lay audience.

write abstract for project

Please remember that you can seek assistance with any of your writing needs at the MU Writing Center . Their tutors work with students from all disciplines on a wide variety of documents. And they are specially trained to use the Abstract Review Rubric that will be used on the abstracts reviewed at the Spring Forum.

Types of Research Summaries

Students should submit artist statements as their abstracts.  Artist statements should introduce to the art, performance, or creative work and include information on media and methods in creating the pieces.  The statements should also include a description of the inspiration for the work, the meaning the work signifies to the artist, the artistic influences, and any unique methods used to create the pieces.  Students are encouraged to explain the connections of the work with their inspirations or themes.  The statements should be specific to the work presented and not a general statements about the students’ artistic philosophies and approaches.  Effective artist statements should provide the viewer with information to better understand the work of the artists.  If presentations are based on previous performances, then students may include reflections on the performance experiences and audience reactions.

Abstracts should describe the nature of the project or piece (ex:  architectural images used for a charrette, fashion plates, advertising campaign story boards) and its intended purpose.  Students should describe the project or problem that they addressed and limitations and challenges that impact the design process.  Students may wish to include research conducted to provide context for the project and inform the design process. A description of the clients/end users may be included.  Information on inspirations, motivations, and influences may also be included as appropriate to the discipline and project.  A description of the project outcome should be included.

Abstracts should include a short introduction or background to put the research into context; purpose of the research project; a problem statement or thesis; a brief description of materials, methods, or subjects (as appropriate for the discipline); results and analysis; conclusions and implications; and recommendations.  For research projects still in progress at the time of abstract submission, students may opt to indicate that results and conclusions will be presented [at the Forum].

Tips for writing a clear and concise abstract

The title of your abstract/statement/poster should include some language that the lay person can understand.   When someone reads your title they should have SOME idea of the nature of your work and your discipline.

Ask a peer unfamiliar with your research to read your abstract. If they’re confused by it, others will be too.

Keep it short and sweet.

  • Interesting eye-catching title
  • Introduction: 1-3 sentences
  • What you did: 1 sentence
  • Why you did it: 1 sentence
  • How you did it: 1 sentence
  • Results or when they are expected: 2 sentences
  • Conclusion: 1-3 sentences

Ideas to Address:

  • The big picture your project helps tackle
  • The problem motivating your work on this particular project
  • General methods you used
  • Results and/or conclusions
  • The next steps for the project

Things to Avoid:

  • A long and confusing title
  • Jargon or complicated industry terms
  • Long description of methods/procedures
  • Exaggerating your results
  • Exceeding the allowable word limit
  • Forgetting to tell people why to care
  • References that keep the abstract from being a “stand alone” document
  • Being boring, confusing, or unintelligible!

Artist Statement

The artist statement should be an introduction to the art and include information on media and methods in creating the piece(s).  It should include a description of the inspiration for the work, what the work signifies to the artist, the artistic influences, and any unique methods used to create the work.  Students are encouraged to explain the connections of the work with their inspiration or theme.  The artist statement (up to 300 words) should be written in plain language to invite viewers to learn more about the artist’s work and make their own interpretations.  The statement should be specific to the piece(s) that will be on display, and not a general statement about the student’s artistic philosophy and approach.  An effective artist statement should provide the viewer with information to better understand and experience viewing the work on display.

Research/Applied Design Abstract

The project abstract (up to 300 words) should describe the nature of the project or piece (ex:  architectural images used for a charrette, fashion plates, small scale model of a theater set) and its intended purpose.  Students should describe the project or problem that was addressed and limitations and challenges that impact the design process.  Students may wish to include research conducted to provide context for the project and inform the design process. A description of the clients/end users may be included.  Information on inspirations, motivations, and influences may also be included as appropriate to the discipline and project.

Key Considerations

  • What is the problem/ big picture that your project helps to address?
  • What is the appropriate background to put your project into context? What do we know? What don’t we know? (informed rationale)
  • What is YOUR project? What are you seeking to answer?
  • How do you DO your research? What kind of data do you collect?  How do you collect it?
  • What is the experimental design? Number of subjects or tests run? (quantify if you can!)
  • Provide some data (not raw, but analyzed)
  • What have you found? What are your results? How do you KNOW this – how did you analyze this?
  • What does this mean?
  • What are the next steps? What don’t we know still?
  • How does this relate (again) to the bigger picture. Who should care and why?  (what is your audience?)

More Resources

  • Abstract Writing Presentation from University of Illinois – Chicago
  • Sample Abstracts
  • A 10-Step Guide to Make Your Research Paper More Effective
  • Your Artist Statement: Explaining the Unexplainable
  • How to Write an Artist Statement

Forum Abstract Review Rubric

Here is the Forum Abstract Review Rubric for you and your mentor to use when writing your abstract to submit to the Spring Research & Creative Achievements Forum.

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How to Write an Abstract

Last Updated: May 6, 2021 Approved

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 60 testimonials and 86% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 4,900,088 times.

If you need to write an abstract for an academic or scientific paper, don't panic! Your abstract is simply a short, stand-alone summary of the work or paper that others can use as an overview. [1] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source An abstract describes what you do in your essay, whether it’s a scientific experiment or a literary analysis paper. It should help your reader understand the paper and help people searching for this paper decide whether it suits their purposes prior to reading. To write an abstract, finish your paper first, then type a summary that identifies the purpose, problem, methods, results, and conclusion of your work. After you get the details down, all that's left is to format it correctly. Since an abstract is only a summary of the work you've already done, it's easy to accomplish!

Getting Your Abstract Started

Step 1 Write your paper...

  • A thesis and an abstract are entirely different things. The thesis of a paper introduces the main idea or question, while the abstract works to review the entirety of the paper, including the methods and results.
  • Even if you think that you know what your paper is going to be about, always save the abstract for last. You will be able to give a much more accurate summary if you do just that - summarize what you've already written.

Step 2 Review and understand any requirements for writing your abstract.

  • Is there a maximum or minimum length?
  • Are there style requirements?
  • Are you writing for an instructor or a publication?

Step 3 Consider your audience.

  • Will other academics in your field read this abstract?
  • Should it be accessible to a lay reader or somebody from another field?

Step 4 Determine the type of abstract you must write.

  • Descriptive abstracts explain the purpose, goal, and methods of your research but leave out the results section. These are typically only 100-200 words.
  • Informative abstracts are like a condensed version of your paper, giving an overview of everything in your research including the results. These are much longer than descriptive abstracts, and can be anywhere from a single paragraph to a whole page long. [4] X Research source
  • The basic information included in both styles of abstract is the same, with the main difference being that the results are only included in an informative abstract, and an informative abstract is much longer than a descriptive one.
  • A critical abstract is not often used, but it may be required in some courses. A critical abstract accomplishes the same goals as the other types of abstract, but will also relate the study or work being discussed to the writer’s own research. It may critique the research design or methods. [5] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Writing Your Abstract

Step 1 Identify your purpose.

  • Why did you decide to do this study or project?
  • How did you conduct your research?
  • What did you find?
  • Why is this research and your findings important?
  • Why should someone read your entire essay?

Step 2 Explain the problem at hand.

  • What problem is your research trying to better understand or solve?
  • What is the scope of your study - a general problem, or something specific?
  • What is your main claim or argument?

Step 3 Explain your methods.

  • Discuss your own research including the variables and your approach.
  • Describe the evidence you have to support your claim
  • Give an overview of your most important sources.

Step 4 Describe your results (informative abstract only).

  • What answer did you reach from your research or study?
  • Was your hypothesis or argument supported?
  • What are the general findings?

Step 5 Give your conclusion.

  • What are the implications of your work?
  • Are your results general or very specific?

Formatting Your Abstract

Step 1 Keep it in order.

  • Many journals have specific style guides for abstracts. If you’ve been given a set of rules or guidelines, follow them to the letter. [8] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source

Step 2 Provide helpful information.

  • Avoid using direct acronyms or abbreviations in the abstract, as these will need to be explained in order to make sense to the reader. That uses up precious writing room, and should generally be avoided.
  • If your topic is about something well-known enough, you can reference the names of people or places that your paper focuses on.
  • Don’t include tables, figures, sources, or long quotations in your abstract. These take up too much room and usually aren’t what your readers want from an abstract anyway. [9] X Research source

Step 3 Write it from scratch.

  • For example, if you’re writing a paper on the cultural differences in perceptions of schizophrenia, be sure to use words like “schizophrenia,” “cross-cultural,” “culture-bound,” “mental illness,” and “societal acceptance.” These might be search terms people use when looking for a paper on your subject.

Step 5 Use real information.

  • Make sure to avoid jargon. This specialized vocabulary may not be understood by general readers in your area and can cause confusion. [12] X Research source

Step 7 Be sure to do basic revisions.

  • Consulting with your professor, a colleague in your field, or a tutor or writing center consultant can be very helpful. If you have these resources available to you, use them!
  • Asking for assistance can also let you know about any conventions in your field. For example, it is very common to use the passive voice (“experiments were performed”) in the sciences. However, in the humanities active voice is usually preferred.

Sample Abstracts and Outline

write abstract for project

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Abstracts are typically a paragraph or two and should be no more than 10% of the length of the full essay. Look at other abstracts in similar publications for an idea of how yours should go. [13] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Consider carefully how technical the paper or the abstract should be. It is often reasonable to assume that your readers have some understanding of your field and the specific language it entails, but anything you can do to make the abstract more easily readable is a good thing. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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Summarize a Journal Article

  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/abstracts/
  • ↑ http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/presentations_abstracts_examples.html
  • ↑ http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/656/1/
  • ↑ https://www.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/656/1/
  • ↑ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/
  • ↑ http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/presentations_abstracts.html

About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To write an abstract, start with a short paragraph that explains the purpose of your paper and what it's about. Then, write a paragraph explaining any arguments or claims you make in your paper. Follow that with a third paragraph that details the research methods you used and any evidence you found for your claims. Finally, conclude your abstract with a brief section that tells readers why your findings are important. To learn how to properly format your abstract, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing an abstract - a six point checklist (with samples)

Posted in: abstract , dissertations

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The abstract is a vital part of any research paper. It is the shop front for your work, and the first stop for your reader. It should provide a clear and succinct summary of your study, and encourage your readers to read more. An effective abstract, therefore should answer the following questions:

  • Why did you do this study or project?
  • What did you do and how?
  • What did you find?
  • What do your findings mean?

So here's our run down of the key elements of a well-written abstract.

  • Size - A succinct and well written abstract should be between approximately 100- 250 words.
  • Background - An effective abstract usually includes some scene-setting information which might include what is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question (a few short sentences).
  • Purpose  - The abstract should also set out the purpose of your research, in other words, what is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present).
  • Methods - The methods section should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. It should include brief details of the research design, sample size, duration of study, and so on.
  • Results - The results section is the most important part of the abstract. This is because readers who skim an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should therefore contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits.
  • Conclusion - This section should contain the most important take-home message of the study, expressed in a few precisely worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcomes of the study. However, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary, but not essential, to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. Thus, the conclusions may contain three elements:
  • The primary take-home message
  • Any additional findings of importance
  • Implications for future studies 

abstract 1

Example Abstract 2: Engineering Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone.

bone

Abstract from: Dalstra, M., Huiskes, R. and Van Erning, L., 1995. Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone. Journal of biomechanical engineering, 117(3), pp.272-278.

And finally...  A word on abstract types and styles

Abstract types can differ according to subject discipline. You need to determine therefore which type of abstract you should include with your paper. Here are two of the most common types with examples.

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.

Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgements 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 summarised. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.

(Adapted from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/ )

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How to Write an Abstract

How to write an abstract for a conference, what is an abstract and why is it important, an abstract is a brief summary of your research or creative project, usually about a paragraph long (250-350 words), and is written when you are ready to present your research or included in a thesis or research publication..

For additional support in writing your abstract, you can contact the Office of URSA at [email protected]  or schedule a time to meet with a Writing and Research Consultant at the OSU Writing Center 

Main Components of an Abstract: 

The opening sentences should summarize your topic and describe what researchers already know, with reference to the literature. 

A brief discussion that clearly states the purpose of your research or creative project. This should give general background information on your work and allow people from different fields to understand what you are talking about. Use verbs like investigate, analyze, test, etc. to describe how you began your work. 

In this section you will be discussing the ways in which your research was performed and the type of tools or methodological techniques you used to conduct your research. 

This is where you describe the main findings of your research study and what you have learned. Try to include only the most important findings of your research that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions. If you have not completed the project, talk about your anticipated results and what you expect the outcomes of the study to be. 

Significance

This is the final section of your abstract where you summarize the work performed. This is where you also discuss the relevance of your work and how it advances your field and the scientific field in general.

  • Your word count for a conference may be limited, so make your abstract as clear and concise as possible.
  • Organize it by using good transition words found on the lef so the information flows well.
  • Have your abstract proofread and receive feedback from your supervisor, advisor, peers, writing center, or other professors from different disciplines. 
  • Double-check on the guidelines for your abstract and adhere to any formatting or word count requirements.
  • Do not include bibliographic references or footnotes. 
  • Avoid the overuse of technical terms or jargon. 

Feeling stuck? Visit the OSU ScholarsArchive for more abstract examples related to your field

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HOW TO WRITE A PROJECT ABSTRACT

How to Write a good abstract is a formidable undertaking and many novice researchers wonder how it is possible to condense months of work into 300 to 400 words. Nevertheless, creating a well-written abstract is a skill that can be learned and mastering the skill will increase the probability that your research will be selected for presentation

Often when asked to write a report or article, you will be required to include an abstract. This is usually a very concise summary of what the report or article is about and is usually placed before the body of your writing. The abstract can be read to get a quick overview. It tells the reader what to expect in your work and it should be based on all you have written.

Definitions :  The word abstract comes from the Latin abstractum , which means a condensed form of a longer piece of writing. There are two main types of abstract: (1) Descriptive (2) Informative abstract. The type of abstract you write depends on your discipline area.

WHY DO WE WRITE ABSTRACTS?

Abstracts are important parts of reports and research papers and sometimes academic assignments. The abstract is often the last item that you write, but the first thing people read when they want to have a quick overview of the whole paper.

Research abstracts are used throughout the research community to provide a concise description about a research project. It is typically a short summary of your completed research. If done well, it makes the reader want to learn more about your research. Some students present their research findings at local and national conferences. Research abstracts are usually requested as part of the application process for conference presenters. These are the basic components of an abstract in any discipline:

1) Motivation/problem statement:  Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling? 2) Methods/procedure/approach:  What did you actually do to get your results? (e.g. analyzed 3 novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17 students) 3) Results/findings/product:  As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you earn/invent/create? 4) Conclusion/implications:  What are the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem/gap identified in step 1? However, it’s important to note that the weight accorded to the different components can vary by discipline. For models, try to find abstracts of research that is similar to your research.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD ABSTRACT

  • Well developed paragraphs are unified, coherent, concise, and able to stand alone.
  • Uses an introduction/body/conclusion structure which presents the article, paper, or report’s purpose, results, conclusions, and recommendations in that order
  • Follows strictly the chronology of the article, paper, or report
  • Provides logical connections (or transitions) between the information included
  • Adds no new information, but simply summarizes the report
  • Is understandable to a wide audience
  • Oftentimes uses passive verbs to downplay the author and emphasize the information

STEPS TO WRITING EFFECTIVE ABSTRACTS

Reread the article, paper, or report with the goal of abstracting in mind. Look specifically for these main parts of the article, paper, or report:  purpose, methods, scope, results, conclusions, and recommendation.  If you’re writing an abstract about another person’s article, paper, or report, the introduction and the summary are good places to begin. These areas generally cover what the article emphasizes. After you’ve finished rereading the article, paper, or report, write a rough draft without looking back at what you’re abstracting. Don’t merely copy key sentences from the article, paper, or report: you’ll put in too much or too little information. Don’t rely on the way material was phrased in the article, paper, or report: summarize information in a new way.

  • Do not commence with “this paper…”, “this report…” or similar. It is better to write about the research than about the paper.
  • Do not explain the sections or parts of the paper.
  • Avoid sentences that end in “…is described”, “…is reported”, “…is analyzed” or similar.
  • Do not begin sentences with “it is suggested that…” “it is believed that…”, “it is felt that…”or similar. In every case, the four words can be omitted without damaging the essential message.
  • Do not repeat or rephrase the title.
  • Do not refer in the abstract to information that is not in the document.

WHERE TO FIND EXAMPLES OF ABSTRACTS :

The best source of example abstracts is journal articles. Go to the library and look at biology journals, or look at electronic journals on the web. Read the abstract; read the article. Pick the best ones, the examples where the abstract makes the article easier to read, and figure out how they do it. Not everyone writes good abstracts, even in refereed journals, but the more abstracts you read, the easier it is to spot the good ones.

SOURCES: www.uky.edu.academy/files/How%20to%20Write%20Research%20Abstract.pdf www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/learning_guides/learningGuide_writingAnAbstract.pdf www.acponline.org/education_recertification/education/program_directors/abstracts/ prepare/res_abs.htmABSTRACT SAMPLES

ABSTRACT SAMPLE ONE

Auditing is continually changing and developing to meet the needs of the business environment it serves. The role of auditing towards organizational success have attracted comment on the front pages of national newspapers, rather than in just the financial pages have even led on occasion to question and statement in parliament. This coverage has not always been good news for the auditing profession, but it does indicate a heightened awareness in society of the potential importance of what auditors do. It also reflects the way in which auditing practice and the activities of audit firms have developed and expanded business especially Anamco Ltd. Enugu. While at one time auditing was generally regarded as a procedural activity involving the application of mechanical techniques, there is now greater realization that both the purpose an the execution of an audit are far from simple matters.   In view of the above fact the study was designed to examine Auditing as an instrument for organizational success in Anamco Ltd. Enugu. In the course of the research oral interview and questionnaire were adopted as the main instruments for collecting data for the study. The data collected were tabulated, analyzed and interpreted. From the analysis some revelations were made. Base on the revelations some recommendations were made to eliminate or ameliorate Audit department of the corporation.

ABSTRACT SAMPLE TWO

This research investigation is focused on the use of Cost-Volume-Profit analysis as a Management tool for decision making using Nigerian Breweries Plc as a case study. Cost-Volume-Profit (CVP) analysis narrowly called break-even analysis, is the application of marginal costing and seeks to study the relationship between costs, volume and profits at differing activity levels and can be a useful guide for short-term planning and decision making. There are series of relationship between costs, volume of production and profit.  An understanding of these relationship are useful to management.  Cost-volume-profit relationship as a decision making device that considers the inherent relationship between cost, volume of production and the profit that is made. This research study is divided into five chapters.  Chapter one is introduction which includes background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, significance of the study, research questions, hypothesis, scope and limitation of the study and definition of terms. Chapter two deals with review of related literatures on cost-volume-profit analysis as a management tool for decision making. Chapter three deals with research design and methodology. Chapter four involves presentation, analysis and interpretation of data. Finally chapter five is summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations.

The study was focused on the study of loan syndication in the Nigeria financial market and its impact on the economy. The study examines the extent to which loan syndication has contributed to the performance of the Nigeria enterprise. Data was collected through the administration of the questionnaire numbering eighty (80) of which sixty-seven (67) were answered and returned. The response form the return questionnaire form the data for the research work.. This data were analyze on the bases of simple percentages while the Chi – square were employed in the test of the hypothesis The study reveals that loan syndication has improved the performance of the Nigeria enterprise. It has not been significantly being applied in the basis of the finding made. It was recommended that participating bank in loan syndication business should endeavor to set up distinct department or section with good management structure capable of dealing with the cooperate borrowers seeking for syndication loans and that banks should be involved in a lot of innovation programme that will increase their deposit base in order to comprehensively eliminate the fear of a possible liquidating that may arise from making syndication loan which one major reason for which should shy away from providing adequate syndication facilities to industrialist.

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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.

Writing Tip

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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HOW TO WRITE A STANDARD ABSTRACT FOR YOUR PROJECT

write abstract for project

Writing an abstract for every research or project work is so important that it can be regarded as the eyes through which project supervisors go through your project work. The saying that the beginning of everything is so important is true and more so in project or research works. Simply put, an abstract can be defined as a brief summary of a project work, article, paper, review etc. in drafting an abstract, the chapters of your work has to be represented  in as brief as possible manner, picking out the salient points in each chapter. During project presentation or defence, the research supervisor first looks at the abstract and from there alone can determine if your work, paper or thesis is interesting enough to go through the work.

Students usually find it difficult writing a standard abstract for their project work. In other to know how to draft a good abstract, students must know how a standard abstract should look like.

A standard abstract must have the following

1. Introduction or background of the study

2. Method of research or research methodology

3. Results and findings

4. Conclusions and recommendation

Introduction or background of the study

This is usually the first section of an abstract; it introduces the topic and aims or objectives of the research and what the study intends to achieve. This part of an abstract is expected to provide an insight into what the study is all about. The introduction of an abstract should be represented in clear and simple English; try as much as possible to avoid ambiguous sentences and always go direct to the point.

Method of research 

This follows the introduction in an abstract; it simply means the method of research employed by the researcher, the method of data collection, the population of the study and the means or method the data collected was analyzed.

Results and findings

The results and findings in your study follow the research methodology employed by the researcher. This section should be “brief”. Findings from the research alongside the results gotten from the analysis carried out in your work.

Conclusions and recommendation

This is the final part of a standard abstract which should contain a brief conclusions and your recommendation. This part of an abstract is an important of any abstract as it tells your project supervisor your conclusion and possible recommendation which should match or tally with the purpose of carrying out the research in this first section of the abstract.

Abstracts should be written after carrying out the research as any attempt to write an abstract before the completion of your work may lead to conflicting values and statements with the main body of your project work.

Below is an example of a standard abstract.

“This study examined the impact of budgetary control on the profitability of an organization. Thus, the importance of budgetary control cannot be overemphasized in business organizations as management needs to embark on effective budgeting to effect proper planning and control. In this regard, budgeting can be seen as a process of planning and control. Thus to examine whether budgeting control is profitable in XYZ construction company. To achieve this objective, five research questions and a research hypothesis were formulated to guide this study. A standard questionnaire was used as the major instrument for data collection from 30 employees of XYZ Construction Company. A sample size of 20 employees were randomly selected using the Taro Yamane’s statistical formular. The data collected from the respondents was analyzed using simple percentages and chi-square statistical tool was employed for testing the research hypothesis. The p-value of 0.000 indicates that XYZ construction should make use of budgetary control to avoid lose in business. The study concluded with some recommendations that the management of XYZ Construction Company should make use of budgetary control to avoid business loses”.

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How To Write An Abstract: Tips And Examples

  • What's An Abstract?
  • Writing An Abstract
  • Abstract Examples

Whether you’re working on a high school science project or a doctoral thesis, there may come a time when you need to write an abstract . But what is an abstract? We’re not talking about an incomprehensible genre of art (see definition 5 ) but rather an important document that is often written alongside science experiments or formal papers. In fact, an abstract often plays the main role in determining how your content is indexed in databases and surfaces in searches of these databases. As you can see, it’s important to write an abstract that supports your work.

In this article, we will explain what an abstract is, walk you through how to write one based on the different parts of a typical abstract, and provide an example of a finished abstract.

What is an abstract ?

An abstract is, in the simplest terms, a summary of a longer text or project. A person will write their paper or conduct their experiment first and then write an abstract that summarizes the main points of the paper or experiment it accompanies. The abstract is descriptive. It does not evaluate the main points or advocate for them.

In the sciences, an abstract typically summarizes the hypothesis, method, and results of an experiment or research paper that used the scientific method . In the humanities, an abstract typically summarizes the thesis, arguments, and findings of a research paper or essay.

While the exact format of an abstract varies, it is typically one to a few paragraphs in length and under 250 words. The abstract only summarizes and does not define terms or provide any additional information that wasn’t present in the original paper.

The tone and word choice of an abstract will also match that used by the original paper. The abstract will include keywords —those terms most relevant in explaining your work. Many modern abstracts are written in such a way that online aggregators (such as Google Scholar) can easily find them and correctly categorize their keywords.

No work of scholarly repute is complete without a thesis statement to bring it all together. Learn how to write a strong, compelling thesis statement!

How to write an abstract

The first step of writing an abstract is always the same: finish the initial paper or experiment. You must actually complete your research paper or science experiment first before you can write an abstract about it.

The next step is to identify your keywords. These will be the most important words and topics present in the original paper. For example, a science paper might use lymphoma or chemotherapy as keywords. For a humanities paper, keywords might be Edgar Allen Poe or Buddhism . You’ll want to ensure all of these keywords are in the text of your abstract.

Next, let’s look at the main parts of an abstract as they would typically appear. Remember, the abstract is supposed to be a brief summary, so most of these parts will not be long.

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Introduction

You’ll begin the abstract by saying what the purpose of the original paper was. For a scientific work, you’ll typically begin by stating what your original hypothesis was or presenting the problem you were hoping to address. In the humanities, you’ll typically begin by introducing the topic of the paper and presenting the main thesis or argument.

The main bulk of the abstract will summarize the methodology used in the original paper. For a scientific work, this would typically mean briefly summarizing each step of an experiment or the research process. In the humanities, this would mean summarizing the main points and/or briefly explaining what evidence and research was used to support the thesis.

Next, the abstract will summarize the results of the original paper. For a scientific work, you would briefly present your data or state what your findings were. In the humanities, you would disclose what your evidence revealed and explain how it supports your thesis.

You would end your abstract by mirroring the conclusion in your original paper by answering “What does this mean?” and explaining the significance of your findings. For the sciences, you would state why your findings matter or how you could apply it to the scientific fields. For humanities, you would state how your findings add to the existing body of knowledge or how your argument affects what we already know about the topic.

It is worth repeating that your original paper or experiment will have much more information than is in the abstract. As stated earlier, the point of an abstract is to briefly summarize your paper or experiment so people will generally know what to expect when they read it in its entirety. This means that your abstract must immediately get to the point and include only the most essential information.

Mastering the art of the essay is key in any student’s academic journey—and it all starts with an outline. Get tips for writing an essay outline!

Examples of an abstract

These examples of existing abstracts will help you write an abstract.

Heart Disease Mortality among Bridge and Tunnel Officers Exposed to Carbon Monoxide

Authors: Stern FB, Halperin WE, Hornung RW, Ringenburg VL, McCammon CS

Heart disease mortality among bridge and tunnel officers occupationally exposed to carbon-monoxide was examined in a retrospective study of 5,529 subjects employed between 1952 and 1981 at any one of nine New York City water crossings. Among former tunnel officers, there were 61 deaths from arteriosclerotic heart disease, a 35 percent excess risk compared with the New York City population. Examination of the risk of mortality from arteriosclerotic heart disease among tunnel officers in comparison to the less exposed bridge officers using a proportional hazards model indicated no observable association of arteriosclerotic heart disease with length of exposure; there was, however, significant interaction of exposure with age. The elevated risk of arteriosclerotic heart disease among tunnel officers declined after cessation of exposure, with much of the increased risk dissipating within as a little as 5 years. The authors conclude that exposure to carbon-monoxide may be a major factor in arteriosclerotic heart disease mortality; the parallel findings of this study and studies showing the relation of cigarette smoking to cardiovascular mortality suggest that carbon-monoxide may play an important role in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular mortality associated with cigarette smoking.

Mapping Sources of Food Safety Information for U.S. Consumers: Findings From a National Survey

Authors: Xiaoli Nan, Linda Verrill, Jarim Kim

This research examines the sources from which U.S. consumers obtain their food safety information. It seeks to determine differences in the types of information sources used by U.S. consumers of different sociodemographic background, as well as the relationships between the types of information sources used and food safety risk perceptions. Analyzing the 2010 Food Safety Survey (N = 4,568) conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we found that age, gender, education, and race predicted the use of different sources for food safety information. Additionally, use of several information sources predicted perceived susceptibility to foodborne illnesses and severity of food contamination. Implications of the findings for food safety risk communication are discussed.

Sharing your findings effectively is a pivotal part of the research process. Learn how to construct clear sentences and write with clarity.

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How to Write an Abstract Before You Have Obtained Your Results

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

When you need to produce an abstract for research that has not yet been carried out, you should write what is known as a descriptive abstract . In this type of abstract, you explain the background, purpose, and focus of your paper but not the results or conclusion.

Obviously, it is preferable to write the abstract for your research after you have obtained your results. While you might be under pressure to submit an abstract months before your research has been completed, it is still best to postpone writing your abstract until you have your results if this is at all possible. The advice given in this article is intended for authors who have no choice but to submit an abstract before they have their results.

Guidelines and Tips for Writing an Abstract without Results

When you need to write an abstract but haven’t yet gathered your results, you can write a descriptive abstract . While these are typically used for papers written in the humanities and social sciences, you may adapt them to a scientific work if you have no other option — for example, if you need to submit an abstract eight months before your research is scheduled to be completed.

A typical descriptive abstract accomplishes three things — namely, it (1) provides background information about your study topic, (2) expresses the purpose of your study, and (3) explains what you will do to accomplish your study’s purpose. Descriptive abstracts do not usually make any mention of a study’s results. However, if a description of the results is a general requirement for your abstract, you can briefly state that you intend to express your results at a later time (after you have gathered your data).

This article will guide you through writing all three parts of a descriptive abstract for a scientific paper. Afterward, examples of full abstracts written in this style are provided.

1. Background: Give general information about your topic.

The background section of a descriptive abstract is longer than that of an informative abstract (which is the abstract style used in most scientific works). The background information provided in an informative abstract is often restricted to two sentences, one mentioning the study topic and the other introducing the general problem to be addressed. A further discussion of these kinds of abstracts can be found here . In a descriptive abstract, you can use two sentences for each of these purposes, which allows you to give more detailed background information.

The background section of an informative abstract might read as follows:

Body dissatisfaction has adverse effects on women of all ages. However, research suggests that women can apply self-compassion to reduce body dissatisfaction and create a positive body image instead. This paper aims to…

In this example, the author very quickly lets the reader know the overall topic of their paper (body dissatisfaction among women) and what avenue of this topic they will explore. They then immediately transition into discussing the purpose of their paper.

If the author had written a descriptive abstract instead, the background section might look like this:

Body dissatisfaction has adverse effects on women of all ages. It has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, and eating disorders. These problems can be made worse when a woman criticizes herself because of her body. Conversely, practicing self-compassion, which entails being warm towards oneself when recognizing one’s failures or inadequacies, can reduce body dissatisfaction and help to create a positive body image. This paper aims to…

In this second example, the author uses an extra sentence to list some of the specific adverse effects of body dissatisfaction. The author also defines the key term of “self-compassion” to give non-experts of the subject a better understanding of the topic.

2. Purpose: Describe the general problem that your research aims to explore.

This part of a descriptive abstract is typically made up of a single sentence. Here, you should describe your purpose for conducting your research work. This sentence should be more specific than the preceding sentences, as it should describe the specific constructs that the study will investigate. Unlike the other parts of a descriptive abstract, the sentence describing the study’s purpose should be the same as it would appear if you were writing an informative abstract.

This paper aims to explore sources of positive and negative body image by investigating whether the association between self-esteem and body image avoidance behaviors is mediated by self-compassion and appearance contingent self-worth.

This example was taken from an informative abstract but could just as well be included in a descriptive abstract.

3. Focus: Explain what you intend to do to solve the problem.

Normally, you would now describe what you did to accomplish your research goal. However, if you have not yet carried out your research, you have nothing to report. As such, you should instead explain what you intend to do to accomplish your goal. It is best to be specific regarding what tools you will use and what parameters you will measure.

In an informative abstract, the author could express the focus of their research as follows:

Using a multiple mediation model, we assessed the responses of 222 female participants who completed the Body Image Avoidance Questionnaire.

Here, the author quickly explains who the participants were, what the researchers measured, and what tool they used.

If you are writing a descriptive abstract because you do not yet have your results, then this part of your abstract will be different in two ways. First, you will have to leave out information that you do not have (e.g., the number of participants). Second, you cannot write this sentence in the past tense since you haven’t done anything yet. If the example sentence above were part of a descriptive abstract, it might read as follows:

We will employ a multiple mediation model to assess the responses given by a group of females to the Body Image Avoidance Questionnaire.

Here, the author has not included the number of participants, and they have stated what they will do rather than what they have done.

Do not in any way express what you expect or hope to find.

If you were writing an informative abstract, the next step would be to describe your results. If you are writing a descriptive abstract instead, you might be tempted to describe what you expect or hope to find. However, this should be avoided, as it reflects a lack of scientific integrity and will be perceived as misleading if you do not obtain the expected results.

On this note, you must be very careful about how you express the purpose of your study. To clarify this, I will revisit a previous example.

The use of the word “whether” is crucial in this sentence, as it expresses doubt. That is, it indicates that you don’t know what you will find. Therefore, no matter what results you obtain, this sentence cannot be considered misleading.

The following example includes a subtle change in wording, but it changes the implied meaning of the sentence:

This paper aims to explore sources of positive and negative body image by showing that the association between self-esteem and body image avoidance behaviors is mediated by self-compassion and appearance contingent self-worth.

“Investigating whether” has been changed to “showing that.” Because of this change, the author is now claiming that they will obtain a certain result (i.e., that self-compassion and appearance contingent self-worth mediate the relationship in question). This statement will be considered misleading if either variable does not turn out to be a mediating factor.

Examples of Abstracts without Results

I will begin with an abstract from the field of English literature, where descriptive abstracts are common. Afterward, I will provide a second example that shows how you can adapt this style to an abstract written in a scientific field.

(1) Revolutions are considered as a way to replace a situation or system of government with a better one. (2) However, many writers have addressed the question of whether revolution really is the right way to improve people’s lives or if it merely changes the faces of rulers or the names of governments. (3) George Orwell, who was considered an apolitical writer, is one of the writers who tackled this issue. (4) His novella Animal Farm is an allegorical story of some animals living on a farm who successfully revolt against their owner, only to create a dystopia in the end. (5) This paper aims to explore the nature of revolution throughout human history in general and how this phenomenon is treated by Orwell in his novella. (6) Specifically, we intend to use examples from Animal Farm to investigate whether we should consider revolution as an appropriate way to generate a true change in a political system and in the way people think.

The above abstract is a modified version of the abstract from “The Nature of Revolution on Animal Farm.” It contains the three main parts that have been described in this article:

First, Sentences (1)-(4) provide background information for the present study. In sentence (1), the author makes a very broad statement about a widespread topic (i.e., revolutions). Sentence (2) describes the general problem that the paper addresses. The author then gets more specific in Sentences (3) and (4), mentioning a specific writer and a specific novella.

Second, the author states their purpose for writing the paper in Sentence (5), indicated by the introductory phrase “this paper aims to.” Notice that the purpose stated in this sentence is quite general, though it is more specific than the problem described in Sentence (2).

Third, in Sentence (6), the author explains what particular question they intend to answer (i.e., “Should we consider revolution as an appropriate way to generate a true change in a political system?”), and they mention what tools they will use to do this (i.e., examples from Animal Farm ).

(1) The physical self has been considered one of the most important factors impacting global self-esteem. (2) Moreover, the physical self has recently become widely accepted as a multidimensional construct that contains several specific perceptions across various domains. (3) However, limited research has examined the physical self of athletes with physical disabilities, especially in Middle-Eastern countries. (4) Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the physical self-esteem and global self-esteem of wheelchair basketball players from Middle-Eastern countries. (5) Using the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) as a measurement tool, this study aims to determine (i) whether there is a correlation between physical self-esteem and global self-esteem and (ii) which of the nine domains of the PSDQ (Health, Coordination, Activity, Body Fat, Sport Competence, Appearance, Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance) are correlated with physical self-esteem.

The above abstract is a modified version of the abstract of the article entitled “Physical self-esteem of wheelchair basketball players.” It has the same three main parts as the first example:

First, Sentences (1)-(3) are devoted to providing the background of the study. Specifically, Sentences (1) and (2) describe the general topic that will be investigated, while Sentence (3) states the general problem that the author intends to explore.

Second, in Sentence (4), the author states the overall purpose of their study by explaining what aspect of the issue mentioned in Sentence (3) they will be tackling.

Third, Sentence (5) describes the specific questions that the study will address (i.e., “Is there a correlation between physical self-esteem and global self-esteem, and which of the nine domains of the PSDQ are correlated with physical self-esteem?”). It also lets the reader know what kind of data will be used to answer these questions (i.e., PDSQ scores). Notice that the authors do not state that they expect to find any correlations.

  • How to Write an Abstract

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Abstract

    Step 1: Introduction Step 2: Methods Step 3: Results Step 4: Discussion Keywords Tips for writing an abstract Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about abstracts Abstract example Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed. Example: Humanities thesis abstract

  2. Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

    An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes: an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;

  3. How To Write an Abstract in 7 Steps (With an Example)

    Abstracts should be written after the full paper is written, and are usually about 150-250 words and one to two paragraphs long. An abstract should include a statement of the problem you are trying to solve and the purpose of your research, the methods used to find the solution, the results and the implications of your findings.

  4. 15 Abstract Examples: A Comprehensive Guide

    An abstract represents a concise, well-articulated summary of an academic piece or research. But writing an abstract goes beyond merely creating a summary. In this piece, we'll delve into examples of abstracts to illuminate what they truly are, along with the necessary tone, style, and word counts.

  5. How to Write an Abstract for Your Paper

    Matt Ellis Updated on June 2, 2022 Students An abstract is a self-contained summary of a larger work, such as research and scientific papers or general academic papers. Usually situated at the beginning of such works, the abstract is meant to "preview" the bigger document.

  6. Abstract Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips & Examples

    Mar 23, 2022 Photo by Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash Introduction Abstracts of research papers have always played an essential role in describing your research concisely and clearly to researchers and editors of journals, enticing them to continue reading.

  7. Undergraduate Research Center

    An abstract is a summary of a research project. Abstracts precede papers in research journals and appear in programs of scholarly conferences. In journals, the abstract allows readers to quickly grasp the purpose and major ideas of a paper and lets other researchers know whether reading the entire paper will be worthwhile.

  8. The Writing Center

    The project has both scientific and ethical goals. The scientific goals underscore the advantages of the genome project, including identifying and curing diseases and enabling people to select the traits of their offspring, among other opportunities. ... Writing an Abstract for an IMRaD Paper. Many papers in the social sciences, natural ...

  9. Abstracts

    An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work.

  10. How to Write an Abstract

    You will almost always have to include an abstract when: Completing a thesis or dissertation. Submitting a research paper to an academic journal. Writing a book proposal. Applying for research grants. It's easiest to write your abstract last, because it's a summary of the work you've already done.

  11. How to Write An Abstract

    How to Write An Abstract Think of your abstract or artist statement like a movie trailer: it should leave the reader eager to learn more but knowledgeable enough to grasp the scope of your work.

  12. How to Write an Abstract (with Pictures)

    1 Write your paper first. Even though an abstract goes at the beginning of the work, it acts as a summary of your entire paper. Rather than introducing your topic, it will be an overview of everything you write about in your paper. Save writing your abstract for last, after you have already finished your paper.

  13. Writing an abstract

    Why did you do this study or project? What did you do and how? What did you find? What do your findings mean? So here's our run down of the key elements of a well-written abstract. Size - A succinct and well written abstract should be between approximately 100- 250 words.

  14. How to Write an Abstract

    An abstract is a brief summary of your research or creative project, usually about a paragraph long (250-350 words), and is written when you are ready to present your research or included in a thesis or research publication.

  15. HOW TO WRITE A GOOD PROJECT ABSTRACT

    1) Motivation/problem statement: Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling? 2) Methods/procedure/approach: What did you actually do to get your results? (e.g. analyzed 3 novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17 students)

  16. 3. The Abstract

    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 s...

  17. How to write an Abstract

    🔥Join my LIVE course on Research Writing & Presentation starting 10th Feb, 2024: https://wiseupcommunications.com/course/research-live/In this video, learn ...

  18. PDF How to Write an Abstract

    Concisely describe how your results pertain to your study aim or hypothesis. Statements such as "to be completed" or "to be presented" are not acceptable. Remember to report non-significant differences too. Usually the longest section, 3-8 sentences.

  19. How to Write a Standard Abstract for Your Project

    Writing an abstract for every research or project work is so important that it can be regarded as the eyes through which project supervisors go through your project work. The saying that the beginning of everything is so important is true and more so in project or research works.

  20. How To Write An Abstract: Tips And Examples

    Research in science and the humanities is tough enough; summarizing it clearly is an added challenge. Learn how to write an abstract for a research project!

  21. How to Write a Science Fair Project Abstract

    An abstract is an abbreviated version of your science fair project final report. For most science fairs it is limited to a maximum of 250 words (check the rules for your competition). The science fair project abstract appears at the beginning of the report as well as on your display board.

  22. Abstract Generator

    Here's how you can generate the abstract of your content in the below easy steps: Type or copy-paste your text into the given input field. Alternatively, upload a file from the local storage of your system. Verify the reCAPTCHA. Click on the Generate button. Copy the results and paste them wherever you want in real-time.

  23. How to Write an Abstract Before You Have Obtained Your Results

    3. Focus: Explain what you intend to do to solve the problem. Normally, you would now describe what you did to accomplish your research goal. However, if you have not yet carried out your research, you have nothing to report. As such, you should instead explain what you intend to do to accomplish your goal.

  24. Katharina Daneke on Instagram: "How to choose your project ⤵️ The

    279 likes, 13 comments - katharina_daneke_art on February 16, 2024: "How to choose your project ⤵️ The official start of #the100dayproject is just around the cor..." Katharina Daneke on Instagram: "How to choose your project ⤵️ The official start of #the100dayproject is just around the corner - it starts on Sunday, February 18th to be ...