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How to Write an Abstract

An abstract is a brief summation of an academic article. In general, it provides a synopsis of the relevant findings of the article as a way of allowing a researcher to glean whether the article is relevant to a line of research.

There are two types of abstracts:

  1. Informational Abstract
  2. Descriptive Abstract

Informational abstracts tell the contents of the report or research paper. They include the following elements:

  • Purpose
  • Methods
  • Scope
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations

The goal of the informational abstract is to highlight the essential points of the research paper. It should be short, perhaps a paragraph or two at most. The informational abstract should never be more than 10% of the paper.

Descriptive abstracts give the reader a clear idea of what the research paper contains. The main difference between a descriptive abstract and a informational abstract is that a descriptive abstract does NOT include the results, conclusions and recommendations that were discovered in the research. Therefore, a descriptive abstract should include the following:

  • Purpose
  • Methods
  • Scope

Descriptive abstracts are very short (less than 100 words) and they only introduce the subject to the reader and then allow the reader to discover the results themselves.

The Steps to Take to Write an Abstract

  1. Write your research paper and then reread it, keeping in mind that you need to note the main points of your research.
  2. Write out a list with the following words: Purpose, methods, scope, results, conclusions, recommendations.
  3. After each word in your list, write what is found in your paper. For example:
    Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to illustrate the effect of poverty on racial relations in major metropolitan areas.
  4. Compile your list into a well-flowing, succinct presentation of the elements of your paper.

There are numerous websites across the Internet that will teach you how to write an abstract. University students are often required to produce a research paper in the course of their studies, learning what an abstract does is a key first step in learning how to write an abstract.

Modern scientific and social science research is largely published in various academic journals. The smaller size of an article, as opposed to a full-length book, allows for both the timely presentation of new research to the field and a peer-reviewed contribution to academic knowledge. Many such journals require authors to produce an abstract, which is best written last, after the rest of the article is completed. Despite appearing first in the publication, an abstract cannot summarize research without completion.

How to Write an Abstract need not be the title of an entire course of study in a writing class. However, all university students seeking to improve the quality of their writing should realize that how to write an abstract is a relatively easy part of the writing process. It is the final polish on an article, providing encapsulated summary for potential interested readers.

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