Learn How to Write an Abstract - Steps & Examples
Are you working on writing research papers, case studies, or any other academic/scientific paper?
If yes, then you must have come across the different elements that come together to make a research paper — title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, methods, results section, discussion, references.
Writing a good and engaging abstract is important for effective research paper writing. No research paper is complete without it and without a good abstract, no one is going to read your paper.
If you want to learn how to write an abstract, then you are at the right spot. In this article, we will discuss the different types of abstracts, everything an abstract should include.
What is an Abstract?
An abstract is a detailed yet concise piece of writing that is used to describe the research or a larger work. It is an overview of the components of the paper and helps your reader understand what the paper is about and what to expect from it before they read the rest of it.
Don’t confuse it with a review of the research, or an evaluation of the work. It is an original piece of work, written after you are done writing the rest of the paper. It highlights the key points of your paper; the components, however, do differ according to the discipline that you are writing for.
When writing an abstract for social sciences or science will discuss the scope of the study, its purpose, methods, results, and discussion. On the other hand, for the humanities abstract, you will mention the thesis, background, results, and conclusions of your research.
Since it is a summary of the paper, it is the last step of the writing process. A good abstract follows a specific format and a defined strict word limit of 150-250 words. The word count must not exceed and it should be limited to presenting a concise summary of the paper only.
Types of Abstracts
Abstracts are further divided into two different types – descriptive and informative. Both of them have different aims and serve a unique purpose. Since their components vary too, it is best that you ask your professor and confirm the type of abstract you are supposed to write. Or you can also review sample research papers from a similar field and see what the abstract you studied includes.
A descriptive abstract describes the type of information presented in the work. It doesn’t critique the work or present the findings; it only discusses the keywords of the text and the importance of the research, its scope and purpose. It is usually 100 words or less.
The most commonly written abstracts are informative in nature. The purpose of such abstracts is to provide the reader with the main arguments and the significant findings of the paper. It includes all the elements of a descriptive essay with the addition of the conclusion and recommendations.
The length of an informative abstract varies from discipline to discipline; however, it is typically 10% of the length of the rest of the paper. If the paper is much longer, it isn’t more than 250 words.
How to Start an Abstract?
When writing an abstract for a paper, be it a research paper, lab report, research proposal, or any other scientific paper, the steps remain the same.
Here’s what you need to do to craft an impressive abstract:
- 1. Write the Rest of the Paper
- 2. Understand the Requirements
- 3. Understand the Target Audience
- 4. Decide the Abstract Type
The first step is to finish writing the rest of the paper. Even though the abstract comes at the start of your paper, it is written at the last as it is a summary of the entire paper. It doesn’t simply introduce the topic at hand but provides insight into the paper.
It is best to save writing an abstract for the last, even if you know what the rest of the paper is going to be about. This will help ensure the accuracy of the abstract.
It is important that you understand the requirements specified by the professor, as they can vary for every paper. It’ll help you make sure that your paper is up to the mark with no room for mistakes.
Keep in mind the length, style requirement, MLA or APA style citation (The Manual of the American Psychological Association), date of submission, etc. following the publication manuals is important to meet proper formatting requirements and writing the full paper properly.
Since abstracts are written to help the reader understand your work and its purpose, it is essential that you keep them in mind before starting to write. Readers quickly go through the abstract to see if it is relevant to their research or not. It also helps highlight the main argument of the paper, so consider your audience as you write.
As mentioned earlier, there are two different types of abstract. Determine what type you are going to go with either descriptive or informative.
How to Write an Abstract?
Follow these steps when you begin with your abstract.
- 1. Identify the Purpose of Your Essay
Before you begin the abstract, you must understand the purpose of your research. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did you go with this particular topic?
- How did you carry out the research?
- What were the findings of this research?
- What is the significance of this research and the results?
- Why should people read your paper?
You must begin your abstract with a brief explanation of the issue under analysis. Consider the following aspects when you explain the problem behind your research:
- What problem is your research trying to solve?
- What is the scope of your research?
- What is the main argument of your research?
Next, you need to inform the reader about the methods used to carry out the research. Discuss the following things here:
- Your approach and variables.
- Present the sources used.
- Provide supporting evidence for your claim.
When writing an informative abstract, you will need to discuss the findings of your research.
- What did you find?
- What conclusion did you reach from it?
- Was your hypothesis proven?
- Mention the general findings of the study.
End your abstract with the conclusion that will sum up everything. Discuss the meaning of the findings and its importance.
The last step of the writing process is to revise the abstract. Go through it with a fresh mind and get rid of irrelevant details. Make sure that you have followed the correct pattern in the body of your paper; the most significant information is presented first.
Abstract Example (PDF)
This was everything you needed to know in order to craft a compelling abstract for your research paper. If you’re yet to write the rest of it, here is a detailed article that can help you start your research paper.
Writing an abstract is hard work, as it should explain the overall paper clearly. If you are still unsure and don’t know how to go about it, then don’t panic.
There are professional writers who can help you come up with a good abstract for your research. Team up with the professionals at 5StarEssays.com and have them assist you with all of your academic writing needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 5 parts of an abstract?
Below are the 5 parts of an abstract;
- Significance of the research
- Research methodology
What should an abstract contain?
An abstract should contain a brief background of the work, the main question of the paper, and a brief background of the study or research.
How long is an abstract?
Usually, an abstract should not be more than 150 words or a few lines longer.
What should not be included in an abstract?
Some of the things that should not be included in an abstract are; the summary of the work, the paraphrasing of the entire paper, too much discussion, background information, or details, and methods.
What is the difference between an abstract and an introduction?
An abstract and introduction seem a lot similar to one another. However, there is a key difference between them. An introduction is more detailed than an abstract. An abstract is concise and more direct than an introduction.
What are the four main elements of an abstract?
Here are the main and key elements of an abstract;
- The main objectives of the paper
- The methodology used in the paper
- The summary of the results, and
- The main conclusions
Without these, no abstract is complete.
What is the main objective of writing an abstract?
The main and sole objective of an abstract is informing the readers about themes and main ideas that are discussed in the paper. It is used to summarize the work in a way that engages the readers and builds their interest in reading the paper.
Should you cite in an abstract?
Ideally, you should not add citations or references in the abstract. Since the abstract present your own thoughts and ideas, it should be original and not someone else’s work or words.
Which tense is used in writing an abstract?
Use simple present tense when you are talking about the facts and implications of your study. For describing the research methodology and findings of the study, use past tense.