Learn How to Write an Abstract - Steps & Examples
Are your 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.
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.
- 1. What is an Abstract?
- 2. Types of Abstracts
- 3. How to Write an Abstract?
- 3.1 Write the Rest of the Paper
- 3.2 Understand the Requirements
- 3.3 Understand the Target Audience
- 3.4 Decide the Abstract Type
- 3.5 Start Writing the Abstract
- 3.5.1 Identify the Purpose of Your Essay
- 3.5.2 Explain the Problem or issue
- 3.5.3 Explain the Research Methodology
- 3.5.4 Show the Findings
- 3.5.5 Provide your Conclusion
- 3.6 Revise and Edit
- 3.7 Abstract Example (PDF)
1. 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 a 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 word count of 150-250 words.
2. 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 the similar field and see what the abstract you studied includes.
2.1 Descriptive Abstracts
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 of 100 words or less.
2.2 Informative Abstracts
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.
3. How to Write 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:
3.1 Write the Rest of the Paper
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 accuracy of the abstract.
3.2 Understand the Requirements
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, date of submission, etc.
3.3 Understand the Target Audience
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.
3.4 Decide the Abstract Type
As mentioned earlier, there are two different types of abstract. Determine what type you are going to go with either descriptive or informative.
3.5 Start Writing the Abstract
Follow these steps when you begin with your abstract.
3.5.1 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 you went 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?
3.5.2 Explain the Problem or issue
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?
3.5.3 Explain the Research Methodology
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.
3.5.4 Show the Findings
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.
3.5.5 Provide your Conclusion
End your abstract with the conclusion that will sum up everything. Discuss the meaning of the findings and its importance.
3.6 Revise and Edit
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; the most significant information is presented first.
3.7 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 and have them assist you with all of your academic writing needs.