An abstract is a short and compelling summary of the major aspects of a paper, a report, an essay, or an academic research proposal. It should be shorter than 300 words and should include the aims and outcomes of your research, the research problem investigated, significant findings from your analysis, and brief conclusions. Summarizing your entire paper into a short paragraph may prove to be quite challenging.
Most people carrying out research work usually have many questions, such as how to write an abstract for a research paper, thesis, conference, or even how to write a scientific abstract. Although an abstract can deal with many different things, the format is pretty much the same. In this article, we look into the right way of writing an abstract.
So then, how do you write an abstract for any paper?
In her book Form and Style, Carole Slade states that a good abstract should follow these simple guidelines:
It is advisable to write your abstract after you have finished the rest of the paper so that you can include your research problems and objectives, the methods used, the key results or arguments, and the conclusion. The abstract should be an overview of your paper so that you can give an accurate summary after you’re done writing.
- The abstract should describe and not evaluate or defend the research paper.
- It should begin with a brief, concise statement of the problem, then describe the research methods and design, findings, and conclusions reached.
- It should include the vital keywords used in the content and method so that the search engines can easily find it. This will help readers decide whether to read your entire paper or not.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write an Abstract for A Paper
It does not matter if you are writing an abstract for a scientific experiment, academic thesis, book proposal, applying for research grants, or a conference paper, you will follow a similar pattern. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Review and understand the requirements
The paper you’re writing may contain specific guidelines and requirements which you should follow. Before writing your abstract, refer to them to identify the critical points to keep in mind. Some of the guidelines may include the minimum or maximum length of the abstract, the style requirements, the type of paper you are writing, for example, if it is a publication or a book.
2. Who is your audience?
An abstract aims to help your readers find your work and decide if it is of any relevance to their interests. It also helps readers understand your main discussion point. The abstract helps the reader decide whether to read your entire paper or not. Therefore, keep your readers in mind and make the abstract relevant to their issues.
3. The Type of Abstract
An abstract can either be descriptive or informative. Descriptive abstracts illustrate the methods, goal, and purpose of your research without revelaing the results, and make an excellent choice for shorter papers. An informative abstract provides an overview of your entire study, including the results, and it’s ideal for longer papers. If the style was not specified to you, then you must decide which one to use.
No matter what kind of abstract you’re writing, ensure that you identify the purpose of your paper. Tell the reader why your research is important. Try and explain why you did this study, how you did the research, and why are the research and its findings important.
Explain to the reader why they should read your paper. State the problem and explain your methods. If you are writing an informative abstract, describe your results, and then give your conclusion. This way, you will have written an abstract that will make your audience read your paper.