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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

how to write an abstract for a research paper

Have you ever thought how much important a cover for the book is? This is the first thing people pay attention to when they are selecting a book to buy. We can’t judge a book by its cover but agree that the first impression is very important. We must present our paper to the targeted audience. This one must impel them to read all the research paper. In the age of splitting developing of the innovative technologies and Internet, an abstract is more important than it was in the age of paper manuscripts.

An abstract is resembling a movie trailer. It helps viewers understand what this film is about, its subject and the most exciting moments. This is a core of the whole paper because journal editorial boards screen papers only using an abstract. If your abstract grabs their attention, your paper will be successful. If you can’t attract their attention, your paper will be on the sidelines of the journal editorial boards. Also when your paper is published, an abstract is the only thing readers can find using electronic searches. You must pay your attention to this part of the work.

 

Writing an Abstract for a Research Paper

When it comes to social and human sciences, an abstract has a descriptive character describing a topic of the paper, but not diving into the problems, methods, and results of the research. Such kind of abstracts resembles reviews. On the other hand, if it comes to the scientific research, an abstract should develop the main problems of the researching, methods, results, an objective, and a conclusion. Here, the author can use subheadings or not. It doesn’t matter.

In view of this, we can emphasize two main types of the abstract:

  • The first one is a descriptive one. It consists of the purpose of the research, objective, methods, but omits results and conclusion.
  • The second type of the paper is an informative one consisting of key statements of all the parts of the research paper including an introduction, purpose, methods, results, and conclusion. This one reflects your research paper in a very brief manner.

Informative abstracts are widely used in scientific journals and for conferences. They are suitable for more technical researches, and descriptive ones are used for shorter papers and articles. The best way to choose a right type of this one to study your target journal and follow journal requirements.

Now, I’ll tell you how to write an informative one.

 

How to Write an Informative Abstract?

As usual, an informative abstract consists of from 200 to 300 words. And this is not a very easy task to contain all the problems, methods, results, of the research into this little volume.

But there are several rules for helping you write an informative abstract:

  • You should start writing this one when you have finished your research paper, not vice versa. An abstract resembles a summary of the paper. But if you have decided to write a summary before the paper, it’s a little strange.
  • Use the most important thesis statements from the introduction and conclusion part for writing an abstract.
  • Emphasize key statements from the Method part and describe them briefly in the abstract.
  • Pick up the most important results from the Result part and retell them briefly.
  • After picking up the key statements from all the introduction, method, results, and conclusion parts build one paragraph from all these sentences connected to the unified whole.
  • The next step you must do is confirming that this paragraph doesn’t have any new information that a research paper doesn’t contain, links to the previous literature citations, minor details, and so on.
  • When you have checked your paragraph for all unnecessary information, then remove it from the text. Check whether all sentences are connected with each other, and the information is easy to absorb. Also, you must make sure whether the information goes in the right order consisting of several main elements. It should include a purpose, basic study design, methods and ways of the research used in the paper, important discovers, conclusion statements.
  • When the abstract is ready, you should ask your colleagues to give some pieces of advice about your abstract, whether the objective, methods of the research, and results are correctly and understandably written.
  • At the end of your work, you should check if the ready paper meets all the requirements of the journal where you are going to publish it including world limit, type, subheading and other recommendations.

 

How to Meet All the Requirements?

If you study target journals, you will find out a list of requirements for publications in it. When it comes to the abstract, you must ask several main questions before starting to write a paragraph.

Key aspects you should pay attention to:

  • Which length of the paragraph the journal requires
  • Which style and formatting it should be
  • Which type the jounal requires
  • Whether a specific information or formatting rules are required

Also, one of the main steps to the success in this deal is determining your target audience. Your work must be interesting for other researchers and attract their attention. Having read your paragraph, they will decide whether your paper will bring something new into the field where they work.

Before writing your work, you should answer the next questions:

  • Who belongs to the main target audience? Are they other researchers and academics working in the same field as you do?
  • Is your study interesting for other people except for other researchers and specialists?
  • Do the results of the study have a bigger impact on the field of the science than the paragraph presents?

 

Research Paper Abstract Example

The influence of the biography of Charles Dickens on his literature characters

The research develops the topic of the influence of facts from the writer’s biography on his literature characters and subject of novels. The main purpose of the research is to show how the writer’s tough childhood and youth influenced on developing the topic of child labor, the recruitment of children and teenagers for criminal work, and the hard life of homeless people. When the writer was a child, he had to leave a school to work at the factory. In the research, the author highlights biographical motives in reflecting the topic of exploitation of child labor in Charles Dickens’es novel Oliver Twist. In the research, comparative methods are used. As a result, the research emphasizes the importance of the writer’s empiric experience in forming the keynote of the writer’s novels.

 

Research Paper Abstract Outline

Abstract Structure

When writing a paragraph, the most important condition is discovering only the most useful and relevant information. It must cover all the parts of the study and help a reader understand the paper more fully. Also, it’s better to avoid ambiguous phrases and references confusing the reader. The more clear your statements are, the better your paragraph is.

Several pieces of advice about how to be clear for readers:

    • Abbreciations are better to avoid because they should be explained. It’s better to use and explain them in the introduction.
    • If you do references to other people or words, take care they are famous or well-known.
    • It’s better when your paragraph doesn’t include figures, tables, sources, and so on. All these elements, you can include into the body of your study.

 

This is a short guide to writing a successful abstract. You can follow all these rules and reach the main goal to attract the attention of your target audience. Working on it, use your logic, a skill to structure an information and emphasize the main things!