How to Write the Abstract

This article provides guidance on how to write a good abstract. See how it’s done.

After you have written fully your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper, there is a need for you to write the abstract. How is the abstract written? What are the important elements of a good abstract?

If this is the first time or you do not feel confident about the abstract that you have written, here are important points to remember and adhere to in writing the abstract. An example is provided for your guidance.

Definition of an Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper. How short should it be? If you are submitting it for inclusion in a conference presentation, the convention is to limit its length from 250 to 300 words. It is possible, however, to capture the essence of the paper in less number of words. This means that you will really have to make it as short as possible without leaving out the important items that will cause readers to read the paper. The abstract serves as a teaser, a taste of the pie for readers to decide whether they will read the whole piece.

Elements of a Good Abstract

A good abstract is a mini-version of the whole research paper. Therefore, it should contain

  • the aim or purpose of the research paper,
  • the methodology or the procedures used in the conduct of the study,
  • the major findings, and
  • the conclusion or conclusions.

Recommendations are not included in the abstract.

In writing a good abstract, therefore, the critical sections of a research paper should be present. How is this achieved? You can simply start off by writing each of the above mentioned sections in only one sentence. This means that your abstract can be written in four sentences.

All right. So how should the different sections be written in such a way that they are concise while at the same time meaningful? Be guided by the following descriptions of each critical section:

  1. Aim or purpose – state why the study was undertaken and what are its objectives
  2. Methodology – give a brief description of how the study was conducted
  3. Major findings – only state the significant results or highlights of the study
  4. Conclusion – after those findings were obtained, what conclusions can be drawn?

Example of an Abstract

This report discusses a two-year study on the effect of exposing four to six-year old children to violent computer games. The study involved 200 children in nursery schools whose aggressive tendencies and anti-social behavior were observed with their teachers’ cooperation. The computer games they played at home were likewise assessed with the help of their parents. A strong correlation between violent computer game use and aggressive tendencies was obtained. Violent computer games, especially the interactive ones, caused greater aggressiveness and anti-social behavior among children.

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I hope that should get you started. Have your own style by deviating a little from the convention. The point is, the abstract should be interesting enough such that the reader will want to read your investigation and learn from it.

© 2013 November 16 P. A. Regoniel

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