What this handout is about
This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.
What is an abstract?
An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.
Why write an abstract?
You may write an abstract for various reasons. The two most important are selection and indexing. Abstracts allow readers who may be interested in a longer work to quickly decide whether it is worth their time to read it. Also, many online databases use abstracts to index larger works. Therefore, abstracts should contain keywords and phrases that allow for easy searching.
Say you are beginning a research project on how Brazilian newspapers helped Brazil’s ultra-liberal president Luiz Ignácio da Silva wrest power from the traditional, conservative power base. A good first place to start your research is to search Dissertation Abstracts International for all dissertations that deal with the interaction between newspapers and politics. “Newspapers and politics” returned 569 hits. A more selective search of “newspapers and Brazil” returned 22 hits. That is still a fair number of dissertations. Titles can sometimes help winnow the field, but many titles are not very descriptive. For example, one dissertation is titled “Rhetoric and Riot in Rio de Janeiro.” It is unclear from the title what this dissertation has to do with newspapers in Brazil. One option would be to download or order the entire dissertation on the chance that it might speak specifically to the topic. A better option is to read the abstract. In this case, the abstract reveals the main focus of the dissertation:
This dissertation examines the role of newspaper editors in the political turmoil and strife that characterized late First Empire Rio de Janeiro (1827-1831). Newspaper editors and their journals helped change the political culture of late First Empire Rio de Janeiro by involving the people in the discussion of state. This change in political culture is apparent in Emperor Pedro I’s gradual loss of control over the mechanisms of power. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. To explore the role of the newspapers in the political events of the late First Empire, this dissertation analyzes all available newspapers published in Rio de Janeiro from 1827 to 1831. Newspapers and their editors were leading forces in the effort to remove power from the hands of the ruling elite and place it under the control of the people. In the process, newspapers helped change how politics operated in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil.
From this abstract you now know that although the dissertation has nothing to do with modern Brazilian politics, it does cover the role of newspapers in changing traditional mechanisms of power. After reading the abstract, you can make an informed judgment about whether the dissertation would be worthwhile to read.
Besides selection, the other main purpose of the abstract is for indexing. Most article databases in the online catalog of the library enable you to search abstracts. This allows for quick retrieval by users and limits the extraneous items recalled by a “full-text” search. However, for an abstract to be useful in an online retrieval system, it must incorporate the key terms that a potential researcher would use to search. For example, if you search Dissertation Abstracts International using the keywords “France” “revolution” and “politics,” the search engine would search through all the abstracts in the database that included those three words. Without an abstract, the search engine would be forced to search titles, which, as we have seen, may not be fruitful, or else search the full text. It’s likely that a lot more than 60 dissertations have been written with those three words somewhere in the body of the entire work. By incorporating keywords into the abstract, the author emphasizes the central topics of the work and gives prospective readers enough information to make an informed judgment about the applicability of the work.
When do people write abstracts?
- when submitting articles to journals, especially online journals
- when applying for research grants
- when writing a book proposal
- when completing the Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
- when writing a proposal for a conference paper
- when writing a proposal for a book chapter
Most often, the author of the entire work (or prospective work) writes the abstract. However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Undergraduates are sometimes asked to draft abstracts of books/articles for classmates who have not read the larger work.
Types of abstracts
There are two types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. They have different aims, so as a consequence they have different components and styles. There is also a third type called critical, but it is rarely used. If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review . If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor (if the abstract is for a class) or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.
A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short—100 words or less.
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the writer presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the complete article/paper/book. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract (purpose, methods, scope) but also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is rarely more than 10% of the length of the entire work. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less.
Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts . Descriptive abstract:
The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided.
Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results. This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one.
Which type should I use?
Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.e., 100-120 words = descriptive; 250+ words = informative.
How do I write an abstract?
The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind:
- Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
- Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
- Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
- Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
- Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?
(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.” )
All abstracts include:
- A full citation of the source, preceding the abstract.
- The most important information first.
- The same type and style of language found in the original, including technical language.
- Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
- Clear, concise, and powerful language.
Abstracts may include:
- The thesis of the work, usually in the first sentence.
- Background information that places the work in the larger body of literature.
- The same chronological structure as the original work.
How not to write an abstract:
- Do not refer extensively to other works.
- Do not add information not contained in the original work.
- Do not define terms.
If you are abstracting your own writing
When abstracting your own work, it may be difficult to condense a piece of writing that you have agonized over for weeks (or months, or even years) into a 250-word statement. There are some tricks that you could use to make it easier, however.
This technique is commonly used when you are having trouble organizing your own writing. The process involves writing down the main idea of each paragraph on a separate piece of paper– see our short video . For the purposes of writing an abstract, try grouping the main ideas of each section of the paper into a single sentence. Practice grouping ideas using webbing or color coding .
For a scientific paper, you may have sections titled Purpose, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each one of these sections will be longer than one paragraph, but each is grouped around a central idea. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement.
Cut and paste:
To create a first draft of an abstract of your own work, you can read through the entire paper and cut and paste sentences that capture key passages. This technique is useful for social science research with findings that cannot be encapsulated by neat numbers or concrete results. A well-written humanities draft will have a clear and direct thesis statement and informative topic sentences for paragraphs or sections. Isolate these sentences in a separate document and work on revising them into a unified paragraph.
If you are abstracting someone else’s writing
When abstracting something you have not written, you cannot summarize key ideas just by cutting and pasting. Instead, you must determine what a prospective reader would want to know about the work. There are a few techniques that will help you in this process:
Identify key terms:
Search through the entire document for key terms that identify the purpose, scope, and methods of the work. Pay close attention to the Introduction (or Purpose) and the Conclusion (or Discussion). These sections should contain all the main ideas and key terms in the paper. When writing the abstract, be sure to incorporate the key terms.
Highlight key phrases and sentences:
Instead of cutting and pasting the actual words, try highlighting sentences or phrases that appear to be central to the work. Then, in a separate document, rewrite the sentences and phrases in your own words.
Don’t look back:
After reading the entire work, put it aside and write a paragraph about the work without referring to it. In the first draft, you may not remember all the key terms or the results, but you will remember what the main point of the work was. Remember not to include any information you did not get from the work being abstracted.
Revise, revise, revise
No matter what type of abstract you are writing, or whether you are abstracting your own work or someone else’s, the most important step in writing an abstract is to revise early and often. When revising, delete all extraneous words and incorporate meaningful and powerful words. The idea is to be as clear and complete as possible in the shortest possible amount of space. The Word Count feature of Microsoft Word can help you keep track of how long your abstract is and help you hit your target length.
Example 1: Humanities abstract
Kenneth Tait Andrews, “‘Freedom is a constant struggle’: The dynamics and consequences of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1984” Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997 DAI-A 59/02, p. 620, Aug 1998
This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so. The time period studied includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies. Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports. This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.
Now let’s break down this abstract into its component parts to see how the author has distilled his entire dissertation into a ~200 word abstract.
What the dissertation does This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so.
How the dissertation does it The time period studied in this dissertation includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies.
What materials are used Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports.
Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to movement demands and the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.
Keywords social movements Civil Rights Movement Mississippi voting rights desegregation
Example 2: Science Abstract
Luis Lehner, “Gravitational radiation from black hole spacetimes” Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1998 DAI-B 59/06, p. 2797, Dec 1998
The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search for and analysis of detected signals. The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm. This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.
This science abstract covers much of the same ground as the humanities one, but it asks slightly different questions.
Why do this study The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search and analysis of the detected signals.
What the study does The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm.
Results This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.
Keywords gravitational radiation (GR) spacetimes black holes
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.
Kilborn, Judith. 1998. “Writing Abstracts.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated October 20, 1998. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/bizwrite/abstracts.html .
Koopman, Philip. 1997. “How to Write an Abstract.” Carnegie Mellon University. October 1997. http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html .
Lancaster, F.W. 2003. Indexing And Abstracting in Theory and Practice , 3rd ed. London: Facet Publishing.
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An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.
Writing an Abstract. The Writing Center. Clarion University, 2009; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Importance of a Good Abstract
Sometimes your professor will ask you to include an abstract, or general summary of your work, with your research paper. The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information [e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.] must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.
How do you know when you have enough information in your abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing a similar study. Then ask yourself: if your abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the amount of information presented there? Does it tell the whole story about your study? If the answer is "no" then the abstract likely needs to be revised.
How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Undergraduate Research. University of Kentucky; Staiger, David L. “What Today’s Students Need to Know about Writing Abstracts.” International Journal of Business Communication January 3 (1966): 29-33; Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.
Structure and Writing Style
I. Types of Abstracts
To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.
Critical Abstract A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.
Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less. Informative Abstract The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
Highlight Abstract A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.
II. Writing Style
Use the active voice when possible , but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.
Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.
Composing Your Abstract
Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].
Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words. The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
- A catchy introductory phrase, provocative quote, or other device to grab the reader's attention,
- Lengthy background or contextual information,
- Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
- Acronyms or abbreviations,
- References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
- Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
- Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
- Citations to other works, and
- Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century . Oxford, UK: 2010; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Never Cite Just the Abstract!
Citing to just a journal article's abstract does not confirm for the reader that you have conducted a thorough or reliable review of the literature. If the full-text is not available, go to the USC Libraries main page and enter the title of the article [NOT the title of the journal]. If the Libraries have a subscription to the journal, the article should appear with a link to the full-text or to the journal publisher page where you can get the article. If the article does not appear, try searching Google Scholar using the link on the USC Libraries main page. If you still can't find the article after doing this, contact a librarian or you can request it from our free i nterlibrary loan and document delivery service .
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How to Write an Abstract for Your Paper
An abstract is a self-contained summary of a larger work, such as research and scientific papers or general academic papers . Usually situated at the beginning of such works, the abstract is meant to “preview” the bigger document. This helps readers and other researchers find what they’re looking for and understand the magnitude of what’s discussed.
Like the trailer for a movie, an abstract can determine whether or not someone becomes interested in your work. Aside from enticing readers, abstracts are also useful organizational tools that help other researchers and academics find papers relevant to their work.
Because of their specific requirements, it’s best to know a little about how to write an abstract before doing it. This guide explains the basics of writing an abstract for beginners, including what to put in them and some expert tips on writing them.
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What’s the purpose of an abstract?
The main purpose of an abstract is to help people decide whether or not to read the entire academic paper. After all, titles can be misleading and don’t get into specifics like methodology or results. Imagine paying for and downloading a hundred-page dissertation on what you believe is relevant to your research on the Caucasus region—only to find out it’s about the other Georgia.
Likewise, abstracts can encourage financial support for grant proposals and fundraising. If you lack the funding for your research, your proposal abstract would outline the costs and benefits of your project. This way, potential investors could make an informed decision, or jump to the relevant section of your proposal to see the details.
Abstracts are also incredibly useful for indexing. They make it easier for researchers to find precisely what they need without wasting time skimming actual papers. And because abstracts sometimes touch on the results of a paper, researchers and students can see right away if the paper can be used as evidence or a citation to support their own theses.
Nowadays, abstracts are also important for search engine optimization (SEO)—namely, for getting digital copies of your paper to appear in search engine results. If someone Googles the words used in your abstract, the link to your paper will appear higher in the search results, making it more likely to get clicks.
How long should an abstract be?
Abstracts are typically 100–250 words and comprise one or two paragraphs . However, more complex papers require more complex abstracts, so you may need to stretch it out to cover everything. It’s not uncommon to see abstracts that fill an entire page, especially in advanced scientific works.
When do you need to write an abstract?
Abstracts are only for lengthy, often complicated texts, as with scientific and research papers. Similar academic papers—including doctorate dissertations, master’s theses, or elaborate literary criticisms —may also demand them as well. If you’re learning how to write a thesis paper for college , you’ll want to know how to write an abstract, too.
Specifically, most scientific journals and grant proposals require an abstract for submissions. Conference papers often involve them as well, as do book proposals and other fundraising endeavors.
However, most writing, in particular casual and creative writing, doesn’t need an abstract.
Types of abstracts
There are two main types of abstracts: informative and descriptive. Most abstracts fall into the informative category, with descriptive abstracts reserved for less formal papers.
Informative abstracts discuss all the need-to-know details of your paper: purpose, method, scope, results, and conclusion. They’re the go-to format for scientific and research papers.
Informative abstracts attempt to outline the entire paper without going into specifics. They’re written for quick reference, favor efficiency over style, and tend to lack personality.
Descriptive abstracts are a little more personable and focus more on enticing readers. They don’t care as much for data and details, and instead read more like overviews that don’t give too much away. Think of descriptive abstracts like synopses on the back of a book.
Because they don’t delve too deep, descriptive abstracts are shorter than informative abstracts, closer to 100 words, and in a single paragraph. In particular, they don’t cover areas like results or conclusions — you have to read the paper to satisfy your curiosity.
Since they’re so informal, descriptive abstracts are more at home in artistic criticisms and entertaining papers than in scientific articles.
What to include in an abstract
As part of a formal document, informative abstracts adhere to more scientific and data-based structures. Like the paper itself, abstracts should include all of the IMRaD elements: Introduction , Methods , Results , and Discussion .
This handy acronym is a great way to remember what parts to include in your abstract. There are some other areas you might need as well, which we also explain at the end.
The beginning of your abstract should provide a broad overview of the entire project, just like the thesis statement. You can also use this section of your abstract to write out your hypothesis or research question.
In the one or two sentences at the top, you want to disclose the purpose of your paper, such as what problem it attempts to solve and why the reader should be interested. You’ll also need to explain the context around it, including any historical references.
This section covers the methodology of your research, or how you collected the data. This is crucial for verifying the credibility of your paper — abstracts with no methodology or suspicious methods won’t be taken seriously by the scientific community.
If you’re using original research, you should disclose which analytical methods you used to collect your data, including descriptions of instruments, software, or participants. If you’re expounding on previous data, this is a good place to cite which data and from where to avoid plagiarism .
For informative abstracts, it’s okay to “give away the ending.” In one or two sentences, summarize the results of your paper and the conclusive outcome. Remember that the goal of most abstracts is to inform, not entice, so mentioning your results here can help others better classify and categorize your paper.
This is often the biggest section of your abstract. It involves most of the concrete details surrounding your paper, so don’t be afraid to give it an extra sentence or two compared to the others.
The discussion section explains the ultimate conclusion and its ramifications. Based on the data and examination, what can we take away from this paper? The discussion section often goes beyond the scope of the project itself, including the implications of the research or what it adds to its field as a whole.
Aside from the IMRaD aspects, your abstract may require some of the following areas:
- Keywords — Like hashtags for research papers, keywords list out the topics discussed in your paper so interested people can find it more easily, especially with online formats. The APA format (explained below) has specific requirements for listing keywords, so double-check there before listing yours.
- Ethical concerns — If your research deals with ethically gray areas, i.e., testing on animals, you may want to point out any concerns here, or issue reassurances.
- Consequences — If your research disproves or challenges a popular theory or belief, it’s good to mention that in the abstract — especially if you have new evidence to back it up.
- Conflicts of Interest/Disclosures — Although different forums have different rules on disclosing conflicts of interests, it’s generally best to mention them in your abstract. For example, maybe you received funding from a biased party.
If you’re ever in doubt about what to include in your abstract, just remember that it should act as a succinct summary of your entire paper. Include all the relevant points, but only the highlights.
In general, abstracts are pretty uniform since they’re exclusive to formal documents. That said, there are a couple of technical formats you should be aware of.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has specific guidelines for their papers in the interest of consistency. Here’s what the 7th edition Publication Manual has to say about formatting abstracts:
- Double-space your text.
- Set page margins at 1 inch (2.54 cm).
- Write the word “Abstract” at the top of the page, centered and in a bold font.
- Don’t indent the first line.
- Keep your abstract under 250 words.
- Include a running header and page numbers on all pages, including the abstract.
Abstract keywords have their own particular guidelines as well:
- Label the section as “ Keywords: ” with italics.
- Indent the first line at 0.5 inches, but leave subsequent lines as is.
- Write your keywords on the same line as the label.
- Use lower-case letters.
- Use commas, but not conjunctions.
Structured abstracts are a relatively new format for scientific papers, originating in the late 1980s. Basically, you just separate your abstract into smaller subsections — typically based on the IMRaD categories — and label them accordingly.
The idea is to enhance scannability; for example, if readers are only interested in the methodology, they can skip right to the methodology. The actual writing of structured abstracts, though, is more-or-less the same as traditional ones.
Unstructured abstracts are still the convention, though, so double-check beforehand to see which one is preferred.
3 expert tips for writing abstracts
1 autonomous works.
Abstracts are meant to be self-contained, autonomous works. They should act as standalone documents, often with a beginning, middle, and end. The thinking is that, even if you never read the actual paper, you’ll still understand the entire scope of the project just from the abstract.
Keep that in mind when you write your abstract: it should be a microcosm of the entire piece, with all the key points, but none of the details.
2 Write the abstract last
Because the abstract comes first, it’s tempting to write it first. However, writing the abstract at the end is more effective since you have a better understanding of what is actually in your paper. You’ll also discover new implications as you write, and perhaps even shift the structure a bit. In any event, you’re better prepared to write the abstract once the main paper is completed.
3 Abstracts are not introductions
A common misconception is to write your abstract like an introduction — after all, it’s the first section of your paper. However, abstracts follow a different set of guidelines, so don’t make this mistake.
Abstracts are summaries, designed to encapsulate the findings of your paper and assist with organization and searchability. A good abstract includes background information and context, not to mention results and conclusions. Abstracts are also self-contained, and can be read independently of the rest of the paper.
Introductions, by contrast, serve to gradually bring the reader up to speed on the topic. Their goals are less clinical and more personable, with room to elaborate and build anticipation. Introductions are also an integral part of the paper, and feel incomplete if read independently.
Give your formal writing the My Fair Lady treatment
Formal papers — the kind that requires abstracts — need formal language. But for most of us, that means changing the way we communicate or even think. You may want to consider the My Fair Lady treatment, which is to say, having a skilled mentor coach what you say.
Grammarly Premium now offers a new Set Goals feature that helps you tailor your language to your audience or intention. All you have to do is set the goals of a particular piece of writing and Grammarly will customize your feedback accordingly. For example, you can select the knowledge level of your readers, the formality of the tone, and the domain or field you’re writing for (i.e., academic, creative, business, etc.). You can even set a tone to sound more analytical or respectful!
Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s Citation Generator ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing abstracts in Chicago , MLA , and APA styles.
Generate accurate APA citations for free
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- APA Style 6th edition
- How to write and format an APA abstract (6th edition)
How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition)
Published on November 6, 2020 by Courtney Gahan .
An APA abstract is a summary of your paper in 150–250 words. It describes the research problem , methods , results and conclusions of your research. For published papers, it also includes a list of keywords.
Write the abstract after you have finished your paper, and place it on a separate page after the title page .
The formatting of the abstract page is the same as the rest of an APA style paper : double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font, one-inch margins, and a running head at the top of the page.
Table of contents
Apa format abstract example, how to write an apa abstract, apa abstract keywords.
SCRIBBR APA ABSTRACT EXAMPLE RUNNING HEAD 1
What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations.
Keywords : example keyword, example keyword, example keyword
An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:
- Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page
- On the first line, write the heading “Abstract” (centered and without any formatting)
- Do not indent any part of the text
- Double space the text
- Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt
- Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins
- If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting
Scribbr Citation Checker New
The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:
- Missing commas and periods
- Incorrect usage of “et al.”
- Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
- Missing reference entries
Simply answer the following questions and put them together, then voila! You have an abstract for your paper.
- What is the problem? Outline the objective , research questions and/or hypotheses .
- What has been done? Explain your research methods .
- What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions .
- What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations .
If you need more guidance writing your abstract, read our detailed instructions on what to include and see an abstract example.
How to write an abstract
At the end of the abstract, you can also include a short list of keywords that will be used for indexing if your paper is published on a database. Listing your keywords will help other researchers find your work.
Make sure that your keywords:
- Accurately represent the content
- Are specific to your field
APA abstract keywords example
Here is an example of an APA format paper published as a chapter in a book, where the author has included a set of keywords. The author has chosen the terms listed in the title as keywords as well as several other related keywords that feature in their research.
Book chapter title: Nonparalytic Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome
From: Post-Polio Syndrome: A Guide for Polio Survivors and Their Families (pp. 21-26), Julie K. Silver, Yale University Press (2001)
Keywords: Polio, Paralysis, Symptoms, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome, Medical diagnosis, Legs, Physicians, Strokes, Misdiagnosis
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Gahan, C. (2020, November 06). How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition). Scribbr. Retrieved November 21, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/6th-edition/archived-abstract/
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How to Write a Term Paper From Start to Finish
The term paper, often regarded as the culmination of a semester's hard work, is a rite of passage for students in pursuit of higher education. Here's an interesting fact to kick things off: Did you know that the term paper's origins can be traced back to ancient Greece, where scholars like Plato and Aristotle utilized written works to explore and document their philosophical musings? Just as these great minds once wrote their thoughts on parchment, you, too, can embark on this intellectual voyage with confidence and skill.
How to Write a Term Paper: Short Description
In this article, we'll delve into the core purpose of this kind of assignment – to showcase your understanding of a subject, your research abilities, and your capacity to communicate complex ideas effectively. But it doesn't stop there. We'll also guide you in the art of creating a well-structured term paper format, a roadmap that will not only keep you on track but also ensure your ideas flow seamlessly and logically. Packed with valuable tips on writing, organization, and time management, this resource promises to equip you with the tools needed to excel in your academic writing.
Understanding What Is a Term Paper
A term paper, a crucial component of your college education, is often assigned towards the conclusion of a semester. It's a vehicle through which educators gauge your comprehension of the course content. Imagine it as a bridge between what you've learned in class and your ability to apply that knowledge to real-world topics.
For instance, in a history course, you might be asked to delve into the causes and consequences of a significant historical event, such as World War II. In a psychology class, your term paper might explore the effects of stress on mental health, or in an environmental science course, you could analyze the impact of climate change on a specific region.
Writing a term paper isn't just about summarizing facts. It requires a blend of organization, deep research, and the art of presenting your findings in a way that's both clear and analytical. This means structuring your arguments logically, citing relevant sources, and critically evaluating the information you've gathered.
For further guidance, we've prepared an insightful guide for you authored by our expert essay writer . It's brimming with practical tips and valuable insights to help you stand out in this academic endeavor and earn the recognition you deserve.
How to Start a Term Paper
Before you start, keep the guidelines for the term paper format firmly in mind. If you have any doubts, don't hesitate to reach out to your instructor for clarification before you begin your research and writing process. And remember, procrastination is your worst enemy in this endeavor. If you're aiming to produce an exceptional piece and secure a top grade, it's essential to plan ahead and allocate dedicated time each day to work on it. Now, let our term paper writing services provide you with some valuable tips to help you on your journey:
- Hone Your Topic : Start by cultivating a learning mindset that empowers you to effectively organize your thoughts. Discover how to research a topic in the section below.
- Hook Your Readers: Initiate a brainstorming session and unleash a barrage of creative ideas to captivate your audience right from the outset. Pose intriguing questions, share compelling anecdotes, offer persuasive statistics, and more.
- Craft a Concise Thesis Statement Example : If you find yourself struggling to encapsulate the main idea of your paper in just a sentence or two, it's time to revisit your initial topic and consider narrowing it down.
- Understand Style Requirements: Your work must adhere to specific formatting guidelines. Delve into details about the APA format and other pertinent regulations in the section provided.
- Delve Deeper with Research : Equipped with a clearer understanding of your objectives, dive into your subject matter with a discerning eye. Ensure that you draw from reputable and reliable sources.
- Begin Writing: Don't obsess over perfection from the get-go. Just start writing, and don't worry about initial imperfections. You can always revise or remove those early sentences later. The key is to initiate the term papers as soon as you've amassed sufficient information.
Term Paper Topics
Selecting the right topic for your term paper is a critical step, one that can significantly impact your overall experience and the quality of your work. While instructors sometimes provide specific topics, there are instances when you have the freedom to choose your own. To guide you on how to write a term paper, consider the following factors when deciding on your dissertation topics :
- Relevance to Assignment Length: Begin by considering the required length of your paper. Whether it's a substantial 10-page paper or a more concise 5-page one, understanding the word count will help you determine the appropriate scope for your subject. This will inform whether your topic should be broad or more narrowly focused.
- Availability of Resources : Investigate the resources at your disposal. Check your school or community library for books and materials that can support your research. Additionally, explore online sources to ensure you have access to a variety of reference materials.
- Complexity and Clarity : Ensure you can effectively explain your chosen topic, regardless of how complex it may seem. If you encounter areas that are challenging to grasp fully, don't hesitate to seek guidance from experts or your professor. Clarity and understanding are key to producing a well-structured term paper.
- Avoiding Overused Concepts : Refrain from choosing overly trendy or overused topics. Mainstream subjects often fail to captivate the interest of your readers or instructors, as they can lead to repetitive content. Instead, opt for a unique angle or approach that adds depth to your paper.
- Manageability and Passion : While passion can drive your choice of topic, it's important to ensure that it is manageable within the given time frame and with the available resources. If necessary, consider scaling down a topic that remains intriguing and motivating to you, ensuring it aligns with your course objectives and personal interests.
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Being highly trained professionals, our writers can create a paper specifically tailored to your needs
Term Paper Outline
Before embarking on the journey of writing a term paper, it's crucial to establish a well-structured outline. Be mindful of any specific formatting requirements your teacher may have in mind, as these will guide your outline's structure. Here's a basic format to help you get started:
- Cover Page: Begin with a cover page featuring your name, course number, teacher's name, and the deadline date, centered at the top.
- Abstract: Craft a concise summary of your work that informs readers about your paper's topic, its significance, and the key points you'll explore.
- Introduction: Commence your term paper introduction with a clear and compelling statement of your chosen topic. Explain why it's relevant and outline your approach to addressing it.
- Body: This section serves as the meat of academic papers, where you present the primary findings from your research. Provide detailed information about the topic to enhance the reader's understanding. Ensure you incorporate various viewpoints on the issue and conduct a thorough analysis of your research.
- Results: Share the insights and conclusions that your research has led you to. Discuss any shifts in your perspective or understanding that have occurred during the course of your project.
- Discussion: Conclude your term paper with a comprehensive summary of the topic and your findings. You can wrap up with a thought-provoking question or encourage readers to explore the subject further through their own research.
How to Write a Term Paper with 5 Steps
Before you begin your term paper, it's crucial to understand what a term paper proposal entails. This proposal serves as your way to introduce and justify your chosen topic to your instructor, and it must gain approval before you start writing the actual paper.
In your proposal, include recent studies or research related to your topic, along with proper references. Clearly explain the topic's relevance to your course, outline your objectives, and organize your ideas effectively. This helps your instructor grasp your term paper's direction. If needed, you can also seek assistance from our expert writers and buy term paper .
Draft the Abstract
The abstract is a critical element while writing a term paper, and it plays a crucial role in piquing the reader's interest. To create a captivating abstract, consider these key points from our dissertation writing service :
- Conciseness: Keep it short and to the point, around 150-250 words. No need for lengthy explanations.
- Highlight Key Elements: Summarize the problem you're addressing, your research methods, and primary findings or conclusions. For instance, if your paper discusses the impact of social media on mental health, mention your research methods and significant findings.
- Engagement: Make your abstract engaging. Use language that draws readers in. For example, if your paper explores the effects of artificial intelligence on the job market, you might begin with a question like, 'Is AI revolutionizing our work landscape, or should we prepare for the robots to take over?'
- Clarity: Avoid excessive jargon or technical terms to ensure accessibility to a wider audience.
Craft the Introduction
The introduction sets the stage for your entire term paper and should engage readers from the outset. To craft an intriguing introduction, consider these tips:
- Hook Your Audience: Start with a captivating hook, such as a thought-provoking question or a compelling statistic. For example, if your paper explores the impact of smartphone addiction, you could begin with, 'Can you remember the last time you went a whole day without checking your phone?'
- State Your Purpose: Clearly state the purpose of your paper and its relevance. If your term paper is about renewable energy's role in combating climate change, explain why this topic is essential in today's world.
- Provide a Roadmap: Briefly outline how your paper is structured. For instance, if your paper discusses the benefits of mindfulness meditation, mention that you will explore its effects on stress reduction, emotional well-being, and cognitive performance.
- Thesis Statement: Conclude your introduction with a concise thesis statement that encapsulates the central argument or message of your paper. In the case of a term paper on the impact of online education, your thesis might be: 'Online education is revolutionizing learning by providing accessibility, flexibility, and innovative teaching methods.'
Develop the Body Sections: Brainstorming Concepts and Content
Generate ideas and compose text: body sections.
The body of your term paper is where you present your research, arguments, and analysis. To generate ideas and write engaging text in the body sections, consider these strategies from our research paper writer :
- Structure Your Ideas: Organize your paper into sections or paragraphs, each addressing a specific aspect of your topic. For example, if your term paper explores the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships, you might have sections on communication patterns, privacy concerns, and emotional well-being.
- Support with Evidence: Back up your arguments with credible evidence, such as data, research findings, or expert opinions. For instance, when discussing the effects of social media on mental health, you can include statistics on social media usage and its correlation with anxiety or depression.
- Offer Diverse Perspectives: Acknowledge and explore various viewpoints on the topic. When writing about the pros and cons of genetic engineering, present both the potential benefits, like disease prevention, and the ethical concerns associated with altering human genetics.
- Use Engaging Examples: Incorporate real-life examples to illustrate your points. If your paper discusses the consequences of climate change, share specific instances of extreme weather events or environmental degradation to make the topic relatable.
- Ask Thought-Provoking Questions: Integrate questions throughout your text to engage readers and stimulate critical thinking. In a term paper on the future of artificial intelligence, you might ask, 'How will AI impact job markets and the concept of work in the coming years?'
Formulate the Conclusion
The conclusion section should provide a satisfying wrap-up of your arguments and insights. To craft a compelling term paper example conclusion, follow these steps:
- Revisit Your Thesis: Begin by restating your thesis statement. This reinforces the central message of your paper. For example, if your thesis is about the importance of biodiversity conservation, reiterate that biodiversity is crucial for ecological balance and human well-being.
- Summarize Key Points: Briefly recap the main points you've discussed in the body of your paper. For instance, if you've been exploring the impact of globalization on local economies, summarize the effects on industries, job markets, and cultural diversity.
- Emphasize Your Main Argument: Reaffirm the significance of your thesis and the overall message of your paper. Discuss why your findings are important or relevant in a broader context. If your term paper discusses the advantages of renewable energy, underscore its potential to combat climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
- Offer a Thoughtful Reflection: Share your own reflections or insights about the topic. How has your understanding evolved during your research? Have you uncovered any unexpected findings or implications? If your paper discusses the future of space exploration, consider what it means for humanity's quest to explore the cosmos.
- End with Impact: Conclude your term paper with a powerful closing statement. You can leave the reader with a thought-provoking question, a call to action, or a reflection on the broader implications of your topic. For instance, if your paper is about the ethics of artificial intelligence, you could finish by asking, 'As AI continues to advance, what ethical considerations will guide our choices and decisions?'
Edit and Enhance the Initial Draft
After completing your initial draft, the revision and polishing phase is essential for improving your paper. Here's how to refine your work efficiently:
- Take a Break: Step back and return to your paper with a fresh perspective.
- Structure Check: Ensure your paper flows logically and transitions smoothly from the introduction to the conclusion.
- Clarity and Conciseness: Trim excess words for clarity and precision.
- Grammar and Style: Proofread for errors and ensure consistent style.
- Citations and References: Double-check your citations and reference list.
- Peer Review: Seek feedback from peers or professors for valuable insights.
- Enhance Intro and Conclusion: Make your introduction and conclusion engaging and impactful.
- Coherence Check: Ensure your arguments support your thesis consistently.
- Read Aloud: Reading your paper aloud helps identify issues.
- Final Proofread: Perform a thorough proofread to catch any remaining errors.
Term Paper Format
When formatting your term paper, consider its length and the required citation style, which depends on your research topic. Proper referencing is crucial to avoid plagiarism in academic writing. Common citation styles include APA and MLA.
If unsure how to cite research paper for social sciences, use the APA format, including the author's name, book title, publication year, publisher, and location when citing a book.
For liberal arts and humanities, MLA is common, requiring the publication name, date, and location for referencing.
Adhering to the appropriate term paper format and citation style ensures an organized and academically sound paper. Follow your instructor's guidelines for a polished and successful paper.
Term Paper Example
To access our term paper example, simply click the button below.
The timeline of events from 1776 to 1861, that, in the end, prompted the American Civil War, describes and relates to a number of subjects modern historians acknowledge as the origins and causes of the Civil War. In fact, pre-Civil War events had both long-term and short-term influences on the War—such as the election of Abraham Lincoln as the American president in 1860 that led to the Fall of Fort Sumter in April of the same year. In that period, contentions that surrounded states’ rights progressively exploded in Congress—since they were the initial events that formed after independence. Congress focused on resolving significant issues that affected the states, which led to further issues. In that order, the US’s history from 1776 to 1861 provides a rich history, as politicians brought forth dissimilarities, dissections, and tensions between the Southern US & the people of slave states, and the Northern states that were loyal to the Union. The events that unfolded from the period of 1776 to 1861 involved a series of issues because they promoted the great sectional crisis that led to political divisions and the build-up to the Civil War that made the North and the South seem like distinctive and timeless regions that predated the crisis itself.
What is the Difference between a Term Paper and a Research Paper?
To master how to write a research paper , it's crucial to grasp the fundamental distinction between a term paper and a research paper: their scope and purpose.
A term paper is typically given at the conclusion of a course, serving as a comprehensive summary of the knowledge acquired during that term. It follows a structured format and may delve into specific topics covered within the course.
On the other hand, a research paper delves deeper, involving original research, thorough analysis, and the exploration of a specific subject. It often necessitates the use of primary sources and contributes novel insights to the field of study. Research papers are most commonly encountered in higher education and advanced academic levels, where in-depth exploration and critical thinking are paramount.
What Is the Fastest Way to Write a Term Paper?
To expedite your term paper writing process, the key is to initiate early, manage your time wisely, and maintain unwavering focus. Break the task into manageable segments and craft a well-defined outline. Prioritize your research, gather pertinent information efficiently, and resist the allure of unrelated sources. Write your paper systematically and with precision, and be sure to review and correct any errors. Always keep in mind that maintaining a steady work pace and committing to the task at hand are vital for achieving efficient term paper completion.
In closing, approach the task of writing term papers with determination and a positive outlook. Begin well in advance, maintain organization, and have faith in your capabilities. Don't hesitate to seek assistance if required, and express your individual perspective with confidence. You're more than capable of succeeding in this endeavor!
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How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? pp 179–184 Cite as
How to Write an Abstract?
- Samiran Nundy 4 ,
- Atul Kakar 5 &
- Zulfiqar A. Bhutta 6
- Open Access
- First Online: 24 October 2021
An abstract is a crisp, short, powerful, and self-contained summary of a research manuscript used to help the reader swiftly determine the paper’s purpose. Although the abstract is the first paragraph of the manuscript it should be written last when all the other sections have been addressed.
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. — Zora Neale Hurston, American Author, Anthropologist and Filmmaker (1891–1960)
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1 What is an Abstract?
An abstract is usually a standalone document that informs the reader about the details of the manuscript to follow. It is like a trailer to a movie, if the trailer is good, it stimulates the audience to watch the movie. The abstract should be written from scratch and not ‘cut –and-pasted’ [ 1 ].
2 What is the History of the Abstract?
An abstract, in the form of a single paragraph, was first published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1960 with the idea that the readers may not have enough time to go through the whole paper, and the first abstract with a defined structure was published in 1991 [ 2 ]. The idea sold and now most original articles and reviews are required to have a structured abstract. The abstract attracts the reader to read the full manuscript [ 3 ].
3 What are the Qualities of a Good Abstract?
The quality of information in an abstract can be summarized by four ‘C’s. It should be:
4 What are the Types of Abstract?
Before writing the abstract, you need to check with the journal website about which type of abstract it requires, with its length and style in the ‘Instructions to Authors’ section.
The abstract types can be divided into:
Descriptive: Usually written for psychology, social science, and humanities papers. It is about 50–100 words long. No conclusions can be drawn from this abstract as it describes the major points in the paper.
Informative: The majority of abstracts for science-related manuscripts are informative and are surrogates for the research done. They are single paragraphs that provide the reader an overview of the research paper and are about 100–150 words in length. Conclusions can be drawn from the abstracts and in the recommendations written in the last line.
Critical: This type of abstract is lengthy and about 400–500 words. In this, the authors’ own research is discussed for reliability, judgement, and validation. A comparison is also made with similar studies done earlier.
Highlighting: This is rarely used in scientific writing. The style of the abstract is to attract more readers. It is not a balanced or complete overview of the article with which it is published.
Structured: A structured abstract contains information under subheadings like background, aims, material and methods, results, conclusion, and recommendations (Fig. 15.1 ). Most leading journals now carry these.
Example of a structured abstract (with permission editor CMRP)
5 What is the Purpose of an Abstract?
An abstract is written to educate the reader about the study that follows and provide an overview of the science behind it. If written well it also attracts more readers to the article. It also helps the article getting indexed. The fate of a paper both before and after publication often depends upon its abstract. Most readers decide if a paper is worth reading on the basis of the abstract. Additionally, the selection of papers in systematic reviews is often dependent upon the abstract.
6 What are the Steps of Writing an Abstract?
An abstract should be written last after all the other sections of an article have been addressed. A poor abstract may turn off the reader and they may cause indexing errors as well. The abstract should state the purpose of the study, the methodology used, and summarize the results and important conclusions. It is usually written in the IMRAD format and is called a structured abstract [ 4 , 5 ].
I: The introduction in the opening line should state the problem you are addressing.
M: Methodology—what method was chosen to finish the experiment?
R: Results—state the important findings of your study.
D: Discussion—discuss why your study is important.
Mention the following information:
Important results with the statistical information ( p values, confidence intervals, standard/mean deviation).
Arrange all information in a chronological order.
Do not repeat any information.
The last line should state the recommendations from your study.
The abstract should be written in the past tense.
7 What are the Things to Be Avoided While Writing an Abstract?
Cut and paste information from the main text
Hold back important information
Tables or Figures
Arguments about the study
8 What are Key Words?
These are important words that are repeated throughout the manuscript and which help in the indexing of a paper. Depending upon the journal 3–10 key words may be required which are indexed with the help of MESH (Medical Subject Heading).
9 How is an Abstract Written for a Conference Different from a Journal Paper?
The basic concept for writing abstracts is the same. However, in a conference abstract occasionally a table or figure is allowed. A word limit is important in both of them. Many of the abstracts which are presented in conferences are never published in fact one study found that only 27% of the abstracts presented in conferences were published in the next five years [ 6 ].
Table 15.1 gives a template for writing an abstract.
10 What are the Important Recommendations of the International Committees of Medical Journal of Editors?
The recommendations are [ 7 ]:
An abstract is required for original articles, metanalysis, and systematic reviews.
A structured abstract is preferred.
The abstract should mention the purpose of the scientific study, how the procedure was carried out, the analysis used, and principal conclusion.
Clinical trials should be reported according to the CONSORT guidelines.
The trials should also mention the funding and the trial number.
The abstract should be accurate as many readers have access only to the abstract.
An Abstract should be written last after all the other sections of the manuscript have been completed and with due care and attention to the details.
It should be structured and written in the IMRAD format.
For many readers, the abstract attracts them to go through the complete content of the article.
The abstract is usually followed by key words that help to index the paper.
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Authors and affiliations.
Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India
Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India
Institute for Global Health and Development, The Aga Khan University, South Central Asia, East Africa and United Kingdom, Karachi, Pakistan
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta
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Nundy, S., Kakar, A., Bhutta, Z.A. (2022). How to Write an Abstract?. In: How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries?. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-5248-6_15
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-5248-6_15
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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper | Examples
What is a research paper abstract?
Research paper abstracts summarize your study quickly and succinctly to journal editors and researchers and prompt them to read further. But with the ubiquity of online publication databases, writing a compelling abstract is even more important today than it was in the days of bound paper manuscripts.
Abstracts exist to “sell” your work, and they could thus be compared to the “executive summary” of a business resume: an official briefing on what is most important about your research. Or the “gist” of your research. With the majority of academic transactions being conducted online, this means that you have even less time to impress readers–and increased competition in terms of other abstracts out there to read.
The APCI (Academic Publishing and Conferences International) notes that there are 12 questions or “points” considered in the selection process for journals and conferences and stresses the importance of having an abstract that ticks all of these boxes. Because it is often the ONLY chance you have to convince readers to keep reading, it is important that you spend time and energy crafting an abstract that faithfully represents the central parts of your study and captivates your audience.
With that in mind, follow these suggestions when structuring and writing your abstract, and learn how exactly to put these ideas into a solid abstract that will captivate your target readers.
Before Writing Your Abstract
How long should an abstract be.
All abstracts are written with the same essential objective: to give a summary of your study. But there are two basic styles of abstract: descriptive and informative . Here is a brief delineation of the two:
Of the two types of abstracts, informative abstracts are much more common, and they are widely used for submission to journals and conferences. Informative abstracts apply to lengthier and more technical research and are common in the sciences, engineering, and psychology, while descriptive abstracts are more likely used in humanities and social science papers. The best method of determining which abstract type you need to use is to follow the instructions for journal submissions and to read as many other published articles in those journals as possible.
Research Abstract Guidelines and Requirements
As any article about research writing will tell you, authors must always closely follow the specific guidelines and requirements indicated in the Guide for Authors section of their target journal’s website. The same kind of adherence to conventions should be applied to journal publications, for consideration at a conference, and even when completing a class assignment.
Each publisher has particular demands when it comes to formatting and structure. Here are some common questions addressed in the journal guidelines:
- Is there a maximum or minimum word/character length?
- What are the style and formatting requirements?
- What is the appropriate abstract type?
- Are there any specific content or organization rules that apply?
There are of course other rules to consider when composing a research paper abstract. But if you follow the stated rules the first time you submit your manuscript, you can avoid your work being thrown in the “circular file” right off the bat.
Identify Your Target Readership
The main purpose of your abstract is to lead researchers to the full text of your research paper. In scientific journals, abstracts let readers decide whether the research discussed is relevant to their own interests or study. Abstracts also help readers understand your main argument quickly. Consider these questions as you write your abstract:
- Are other academics in your field the main target of your study?
- Will your study perhaps be useful to members of the general public?
- Do your study results include the wider implications presented in the abstract?
Outlining and Writing Your Abstract
What to include in an abstract.
Just as your research paper title should cover as much ground as possible in a few short words, your abstract must cover all parts of your study in order to fully explain your paper and research. Because it must accomplish this task in the space of only a few hundred words, it is important not to include ambiguous references or phrases that will confuse the reader or mislead them about the content and objectives of your research. Follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to what kind of writing to include:
- Avoid acronyms or abbreviations since these will need to be explained in order to make sense to the reader, which takes up valuable abstract space. Instead, explain these terms in the Introduction section of the main text.
- Only use references to people or other works if they are well-known. Otherwise, avoid referencing anything outside of your study in the abstract.
- Never include tables, figures, sources, or long quotations in your abstract; you will have plenty of time to present and refer to these in the body of your paper.
Use keywords in your abstract to focus your topic
A vital search tool is the research paper keywords section, which lists the most relevant terms directly underneath the abstract. Think of these keywords as the “tubes” that readers will seek and enter—via queries on databases and search engines—to ultimately land at their destination, which is your paper. Your abstract keywords should thus be words that are commonly used in searches but should also be highly relevant to your work and found in the text of your abstract. Include 5 to 10 important words or short phrases central to your research in both the abstract and the keywords section.
For example, if you are writing a paper on the prevalence of obesity among lower classes that crosses international boundaries, you should include terms like “obesity,” “prevalence,” “international,” “lower classes,” and “cross-cultural.” These are terms that should net a wide array of people interested in your topic of study. Look at our nine rules for choosing keywords for your research paper if you need more input on this.
Research Paper Abstract Structure
As mentioned above, the abstract (especially the informative abstract) acts as a surrogate or synopsis of your research paper, doing almost as much work as the thousands of words that follow it in the body of the main text. In the hard sciences and most social sciences, the abstract includes the following sections and organizational schema.
Each section is quite compact—only a single sentence or two, although there is room for expansion if one element or statement is particularly interesting or compelling. As the abstract is almost always one long paragraph, the individual sections should naturally merge into one another to create a holistic effect. Use the following as a checklist to ensure that you have included all of the necessary content in your abstract.
1) Identify your purpose and motivation
So your research is about rabies in Brazilian squirrels. Why is this important? You should start your abstract by explaining why people should care about this study—why is it significant to your field and perhaps to the wider world? And what is the exact purpose of your study; what are you trying to achieve? Start by answering the following questions:
- What made you decide to do this study or project?
- Why is this study important to your field or to the lay reader?
- Why should someone read your entire article?
In summary, the first section of your abstract should include the importance of the research and its impact on related research fields or on the wider scientific domain.
2) Explain the research problem you are addressing
Stating the research problem that your study addresses is the corollary to why your specific study is important and necessary. For instance, even if the issue of “rabies in Brazilian squirrels” is important, what is the problem—the “missing piece of the puzzle”—that your study helps resolve?
You can combine the problem with the motivation section, but from a perspective of organization and clarity, it is best to separate the two. Here are some precise questions to address:
- What is your research trying to better understand or what problem is it trying to solve?
- What is the scope of your study—does it try to explain something general or specific?
- What is your central claim or argument?
3) Discuss your research approach
Your specific study approach is detailed in the Methods and Materials section . You have already established the importance of the research, your motivation for studying this issue, and the specific problem your paper addresses. Now you need to discuss how you solved or made progress on this problem—how you conducted your research. If your study includes your own work or that of your team, describe that here. If in your paper you reviewed the work of others, explain this here. Did you use analytic models? A simulation? A double-blind study? A case study? You are basically showing the reader the internal engine of your research machine and how it functioned in the study. Be sure to:
- Detail your research—include methods/type of the study, your variables, and the extent of the work
- Briefly present evidence to support your claim
- Highlight your most important sources
4) Briefly summarize your results
Here you will give an overview of the outcome of your study. Avoid using too many vague qualitative terms (e.g, “very,” “small,” or “tremendous”) and try to use at least some quantitative terms (i.e., percentages, figures, numbers). Save your qualitative language for the conclusion statement. Answer questions like these:
- What did your study yield in concrete terms (e.g., trends, figures, correlation between phenomena)?
- How did your results compare to your hypothesis? Was the study successful?
- Where there any highly unexpected outcomes or were they all largely predicted?
5) State your conclusion
In the last section of your abstract, you will give a statement about the implications and limitations of the study . Be sure to connect this statement closely to your results and not the area of study in general. Are the results of this study going to shake up the scientific world? Will they impact how people see “Brazilian squirrels”? Or are the implications minor? Try not to boast about your study or present its impact as too far-reaching, as researchers and journals will tend to be skeptical of bold claims in scientific papers. Answer one of these questions:
- What are the exact effects of these results on my field? On the wider world?
- What other kind of study would yield further solutions to problems?
- What other information is needed to expand knowledge in this area?
After Completing the First Draft of Your Abstract
Revise your abstract.
The abstract, like any piece of academic writing, should be revised before being considered complete. Check it for grammatical and spelling errors and make sure it is formatted properly.
Get feedback from a peer
Getting a fresh set of eyes to review your abstract is a great way to find out whether you’ve summarized your research well. Find a reader who understands research papers but is not an expert in this field or is not affiliated with your study. Ask your reader to summarize what your study is about (including all key points of each section). This should tell you if you have communicated your key points clearly.
In addition to research peers, consider consulting with a professor or even a specialist or generalist writing center consultant about your abstract. Use any resource that helps you see your work from another perspective.
Consider getting professional editing and proofreading
While peer feedback is quite important to ensure the effectiveness of your abstract content, it may be a good idea to find an academic editor to fix mistakes in grammar, spelling, mechanics, style, or formatting. The presence of basic errors in the abstract may not affect your content, but it might dissuade someone from reading your entire study. Wordvice provides English editing services that both correct objective errors and enhance the readability and impact of your work.
Additional Abstract Rules and Guidelines
Write your abstract after completing your paper.
Although the abstract goes at the beginning of your manuscript, it does not merely introduce your research topic (that is the job of the title), but rather summarizes your entire paper. Writing the abstract last will ensure that it is complete and consistent with the findings and statements in your paper.
Keep your content in the correct order
Both questions and answers should be organized in a standard and familiar way to make the content easier for readers to absorb. Ideally, it should mimic the overall format of your essay and the classic “introduction,” “body,” and “conclusion” form, even if the parts are not neatly divided as such.
Write the abstract from scratch
Because the abstract is a self-contained piece of writing viewed separately from the body of the paper, you should write it separately as well. Never copy and paste direct quotes from the paper and avoid paraphrasing sentences in the paper. Using new vocabulary and phrases will keep your abstract interesting and free of redundancies while conserving space.
Don’t include too many details in the abstract
Again, the density of your abstract makes it incompatible with including specific points other than possibly names or locations. You can make references to terms, but do not explain or define them in the abstract. Try to strike a balance between being specific to your study and presenting a relatively broad overview of your work.
If you think your abstract is fine now but you need input on abstract writing or require English editing services (including paper editing ), then head over to the Wordvice academic resources page, where you will find many more articles, for example on writing the Results , Methods , and Discussion sections of your manuscript, on choosing a title for your paper , or on how to finalize your journal submission with a strong cover letter .
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How to Write an APA Abstract
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee
- Writing Your Abstract
- How to Use Keywords
An APA abstract is a concise but comprehensive summary of a scientific paper. It is typically a paragraph long, or about 150 to 250 words. The goal of the abstract is to provide the reader with a brief and accurate idea of what a paper is about.
The APA abstract should appear on a separate page immediately after the title page and before the main content of your paper. While professional papers that appear in scientific journals and other publications require an APA abstract, they may not be required for student papers. However, you should always check with your instructor for specific requirements.
What Is APA Format?
APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association. It is used in writing for psychology and other social sciences. These style guidelines specify different aspects of a document's presentation and layout, including how pages are structured, how references are organized, and how sources are cited.
This article explains how to create an abstract in APA format for your psychology papers or other types of scientific writing. It covers the basic rules you should follow as well as specific guidelines for writing abstracts for experimental reports, literature reviews, and other articles.
What Is an Abstract in APA Format?
In addition to providing guidance for the general style and organization of a paper, APA format also stipulates using an abstract designed to briefly summarize the key details in a paper.
While it is sometimes overlooked or only an afterthought, an abstract is an integral part of any academic or professional paper. The abstract is a critical component of an APA-formatted paper. This brief overview summarizes what your paper contains. It should succinctly and accurately represent what your paper is about and what the reader can expect to find.
Following a few simple guidelines, you can create an abstract following the format. Done well, an abstract generates interest in your work and helps readers learn if the paper will interest them.
APA Format Abstract Basics
The abstract is the second page of a lab report or APA-format paper and should immediately follow the title page . Think of an abstract as a highly condensed summary of your entire paper.
The purpose of your abstract is to provide a brief yet thorough overview of your paper. It should function much like your title page—it should allow the person reading it to quickly determine what your paper is all about. Your abstract is the first thing that most people will read, and it is usually what informs their decision to read the rest of your paper.
The abstract is the single most important paragraph in your entire paper, according to the APA Publication Manual. A good abstract lets the reader know that your paper is worth reading.
According to the official guidelines of the American Psychological Association, an abstract should be brief but packed with information. Each sentence must be written with maximum impact in mind. To keep your abstract short, focus on including just four or five of the essential points, concepts, or findings.
An abstract must also be objective and accurate. The abstract's purpose is to report rather than provide commentary. It should accurately reflect what your paper is about. Only include information that is also included in the body of your paper.
Key Elements of an APA Abstract
Your abstract page should include:
- A running head , which is a shortened version of your title that appears in all caps at the top left of each page of your paper
- A section label , which should be the word "Abstract" centered and bolded at the top of the page
- A page number , which should be the second page of your paper (the title page should be page 1)
- A double-spaced paragraph of about 150 to 250 words
- An indented list of keywords related to your paper's content. Include the label "Keywords:" in italics and list three to five keywords that are separated by commas
How to Write an Abstract in APA Format
Before you write your abstract, you first need to write your paper in its entirety. In order to write a good abstract, you need to have a finished draft of your paper so you can summarize it accurately.
While the abstract will be at the beginning of your paper, it should be the last section you write.
Once you have completed the final draft of your psychology paper , use it as a guide for writing your abstract.
- Begin your abstract on a new page . Place your running head and page number 2 in the top right-hand corner. Center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page.
- Know your target word count . An abstract should be between 150 and 250 words. Exact word counts vary from journal to journal . If you are writing your paper for a psychology course, your professor may have specific word requirements, so be sure to ask. The abstract should be written as only one paragraph with no indentation.
- Structure the abstract in the same order as your paper . Begin with a brief summary of the introduction , and then continue on with a summary of the method , results , and discussion sections of your paper.
- Look at other abstracts in professional journals for examples of how to summarize your paper . Notice the main points that the authors chose to mention in the abstract. Use these examples as a guide when choosing the main ideas in your own paper.
- Write a rough draft of your abstract . Use the format required for your type of paper (see next sections). While you should aim for brevity, be careful not to make your summary too short. Try to write one to two sentences summarizing each section of your paper. Once you have a rough draft, you can edit for length and clarity.
- Ask a friend to read over the abstract . Sometimes, having someone look at your abstract with fresh eyes can provide perspective and help you spot possible typos and other errors.
The abstract is vital to your paper, so it should not be overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Spend time writing this section carefully to ensure maximum readability and clarity.
It is important to remember that while the abstract is the last thing you write, it is often the most read part of your paper.
Experimental Report Abstracts
The format of your abstract also depends on the type of paper you are writing. For example, an abstract summarizing an experimental paper will differ from that of a meta-analysis or case study . For an experimental report, your abstract should:
- Identify the problem . In many cases, you should begin by stating the question you sought to investigate and your hypothesis .
- Describe the participants in the study . State how many participants took part and how they were selected. For example: "In this study, 215 undergraduate student participants were randomly assigned to [the experimental condition] or [the control condition]."
- Describe the study method . For example, identify whether you used a within-subjects, between-subjects, or mixed design.
- Give the basic findings . This is essentially a brief preview of the results of your paper.
- Provide any conclusions or implications of the study . What might your results indicate, and what directions does it point to for future research?
Literature Review Abstracts
If your paper is a meta-analysis or literature review, your abstract should:
- Describe the problem of interest . In other words, what is it that you set out to investigate in your analysis or review?
- Explain the criteria used to select the studies included in the paper . There may be many different studies devoted to your topic. Your analysis or review probably only looks at a portion of these studies. For what reason did you select these specific studies to include in your research?
- Identify the participants in the studies . Inform the reader about who the participants were in the studies. Were they college students? Older adults? How were they selected and assigned?
- Provide the main results . Again, this is essentially a quick peek at what readers will find when they read your results section. Don't try to include everything. Just provide a very brief summary of your main findings.
- Describe any conclusions or implications . What might these results mean and what do they reveal about the body of research that exists on this particular topic?
Lab Reports and Articles
Psychology papers such as lab reports and APA format articles also often require an abstract. In these cases as well, the abstract should include all of the major elements of your paper, including an introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, and discussion.
Remember, although the abstract should be placed at the beginning of your paper (right after the title page), you will write the abstract last after you have completed a final draft of your paper.
To ensure that all of your APA formatting is correct, consider consulting a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .
Keywords in an APA Abstract
After the paragraph containing the main elements of your abstract, you can also include keywords related to your paper. Such keywords are used when indexing your paper in databases and can help researchers and students locate your paper when searching for information about those topics.
Because keywords help people find your paper, it is essential to choose the right ones. The APA suggests including between three and five keywords.
You can identify keywords by thinking about what your paper is about. For example, if your paper focuses on how social media use is related to depression in teenagers, you might include the keywords: social media, mood, depression, adolescents, social networking sites
A Word From Verywell
The abstract may be very brief, but it is so important that the official APA style manual identifies it as the most important paragraph in your entire paper. Careful attention to detail can ensure that your abstract does a good job representing the contents of your paper. If possible, take your paper to your school's writing lab for assistance.
Nagda S. How to write a scientific abstract. J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 2013;13(3):382–383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x
Kumar A. Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence . J Indian Soc Periodontol . 2022;26(1):1-2. doi:10.4103/jisp.jisp_634_21
American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Reporting Standards for Studies With an Experimental Manipulation .
American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Quantitative Meta-Analysis Article Reporting Standards .
Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key . Saudi J Anaesth . 2019;13(Suppl 1):S12-S17. doi:10.4103/sja.SJA_685_18
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association; 2019.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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How to Write an Abstract (With Examples)
Table of Contents
What is an abstract in a paper, how long should an abstract be, 5 steps for writing an abstract, examples of an abstract, how prowritingaid can help you write an abstract.
If you are writing a scientific research paper or a book proposal, you need to know how to write an abstract, which summarizes the contents of the paper or book.
When researchers are looking for peer-reviewed papers to use in their studies, the first place they will check is the abstract to see if it applies to their work. Therefore, your abstract is one of the most important parts of your entire paper.
In this article, we’ll explain what an abstract is, what it should include, and how to write one.
An abstract is a concise summary of the details within a report. Some abstracts give more details than others, but the main things you’ll be talking about are why you conducted the research, what you did, and what the results show.
When a reader is deciding whether to read your paper completely, they will first look at the abstract. You need to be concise in your abstract and give the reader the most important information so they can determine if they want to read the whole paper.
Remember that an abstract is the last thing you’ll want to write for the research paper because it directly references parts of the report. If you haven’t written the report, you won’t know what to include in your abstract.
If you are writing a paper for a journal or an assignment, the publication or academic institution might have specific formatting rules for how long your abstract should be. However, if they don’t, most abstracts are between 150 and 300 words long.
A short word count means your writing has to be precise and without filler words or phrases. Once you’ve written a first draft, you can always use an editing tool, such as ProWritingAid, to identify areas where you can reduce words and increase readability.
If your abstract is over the word limit, and you’ve edited it but still can’t figure out how to reduce it further, your abstract might include some things that aren’t needed. Here’s a list of three elements you can remove from your abstract:
Discussion : You don’t need to go into detail about the findings of your research because your reader will find your discussion within the paper.
Definition of terms : Your readers are interested the field you are writing about, so they are likely to understand the terms you are using. If not, they can always look them up. Your readers do not expect you to give a definition of terms in your abstract.
References and citations : You can mention there have been studies that support or have inspired your research, but you do not need to give details as the reader will find them in your bibliography.
Good writing = better grades
ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of all your assignments.
If you’ve never written an abstract before, and you’re wondering how to write an abstract, we’ve got some steps for you to follow. It’s best to start with planning your abstract, so we’ve outlined the details you need to include in your plan before you write.
Remember to consider your audience when you’re planning and writing your abstract. They are likely to skim read your abstract, so you want to be sure your abstract delivers all the information they’re expecting to see at key points.
1. What Should an Abstract Include?
Abstracts have a lot of information to cover in a short number of words, so it’s important to know what to include. There are three elements that need to be present in your abstract:
Your context is the background for where your research sits within your field of study. You should briefly mention any previous scientific papers or experiments that have led to your hypothesis and how research develops in those studies.
Your hypothesis is your prediction of what your study will show. As you are writing your abstract after you have conducted your research, you should still include your hypothesis in your abstract because it shows the motivation for your paper.
Throughout your abstract, you also need to include keywords and phrases that will help researchers to find your article in the databases they’re searching. Make sure the keywords are specific to your field of study and the subject you’re reporting on, otherwise your article might not reach the relevant audience.
2. Can You Use First Person in an Abstract?
You might think that first person is too informal for a research paper, but it’s not. Historically, writers of academic reports avoided writing in first person to uphold the formality standards of the time. However, first person is more accepted in research papers in modern times.
If you’re still unsure whether to write in first person for your abstract, refer to any style guide rules imposed by the journal you’re writing for or your teachers if you are writing an assignment.
3. Abstract Structure
Some scientific journals have strict rules on how to structure an abstract, so it’s best to check those first. If you don’t have any style rules to follow, try using the IMRaD structure, which stands for Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion.
Following the IMRaD structure, start with an introduction. The amount of background information you should include depends on your specific research area. Adding a broad overview gives you less room to include other details. Remember to include your hypothesis in this section.
The next part of your abstract should cover your methodology. Try to include the following details if they apply to your study:
What type of research was conducted?
How were the test subjects sampled?
What were the sample sizes?
What was done to each group?
How long was the experiment?
How was data recorded and interpreted?
Following the methodology, include a sentence or two about the results, which is where your reader will determine if your research supports or contradicts their own investigations.
The results are also where most people will want to find out what your outcomes were, even if they are just mildly interested in your research area. You should be specific about all the details but as concise as possible.
The last few sentences are your conclusion. It needs to explain how your findings affect the context and whether your hypothesis was correct. Include the primary take-home message, additional findings of importance, and perspective. Also explain whether there is scope for further research into the subject of your report.
Your conclusion should be honest and give the reader the ultimate message that your research shows. Readers trust the conclusion, so make sure you’re not fabricating the results of your research. Some readers won’t read your entire paper, but this section will tell them if it’s worth them referencing it in their own study.
4. How to Start an Abstract
The first line of your abstract should give your reader the context of your report by providing background information. You can use this sentence to imply the motivation for your research.
You don’t need to use a hook phrase or device in your first sentence to grab the reader’s attention. Your reader will look to establish relevance quickly, so readability and clarity are more important than trying to persuade the reader to read on.
5. How to Format an Abstract
Most abstracts use the same formatting rules, which help the reader identify the abstract so they know where to look for it.
Here’s a list of formatting guidelines for writing an abstract:
Stick to one paragraph
Use block formatting with no indentation at the beginning
Put your abstract straight after the title and acknowledgements pages
Use present or past tense, not future tense
There are two primary types of abstract you could write for your paper—descriptive and informative.
An informative abstract is the most common, and they follow the structure mentioned previously. They are longer than descriptive abstracts because they cover more details.
Descriptive abstracts differ from informative abstracts, as they don’t include as much discussion or detail. The word count for a descriptive abstract is between 50 and 150 words.
Here is an example of an informative abstract:
A growing trend exists for authors to employ a more informal writing style that uses “we” in academic writing to acknowledge one’s stance and engagement. However, few studies have compared the ways in which the first-person pronoun “we” is used in the abstracts and conclusions of empirical papers. To address this lacuna in the literature, this study conducted a systematic corpus analysis of the use of “we” in the abstracts and conclusions of 400 articles collected from eight leading electrical and electronic (EE) engineering journals. The abstracts and conclusions were extracted to form two subcorpora, and an integrated framework was applied to analyze and seek to explain how we-clusters and we-collocations were employed. Results revealed whether authors’ use of first-person pronouns partially depends on a journal policy. The trend of using “we” showed that a yearly increase occurred in the frequency of “we” in EE journal papers, as well as the existence of three “we-use” types in the article conclusions and abstracts: exclusive, inclusive, and ambiguous. Other possible “we-use” alternatives such as “I” and other personal pronouns were used very rarely—if at all—in either section. These findings also suggest that the present tense was used more in article abstracts, but the present perfect tense was the most preferred tense in article conclusions. Both research and pedagogical implications are proffered and critically discussed.
Wang, S., Tseng, W.-T., & Johanson, R. (2021). To We or Not to We: Corpus-Based Research on First-Person Pronoun Use in Abstracts and Conclusions. SAGE Open, 11(2).
Here is an example of a descriptive abstract:
From the 1850s to the present, considerable criminological attention has focused on the development of theoretically-significant systems for classifying crime. This article reviews and attempts to evaluate a number of these efforts, and we conclude that further work on this basic task is needed. The latter part of the article explicates a conceptual foundation for a crime pattern classification system, and offers a preliminary taxonomy of crime.
Farr, K. A., & Gibbons, D. C. (1990). Observations on the Development of Crime Categories. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 34(3), 223–237.
If you want to ensure your abstract is grammatically correct and easy to read, you can use ProWritingAid to edit it. The software integrates with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and most web browsers, so you can make the most of it wherever you’re writing your paper.
Before you edit with ProWritingAid, make sure the suggestions you are seeing are relevant for your document by changing the document type to “Abstract” within the Academic writing style section.
You can use the Readability report to check your abstract for places to improve the clarity of your writing. Some suggestions might show you where to remove words, which is great if you’re over your word count.
We hope the five steps and examples we’ve provided help you write a great abstract for your research paper.
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How to Write a Term Paper Abstract
When you are at university, you will be assigned written tasks of different kinds. Whilst most are similar in their form, most have their own rule you need to follow. When you come to larger projects, you will find that you are required to write an abstract. A thesis, research reports and service projects for example, will need an abstract.
The term paper abstract is an important part of the paper. It concisely describes the content and scope of the project and the project’s objective, the methodology and its findings, conclusions, or intended results.
It is not a description of your topic. Some get confused on this point. Your abstract is about your research methods and goals. Your introduction determines the description of your topic. In short, the abstract describes what you are doing, whilst the introduction is about whatever subject you are doing. Abstracts are very short, it is important you do not turn it into a lengthy summary of the entire background of your topic. To help you when writing your abstract, stop at the end of every sentence and make sure you are dealing with the project. Abstracts also vary from discipline to discipline, and sometimes within disciplines. Abstracts in the hard sciences and social sciences often put more emphasis on methods than the humanities. A humanities abstracts will give more time to explain their objective than science abstracts. Even within single disciplines, abstracts often differ. It is best to ask your professor what exactly you are expected to do in your discipline, and obtain examples of abstracts from your field.
No matter the field, every abstract should include four main types of information. It should state the main objective of your project, what the problem or the main issue is; and why did you want to do this project in the first place. Then it should outline the methods you used to accomplish your objectives, explain how you went about solving the problem or exploring the issue you identified as your main objective. It should list your project’s results or intended results. This section of the abstract should list the results of the work you have done so far. Finally, it should draw conclusions about the implications of your project and close with a statement of the project’s implications and contributions to its field. This whole abstract must be brief, therefore be straightforward and do not use unnecessary words. Start by condensing what you have done and reduce it to the essential points.
Alternatively, you can order a term paper from our professional writers. They all are academic graduates with the knowledge already available and their writing skills are well developed. Once you place an order on our website, they will quickly write an original paper for you from scratch. It will be of high quality, sound content and plagiarism free, all done for a reasonable price. They can also help edit and perfect what you have already done. Just let us know your needs and we will meet them.
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How to Write a Term Paper
Last Updated: October 25, 2022 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,208,970 times.
C's may get degrees, but only an A+ essay earns a place on your grandmother's fridge or your own fridge. Have you been busting your little collegiate butt just to get mediocre results? Well, tell Granny to get the magnets ready: follow these steps, and take your term papers to the head of the class.
Writing Your Own Term Paper
- Take great care not to choose a topic and be so set on how you see the outcome of your paper that you're closed to new ideas and avenues of thinking as you work through the paper. This is known in academia as "premature cognitive commitment". It can mar an otherwise good paper because an outcome that is pre-determined in your head, regardless of the research findings along the way, will be molded to fit the outcome, rather than the outcome reflecting a genuine analysis of the discoveries made. Instead, ask continuous questions about the topic at each stage of your research and writing and see the topic in terms of a " hypothesis " rather than as a conclusion. In this way, you'll be prepared to be challenged and to even have your opinion changed as you work through the paper.
- Reading other people's comments, opinions and entries on a topic can often help you to refine your own, especially where they comment that "further research" is required or where they posit challenging questions but leave them unanswered.
- For some more help, see How to establish a research topic .
- How to research a paper.
- How to take notes , How to take better notes , How to take notes from a textbook , How to take notes on a book and How to take Cornell notes .
- Remember that the research doesn't stop here. And nor does the thesis statement, necessarily. Allow room for flexibility as you continue working through both the research and the writing, as you may wish to make changes that align with the ideas forming in your mind and the discoveries you continue to unearth. On the other hand, do be careful not to be a continuous seeker who never alights upon a single idea for fear of confinement. At some point you are going to have to say: "Enough is enough to make my point here!" If you're so taken with a topic, there is always the possibility of postgraduate study some day but remember that the term paper has a finite word length and due date!
- Introduction, discussion paragraphs/sections and conclusion or summary.
- Descriptive or explanatory paragraphs following the introduction, setting the background or theme.
- Analysis and argument paragraphs/sections. Using your research, write out the main idea for each body paragraph.
- Any outstanding questions or points you're not yet sure about.
- See How to write an outline for more details.
- H ook the reader using a question or a quote. Or perhaps relate a curious anecdote that will eventually make absolute sense to the reader in the context of the thesis.
- I ntroduce your topic. Be succinct, clear and straightforward.
- Don't forget to define the words contained in the question! Words like "globalization" have many differing meanings and it's important to state which ones you'll be using as part of your introductory section.
- Try to relate the actual subject of the essay (say, Plato's Symposium) to a tangentially related issue you happen to know something about (say, the growing trend of free-wheeling hookups in frat parties). Slowly bring the paragraph around to your actual subject, and make a few generalizations about why this aspect of the book/subject is so fascinating and worthy of study (such as, how different the expectations for physical intimacy were then compared with now).
- R estate your thesis statement.
- O ne important detail which is usually found in your last paragraph.
- C onclude – wrap it up.
- C lincher – where you give the reader something left to think about.
- It's helpful to sort out your bibliography from the beginning, to avoid having a last minute scramble: How to write a bibliography , How to write an APA style bibliography and How to write a bibliography in MLA format.
- Trade in weak "to-be" verbs for stronger "action" verbs. For example: "I was writing my term paper" becomes "I wrote my term paper."
- Decent grammar should be a given. You need a teacher to give you the benefit of the doubt, not correct your apostrophe use . A few too many errors and the message is soon lost beneath the irritation of the errors involved.
- The best essays are like grass court tennis – the argument should flow in a "rally" style, building persuasively to the conclusion. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- If you get stuck, consider giving the prof a visit. Whether you're still struggling for a thesis or you want to go over your conclusion, most instructors are delighted to help and they'll remember your initiative when grading time rolls around. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
- At least 2 hours for 3-5 pages.
- At least 4 hours for 8-10 pages.
- At least 6 hours for 12-15 pages.
- Double those hours if you haven't done any homework and you haven't attended class.
- For papers primarily research-based, add about two hours to those times (although you'll need to know how to research quickly and effectively, beyond the purview of this brief guide).
- If you use outside sources and do not credit those sources, you have cheated (plagiarized). You will fail and possibly get kicked out of school. Do not cheat; it's not worth it from the point of view of losing your chances to continue studying and it's hardly useful for helping you retain the knowledge and develop the analytical and in-depth understanding you'll need to apply for the rest of your career path. Put the effort in now, so that the rest of your knowledge gaining grows easier later. Thanks Helpful 38 Not Helpful 8
- Never hand in a paper written for one subject to another subject. The only time this is permissible is where you've asked for permission and have the all-clear to do so. Remember that your professors or lecturers do talk among one another and they've seen everything before. Thanks Helpful 26 Not Helpful 10
- Remember that term paper writing is an important part of your academic career. Be sure to include title page, table of contents, body of the paper and reference page. Thanks Helpful 39 Not Helpful 18
- Do not forget to check the final draft for mistakes and omissions. These irk markers to the point of reducing your overall marks if there are enough errors. Thanks Helpful 28 Not Helpful 12
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- ↑ Matthew Snipp, PhD. Research Fellow, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Expert Interview. 26 March 2020.
- ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44525
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/planresearchpaper/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/outline
- ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26731827
- ↑ https://gallaudet.edu/student-success/tutorial-center/english-center/writing/guide-to-writing-introductions-and-conclusions/
- ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185937
About This Article
If you need to write a term paper, choose your topic, then start researching that topic. Use your research to craft a thesis statement which states the main idea of your paper, then organize all of your facts into an outline that supports your thesis. Once you start writing, state your thesis in the first paragraph, then use the body of the paper to present the points that support your argument. End the paper with a strong conclusion that restates your thesis. For tips on improving your term paper through active voice, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to write an abstract for a term paper
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As discussed in our last article about how to structure your term paper, we found that one of the key components for a term paper is abstract. We even went ahead to define what abstract in a term paper entails. For those who have not read our previous article on the same, kindly do so. However, for our new audience, welcome aboard. Without further ado, a simple definition of an abstract in a term paper is the short and standalone summary of your term paper that your readers use as an overview of what your whole paper entails.
Many students tend to get confused when it comes to differentiating an abstract and a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a summary of your main idea while an abstract is the summary of the entire term paper. An abstract is suitable to give your reader a clear picture of what they are interested in before starting to read it. Therefore, for a student to write a masterpiece on the abstract, he or she should draft it after completing the paper so that he can be able to highlight the purpose, problem, methods used and the conclusion.
Here are some of the few hacks that you can use to make your term paper abstract great.
Complete your term paper first
As said earlier, an abstract is the summary of the entire term paper. Therefore, even though you may be sure of what to write on your paper, it is advisable to first write it before jolting down your abstract. This tip will help you have a clear picture of what your term paper is all about hence making it easier to include every detail in your abstract. What a simple trick that can make a miracle!
Review your set of guidelines
Term papers often have a set of rules that are specified by your instructor. It is important to revisit your rubric to understand what your professor needs before embarking on your writing journey. With that, you are free to draft your abstract with much ease and a great touch of authentication.
Know your audience
Your readers will first read your abstract to check if your term paper gives them the idea of what they are looking for. If your abstract is not well crafted, it loses interest to the reader to continue perusing through. To avoid all these, all you need to do is understand your clientele and give you best should on your abstract.
Identify your purpose
Writing without a purpose is worse than not writing. When crafting your term paper abstract, put your purpose at hand. When the purpose is clearly stated, it gives a good flow to the readers. Understand which method to use to collect, analyze and present your data.
Define your problem
It is important to bring your problem that you are trying to solve clearly. Let your reader grasp your scope of study as they look forward to understanding the main argument in your term paper.
Make a conclusion
Give your abstract a conclusion that gives your readers the purpose of writing the term paper. State the implications of your work and whether the results are general or specific.
Worried on how to complete your abstract? Worry no more; here is the cheapest place to buy a paper . Contact us today!
Dont compromise on quality. Our homework helpers can service all your academic needs perfectly.
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- As Ozempic’s Popularity Soars, Here’s What to Know About Semaglutide and Weight Loss JAMA Medical News & Perspectives May 16, 2023 This Medical News article discusses chronic weight management with semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy. Melissa Suran, PhD, MSJ
- Patents and Regulatory Exclusivities on GLP-1 Receptor Agonists JAMA Special Communication August 15, 2023 This Special Communication used data from the US Food and Drug Administration to analyze how manufacturers of brand-name glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists have used patent and regulatory systems to extend periods of market exclusivity. Rasha Alhiary, PharmD; Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH; Sarah Gabriele, LLM, MBE; Reed F. Beall, PhD; S. Sean Tu, JD, PhD; William B. Feldman, MD, DPhil, MPH
- What to Know About Wegovy’s Rare but Serious Adverse Effects JAMA Medical News & Perspectives November 15, 2023 This Medical News article discusses Wegovy, Ozempic, and other GLP-1 receptor agonists used for weight management and type 2 diabetes. Kate Ruder, MSJ
- Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist Use and Risk of Gallbladder and Biliary Diseases JAMA Internal Medicine Original Investigation May 1, 2022 This systematic review and meta-analysis of 76 randomized clinical trials examines the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist use on the risk of gallbladder and biliary diseases. Liyun He, MM; Jialu Wang, MM; Fan Ping, MD; Na Yang, MM; Jingyue Huang, MM; Yuxiu Li, MD; Lingling Xu, MD; Wei Li, MD; Huabing Zhang, MD
- Cholecystitis Associated With the Use of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists JAMA Internal Medicine Research Letter October 1, 2022 This case series identifies cases reported in the US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System of acute cholecystitis associated with use of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists that did not have gallbladder disease warnings in their labeling. Daniel Woronow, MD; Christine Chamberlain, PharmD; Ali Niak, MD; Mark Avigan, MDCM; Monika Houstoun, PharmD, MPH; Cindy Kortepeter, PharmD
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Sodhi M , Rezaeianzadeh R , Kezouh A , Etminan M. Risk of Gastrointestinal Adverse Events Associated With Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss. JAMA. 2023;330(18):1795–1797. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.19574
Risk of Gastrointestinal Adverse Events Associated With Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss
- 1 Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- 2 StatExpert Ltd, Laval, Quebec, Canada
- 3 Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
- Medical News & Perspectives As Ozempic’s Popularity Soars, Here’s What to Know About Semaglutide and Weight Loss Melissa Suran, PhD, MSJ JAMA
- Special Communication Patents and Regulatory Exclusivities on GLP-1 Receptor Agonists Rasha Alhiary, PharmD; Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH; Sarah Gabriele, LLM, MBE; Reed F. Beall, PhD; S. Sean Tu, JD, PhD; William B. Feldman, MD, DPhil, MPH JAMA
- Medical News & Perspectives What to Know About Wegovy’s Rare but Serious Adverse Effects Kate Ruder, MSJ JAMA
- Original Investigation Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist Use and Risk of Gallbladder and Biliary Diseases Liyun He, MM; Jialu Wang, MM; Fan Ping, MD; Na Yang, MM; Jingyue Huang, MM; Yuxiu Li, MD; Lingling Xu, MD; Wei Li, MD; Huabing Zhang, MD JAMA Internal Medicine
- Research Letter Cholecystitis Associated With the Use of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists Daniel Woronow, MD; Christine Chamberlain, PharmD; Ali Niak, MD; Mark Avigan, MDCM; Monika Houstoun, PharmD, MPH; Cindy Kortepeter, PharmD JAMA Internal Medicine
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists are medications approved for treatment of diabetes that recently have also been used off label for weight loss. 1 Studies have found increased risks of gastrointestinal adverse events (biliary disease, 2 pancreatitis, 3 bowel obstruction, 4 and gastroparesis 5 ) in patients with diabetes. 2 - 5 Because such patients have higher baseline risk for gastrointestinal adverse events, risk in patients taking these drugs for other indications may differ. Randomized trials examining efficacy of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss were not designed to capture these events 2 due to small sample sizes and short follow-up. We examined gastrointestinal adverse events associated with GLP-1 agonists used for weight loss in a clinical setting.
We used a random sample of 16 million patients (2006-2020) from the PharMetrics Plus database (IQVIA), a large health claims database that captures 93% of all outpatient prescriptions and physician diagnoses in the US through the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) or ICD-10. In our cohort study, we included new users of semaglutide or liraglutide, 2 main GLP-1 agonists, and the active comparator bupropion-naltrexone, a weight loss agent unrelated to GLP-1 agonists. Because semaglutide was marketed for weight loss after the study period (2021), we ensured all GLP-1 agonist and bupropion-naltrexone users had an obesity code in the 90 days prior or up to 30 days after cohort entry, excluding those with a diabetes or antidiabetic drug code.
Patients were observed from first prescription of a study drug to first mutually exclusive incidence (defined as first ICD-9 or ICD-10 code) of biliary disease (including cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, and choledocholithiasis), pancreatitis (including gallstone pancreatitis), bowel obstruction, or gastroparesis (defined as use of a code or a promotility agent). They were followed up to the end of the study period (June 2020) or censored during a switch. Hazard ratios (HRs) from a Cox model were adjusted for age, sex, alcohol use, smoking, hyperlipidemia, abdominal surgery in the previous 30 days, and geographic location, which were identified as common cause variables or risk factors. 6 Two sensitivity analyses were undertaken, one excluding hyperlipidemia (because more semaglutide users had hyperlipidemia) and another including patients without diabetes regardless of having an obesity code. Due to absence of data on body mass index (BMI), the E-value was used to examine how strong unmeasured confounding would need to be to negate observed results, with E-value HRs of at least 2 indicating BMI is unlikely to change study results. Statistical significance was defined as 2-sided 95% CI that did not cross 1. Analyses were performed using SAS version 9.4. Ethics approval was obtained by the University of British Columbia’s clinical research ethics board with a waiver of informed consent.
Our cohort included 4144 liraglutide, 613 semaglutide, and 654 bupropion-naltrexone users. Incidence rates for the 4 outcomes were elevated among GLP-1 agonists compared with bupropion-naltrexone users ( Table 1 ). For example, incidence of biliary disease (per 1000 person-years) was 11.7 for semaglutide, 18.6 for liraglutide, and 12.6 for bupropion-naltrexone and 4.6, 7.9, and 1.0, respectively, for pancreatitis.
Use of GLP-1 agonists compared with bupropion-naltrexone was associated with increased risk of pancreatitis (adjusted HR, 9.09 [95% CI, 1.25-66.00]), bowel obstruction (HR, 4.22 [95% CI, 1.02-17.40]), and gastroparesis (HR, 3.67 [95% CI, 1.15-11.90) but not biliary disease (HR, 1.50 [95% CI, 0.89-2.53]). Exclusion of hyperlipidemia from the analysis did not change the results ( Table 2 ). Inclusion of GLP-1 agonists regardless of history of obesity reduced HRs and narrowed CIs but did not change the significance of the results ( Table 2 ). E-value HRs did not suggest potential confounding by BMI.
This study found that use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss compared with use of bupropion-naltrexone was associated with increased risk of pancreatitis, gastroparesis, and bowel obstruction but not biliary disease.
Given the wide use of these drugs, these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients who are contemplating using the drugs for weight loss because the risk-benefit calculus for this group might differ from that of those who use them for diabetes. Limitations include that although all GLP-1 agonist users had a record for obesity without diabetes, whether GLP-1 agonists were all used for weight loss is uncertain.
Accepted for Publication: September 11, 2023.
Published Online: October 5, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.19574
Corresponding Author: Mahyar Etminan, PharmD, MSc, Faculty of Medicine, Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Medicine, The Eye Care Center, University of British Columbia, 2550 Willow St, Room 323, Vancouver, BC V5Z 3N9, Canada ( [email protected] ).
Author Contributions: Dr Etminan had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: Sodhi, Rezaeianzadeh, Etminan.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: Sodhi, Rezaeianzadeh, Etminan.
Critical review of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Statistical analysis: Kezouh.
Obtained funding: Etminan.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Sodhi.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: This study was funded by internal research funds from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of British Columbia.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funder had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Data Sharing Statement: See Supplement .
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