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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper | Examples

example how to write abstract for research paper

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:

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:

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:

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.

how to structure an abstract list

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Wordvice Resources

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 .    

Examples of abstract for research paper for online essay contests

Examples of abstract for research paper

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How to write a research paper abstract.

In her unfinished novella, Diana and Persis , Louisa May Alcott, according Whitney Chadwick, "explores the connections between art, politics, spinsterhood, and the female community in late 19th-century Paris" (212). The character, Persis represents Alcott's sister May, whom Alcott supported as an artist in Paris beginning in 1873 -- at the same time Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, and other women artists were making their mark in the Impressionist movement. Both characters, like real women artists in this milieu, are essentially faced with a choice between their art and domesticity -- marriage and motherhood. Using the novella, originally written in 1879 but first published in 1978, as a framework, this paper will explore how the lives of the real women artists of the period, particularly the Morisot sisters, aligned with Alcott's depiction. Because she based the story on May and herself, Alcott abandoned it when her sister died a month after giving birth to her only child, a daughter, named after Louisa. The paper will examine the question of whether the ending that one scholar believes Alcott intended is plausible in the context of the lives of real women artists in late 19th-century Paris.
The implementation and/or de-emphasis of dress codes in the workplace communicates various attributes about a firm's corporate culture and organizational philosophies. The use of codes can positively or negatively influence the operations and image of a firm. Codes can be formal, (outlined and enforced by an employee code of conduct) or informal (those that are not written but "understood." A large component of a code's success rests with a firm's corporate culture and its management.   In demonstrating the significance of dress codes, this paper will analyze management's decision-making process and its impact upon the business. The initial step in investigating dress codes is the determination of management's motivating factors and the procedures necessary to effectively implement a code. The next step is to analyze the code and its influence on the organization. This part of the analysis includes determining the effectiveness of the code in accomplishing the organization's goals and objectives. Finally, this paper will assess the importance of dress codes in various industries and careers and what they communicate to fellow employees and external entities.

Enago Academy

How To Write An Effective Research Abstract

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What is an Abstract?

When you have written a research pape r, a thesis, or a dissertation, it is common practice to provide a summary of the work contained in the document. Research supervisors will often recommend that you wait until you have finished the document before writing the abstract to ensure that it accurately represents what the work contains. This is good advice, because the abstract isn’t written for you to remind yourself of what you have done. It is written for a specific purpose and for specific audiences. An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that covers the main points of a piece of writing.

What is the Purpose of an Abstract?

Since academic research documents can run from 2000-word journal articles up to dissertations of tens of thousands of words, it is helpful to provide a brief summary of what the work contains, to avoid the frustration of reading the document in full only to realize that it doesn’t meet your needs as a fellow researcher. By reading the abstract at the beginning, assuming it is well written, you are given enough information to decide whether or not to invest time in reading the work in full. Broadly, the two main reasons for writing an abstract are:

The Audiences for an Abstract

Database searches , even targeted ones, can produce hundreds of results. Research students then face the ominous task of slogging through that list to identify articles and papers that are relevant to their specific research topic. Abstracts make that process more manageable by succinctly summarizing the paper so that the researcher can make a decision in minutes rather than hours.

Since abstracts are sorted and categorized into indexes to facilitate searching in larger academic databases, librarians are greatly appreciative of well-written abstracts. Correct use of search keywords is important here but of greater value is an accurate reflection of what your article or paper is about.

If you choose to submit your research to a local or national conference, your abstract will be requested as part of your application packet.

Key Components of an Effective Abstract

Types & Examples of Abstracts

Descriptive Abstract : Usually a short summary of a 100 words or less without any conclusions

“It is an important and difficult job to write an eye catching abstract. A large percentage of the manuscripts that are submitted to academic journals are rejected because their abstracts are poorly written. This paper provides a new and step by step approach for writing a good structured abstract.”

Informative Abstract:  Also called as a structured abstract

“Research reported by Daly, Miller, and their colleagues suggests that writing apprehension is related to a number of factors we do not yet fully understand. This study suggests that included among those factors should be the belief that writing ability is a gift. Giftedness, as it is referred to in the study, is roughly equivalent to the Romantic notion of original genius. Results from a survey of 247 postsecondary students enrolled in introductory writing courses at two institutions indicate that higher levels of belief in giftedness are correlated with higher levels of writing apprehension, lower self-assessments of writing ability, lower levels of confidence in achieving proficiency in certain writing activities and genres, and lower self-assessments of prior experience with writing instructors. Significant differences in levels of belief in giftedness were also found among students who differed in their perceptions of the most important purpose for writing, with students who identified “to express your own feelings about something” as the most important purpose for writing having the highest mean level of belief in giftedness. Although the validity of the notion that writing ability is a special gift is not directly addressed, the results suggest that belief in giftedness may have deleterious effects on student writers.”

Since your abstract will be the key to finding the complete work, take the extra time to double check it before submission . Better still, have someone who knows nothing about your research take a look at it – that way you can be sure you have hit the appropriate level of assuming no previous knowledge.

How to Write a Research Paper Abstract: Guide With Examples

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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

A research paper is more than a summary of a topic with credible sources, it is an expanded essay that presents a writer’s interpretation and evaluation or argument. The purpose of writing this paper is to analyze a perspective or argue a point thus demonstrating your knowledge, writing and vocabulary skills, and ability to do a great research on a given topic.

example how to write abstract for research paper

What is an Abstract?

In order to write one, you have to know what abstracts are exactly. Well, an abstract is defined as a concise summary of a larger project; it describes the content and scope of the project while identifying objective, methodology, findings, and conclusion.

The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the major aspects of a argumentative essay topics  or paper, but it is important to bear in mind they are descriptions of your project, not the topic in general.

Basically, you use abstract to describe what specifically you are doing, not the topic your project is based upon. For example, if your research paper is about the bribe, the abstract is about survey or investigation you carry out about the prevalence of bribe, how people are likely to offer it to someone, do people take bribe etc. In this case, the abstract is not about the bribe itself, its definition, why people do it, and other related things. If you don` know, what the research work should look like – look at the example of a research paper .

example how to write abstract for research paper

Types of Abstracts

Elements the Abstract has to Contain

Even though there are different types of abstracts, one thing is in common for all of them – they contain the same elements i.e. four types of information presented to the reader. Before you learn how to write an abstract for a research paper, make sure your abstract should comprise of the following:

Objective or the main rationale of the project introduces readers with the research you carried out. This section accounts for the first few sentences of the abstract and announces the problem you set out to solve or the issue you have explored. The objective can also explain a writer’s motivation for the project.

Once the objective is described, it’s time to move to the next section – methods. Here, a writer explains how he/she decided to solve a problem or explore some issue i.e. methods or steps they used to get the answers. Of course, your approach or methods depend on the topic, your field of expertise, subject etc. For example:

In other words, regardless of the field or subject, the methods section serves to identify any process you used to reach the results and conclusions.

This section is self-explanatory; your goal is to list the outcomes or results of the research. If the research isn’t complete yet, you can include preliminary results or a theory about the potential outcome.

Just like in every other work, the conclusion is a sentence or two wherein you summarize everything you’ve written above. In the abstract, a writer concludes or summarizes the results. When writing the conclusion, think of the question “what do these results mean”, and try to answer it in this section.

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NOTE: More extensive research papers can also include a brief introduction before objective section. The introduction features one-two sentences that act as a basis or foundation for the objective. A vast majority of abstracts simply skip this section.

The Abstract Should not Contain

A common mistake regarding abstracts is writing them the same way you would write the rest of a research paper. Besides some elements that your abstract has to contain, there are some things you should avoid. They are:

Writing the Abstract

Now that you know what the abstract is, elements it should contain and what to avoid, you are ready to start writing. The first thing to bear in mind is that your abstract doesn’t need a certain “flow”. Keep in mind that abstract should be precise and concise, you don’t need to worry about making it seem bigger. Ideally, you should focus on introducing facts and making sure a reader will get the clear picture of the topic presented through your research paper. Follow these steps to create a strong, high-quality abstract.

Start writing the abstract only when you complete the research paper. By the time you finish the essay writing process, you will know what to use in abstract to perfectly describe your work. Choosing to write an abstract first is highly impractical, takes ages, and it doesn’t represent the research paper adequately.

For your objective and conclusion sections, you can use the most important information from introduction and conclusion section of the research paper. Rather than wasting your time on trying to figure out what to include, just use the important premises and summarize them into one-two sentences in the abstract.

While researching or carrying out surveys for your paper, write down everything you do. Use these notes to create methods sections for the abstract. This particular section just has to inform a reader about the process you implemented to find the answers from the objective. No need to introduce unnecessary information.

Make sure the abstract answers these questions:

1) How was the research conducted? 2) How did I get my answers? 3) What answers did I get? 4) What is the purpose of this research? 5) What do these results mean?

When the abstract is complete, read everything you have written from top to bottom. Then, eliminate all extra information in order to keep it as concise as possible.

Read the abstract thoroughly again. Make sure there is the consistency of information presented in the abstract and in the research paper. Basically, information included in both abstract and research paper shouldn’t be different. After all, the abstract is a summary or a short description of the research paper itself. This is why you shouldn’t introduce new details into abstract as well.

Once you ensure the abstract contains only relevant information and describes the research paper concisely, read it again. This time, you should look for grammar and spelling mistakes, punctuation, sentence structures, and tense consistency. Never submit the abstract (and research paper or any other type of work) without proofreading and editing first.

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Bottom Line

The research paper is a common assignment in college education, and beyond. Writing these papers usually involves creating an abstract, a brief summary or description of the subject or argument you discussed throughout the paper. Abstracts are a major source of concern for many students, but they are incredibly easy to write when you’re familiar with the steps. As seen throughout this post, the ideal way to write an abstract is to keep it concise without pumping up word count with unnecessary information. If you don`t know what about you can write – look at different research paper topics ! Now you’re ready to start writing the abstracts for research papers, good luck. Don’t forget to see another guide about abstract research paper !

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