An abstract is a summary of an academic paper. Still, it causes much trouble for students who don’t understand what a good abstract should contain and how to squeeze all pertinent information into a short passage. Let’s go over the characteristics of a good abstract one by one.
What Should An Abstract Look Like?
Usually, an abstract takes on a form of a single paragraph somewhere between 150 and 500 words long. The volume of the passage depends on the amount of data provided by the research. The first and second person accounts are not preferable, while third-person writing is considered the most appropriate.
However, exceptions are possible. Some instructors and scientific journals will prefer the abstracts to be formatted as a series of sections separated by subheaders. In some cases, first-person account is also allowed. You should consult your instructor to find out the preferred format and style for the abstract.
What Should An Abstract Include?
The primary objective of the abstract is to provide the reader with a quick overview of the work done and make them interested enough to read the whole paper. In scientific journals, abstracts allow readers filter the articles and only read those that are relevant to their research field.
Your abstract should be a condensed version of the research paper aimed at selling it to the reader. Therefore, it should include these essential elements:
- The scope and background of the problem.
- The materials, methods, and techniques used.
- The detailed results or findings of the research.
- The conclusions and recommendations.
To make writing an abstract easier, try copying the main points of your research and shortening them until you get only one or two sentences for each of these four sections. Write and edit them separately until you are satisfied with the results. Then copy them into a single paragraph and see how well the parts fit together. At this point, you can add transitions to make the writing flow seamlessly.
Writing a perfect abstract requires you to find the balance between a detailed account of your research and succinct summary of its results. To achieve this, set away enough time for editing the abstract. Read it carefully and think which phrases can be eliminated or simplified. Get rid of repetitions and words that don’t hold any meaning. Instead, fill the abstract with details about the research.
We’ll provide several abstract examples of real research papers and cover their strengths and weaknesses so that you get a better idea on what can work for your research.
The relationship between academic performance and job relevance was examined. Fifty-one California University, San Marcos students, 27 males and 24 females, ages 18-56 were randomly selected and asked to complete an Academic Perception - Job Relevance scale. A significant difference in mean grade point average between students holding jobs related to their major and those not holding jobs related to their major was predicted. Results, however, revealed no significant difference between the mean grade point averages of these two groups nor did they imply any significant difference based on the number of hours worked. Age and grade point average, however, were found to be positively correlated.
This abstract is short, yet provides enough details about the problem, survey methods and results. As you see, the actual results differ from the researchers’ predictions. It’s a typical occurrence, and you should not be afraid to admit to similar discrepancies in your work. Remember, that your abstract should correctly reflect the results of your work without being misleading.
This thesis is devoted to the validation and the optimization of titanium-based alloys casting technology with subsequent internal defects elimination during hot isostatic pressing (HIP) to improve their physical and mechanical properties and to reduce manufacturing rejection. The methods for mathematical and physical modeling of removing internal defects in titanium alloy castings are developed to allow predicting subsurface macrodefects behavior during HIP. The optimal HIP mode for titanium castings treatment is established to guarantee finely-grained structure and high mechanical properties.
This is a part of an abstract for an Engineering thesis. There are enough technical details, though there is room for improvement. Ambiguous words like “optimal” and “high” should be avoided. The writer should have included more actual details on the proposed treatment mode. The use of passive voice might seem excessive for some readers, though it was commonly used for technical writing not so long ago.
This study investigated the comfort levels of business and non-business majors with gay people in various social settings. We administered an anonymous survey to 82 business majors and 103 non-business majors that inquired about how comfortable participants would feel in seven proposed scenarios based on a five-point scale. We performed an independent samples t-test for the two groups and found our results to be significant (t(183)=0.38, p=0.015). According to our results, business majors are less comfortable interacting with a gay person than students of other majors.
This abstract covers the goal and methods of the study, as well as the results. Note the first-person writing style and the lack of sentence variety. The word “significant” is redundant, as the results are presented by numbers.
The three sample abstract we’ve found have several things in common. They are all short, yet include the four essential ingredients of a good abstract. Still, all examples require extra editing efforts to eliminate ambiguous word choice. Remember this when you review the abstract for your research paper.
As you can see, for such a small volume of text, an abstract requires you to showcase your writing and editing talents. Be concise, honest and precise. And remember that your goal is to impress the readers enough to make them finish your paper in one sitting without misleading them. It is a daunting task, especially if you have never written an abstract before. It’s a good thing our talented writers are just a couple of mouse clicks always and always ready to write the research paper for you, along with its abstract.