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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

14 September 2019

When you are going to watch a movie or to read a book, most likely you will start by watching a movie trailer or reading the book’s description. An abstract research paper is similar because research consists of many pages and readers should first understand what you want to discuss.

Usually, professors read and evaluate abstracts before reading the whole paper. So how to make it interesting, following all the recommendations? Read our guidelines and you will never have to ask that question again!

Research Paper Abstract: Introduction

How to write a research abstract? At least once during college years, every student has asked this question. It is not surprising, considering how difficult and responsible this task is. You need to limit thousands of words into a small paragraph and to make the audience want to read the whole work!

Every section should be very brief and clear – a few sentences about the main parts of your work. If you don’t know how to use such a limited space properly or want to get more information, go on reading!

What is an abstract in a research paper?

So what is an abstract in a paper? As you have already understood from our brief introduction above (or already know the definition), the abstract is a synopsis of a research paper, created to familiarize the audience with main ideas of your work, used methodology and other important parts of the paper.

The abstract is an important part of any assignment because the audience always reads it first before deciding whether to read the whole research or not. That is why making a positive impression is so important and may greatly affect the future of your research!

In our article, you will find all the necessary information on writing an article and polishing it. Trust us, it is not a difficult task if you approach it with consideration and tranquility.

How to write an abstract for a paper?

If you are not sure what goes into an abstract and need a step-by-step guide, read the following tutorial or better print it out and always have it at hand.

1. Understand your motivation and goals

For example, your research deforestation in Amazonia. So why should anyone in the US care? Why your topic is important? Your abstract should begin with an explanation of why the readers must care about your research – why your field is important and how it can impact society? Here you should also write about the goal of your study: what you are willing to achieve?

If you are still confused, answering the following questions may help:

  • Why did you decide to complete this research?
  • Why is the topic important to your major or to a common reader?
  • Why should people read the research paper?

To sum it up, the first part of your abstract must contain the importance of the topic and the influence it may have on the field and society.

2. Explain the discussed problem

When you explain how the topic solves a particular problem, it is another way to indicate why your study is necessary. For example, even if deforestation is a huge issue, it will hardly be interesting if readers won’t see the problem that it causes.

The best way to make this section powerful is to combine it with a call-to-action. Here are the questions that you can address in the second part:

  • What subject are you willing to understand or what issue you are trying to resolve in your research?
  • What is the field of your research – is it general or are you planning to explain something specific?
  • What is the main argument of your research?

3. Methods and materials

By now you have already explained the importance of your research, your motives for studying a particular topic and a certain problem you are willing to solve. In the third part of your abstract, you need to explain how you advanced in solving the problem, i.e. how your research was conducted.

Here is when you tell whether you have conducted your own research or whether you have analyzed and reviewed the works of others. Did you use simulation or analytic models? Did you apply a case or a double-blind study? Here you show all the methods and instruments you have used for your research.

Here is what you should include in this part:

  • Methods and types of your study;
  • Evidence that supports your arguments;
  • A brief overview of the most relevant sources.

4. Summary of results

In this part of the abstract, you need to provide an overview of the results you have obtained. The biggest mistake of most of the students here is to use blurry qualitative terms (for example, ‘little’ or ‘much’). Instead, try to give quantitative results (including numbers and percentages).

Here are the questions that you need to answer:

  • What results did you get under particular circumstances?
  • Compare results to the hypothesis. Do you consider your research successful?
  • Where their unexpected results or were they quite predictable?

5. Conclusion

Finally, you will need to write about the significance of the study. Make sure that your conclusion is closely related to obtained results and not just covers the subject in general. Did you obtain unexpected results that will change the world? Will they help to stop deforestation? Or were the results quite modest?

Even if you think that your results can make a break-through in the industry, don’t boast about it. Most of the journals and researchers will examine the paper skeptically. In the final section you need to address the following questions:

  • How obtained the results influence my major or the world?
  • Can further studies be conducted?
  • What data is necessary to get additional knowledge in the field?

As you see, the abstract is not that difficult to write if you have worked thoroughly on the research. Once you finish your paper, just refer to the plan above and you will find it easy to complete the assignment!

Research paper abstract example tips

  • Revise your abstract

Even though your abstract is only a small piece of writing, it should still be revised and thoroughly checked. Make sure that it doesn’t contain spelling and grammar errors, and follows the required format.

  • Ask for opinion

Even if you are sure that your abstract is flawless, it is better to find someone, who will read it attentively and will give feedback. It can be a friend, a relative or any other person that you trust. It is better to find a person, who understands requirements and knows how research papers should look like.

You can even ask them to read a research paper and to make a list of its key features. In such a way you will see whether you have rendered the main idea properly. If you don’t want to disturb your friends or family members, you can contact our writers and editors. They will evaluate your work and will polish it if necessary.

We will review your abstract, polish it and will give valuable tips on the structure and formatting. If you have trouble not only with the abstract but with the research paper itself, we will help writing it!

Research abstract examples and types

There are different types of abstracts considering the information you are willing to render and how you are going to do it. They include:

1. Informative

Informative abstracts are used for papers with a clear structure. It doesn’t criticize or evaluate the research but gives a detailed description. Most of the abstracts are informative and look like a smaller version of the research paper.

2. Descriptive

This abstract type is limited to 100 words and aims to describe someone else’s research or any other paper. You should write about the goal of the study and provide background details without telling about the methodology, results, and conclusions of the research.

3. Critical

This abstract is a brief version of a critical review. It gives information on a particular study considering the reliability and quality of research. Usually, this abstract type can be up to 500 words long but it is quite rare compared to other types.

4. Highlighting

This type of abstract aims to grab and hold the attention of the reader from the first phrase. It must be written in a simple language, show the origin of your research, convey the findings and conclude how the research is able to contribute to the field.

In addition, you can convey this information using bullet points to provide a brief but clear overview of the obtained results.

5. Indicative

Usually, indicative abstracts are used for sources that lack a clear structure. For example, books or essays. Such abstract should contain three sections: scope, claims, and conclusion.

In the first part, you need to overview the material. In the second – provide the main arguments and claims the way they are presented in the source text. Finally, you need to present the final argument and the author’s findings or opinions.

Abstract for a research paper: several important tips

Now you are ready to write an abstract for your research paper. However, we would like to introduce you to a few more tips that can help you along the way:

  1. Work on the abstract only when you complete the research. Even though the abstract is placed at the beginning of the paper, it is impossible to write it until your research is finished. Only after completing the paper you will be able to provide necessary details and information;
  2. Organize the content properly. The best way to make your content clear and understandable is to stick to the format that you use in the research: introduction, main paragraphs, and conclusion. This will help readers to understand your work better;
  3. Your abstract should be unique. In most of the cases, people will read your abstract separately from the research, so you mustn’t copy and paste phrases and sentences from the paper in order to avoid plagiarism. Write it from scratch and use new vocabulary to make the text vivid and interesting;
  4. Avoid too many details. Even though your abstract should contain quantitative results and specific information, there is no need to include them in every sentence or to explain every term. Try to find a balance and then your abstract will be both readable and professional;
  5. Get familiar with a research paper example. This will boost your creativity and will help you to see what you can improve in the text.
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