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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper: Effective Guidelines

You'd probably want to watch the trailer before watching a movie. A research paper abstract is similar to that. If you're going to write properly structured research, you'll need a summary written adhering to the generally accepted requirements. It is common practice for professors to check your synopsis before reading the whole thing.

So, how to write an abstract for your research paper effectively? Check the comprehensive article below for the details!

The Abstract Definition

An abstract for a research project is a short synopsis of your paper designed to give the reader a generalized idea of your work, methods applied, and other essential aspects pertinent to the manuscript.

Also, when you publish your research, the readers will go through your abstract first. Based on the impression it leaves, they will decide whether your paper is worth viewing or not. So, how can one doubt that it is an important part of the whole paper?

Types of Research Abstracts

1. Highlighting

This one is a more concise version of an abstract that must draw the reader's attention from the first sentence. It should be worded in simple terms, convey the nature of the research, show the most significant findings, and sum up the contribution of the study. Also, you can present highlights in bullet points that give a brief overview of the most significant results.

2. Descriptive

This type describes someone else's paper and is limited to 100 words. It specifies the purpose of the study and its background information but does not provide any data regarding the methods, results, and conclusions.

3. Critical

This one is a smaller version of a critical review. It should provide all the necessary information about the study and judgment regarding the validity and breadth of the research. This type is longer (up to 500 words) but is not used as much as the rest.

4. Informative

What's notable about this abstract is that it's used for research papers and other documents that require strict structuring. An informative abstract does not provide critique or evaluation but is not confined to a simple description. It acts like a miniature version of the paper.

5. Indicative

Writers use this abstract type for less structured documents like essays or books. It consists of three parts: scope, arguments, and conclusions. The first part indicates the range of material and its starting premise. The second part states the central arguments and counterarguments in the same order they are presented in the document. And, the third part gives the closing argument and the author's implications.

Research Abstract Writing Guidelines

The main purpose of a research paper abstract is to familiarize the audience with the key findings and essential points of the entire study. The format might depend on the scientific area, but usually, its structure goes as follows.

  1. Purpose and motivation

    This first part announces the problem you want to solve or the issue you set out to investigate. It might also explain why the research is relevant and why it is significant for further studies.

    Here, you need to answer the following questions.

    • Why did you decide to do this project?
    • What significance does your study have? How can the reader benefit from it?
    • Why does one have to read your whole paper?

    Don't refer to the future in your purpose statement as the research is already completed, and you need to state that clearly. Use a present or past simple tense. Also, avoid writing in the first person, better use the formulation as in the example.

    Let's look at the examples from both scientific and humanity research papers.

    • Science
        This study investigates why it is significant for biomedical engineers to develop a clear set of principles about the genome project as well as continue educating the public about the project.
    • Humanities
        This study explored the pattern of video game usage and video game addiction among male college students and examined how video game addiction was related to expectations of college engagement, college grade point average (GPA), and on-campus drug and alcohol violations. This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  2. Problem

    In your research, you decided to address a certain problem. Tell the reader what the problem statement is. Explain the specificity of your topic.

    Here is a set of questions that will help you describe the research problem in a proper way.

    • What problem is in the focus of your research?
    • Does your study try to understand something general or specific?
    • What is the main argument of your paper?

    Here are the examples of how to write this part of an abstract in research works in different disciplines.

    • Science
        The human head is generally exposed to mobile phones operating at communication (GSM, CDMA, etc.) frequency bands.
    • Humanities
        Adolescents exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk of dating abuse than children who are growing up in healthy families. Yet, no evaluated dating abuse prevention programs have been designed specifically for this high-risk population.
  3. Methods and approach

    Once you finish articulating the importance of your work, you can move to the next part explaining how you conducted the research. But, make sure you include only essential information without going into too much detail.

    To make sure you are moving in the right direction include the answers to these questions.

    • What is your type of study? What methods do you use? What variables are there in the research? Is the work extensive?
    • What evidence do you want to use to support your argument or a claim?
    • What most important sources do you want to highlight?

    Now, let's have a look at the examples.

    • Science
        Within the genome project, we have analyzed 154 Mb in total, corresponding to approximately 5% of the human genome.
    • Humanities
        Based on a review of the literature on donation intention and theories of social distance, an online survey was distributed to potential donors based across the UK. Respondents were randomly divided into two conditions (large and small social distance) and asked to respond to one of two sets of fundraising material.

    Note that we also talk about completed actions, which is why it is necessary to write in the past tense. Keep in mind that the main aim here is to give the reader a quick insight into the overall methodology you used.

  4. Results (or Findings)

    Here, you provide the readers with the summarized outcome of your study. Pull out numbers and percentages and try to limit the usage of qualitative words like "large" or "quite." You can state whether the results obtained were expected or not and whether your research proved to be successful.

    Try to stick to the following questions.

    • What is the contribution of your study for the existing knowledge in the field?
    • How can your results be related to your hypothesis?
    • What can you tell about the outcomes? Why the experiment was predictable, or was it not?

    Here, you can use past simple, but not the present perfect tense. You may have a lot of research results, but you needn't mention all of them in your abstract. Try to note only the most essential outcomes that would let the reader understand the result of your investigation.

    Let's move on to the samples.

    • Science
        This measurement demonstrates a specific absorption rate of percent that is high at close distance; effectively, the temperature increase is also high as the distance reduces. Comparative analysis also shows that the FR4 substrate demonstrates higher SAR and temp raise compared to Rogers RO3006 and Rogers RO4003 substrates.
    • Humanities
        Analysis of the responses showed which study skills the students were most interested in trying, how successful they were in continuing to use the study skills, and which effects the students believed the study skills had after trying them. No significant change was found in how satisfied the students were with their overall study technique immediately after the initial module, but in the long term, 78% of the students believed the course had promoted their ability to analyze and adapt their study habits. Or you may put your results in a more condensed form, like in this sentence: Analysis of the potential cost of performance goals of the analyzed company showed that it would cost them two million staff hours.
  5. Conclusions and Implications

    In this last part of a research abstract, you ought to discuss the outcomes and their possible importance for the field or even the world. Avoid boasting and over-ambitious statements because they might become subject to critique.

    You can use these questions to simplify writing the conclusion.

    • How do your results affect the existing knowledge in the field? Do your outcomes contribute to the wider world?
    • What other areas of studies would yield a further solution to your problem?
    • How can the knowledge in this area be expanded? What kind of information should one include in it?
    • Science
        The intelligibility of intelligence thus provides a means of constraining long-term AI forecasting by suggesting relationships between several unknowns in AI development trajectories. Also, we can improve our estimates for intelligence intelligibility, e.g., by examining the evolution of the animals in terms of intelligence, and the track record of AI research to date.
    • Humanities
        The paper affirms that Dostoevsky has had a profound influence on the geography of the Notes from the Underground and that this literary topos has had an impact on the writers who continue to inhabit that space.

    Here, avoid using past tense when you talk about the investigation you've conducted. Also, if there are any essential limitations to your research, it is the conclusions where you need to mention them. They may relate to your sample size or methods, but in any case, you have to introduce the reader to these terms to enable them to estimate the credibility of your investigation. Along with that, notice that if you've come up with a solution to the practical problem which you stated, you need to write the recommendations for realization in your abstract. If you have any suggestions for further investigation, write about them briefly.

  6. General requirements

    Students frequently wonder what to do about those words that go over the limits of their space on an abstract in their research papers. Generally, the length should not exceed 300 words, and it's quite difficult to write only within those words (especially if you did it well and conducted profound research).

    We hope that our synopsis writing tips will help you dispel any doubts concerning the quality of your abstract.

    • Skim every chapter of your study thoroughly and select the most relevant aspects that must go into your abstract.
    • You won't get by with mere copy-pasting central sentences from the paper because you risk including too much or insufficient information. You need to sum it up in a different way.
    • Avoid phrases like "this paper" or "this article." It is better to use "research" or "study."
    • Use active voice whenever you can. Avoid ambiguity and incomplete sentences.
    • Take a look at good examples of abstracts. There should be research papers in the library for you to scrutinize. Alternatively, you can ask your professor for a few samples with abstracts.
    • Revise your abstract to check the word count, see if there is redundant data, and make sure you have included core information.

    When your finalized draft is ready, ask yourself:

    • Is this abstract clear, concise, and coherent?
    • Does it cover every major element of my paper?
    • Does it summarize the material without adding any new information?

    If all the answers are "yes," you are on the right track. But, if you still find it difficult or doubt your draft, you can hire our professional writer or editor to ensure the best outcome.

Research Paper Abstract Example

Examples are never enough. So, we suggest you return to sample abstract parts mentioned in the chapter above and then look at the research abstract sample below to get a better idea of what an abstract should look like. However, note that we highlighted its main parts for educational purposes. You should write your abstract in one or several simple paragraphs.

Research Topic:
"Examination of vegetation change after soil erosion."
Identify the early stages of ecological succession after soil disturbance.
  • identify the ground vegetation species composition at the early stages of succession;
  • determine the phytocoenosis change direction over 3 years;
  • project further development of the phytocoenosis under study.

: observation and random area sampling.

The study examines the vegetation change after soil erosion that causes ecosystem shifts. The research revealed that pioneer species started to appear on the disturbed soil. Ten sample areas were studies, and their major characteristics are provided in this paper (species composition, abundance, etc.).

The result is given in the form of tables and makes it possible to identify the vegetation species composition at the early stages of succession and predict the further development of the phytocoenosis under study.

Rules to Follow When Writing an Abstract in Research Papers

1.Create a brief outline

The content of a research abstract depends on the type of paper and the discipline. For instance, if you make the research paper in the humanities that has thematic chapters that build up the main thesis, you can apply the technique of reverse outlining. What you will need to do is list keywords for each of the chapters to write several sentences that would present the central idea of a certain part of an abstract. This will help develop the framework's structure. Then, check the sentences with keywords and try to connect them. If everything is done right, the argument will develop smoothly and logically.

Generally, the abstract provides a brief summary of the whole paper, and you don't have to write about something unmentioned in the main text of your paper. Make sure it provides a clear brief synopsis of the thesis statement you are to convey.

2.Write your abstract only after ending up your project

A research abstract is the very first part of your manuscript, which goes right after the title. Still, it doesn't introduce the topic of your study. It rather summarizes the whole paper, so it is logical to write this part of the paper last. It will help make sure the abstract is consistent with the outcomes in your work.

3. Make your text ordered

To make the text easier to perceive, organize both questions and answers in an ordinary way. Ideally, try to stick to the common format of "introduction-main body-conclusion," even if your parts are not that neatly divided as with essays.

4.Make an abstract from scratch

Keep in mind that the reader will read your abstract as a separate part of the entire work. That means that you should write it separately and avoid copying or pasting the quotes you've used in the body of the paper in the abstract. Also, try not to paraphrase sentences from your paper. The secret of a successful abstract is using new vocabulary and phrases. That would make your beginning page exciting and not wordy.

5. Do not overdo it with details

You remember about the length of your abstract, right? With this in mind, keep a balance between mentioning the terms you are going to use in your manuscript and not explaining them in the research abstract itself. You need to be specific in your study but present a relatively wide overview of your research.

Bottom Line

You should not slack off when writing your abstract if you wish to get an attention-drawing research synopsis. But, it might happen that your brain just refuses to work because of fatigue or anxiety over the deadlines. Apart from writing a research paper, you will also need to prepare a presentation for your viewers to defend the work. And there is not even a guarantee that your study will be appreciated for effort and time you have spent. So why have all-nighters of writing abstract and other parts of your paper when there are people ready to provide a top-notch result at any time?

Consider getting your abstract or the complete research paper writing from our service. We will eagerly provide our helping hand with your paper. To make sure our quality is top, you can leave your email address and specify the topic of your choosing. We will write a sample of a part of the paper and send it to your email. This way, you can decide on whether to get a full version from us. You just need to get our sample to make sure there is not an easier and more convenient option than using our writing service!

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