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Thursday Sep 20, 2018

Guide on Writing an Abstract for a Research Paper

You probably watch the trailer before watching the movie. A research abstract is something like that but for your paper. If you want to write a properly structured research paper, you need an abstract that is written according to the generally accepted requirements.

It is common practice for professors to check your abstract before reading the whole thing. So, how to write an abstract for a research paper so that it is catchy and encourages your target audience? Check the article below for the details!

The Abstract Definition

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

When you tackle that challenge and publish your research, the audience will go for your abstract first. Based on the impression it leaves, they will decide whether your paper is worth reading or not.

Types of Abstracts

Most of the abstracts are informative. However, there are three other types that you should be aware of:

  • Highlight.
    It 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, highlights can be presented in bullet points that a brief overview of the main results.
  • Descriptive.
    This type usually describes someone else's paper and is limited to 100 words. It specifies the purpose of the study, its background information, but does not provide any data regarding the methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Critical.
    This is a smaller version of a critical review. It should provide all the necessary information about the study and judgment regarding the validity and comprehensiveness of the research. This type is more extended (up to 500 words), but is not used as often as other abstracts.
  • Informative.
    It is 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.
  • Indicative.
    This abstract type is used 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,

Abstract Writing Guidelines

The overriding purpose of an abstract in a research paper is to inform the audience about 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:

  • Purpose and motivation.
    This first part announces the problem you want to solve or the issue you set out to investigate. It also might explain why the research is important and why it is significant for further studies.
  • Methods and approach.
    Once you are done with articulating the importance of your work, you can move to the next element - explaining how exactly you conducted the research. But, be sure to include only the most important information without going into too much detail.
  • 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 were expected or not and whether your research proved to be successful.
  • Conclusions and Implications
    In this last part of a research paper abstract, you should discuss the results and their possible significance for the field or even the world. Avoid boasting and over-ambitious statements because such might become subject to critique.

The length of your abstract should not exceed 300 words, but, in some instances, it is quite difficult to write within this limit (especially if you did a great job and conducted profound research).

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

  • Write the abstract after you complete and reread your research paper.
  • Thoroughly "scan" every section of your study and select and shrink the most relevant aspects that must go into your abstract.
  • You won't get by with copy-pasting key 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 unfinished sentences.
  • Take a look at good examples of abstracts. There should be research papers in the library. Alternatively, you can ask your teacher or professor for a couple of samples.
  • Always revise to check the word count, see if there is no redundant data, and make sure you have included core information.
  • When your finalized draft is ready, ask yourself:
    • Is this abstract clear, succinct and coherent?
    • Does it cover every core 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.
  • In case you still find it difficult or doubt your draft, you can hire a professional writer or editor to ensure the best outcome.
  • Guide on Writing an Abstract for a Research Paper

Research Paper Abstract Example

We suggest you look at the sample below to get a better idea. However, it should be noted 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."

The purpose: identify the early stages of ecological succession after soil disturbance.

The objectives:

  • 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.

The methods: 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.

You should not slack off when writing your abstract if you want to get a good attention-drawing section. But, it happens that your brain just refuses to work properly because of fatigue or anxiety over the looming deadlines. Should this happen, consider getting your abstract or the whole research paper from our service. Feel free to contact us at any time!

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