How to write the best research paper abstract

A research paper abstract is defined as a precise summary of a research article. It is better to start writing an abstract at the end of writing the paper.  The abstract is usually between 150 to 250 words long and if it is well-written it may serve many purposes:

  1. It gives readers the essence of the paper or article fast and lets them decide if to read the whole paper or not.
  2. An abstract helps the reader to follow the arguments, definitions and information in the whole paper.
  3. Later on, it helps the reader to recall the key points in the paper.

Four things that are required in the research paper abstract:

  1. The objectives and problems of the research
  2. The methods
  3. The arguments (main results)
  4. The conclusion

It is worth to note that search engines and databases in bibliography use the title as well as the abstract to mark main keys to index the published paper.  In order for other researchers to find your article or paper easily, you need to include crucial information in your title and abstract.

Your professor is likely to give you particular guidelines on how to organize and what to put in your abstract when doing a course paper.

In a thesis, you may put the abstract on a different page, after the opening page, but before the list of contents.

Example of abstract in a research paper

United Kingdom environmental companies are currently facing a critical funding gap.  It is approved that some representatives of personal victims are more impressive than abstract theories for example, climate change while sketching out fundraising campaigns.  This project aims to decide how these representatives can be approached in a better way so that the donations can be on the increase.  To be specific, this investigates if the comprehended social spacing between the victims and the donors has a positive effect on the intention of donating. In this concept social spacing is outlined as how far people feel that they fit in one social group or another as far as climate change sufferers are concerned. Testing the hypothesis that shorter social spacing gets to a high intention of donation, a survey was done among positive donors in the UK. Those who responded were put into two groups (small and large social spacing) and told to react to either of the two collections of the campaign material. The results read that the bigger social spacing related with high donation response. This means that probable donors are likely to show a favorable reaction to fundraisers depicting sufferers that they interpret as socially space from themselves. Based on these facts, the social spacing concept should be considered when outlining environmental campaigns to raise funds.

When to Write an Abstract

An abstract is always included when writing a research paper, dissertation, thesis or presenting articles to academic publications.

The abstract should be the final thing to write in all cases.  It should have self-contained content, fully independent and not copied from your article.  It should be completely understandable to a reader who has not read the complete paper or relevant sources.

The simplest way to writing a good abstract is to copy the format of the bigger work – figure it out like a small version of your thesis, research paper or dissertation.

Aims of the research paper in an abstract

Define the goals for your research. What theoretical and practical issue does the research answer to or what are the research questions do you want to respond to?

You may incorporate some short context on the academic and social connection of your topic.  Do not give details of additional information.

Once you identify the issue, mention the objective of the research and use words like test, evaluate, investigate, or analyze to express what you plan to do.

This part can be done in the past simple or in the present tense but not in the future because the research is fully done already.

Research paper Methods in the abstract

Point out the research methods that were used to respond to your question. This is a straight forward explanation of whatever you did in a sentence or two.  It usually refers to a finished action.

Do not rate obstacles and validity at this point – the aim is not to disclose the methodology’s positives and negatives, but to provide a quick insight to the reader into the procedures and approach that you used.

Reporting Results

Here, you need to summarize the key results from the research.  This can be done in the past simple tense or in the present.

For example:  Our experiment has shown a positive connection between coffee intake and productivity. (wrong)

Our experiment shows a positive connection between coffee intake and productivity. (right)

Our experiment showed a positive connection between coffee intake and productivity. (right)

Since you may be unable to put every result here, try to put up the very important outcomes that will make the reader understand your summary.

Include the research paper Conclusion

Lastly, mention the major findings of your research:  what are the answers to the issues or questions?  Your reader should have a full understanding of the core matter that your research has argued or verified.  Write your conclusion in the present tense:

We finalized that coffee intake raised productivity. (wrong)

We finalize that coffee intake raises productivity. (right)

If there is a limitation to the research, state that in the abstract.  Be brief.  This gives the reader an accurate entry to your research.

If you intended to finish a practical issue, the summary might consist of suggestions and recommendations for future research.

Also ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Will your findings relate to else situations?
  • Did the outcome help according to the introduction?
  • Are your findings different or similar to other related researches?
  • Will your findings lead to hypothesis?

Keywords in the abstract

You may have to include some keywords that refer to the most crucial elements of your research in order to assist potential readers capture your paper when they do their own searches.  Note that there are publication manuals that have formatting requirements for some keywords.

Additional Tips

Condensing a whole dissertation into a hundred can be a challenge, but an abstract is the first bit that a reader reads, so it must be done right.

Strategies to assist you start a good abstract:

Reverse Outline

Not every abstract contains the same concept.  In every chapter, outline keywords and write about 3 sentences that will conclude the core point in order to get the structure of the abstract.

Read other people’s abstracts

Reading other abstracts helps in setting up your structure, style and framework.

Write Concisely and clearly

Avoid jargon, and filler words.  An impressive abstract should be short and every sentence should definitely communicate a major point.

Focus on the research paper objective

You should focus on your research.  The reason for your abstract is to state your original findings of the research paper, therefore avoid talking about other peoples work even though you have addressed it in detail in the paper.

You may summarize with a sentence to show the background and relevance of your research though you do not have to mention exact publications.

Formatting Check

Exact formatting requirements and guidelines that are provided need to be checked. Adhere to the word count.

Abstract checklist

Check if you have done the following:

  1. abstract is after the front page, acknowledgements and before the   list of contents.
  2. the word count is right and one- page limit.
  3. finalized the very crucial results
  4. mentioned my major conclusions
  5. stated any crucial recommendations or limitations
  6. my abstract has been approved by anyone else without previous                  knowledge of the subject

Reference:  Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. The official source for APA Style.

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