Writing an abstract

In academic parlance, an abstract is a summary of a research paper or thesis. It concisely reports the aims, objectives, and outcomes of the research such that the audience knows what the research paper entails. Write your abstract at the end of the day once the research findings and conclusions are out. An abstract should have the following details:

  1. Your research aims and questions
  2. Have a description of your research methodology
  3. Provide a summary of significant arguments or findings
  4. Finally, provide your conclusion

The majority of research papers have an abstract with words ranging from 150 words to 300 words. Depending on the publishing institution, abstracts have word limitations; therefore, check before you begin to write. Ordinarily, an abstract stays on its page, right after acknowledgment and title page, and before the contents.

Outline your aims

Begin by briefly outlining the purpose of your study. Interrogate the aim of the research. Remember to use verbs such as evaluate, analyze, test, or investigate to describe clearly the research intended to achieve. Write the abstract in the past simple or present tense, but not in a future tense since the research is already finished.

Explain the methodology

After expounding the study aims, the next step is to describe the methods used to answer the research questions. Please describe what you did in your research in the simple past tense in not more than two sentences since it refers to finished events. Therefore, provide your audience with an insight into the overall procedures and approach employed in the study.

Give a summary of the findings

Provide your audience with the critical research findings in the past simple or present tense. For example, the research shows a strong relationship between productivity and coffee consumption. Depending on how complicated and how long the research is, it may not be practically possible to have all the research findings. Therefore, focus on significant research findings that will allow the audience to comprehend your conclusions.

Provide conclusion

At the tail end of your abstract, remember to provide the research's main conclusion, i.e., the answer to the research question. After reading your abstract, your audience should have an understanding of the significant point the research argued or proved. Write your conclusion in the present simple tense. Mention briefly significant limitations to your research, since it enables your audience to evaluate your research's reliability.

Guidelines for writing an abstract

It is a challenge to summarize the entire thesis into an abstract of 300 or fewer words. However, an abstract is the initial and possibly the only section that the audience will have a chance to read. Therefore you must get it right. The following strategies will help you in writing an abstract.

Reverse outline: Abstracts do not have similar content. Write the abstract using the reverse outline process.

Read other abstracts: This is the surest way of learning how to write an abstract.

Write concisely: A great abstract is short and impactful, so ensure that every word count.

Check to format: If your abstract is part of a thesis or journal writing, there are probably specific formatting requirements.

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