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How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper: Writing Guide & Examples

abstract for a research paper
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An abstract is a brief summary of a research paper that is usually between 150 and 250 words in length. The purpose of the abstract is to provide a concise overview of the research paper's main questions, scope, methodology, findings, and conclusions. The abstract is usually located at the beginning of the paper, after the title page and before the main body of the text. It serves as a preview, and can be useful for readers who want to quickly determine whether the paper is relevant to their interests.

This guide describes all the key parts of this crucial segment and demonstrates how to write an abstract for a research paper. Research abstract examples and tips are also offered to help you create this section effectively.

What Is an Abstract in a Research Paper?

First, let’s cover what is an abstract in research.

A research paper abstract is a synopsis of your full study. Specifically, writing an abstract involves extracting the main aspects of your work in a given order. These components include your study purpose and study questions, design, main findings, interpretation, and conclusion. Based on this summary, readers will decide whether to look at the rest of your project. Hence, you must include sufficient key information as this makes the abstract of a research paper useful to your audience or professor.

To determine if you have included adequate data, imagine yourself as a researcher conducting an investigation. Consider an abstract as the only section, and think about how much information you provided. Are you satisfied with it? Does it describe your study adequately? Revise your writing accordingly.

But don’t be confused. An abstract is a self-contained text, not a part of a research paper introduction. Remember that scientific paper abstracts must highlight your manuscript’s selling point and lure a reader to go through it. 

At first, it may sound difficult. But this guide will reveal every essential writing step. Alternatively, you can also contact StudyCrumb and pay to write research paper to avoid any further individual work.

What Is the Purpose of an Abstract?

The aforementioned definition demonstrates why abstract writing is important. Nevertheless, it is also necessary to understand the purpose of an abstract in a research paper. Well-written abstracts serve multiple objectives. For example, they communicate your key findings and allow readers to make an informed decision about how relevant your article is based on their interests and whether they should consider it. Reading an abstract of a scientific paper also prepares reviewers to grasp the key points and follow your detailed points and analyses.

Another purpose of an abstract is for classification. Online libraries or journal databases, and search engines use abstracts for indexing published works. This allows users to retrieve what they are looking for quickly rather than reading full texts. Thus, a good abstract must include several key terms that potential readers would use for searching, as this makes discovering your work easy.

How Long Is an Abstract?

An abstract is perhaps the only section of your manuscript that is limited regarding how many words you can use. In general, it is usually limited to 150 and 300 words. However, for research paper abstract, most guidelines stick to the range of 200 and 250 words both for simple or small manuscripts and specific types of papers such as theses or dissertations. This restriction should not be exceeded no matter what. However, how long your abstract can be is influenced by the assignment instructions. Thus, it is essential to comply with any guidelines about the abstract length.

What Makes a Good Abstract for a Research Paper?

While the length aspect is vital, it is also essential to write a good abstract. This entails providing an honest and complete synopsis of your work through a coherent flow of ideas. An abstract in a paper should also be self-contained without the need for readers to peruse other parts for further information. Therefore, knowing how to write an effective abstract for a research paper can make a difference. Here are elements that make a good abstract for a research paper:

  1. Use one finely written, concise, and coherent paragraph that stands individually as an information unit.
  2. Add all the basic academic features of your manuscript, including background, objective, focus, method, findings/results, and conclusion.
  3. Do not write about information not covered in your document.
  4. Ensure the section is understandable to a wide audience and your subject-specific readers.
  5. Focus on issues instead of people.
  6. Develop it with the language of your main paper in a simple format for general readers.
  7. Put it just after your title page.

When to Write an Abstract?

Lengthy texts such as scholarly manuscripts usually require students to write an abstract section. You might also need to write an abstract for a scientific paper when:

  • Submitting reports to journals for publication or peer review.
  • Working on a book chapter proposal.
  • Applying for research grants.
  • Completing conference paper proposals.
  • Composing book proposals.
  • Writing theses or dissertations.

For undergraduates, you may be required to include an abstract in a research paper for others who have not read your main manuscript. Regardless of the type of work you are dealing with, it is necessary to draft your abstract after completing writing, as this enhances accuracy and conformity with other segments of a report.

What to Include in an Abstract of a Research Paper?

Another crucial aspect that you must consider is the structure of an abstract. Good abstracts are well-organized, which makes them more informative. Scientific guidelines emphasize the IMRad format as a standard way of unifying this section. The parts of an abstract in a research paper based on this system consist of: 

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion.

Do not forget to balance all your sections properly regarding methods included under each heading. Using this setup allows you to write a helpful, concise, and easy-to-understand abstract of a paper. Nonetheless, some  instructions may necessitate additional subheadings, particularly works such as clinical trials, observational studies, case studies, and meta-analyses. Hence, you should be attentive to your task requirements.


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Introduction

As the first section, an introduction reveals to readers what your work is about. Consequently, you should know how to start an abstract by writing a good beginning segment. Here, describe the scope, question/hypothesis, main objectives, and rationale for your study. In most cases, you can frame this part in 2-3 sentences. Each of them should describe a specific point to maximize word use. The introduction to an abstract part of a paper offers a background to your investigation, which should smoothly lead to an explanation of the methods that were used.

Be careful here because writing an abstract for a research paper containing a lengthy introduction takes up space for other important sections. This affects the quality of an abstract in a scientific paper. Therefore, ensure that you provide brief, specific, and relevant information that keeps readers interested. Look at this example of an abstract introduction:


Here are some more examples of how to begin your abstract. 

Methodology

Methodology in research is usually the second longest part of your abstract paragraph. The focus here is on providing adequate information about what you did and how. Specifically, give essential facts about your study design, setting, sample, data collection and analysis instruments, measures, and parameters.

The methodology part is vital as you write the abstract section of a research paper because it helps in verifying your manuscript’s credibility. An editor will ignore an abstract missing a methods section or that does not have a clear explanation. Therefore, practice caution and professionalism when writing this unit by including enough details and conveying the maximum quantity of information with few words. If you are unsure of how to organize this segment, consider this example of a good abstract methodology:

Results

This section is about what you found after conducting your research. It is an indispensable and longest part of a research abstract because anyone reading intends to gain insights into your study findings or which data your investigation uncovered. Therefore, avoid compromising its quality by ensuring that you include as much factual information about your results as the word count allows.

Drafting the results of an abstract for research papers is not easy. However, the details you should express here include the number of participants, outcomes of your analysis, and actual data such as numbers or mean, etc. Remember to be descriptive and prioritize fresh and substantiated findings contradicting previous studies. Also, indicate any limitations regarding your results’ reliability and accuracy. Look at this sample abstract results:

Conclusion

This is a part of the abstract structure where you divulge what readers can take home from your work or what your results mean based on how you interpreted the issue. Use a few but precise sentences to highlight the findings relating to what your study was about. You should also mention any unexpected or important outcomes. Additionally, you can offer a personal judgment regarding the practical or theoretical implications of your results or how significant they are for the study field as a whole.

While conclusions are very short parts of an abstract, they are the most impactful on average audiences since readers usually believe authors and consider their views reliable. For this reason, ensure that you are honest when writing an abstract in research by limiting your claims to what your data exposes. Here is an example of a scientific abstract conclusion:

Check our guide on creating a concluding section if you want to know more information on how to write a conclusion for a research paper.

Keywords

An abstract for research paper must also contain a range of keywords. These are important words or phrases that act as search terms for finding your work quickly. Therefore, in addition to knowing how to write an abstract for a research paper and what to write in an abstract, you should understand how to include useful keywords that capture essential aspects of your manuscript. Think about how you can find your work online. Which words or a combination of them will be typed in a search box? You should use those terms. Acronyms such as OCD, meaning obsessive-compulsive disorder, may also be included. While you are not limited regarding the number of keywords to be used, it is recommended to include 3-5 keywords.

Keep in mind that the research abstract format for keywords is a separate line beginning with an indention, like a paragraph below your abstract. Indicate it by italicizing the word Keywords followed by a colon and space look like this:

Do not italicize your terms.

How to Write a Research Paper Abstract Step-By-Step

Shrinking a manuscript that you have prepared for several days, weeks, or months into a 300-word paragraph can be challenging when preparing the abstract. However, you can follow specific tricks on how to write an abstract for a paper to address the difficulty. Before you begin, you must consider the instructions provided carefully concerning aspects such as spacing, fonts, word limit, and subheadings. In this section, you will learn how to write a good abstract for a research paper step by step.

1. Explain Your Research Purpose

Students usually start an abstract for a research paper by identifying the study's purpose. Here is where you consider the reasons for conducting your research. For example, if your study problem is about technology and employment, so what? Why should readers care about your topic? In this part of the abstract, you can describe what was solved or why you feel your topic is relevant. Use this section to inform readers about your key argument, as it helps in generating a good abstract for a research paper. Remember to be descriptive by explaining the difficulties of your topic or gaps in knowledge you will address and how your investigation will affect the issue. Consider triggers such as why you conducted your research, how you performed it, what you found, the significance of your study and its results, and why others should read your paper.

2. Define a Research Problem

The next step towards writing a good abstract involves explaining the central issue or problem statement behind your investigation or that your paper addresses. Remember, you first identified your purpose, so build on that by focusing on one key problem. Abstracts for scientific papers usually include this section to demonstrate the scope of a manuscript. Avoid using too much jargon here by making it easy for your readers to see your main message. If your abstract does not include the primary question, then you do not understand why you are conducting your study. Remember that when writing a research abstract, your purpose and problem form the backbone of the work. Thus, do not leave this step until you have one concise study problem.

3. Introduce Your Research Approach

After identifying your research problem, you now need to explain how you addressed it in this part of an academic abstract. In other words, how did you conduct your study following your key problem? When writing an abstract for a paper, let your audience know what you did exactly to get to the findings. Abstract in research paper may include approaches such as experimentation, case study, document analysis, or simulation. You must also highlight the extent of a manuscript, such as how many documents were analyzed and which variables were used. While this section of an abstract for a paper may require a long sentence, ensure that anyone can read it without needing to pause in the middle.

4. Discuss Results

After clarifying your approach, your study abstract must disclose what was found. What is the solution to your research problem? Did you confirm your hypothesis? Remember to be direct, detailed, and clear. Specifically, writing a scientific abstract requires that you describe your results in exact numbers or percentages. This allows you to create an abstract of research paper that cannot be misinterpreted easily. Also, avoid vague words such as “significant”, “large”, “very”, or “small.” In this section, an abstract in a research paper should not include exaggerations or create expectations that your manuscript cannot fulfill. Rather, the focus should be on your most important findings to engage readers. However, do not attempt to fit all your results in this part.

5. Wrap Up Your Scientific Paper Abstract

You should also conclude an abstract after completing the aforementioned steps. This enables you to finish up a research paper abstract and end it. Here, describe what your results mean and why your overall work is important. Mention what the answer to your research problem implies and identify if it is specific or general. For example, are your results generalizable to a wider population or selected groups? When creating an abstract, describe why your readers should care about your results rather than re-stating the findings. What can people do with your study? As stated previously, an abstract is a brief summary in the beginning of a research paper or any other scientific work. Read our guide on how to write an abstract for a research paper and how to structure it for more explanation.

Research Paper Abstract Examples

As you can see, constructing an abstract is not difficult if you follow the above-mentioned steps. You can now compose your own one easily. Nonetheless, if you are still confused or unsure whether you are on the right path, feel free to look at different examples of an abstract for a research paper. You can also consider these three examples of abstracts in research papers and use one of them as a draft for your work.

Need a research proposal example? You will find it in one more blog on our platform.

Research paper abstract example 1


Abstract page example 2


Example of an abstract for a research paper 3

Research Paper Abstract Format

Another important consideration is complying with the specified abstract writing format to avoid any confusion on how this section should be completed. Your layout depends on the citation style being used. Specifically, the main styles, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago, have individual rules regarding how to format an abstract in a research paper. However, to make it simple, an abstract template is usually provided to help you with the organization. In general, observe and stick to your paper’s requirements.

Extra Tips for Writing an Abstract

Writing an abstract for a research paper should not be a complex process. You already have a good idea about how to make an abstract after reading the previous sections. Remember that writing this segment is an essential part of your work because it prefaces the entire manuscript. Still, it is usually the last segment of your project to be written, which means that you should summarize your research easily. However, this can be a daunting undertaking for some students. Below are additional abstract writing tips and guidelines to help you.

Draw Inspiration From Research Paper Abstracts Examples

Even if you follow this article’s guidelines, without writing practice, it can be difficult to create good abstracts. Therefore, if you are still struggling to write, you can draw inspiration from sample abstracts. These can be found in peer-reviewed articles or course books in your school library or from online databases. Focus on samples from your study field e.g., science abstracts examples if you are into the sciences or those for social sciences if it is your field. Seek assistance from your professor to ensure that you consider a good abstract paper example. Another option is reading how to write an abstract example segment, as this offers you a quick refresher on composing abstracts.

Prepare an Abstract Outline

It is also essential to write a research abstract outline if you have not done so already. Creating an outline will help you write your actual abstract paper efficiently. Make sure to place your key argument at the top before reading each subheading of your manuscript as a starting point. Write one-sentence summaries of your main sections as you read in the order that they appear in your work. Also, do not forget to summarize your conclusion. What goes in an abstract, however, is limited. For example, the literature review cannot be included. Rather, you can state in a sentence how your work fits into the wider academic discourse.

Write Abstract From the Ground Up

While your abstract is a synopsis, you should write it from scratch and as a completely different part of your manuscript. Copying and pasting quotes or paraphrasing sentences should be avoided. Use new phrases and vocabulary instead when writing this section to keep it engaging and free of redundant words or sentences. Read how to write abstract for research paper for more clarification about what you should include.

Make Your Research Abstract Concise

Ensure that your research paper abstract is clear, concise, and coherent. It should be no more than 200-250 words. If it is longer, cut it down where necessary. Since readers just want to get the overall view of your claim, you can exclude unimportant information and construct brief sentences. This is how to write a paper abstract:

  • Include essential information found in the paper only
  • No exaggerations or inclusion of new ideas
  • No use of abbreviations that are found only in the body because the abstract should be self-contained
  • No dwelling on previous studies since this is a synopsis of your report.

Mistakes to Avoid When You Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

Even if you know how to write research abstract, check it several times to ensure that what you included agrees with your manuscript content completely. Avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Research paper abstracts should not include catchy phrases or quotes focused on grabbing your readers’ attention.
  2. Do not use direct acronyms because they require further explanation to help readers understand.
  3. Citing other studies is not needed.
  4. Do not use confusing/unnecessary terms or obscure jargon, as the general audience may not understand them.
  5. A scientific paper abstract should not be too specific. Rather, consider a wider overview of your paper.
  6. Do not include long quotations, figures, or tables. They take up precious space, and your audience does not need them.

Bottom Line on How to Write a Research Abstract

This guide discussed extensively how to write the abstract of a research paper. Reaching this section means that you now understand what is an abstract in writing. The article also provided several abstract writing examples to help you grasp the described ideas. It is your turn now to develop a nice abstract by applying what you have learned. Do not fret if you are still confused or cannot recall some points. You can just re-read a section to fully understand all concepts.

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Article posted on:Feb 6, 2023
Article updated on:May 15, 2023

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