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How to write a good abstract?

Camila Diaz English Writing

At the moment of doing research, there is a crucial point in which researches struggle with this question: What information should I include in my abstract? In this article, you will learn how to write your abstract and what sections are the most important in this crucial element of your paper.

What is an abstract, and why do I need to write one?

Before writing an abstract, you need to be aware of the main implications of abstracts. First, an abstract is a narrowed summary of your research, which is an essential component of your academic assignment. Why is it so important? First, because it will be an overview of your complete study; that means that the abstract is going to be your “presentation letter” about the paper. Secondly, your abstract will tell the readers whether to read your text or not. What is more, your abstract can be decisive when selection papers for a conference or seminar.

Another critical point is that there is a selection process when it comes to selecting papers for an investigation. The audience tends to read only the abstract of the article instead of the research itself to save time. If you write a clear, concise and accurate abstract, you can catch your reader’s attention. Therefore, abstracts are an essential element in your investigation.

Let’s get started!

In this article, you can find an accurate description along with the main steps that you can follow to accomplish an organized and well-structured abstract.

The first and major step is that the abstract needs to be written after you finish your research. Following this, as we previously mentioned, an abstract is a summary of your investigation. A good abstract usually is a one-structured paragraph, and its length is about 100-300 words.

It is important to bear in mind that each section should contain only 1 or 2 sentences per section. Besides, an abstract should include all the main sections of your paper, not to mention that you cannot include new information in this paragraph. Also, do not incorporate references. In other words, the abstract needs to be representative.

Now, what are the main sections that you need to include in this text? Below you can see the essential elements of an abstract, along with a brief description. Furthermore, we added some useful questions to organize and create your text.

Elements of an abstract

Background / Context / Relevance: You need to include a general overview of context or background, together with the main problems regarding your investigation, e.g. the lack of previous studies, what has been done until now, among others.

Purpose of the research: This is the reason or goal of your investigation. What are the objectives of your paper?

Methodology: How did you gather your data? This section provides a concise description of the procedures in which your research was conducted (e.g. type of study, recruitment of participants, data collection, etc.).

Findings and results: Make sure you present the observations about your data collected.

Conclusions or discussions: Finally, in the conclusion section, you can include an analysis or interpretation of your results. You might describe the limitations and suggestions for future research briefly.

Keywords: They represent the most important concepts and words about your investigation. Be sure that you select accurate keywords about your research since this will allow potential readers to find your paper.

Useful questions

If you are not sure your abstract is well written, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are the relevance and the purpose of the abstract accurately portrayed?
  2. Are all the main elements included?
  3. Is it a concise and summarized yet clear overview of the research?
  4. Is there any new information? (in this case, the answer should be negative).
  5. Is it representative?

Writing a good abstract can be challenging, so if you are still not sure about the accurateness of your text, you might read other people’s abstract to get inspired. However, remember that you need to represent the essence of your own paper.