Write an Abstract

There are as many types of abstracts as there are types of research papers. Writing an abstract is generally “informative”. This type of summary communicates compressed information and includes the purpose, methods, and scope of the article. They are usually short (250 words or less) and allow the reader to decide if they want to read the article.

Write an abstract

Summarize last. Proofread the article looking specifically for the main parts: purpose, methods, scope, results, conclusions and recommendations. Write a first disorganized without looking at the original article. Edit your draft by fixing organization, improving transitions, removing unnecessary information and words, and adding important information you left out.

The summary should state:

  • What is the goal/problem? (in yellow)
  • Why is it important (social/industrial/scientific, etc.)? (in blue)
  • How do you handle the problem? (in green)
  • Your main results
    How will this contribute/benefit? (in red)

Keep in mind that the summary is a kind of summary of the article, a kind of preface.


Why a summary?

A well-written summary has several purposes:

  • a summary allows readers to quickly understand the gist or essence of your article or article, in order to decide whether to read the entire article;
  • an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analysis and arguments of your full article;
  • and, later, a summary helps readers remember the key points of your article.

It should also be remembered that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, along with the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published article. So, what you include in your abstract and in your title is crucial in helping other searchers find your article or article.

If you're writing an abstract for a dissertation, your professor can give you specific guidelines on what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So, in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to research and follow the guidelines of the course or journal you are writing for.

General structure

Here are the typical types of information found in most summaries:

  • the background or basic information of your research; the general subject under study; the specific subject of your research
  • the central questions or problem statement your research addresses
  • what is already known about this issue, what previous research has done or shown
  • the main reason(s), the requirement, the justification, the objectives of your research – Why is it important to answer these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is this subject worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Apply new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
  • your research and/or analysis methods
  • your main findings, results or arguments
  • the meaning or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your summary should be intelligible on its own, without a reader having to read your entire article. And in an abstract, you usually don't cite references.

First introductory part

The introduction answers the question "What?" It consists of about two to three sentences that summarize the article.

When writing the introduction, the first sentence should mention the main content of the article, while the second should be the background or context of the question.

The introduction should state the purpose of the research and define the significance of the research. If you know how to write a thesis for a research paper, this is the part where you highlight your research objective. The researcher can do this by defining the knowledge gap that the article aims to fill or the limitations or restrictions of previous studies. The introduction addresses the most important part of the search in the most economical way possible.

Also, ask yourself a few questions when writing the introduction:

  • What problems does this study solve?
  • What is the main knowledge gap that your study aims to fill?
  • Why are the results of this study important?

The introduction also contains the third sentence, which discusses the importance of research. This statement answers the question "Why?" This element of the summary is one of the most important aspects that attract readers in the first place.

This section details the purpose of the research, or what it aims to do, in the form of a hypothesis. You can be more specific here if needed. You should also remember to write the importance of research in a way that is appropriate to your variables and data.

Second part on the methodology

This section answers the question "How?" This section details the processes and methods used to answer the “What” questions (Introduction) and “Why” (Importance of the research) set out above.

You should devote about three to four sentences to your section of methodology. Here you need to describe the following:

  • How the research was designed
  • Data (or subject) of the study
  • Study setting and other variables that may have influenced the results (not mandatory)
  • How did you choose the data?
  • Tools and techniques you used to arrive at your conclusion
  • How the results were validated

Third part on the results

The results section, also known as the findings, is the culmination of the summary. This, in general terms, responds to the main thrust of the study. As such, it will contain, in addition to the results, a statement of its meaning (and how it is so) and how it has changed (if any) from the assumptions made in the third sentence.

Also, the results must always be written in the past tense. Although it varies depending on the methods you used and the amount of data you generated, it should never mention anything beyond the scope of the study or what you have. -even found.

Be sure to only report results. Interpretation should be in the next section, where you can tell the reader what the results mean and how it might affect the area of knowledge you are researching.

Fourth part on the opening

The conclusion is the last section of the summary. It answers the question "So what?" This section interprets what you found in the previous section and indicates the general implications of your results. The conclusion describes what these results mean for the long term or the area in question. It may also contain your recommendations based on your findings.

To write this section effectively, you can ask yourself some additional questions, such as:

  • Can your results be applied to other situations?
  • Did the results fill the knowledge gaps described in the introduction?
  • How are your results similar or different from related studies?
  • Would your results lead to another hypothesis?

That said, it's easy to overgeneralize or exaggerate the implications and significance of your results. Avoid this by sticking to data that the reader can actually find on paper. Describe the main conclusions, then link them with a rational statement.

Some examples

Here are some sample summaries. As you can see, the abstracts do not contain all the information cited in this course, it is up to you to determine the salient points to write in the abstract.

abstract scientific paper

abstract scientific paper

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