How to Write an Abstract for Your Research Paper

How to Write an Abstract for Your Research Paper

An abstract summarises the research paper that can be published or unpublished. It usually consists of a paragraph including 7-8 sentences and 250-300 words. A structured abstract helps readers in multiple ways –

  • It helps the readers get the idea or the gist of the whole research paper in a short time so that the reader can decide if they need to read the paper at full length.
  • It also helps prepare the readers to keep up with the information, analysis and discussion while drafting your research paper.
  • Lastly, it helps them keep the research paper’s main points in mind.

One should also remember that bibliographic databases and search engines use abstracts, the title of the topic, and the key terms used in the research paper. So, it is very important to know what you include in the abstract and the title of the paper to help researchers find your papers. Also, there are some guidelines for writing an abstract for a research paper, and it is significant to follow these guidelines to write an appropriate abstract. These guidelines are discussed below.

What are the contents of an Abstract?

An abstract consists of writing, in brief, most of the information discussed in the research paper. While the whole paper will discuss, explain and develop these ideas that are informed in the abstract. The type and sequence of the information to be included in the abstract depending on the genre and the nature of the research paper. Sometimes, the information to be included must be clearly expressed but only suggested. Contents that are included in an abstract are –

  • Discussing the background of the study or what the research is about.
  • Objective or the goal that the paper aims to find or determine.
  • What does the existing study tell about this?
  • The rationale of the study, its significance and why it is crucial to examine this research question. If there exists any research gap, it can also be mentioned.
  • The analytical or statistical method used in the research paper.
  • Results and findings of the study.
  • The implication of the results.

An abstract must be understandable without making the reader read the full research paper. It does not consist of citing references. It will only describe what is written in the research paper in brief.

When to start writing the abstract of the research paper

As the abstract appears at the start of the research paper, it is not written without drafting the entire paper. An abstract is a summary or a summarized form of the paper so that it will consist of a summary of the entire paper, and it is possible only when the entire paper is drafted.

Choosing appropriate tenses of the verb while drafting an abstract

Some of the abstracts use the present tense form of the verb to discuss general information, interpretations and facts that are true in present times and involve explaining the research question. It also uses the present tense form to briefly discuss the research paper’s methods, arguments, findings and implications. In contrast, the past tense form of the verb is used to explain a previously researched topic. It also describes the research conducted by the researcher, the methods utilized, and the findings that are determined.

Some examples of the abstract are shown below –

Figure 1

The image shown above (Figure 1) is a sample abstract of a research paper on Social Science. The first part of the abstract explains the introduction of the research paper and the study’s research question. The second part describes the findings from the existing literature, the rationale and the study’s limitations. The third part shows the method of data collection, statistical and analytical methods used in the study. And the last part discusses the study’s main findings, significance and implications. The present tense is used in this paper to explain the facts, interpretations and information that are true in the current condition while explaining the findings accurately. And past tense is used to explain the topics of the research that are previously discussed.

Figure 2

This is an example of an abstract from the Humanities subject. It explains the study’s background, describes the study’s goal, and uses the past tense form of the verb in events completed earlier, as shown in the first part of the image (Figure 2). It describes the research question, significance, limitations, arguments, previously researched studies, methods and findings of the study. It also uses the present tense form of the verb to explain what is being expressed in the context and describe the meaning and significance, and arguments included in the paper, as shown in the second part of the image (Figure 2).

Figure 3

This is an example of the abstract of the Science subject. The first part of the image (Figure 3) describes the topic, existing reviews done earlier, the study’s objectives and goals, the rationale, and the research problem. This part uses the past tense form of the verb in existing studies and the present tense form of the verb in describing the study’s rationale. The second part of the image (Figure 3) describes the methods used by the researcher to conduct the research and obtain the research’s main finding and uses the verb’s past tense form. And the last part of the image (Figure 3) describes the implications and the significance of the study and uses the present tense form of the verb.

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