How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
In writing a final year project or any other form of academic research paper, the abstract may appear to be the smallest of all parts of the research paper. However, they are of great importance to the work being done. In this article, we are going to talk a little more about the role of the abstract in research writing.
Before proceeding, it is worthy to point out that it is unacceptable for an abstract not to include results or discussion. If your work is not done yet, then don’t present it to your examiners! This history of “preliminary results” or “preliminary evaluation” at conferences does not make sense. Who guarantees that you will have the same conclusions at the end of your project? If you think that half a dozen initial results are sufficient to support your conclusions, then why would you collect even more data? However, do not confuse preliminary pick analysis with a pilot study, this second, a quick test that you do of your methods before starting to be worth the research.
What should go into an abstract?
In general, you will have a maximum of 300 words to get your message across and advertise your work. In some top journals, it may be only 150 words or 5% of the total text size, apart from references. The space is small, and it is great that this is so! Generally speaking, those who talk too much have little to say. Even if you are given more than 300 words, never exceed this limit, as very few things in academics as much as a long abstract: in this case, the size of a note. Just talk in passant about the bigger context of the work, the main methods, and the most relevant results. Do not include citations or results of statistical tests. Include only measurement values (central tendency and dispersion) or metrics related to operational variables (for example, diversity index values), if deemed necessary.
What is the function of an abstract in research?
The abstract is the first contact that the reader has with academic work. When writing your research paper, you certainly had a lot of books, theses, dissertations, and academic articles on your topic to read. With such a large reading load, it is necessary to evaluate and select which readings would be most interesting for the work being proposed and, thus, spend your time and energy on directed readings. It is at this point; the abstract comes into play.
It has the function of situating the reader on what he will find throughout the work. Thus, he will be able to assess whether he should go deeper into reading the full text or not. The abstract should not only give an overview of the topic covered, but also the references that support the study, the research methodology, and the results obtained. It is enough information for a short text, but having a well-written abstract is essential for a job well done. After all, when we do academic work, we want to contribute to the discussions on the topic we are working on and it is through the abstract that later researchers and those interested in the subject will be able to have the first contact with your text.
How to Write a Research Abstract
As we have pointed out earlier, an abstract need to be concise and explanatory and organized in a single paragraph. Abstracts for academic papers must contain between 150 and 300 words.
Regardless of the length of the abstract, it must be written with short and clear sentences and following the same organization used in the body of the work, that is:
- Introduction: Start your abstract by informing the reader of the context in which the work is situated, signalling the problem to be studied.
- Objective: At this point, be clear and objective about the purpose or goal of the study.
- Methods: Inform the audience of the procedures and methods used as a scientific basis for your research investigation.
- Results: Highlight the results obtained that meet your previously described objectives.
- Conclusion: Talk a little about the most important conclusions that can be drawn from the study and what their impact is.
These are some of the ways that an abstract can be written.
It is worthy to mention that, after the abstract, include as many keywords as are allowed by the guideline being followed. Do not repeat terms that already appear in the title.
The keywords are essential for readers interested in the same themes to find your work amid the several works and publications available in the current academic environment and within your area of study. Also include some classic terms, which connect your work to the research program in which it fits. Also, avoid abbreviations or acronyms at all costs, except those in common use.
Frequently Asked Questions about Abstract
1. When do you write an abstract?
The abstract of your work is a part of the essential text and must contain the main points of the research. For that, we must be very direct and complete in approach. For this reason, it is ideal to write it at the end. The abstracts generally serve as a source for researchers to read and better understand the crux of the work. The abstract can only be finalized after the manuscript is ready. However, it is not strange to do it before starting the research. The explanation is that the abstract can serve as a project, helping to define the objective and scope of the article, including for discussion with co-authors.
2. What is the word count?
The abstract of your research paper, according to the standard rules, must contain up to 150 words. There are other types of academic papers (for example, seminar paper, conference article, to mention a few) in which the number can vary (from 100 to 300 words). However, it is pertinent to mention that the word count for research abstract sometimes depends on the institution or organization you are writing your research for.
3. How many keywords should be included?
According to standard rules, the abstract must contain at least 3 keywords, separated by semicolons.
4. What are the verb tenses used?
The verbs used in a research abstract must be in the active voice, and the text written in the third person singular (he; she).
5. What is the format?
Paragraph: the abstract must be written in less than five paragraphs.
Font: accepted sources are Arial or Times new roman.
Font size: both with size 12.
Spacing: the space between the lines is simple. In most cases, 1.5 indent spacing is used.
Title: the word ABSTRACT must be written in capital letters and in bold.
From the above, it is obvious that the abstract of research plays a key role in the success of your work. It is undoubtedly the part many people come across when they see your research, hence, failure to do justice to it can mar your academic endeavour. We believe that if you follow the steps mentioned in this post, you are bound to draw people’s attention to your research. Therefore, ensure your research abstract contains important information about your research that is only obtained at the end of writing and put it down in a clear and objective language.