How to Write an Abstract: Tips, Examples

Writing GuidesResearch Paper
Alex Ponomarenko
Aug 29, 2021

When someone hears the word abstract, what comes to mind are colorful and vaguely shaped artworks that carry a deep meaning. They will think of the names, Picasso and Pollock. In the field of academic research, however, the word has a different definition. Instead of being vague and having a deeper meaning, the word in academic writing is straightforward to the point. It presents readers with an overview of a report to catch their interest.

A student who is currently working on a dissertation will notice the word “abstract” in their paper’s outline. Perhaps they have already written it but their professor asked for a revision. It is easy for a student to misunderstand how to write an abstract because it is similar to a dissertation’s introduction and conclusion. This article will help students and other individuals learn how to write a good abstract.

What Is an Abstract?

The definition of an abstract is a summary of a longer report.  It is the part of a research paper that summarizes the whole paper. It contains significant information regarding an academic paper. When  writing a research paper , this is mostly the last part that researchers polish. When writing this part for an article, make sure that the thesis statement of the paper can be found in it. Include background information regarding the topic of the study. Also include known information and past research studies. Based on its definition, the importance, goals, finding, and results of the study are substantial for an abstract.

What is an abstract?

It should summarize the dissertation and inform the reader about the conclusion of the report. Readers decide whether they want to continue reading a paper report once they have seen the abstract. Inserting keywords or phrases in the paragraph might also be a good idea since databases often use them to index published works. Writing this part of a paper is not just about giving an overview of the report. It should answer a paper’s thesis statement, describe the research method, and grab the reader’s interest.

How long is an abstract?

Students who are writing their first dissertation may be unsure of how long is an abstract. Depending on the type, it can be in the range of 100-600 words. Before writing, students should consider looking at an abstract template and abstract examples. This will help students decide what type to use for their studies. There are four general types - critical, descriptive, informative, and highlight type.

Types of abstracts

Critical abstract

In writing the critical type, the student assesses the paper and would write a comparison with other studies on the same topic. A critical type can also report the strong and weak points of a dissertation. It would question if the argument or thesis statement of the study works. Researchers rarely use this type for an article due to its argumentative nature. A critical abstract sample will mostly be 400-500 words long.

Descriptive abstract

It usually takes 100 words or less when writing the descriptive type for an article. Descriptive types are mostly used for studies in humanities and social sciences. A reader will only find the research paper’s background, aim, and focus when looking at a descriptive abstract sample. It does not inform the reader of the result and conclusion of the research. It is mostly a brief outline of the study rather than an informative summary.

Informative abstract

An informative type includes the report’s background, purpose, research method, findings, and conclusion. Researchers mostly use this type for their reports. In the informative type, one should aim to make a short complete summary of the paper. The reader should find the thesis statement and the result of the studies. All the contents within a descriptive type can also be found in the informative type. An informative abstract sample is usually 300 words or less.

Highlight abstract

Highlight types are the least used type due to their incomplete and leading nature. Grabbing the reader’s attention is the goal of writing the highlight type. Instead of including significant information regarding the research, this type often keeps information from the reader to raise their curiosity and entice them into reading a paper. A highlight abstract sample will be around 100-200 words.

Abstract Formats

When looking up an abstract template and abstract examples, the researcher will see the format of an abstract. The researcher should place the abstract page after the title page, the researcher should avoid numbering this page. It should be a single block of paragraphs with no indentation. Statistical findings should be written within parentheses. Regardless of the type, make sure that it is concise. 

When constructing the page, the word “Abstract” should be placed on the center top part of the page. Use double spacing in between the word “Abstract” and the first line of the paragraph. Summarize the results and findings within the last sentence of the paragraph. Also, check the verb tenses used when writing specific parts of the paragraph such as the research method and conclusion.

How to Write a Good Abstract

Based on its definition, it is the summarization of an academic paper or article, so researchers write it at the end of the research report. It should be able to stand on its own and be concise. To start, one should plan and create or look for an abstract template. Once a researcher has an abstract template to use as a guide, they can now start writing an abstract for an article.

How to write a good abstract

1. State the purpose of your research

Once there is an abstract template, the researchers can now start refining its main parts. The first is the purpose of the research. This part should provide the thesis statement. The researchers can also briefly state the relevance of the topic. This part should state why they decided to begin the research. Use present or past simple tense when writing this part.

2. Include the methodology

Indicate the research method you used to gather data for the research. This should be a brief statement not exceeding 2 sentences. Use past simple tense when writing this part.

3. State the results

Next, Include the most important results of the study. Extensive research may produce multiple findings, in this case, highlight the results that will help the readers understand the conclusion. Use present or past simple tense when stating your results.

4. State the conclusion

Finally, state the conclusion of your research. This should answer your thesis statement and allow readers to understand the main point of your research. You can also include the limitations and recommendations in this part. Use the present simple tense when writing the conclusion.

5. Add keywords

Another thing to note is that databases and search engines often use this part of a dissertation to index published works. Try to add keywords or phrases significant to the study. This will help readers and researchers find the report.

6. Check your format

Researchers may need to use a specific format depending on the field of study. Make sure to check with professors or organizations if they require a certain format. Researchers might also need to follow a word length limit depending on their professors and the type they use.

Tips on How to Write a Good Abstract

Writing an abstract: 4 tips

Tip #1. Finish your research

The first tip on how to write a good abstract is to finish writing the other parts of the report. The information researchers need to write this part of their dissertation requires them to complete their studies first. Unfinished studies will make it impossible to write a proper summary.

Tip #2. Read the paper

Another tip on how to write a good abstract is to read the research paper. Researching for a dissertation and writing it requires a lot of time to finish. The researchers may have forgotten an aspect of the report that would be beneficial to the abstract. Researchers can ensure that all vital information is included by rereading their papers. Consider reading abstract examples from other reports or studies to get an idea of how to write an abstract for an article.

Tip #3. Take sentences and key phrases from the research

The next tip on how to write a good abstract is to take phrases from the research. After reading the research, look for sentences and key phrases that briefly summarize an idea. Researchers can find these sentences and key phrases at either the start or the end of a paragraph. Organize the sentences and key phrases in a logical order where they can form a proper paragraph. 

Tip #4. Proofread

Proofreading is an essential part of any writing process and the final tip on how to write a good abstract. Read the paragraph again and analyze if it summarizes the report. Remove the unnecessary sentences and phrases from the paragraph. Revise the paragraph to make it flow clearly and logically. And remember that it should only be one paragraph.

The abstract of a research paper is the first thing that readers will see after the title page. This means that it will give the reader the first impression and will set their expectations. Fix grammatical errors, misspellings, and other common mistakes during the proofreading process. If the paragraph sounds intelligible and piques the reader’s interest, then they should have no problem reading the rest of the report.

Aside from proofreading it themselves, researchers can hire professionals to do the proofreading for an article. There are many services online that can cater to this specific need. Depending on the service, they may even edit and rewrite the paragraph to make it better. Researchers can also try to let someone they know read the paragraph and then ask them if it succeeds in giving a brief overview of the research. This should give them an idea of whether the paper is good as it is or will require some revisions.

Additional tip: Things to avoid

Refrain from writing long background information. Readers should be able to learn more about the study rather than other previous studies. Since it should just be around 300 words, avoid writing repetitive sentences or ideas. When stating the research method, avoid including too many details. This part should just be one to two sentences long. Avoid referencing other studies, using jargon, acronyms, images, and illustrations. It should be a short paragraph with factual and informative content summarizing the research paper. Researchers should look at professional abstract examples to get an idea of how to write a good abstract.

What to avoid in an abstract?

Abstract Example

Knowing how to write an abstract for a research paper is essential for any student. It is the first part of the dissertation report where readers learn about the research. It is an integral part of making studies enjoyable and interesting to read. Though it is only a single paragraph with around 300 words, if it is poorly written, it can cost a student that passing grade. Make sure to follow the tips on how to write a good abstract to increase the quality of a dissertation. Here is an abstract example that students can use as a reference:

The research aimed to assess the effects of subliminal advertising on consumer behavior relative to visual stimuli, accelerated speech, embedded images, and suggestiveness that will serve as a basis for effective promotional strategies. As marketing students, the researchers aimed to understand and learn more about subliminal advertising as a way of influencing consumers and how to implement it to aid in a marketing campaign. The study focused on the four distinct methods of subliminal communication which are visual stimuli, accelerated speech, embedded images, and suggestiveness. A researcher-made questionnaire where respondents rated the persuasiveness of marketing materials was the main instrument in gathering necessary data for the study. The researchers distributed the questionnaires to Trinity University of Asia students. The findings suggested that the respondents’ assessment of subliminal advertising on consumer behavior in terms of visual stimuli was persuasive. The respondent's assessment of subliminal advertising on consumer behavior in terms of accelerated speech was persuasive. The researchers recommended that the use of visual stimuli, accelerated speech, embedded images, and suggestiveness should be noticeable so that consumers do not overlook the subliminal message.

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Written by
Alex Ponomarenko
I am a content manager from California, US. I started as a content writer intern eleven years ago and became a content manager six years after. I joined CustomEssayMeister five years ago and enjoy being a part of the team every day.

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