How to Write a Good Abstract
As a result of their short form, abstracts cause great difficulties in academic papers and publications. If you have these difficulties too, you can easily get rid of them here – with our sure tips for writing a good abstract. The tips we have provided in this article would help you to summarize your thoughts and bring them perfectly to the point you want to convey in your abstract.
What is an abstract?
Abstracts (in practice, short descriptions or summaries) are generally concise information about the text’s content. Their function is very important; you should remember them before you commence writing the abstract of your research paper.
The function of an abstract in a research paper
Above all, an abstract should convince the reader of the value of reading the full research paper. Be it an article on the Internet, a research paper, or another publication. Among the many research paper audience, very few people go beyond the abstract of the research paper. A lot of times, when the abstract of a research paper is not strong and doesn’t arouse the interest of the audience, it will be very difficult to even go through with the whole research paper.
Does this sound familiar to you and you have no doubt also had this experience? You wanted to communicate something important to others with the text, but you don’t know how to go about it? Don’t miss the chance with a suboptimal abstract – this is perhaps the business card of your full research paper.
Requirements for writing an abstract
When it comes to writing an abstract for a research paper, there are certain requirements that should be taken cognizance of to avoid making mistakes. You should, therefore, make sure which specifications your publisher or university has.
Inquire about them precisely to save you unnecessary work because your abstract has to be modified again.
The requirements can primarily concern the length of the abstract. Most of the time, the abstract should not be longer than half a page. 150-250 words are often mentioned in the specifications, but this information can also vary depending on the university or publisher.
Language and style
When it comes to the language of writing an abstract, it is advisable to cross out all words that make the write-up complicated and difficult to comprehend. In terms of style, your abstract should also make use of a less passive voice. Considering that it is your work, personal pronouns can be utilized.
When is it compulsory to write an abstract?
The fact is that not all academic papers need to have an abstract. It is not common for term papers and seminar papers – but it is for bachelor theses, diploma theses, master theses, doctoral theses, and other academic publications.
When should you write the abstract?
You only write the abstract when your text is ready. The aim of the abstract is the same as that of an advertisement: It should draw attention to your text and encourage the reader to deal with the content.
Caution: The potential reader does not yet know the text, so the abstract must not be a simple summary of the text.
What are the main differences between a summary and an abstract?
- In the summary of the text, the reader already knows the content of the research paper. However, with the abstract, you should take into account that the reader has no prior knowledge of your text’s content.
- A summary is always necessary for academic works; a master’s thesis or doctoral thesis without an abstract is hardly imaginable. So you write an abstract for certain scientific papers and publications. This is hardly the case with term papers and seminar papers.
- The scope of an abstract is usually fixed, but this is rarely the case with a summary.
- In summary, you can view the contents summarized in the order, in which they are mentioned in the outline. In the abstract, you write about the examined problem, your motivation (why are you dealing with the topic?), about your results, and the resulting solutions.
- In the summary, you can draw attention to open questions or questions that you have not addressed (e.g. due to lack of space). No open questions should be mentioned in an abstract.
What should be in a good abstract?
In a good abstract, you mention why you looked at the topic, what (and how) you researched, and why the results are important. You must be able to “sell” your text with the abstract. Therefore show in the abstract:
- What significance your text has in the respective discipline;
- What makes your contribution stand out;
- What research methods you used;
- What the most important findings of your research are;
- And finally – at the very end – what the special value of the contribution in your discipline is (contribution to knowledge).
After writing the abstract, your work is not yet finished. Check the points from the checklist:
- Isn’t the abstract too long? Check your specifications.
- Did you ‘big’ vocabularies into the abstract? Correct this if necessary.
- Does the abstract contain general formulations that do not emphasize what is special about your text? Replace them, express yourself precisely.
- Is your text coherent? It is best to have an objective / uninvolved person to read your abstract. This is the best way to identify broken thoughts (and subsequently avoid them).
- Does the content match the title? This should, of course, be the case.
- Does the text contain references? These should disappear from the abstract. References to tables, diagrams, and other materials used in the research work are also not permitted to be included in the abstract.
- Is your abstract written in the past sense form? This is very important, because you are discussing what a past work is about.
Across many institutions and disciplines, an abstract must have the following components:
- Background: At this point, you should answer the most important question – why should the reader be interested in your work? What problem are you planning to solve with your research?
- Goals: At this point, you describe your specific research question.
- Methods: At this point, you explain how you acquired data for your research.
- Results: In this part, you answer your research question.
- Conclusions: In this last part, you answer the question of how your study helps to solve the initial problem.
In the abstract, you should name the important keywords. These words provide information about the content of your text, so you should think carefully about them. They are essential because they enable indexing in databases and catalogs.
Abstract – An Example
In order to make you understand how to write an abstract in a practical way, we have provided an example of what an abstract in an academic paper looks like.
Author, title: Daniel Lahm: Writing an abstract.
Research goal: The main goal of the qualitative and quantitative research carried out was to determine what constitutes a good abstract.
Methods: As part of the qualitative research, guides from numerous universities and publishers were analyzed, and the structure and content of numerous abstracts written by our writers were examined.
Results: The analysis clearly showed that there are different writing abstracts requirements, which are practically implemented in different ways. However, similarities can be recorded, which are further determined in the article.
Conclusion: With these surefire tips, we believe you are now equipped on how to write a great abstract easily.
As you can see from the above discussion, writing an abstract is quite important for your audience to have a concrete idea of what the research is all about, so we urge you to make use of these tips we have provided to grab your readers’ attention with a well-crafted abstract.