Tips and Techniques on How to Write an Abstract

how to write a summary

Writing an abstract is a key skill for students. But why is it so significant?

Writing an abstract is not only important for communicating research to other academics. It’s also a key component of grant proposals and can be helpful when applying for jobs.

What do we have for you?

This blog post discusses tips and techniques for writing an abstract for a research paper or essay. We will help you summarize your entire paper in minutes. A well-written abstract sets the reader’s expectations from your paper. So, your abstract should be very apt.

Read further and learn how to write an impressive abstract of your paper.

6 Steps for Writing an Abstract

“How to write an abstract for a research paper?”

Below are the six steps that you need to follow for writing an abstract.

  1. 1. Reading and Understanding the text

    The first and foremost step is to read and understand the full paper. Reading the text will help you understand its context and purpose.

    You will further get to know the tone and expression of the author. This will develop an understanding of the text. Without understanding it, you can not write its summary.

  2. 2. Marking the Significant Details

    While you scan the text, you will come across certain details and points necessary to be written in summary. This is because they are important events or details that convey the message of the text.

    So, mark them and use them later while writing the summary.

  3. 3. Checking the Word Length

    Knowing the word count of the text is important because an abstract is a concise summary of the original text. So, it can’t be longer than that.

    There is no fixed length, but an ideal summary should be about 1/3rd of the length of the original text or about 250 words.

  4. 4. Creating a Rough Draft

    Write an initial summary on a rough piece of paper. Remember the important details that you marked? Paraphrase them and write them in the form of a paragraph.

    Add a proper introduction line and an impactful conclusion line. Divide the summary into adequate paragraphs if needed.

  5. 5. Cross Checking

    You should cross-check your rough draft with the actual text. See if you have missed any significant details. Also, check if your summary and the original text convey the same meaning.

  6. 6. Proofreading

    After cross checking your initial draft, send it for proofreading to an expert. They will tell you your grammatical or contextual mistakes. Then, correct the errors and create a final draft of your summary.

  7. Follow the steps mentioned above to make your summary writing process easy and smooth.

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Major Components of an Abstract

Abstracts are short summaries of what your paper is about. Some common informational points that most abstracts have are explained below.

This is also called an IMRaD abstract. IMRaD is an acronym for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

This structure summarizes your full paper, including all the key points in the abstract.

  1. 1. Background Information: Thinking about how you can start an abstract? Every abstract starts with some background information. It could be the general context of the original text, a thesis statement, a research question, etc.
  2. 2. Brief Literature Review: Like in a paper, after the introduction, you mention the literature. Similarly, in an abstract, you briefly state the work that other researchers have done.

    But you don’t need to research it yourself. You have to mention the referenced literature that is mentioned in the paper.

  3. 3. The Rationale or Goal of the Paper: Every researcher researches to achieve a goal. Similarly, every writer writes a paper according to a rationale. Describe it in the abstract to explain the significance of the paper.
  4. 4. Methodology Whether you have conducted research or experiments, you would have followed some research methods or a set of techniques. You just have to write them.

    But only mention the steps or techniques that will be enough for the reader to know how you have done your work. The paper will give you ample space to explain the methodology or hurdles in detail.

  5. 5. Key Findings: As mentioned earlier, every research is conducted to achieve a goal. So, write about your key findings. Then, tell if they fulfilled the goal or not.
  6. 6. Implications/discussions/solutions These are the concluding lines. It can be an implication of the research, a discussion about the significance, or a solution to the discussed problem. Basically, your results and conclusion section is summarized here.

Your abstract may have other components as well. It all depends on the kind of paper that you are writing an abstract for. However, the components mentioned above are mostly included in the abstracts of research papers, review articles, or other academic papers.

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Choosing Verb Tenses for Your Abstract

You don't always need to write your abstract in the past tense. Instead, it depends upon your field of study and the information given in the paper.

Read below to know how to choose tense for your abstract.

  • Abstract of Social Science Paper: Social science is a descriptive subject. Therefore, social scientists use the present tense in their work. This includes current facts and interpretations, the prevailing explanation for a social phenomenon, and their methods during their research.

    They also use past tense to describe previous research work done by other people on this subject.

  • Abstract of Humanities Paper: As a humanities student, use the past tense to describe completed events in the past. Use the present tense to discuss what is happening within the text.

    Explain the significance or meaning of that text, and argue for positions presented by articles in the present tense also.

  • Abstract of a Science Paper: The science students use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the methods they followed.
  • But, when it comes time for justification or explaining the rationale of their study, they turn to present tense. The significance behind this is that scientists use a future-looking tone to get people excited about discoveries ahead.

So, write your abstract in the verb tense that is most relevant to your paper and the field of study.

When Should I Write an Abstract?

The first aspect of any research paper is its abstract. Thus, you could be writing it first also. However, this is a wrong practice.

You can only effectively summarize your paper in an abstract after you are done writing your whole paper. This will help you write an abstract that is apt for your paper.

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Tips for Writing a Compact Abstract

The following tips and strategies will assist you in writing an abstract that is sure to get you good marks.

  • Not every essay has the same elements. If you are doing a different type of research, you can write an abstract by reverse outlining.
  • For each chapter, list keywords and then make 1-2 sentences about the central point or argument of that chapter. Finally, write them all in order in the abstract.
  • The best way to learn how to write an abstract is to read other abstracts. You probably read many articles in your field already during your literature review. Use those as a guide for writing one yourself.
  • A good abstract is short and makes a point. Skip words that are not important. It should be understandable to people who do not know about the topic.
  • The purpose of the abstract is to describe your research and what it means. So don’t write about other people's work, even if you talk about it more in the main text.
  • Be sure of the formatting guidelines and format your paper accordingly. Every journal will have its own formatting guidelines.

Such as having a title page, citation style, page number, etc. So, don’t forget to check the publication manual.

Follow these tips to write impressive abstracts for your papers.

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Abstract Samples

Here are a few samples that will help you understand abstracts and their writing methodology better.

How to write an abstract APA format (American psychological association)

How to write an abstract for a lab report

Writing an abstract is a useful skill that will help you get your paper published in a scientific journal.

Whether you are writing a scientific paper, an essay for school, or just summarizing your favorite book’s main points, it is important to know how to write an abstract.

We hope you enjoyed our blog on tips and techniques for writing a successful abstract.

Have any of these strategies helped your research? Let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions

What to avoid in writing an abstract?

There are the following errors that you should avoid while writing an abstract:

  • It is an abstract, not a conclusion or a summary.
  • Do not use your abstract as the introduction.
  • Filling it with a huge amount of background information.
  • Writing a detailed methodology.
  • Copy-pasting sentences from the paper.

What is the difference between an introduction and an abstract?

An abstract summarizes your paper in a direct and concise manner. On the other hand, the introduction is a detailed section explaining the background of your study and its significance.

What is a bad abstract?

A bad abstract has the following characteristics:

  • It is too long or painfully short. The ideal length is 250 words.
  • It does not explain the whole paper, rather emphasizes a particular section more.
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