What You Should Know About The Research Paper Abstract Structure: Basic Tips

Put together simply, the abstract is a summary of your research paper. It details the problem that you tackled, the way you approached it, and the results that you are expecting. Additionally, it also contains some keywords central to the subject of your paper, which make it easy to look up in huge databases.

Why is the abstract important?

The abstract is important because it is a synopsis of your entire research. It serves the same purpose as the blurb on the back of the cover of a book. It is only after reading the blurb that one decides to buy the book: Similarly, it is only after reading the synopsis of your study, the abstract, that is, that the reader decided whether he or she wants to continue reading your paper.

Things you should know about the abstract:

  1. Do not make the abstract too long: It is a synopsis, or a summary, not an entire section of the paper that needs to be detailed. The abstract is not the section to put details into—that is what the rest of the paper is for. Ideally, your abstract should not exceed the length of 250 words, and should contain the problem statement, the methodology and the expected result.
  2. Write the abstract after you have written the paper. The presumed course of the research is often subject to change, you may choose to adopt a different methodology, or add a new one to support the existing one, for example. Writing the abstract after you have completed the paper will save you the hassle of going back and changing it time and time again. Additionally, when writing it as the last piece of your paper, you will be able to list the details in a more organized way.
  3. Make the abstract about the research, and not about the writing of the paper. Thus, avoid using terms like ‘this paper’ or ‘the following report’. Instead, say, ‘this research’, or ‘this study’.
  4. Keep in mind that your abstract does not sound open-ended. Avoid using terms like ‘it seems’ and ‘it is believed’: your research should have cleared up enough of your doubts for you to not use such terms at all. Therefore, use terms like, ‘it was found’, or ‘it was discovered’. Sounding assertive and confident will have a better impact on the reader.

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