How to Write An Abstract: Format and Sample

how to write an abstract

After completing a research paper, the next big question is how to write an abstract?

Crafting a compelling abstract is a crucial skill for research students. An abstract is more than a mere summary; it’s a concise representation of your work’s essence.

For research students, the ability to write a strong abstract is essential. An abstract serve as a window into your research, providing a glimpse of what your work entails.

It’s not just a summary; it’s an enticement to encourage fellow researchers to explore your work further.

In this guide, we will demystify the process of creating an effective abstract. We’ll discuss the importance of an abstract, its key components, and how to make it shine.

How to Write an Abstract: Significance

Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to grasp the significance of an abstract. Think of it as a spotlight on your research.

It’s the first thing that others see, and it determines whether they will continue to explore your work.

An abstract is more than just a summary; it’s a concise representation of your research.

An abstract should answer these key questions:

  • What’s your research about?
  • How did you conduct your study?
  • What are the main findings?
  • Why does your research matter?

Abstract Format: Identifying the Key Components

A well-structured abstract typically consists of the following components:

Research Objective: Begin by clearly stating the primary purpose of your study. What research question or problem are you addressing? This gives your readers the context they need.

Methodology: Briefly describe the research methods and techniques you employed. What did you do to investigate the problem? This provides insight into the tools and approaches used.

Results: Summarize the most significant findings of your research. What were the key outcomes? This section should pique readers’ interest.

Conclusion: Highlight the significance of your findings and their implications for the field. Why is your research important, and how does it contribute to the body of knowledge in your area of study?

Keywords: Don’t forget to include relevant keywords to help others find your work. Add at least 3- 5 keywords at the end of an abstract of a research paper.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper.

Balancing brevity and informativeness is the key to crafting an effective abstract. Keep it concise but provide enough information for readers to understand the essence of your research.

Also Read: 17 Best AI Paraphrasing Tool: Rewrite Contents

How to Write an Abstract: Important Points

Writing an abstract is not an easy-going task. You have to brief the complete research paper in 150-250 words.

While considering this, you must follow to some important rules before writing an abstract. The rules for how to write an abstract are following:

Adhering to Word Limit Guidelines

Journals, conferences, and academic institutions often set specific word limits for abstracts.

These limits exist to ensure that abstracts remain concise and focused.

The typical length of an abstract ranges from 150 to 250 words, but it’s vital to verify the specific requirements of the venue where you plan to submit your work.

Employing Clear and Concise Language

Clarity is paramount when crafting an abstract. Imagine explaining your research to someone who’s not an expert in your field.

Use straightforward and precise language, avoiding jargon or technical terms that could confuse readers.

Strive for simplicity without sacrificing accuracy. When using specialized terms, provide concise explanations or context.

Choose active voice to enhance clarity, for instance, instead of writing, “The data were analyzed,” say, “We analyzed the data.”

Utilizing the Past Tense

An abstract should be written in the past tense because it summarizes research that has already been conducted.

For clarity and coherence, use past tense to describe your study and findings.

For example, instead of saying, “The study will examine the effects of X on Y,” write, “The study examined the effects of X on Y.”

This simple shift in tense makes your abstract more coherent.

Omitting Citations and References

In an abstract, citations and references to other sources should be omitted. Focus solely on summarizing your research.

Reserve citations for the main body of your paper, where you can provide the necessary context and support for your arguments.

Emphasizing Key Results and Significance

Your abstract should be a showcase for the most important findings and the broader implications of your research.

Capture the reader’s attention and persuade them to explore further.

Begin by presenting the most remarkable findings. What are the main discoveries or outcomes that emerged from your research?

These are the elements that should shine in your abstract.

Next, discuss the significance of your findings. Explain why your research matters and how it contributes to the field.

What are the broader implications of your work? In essence, answer the question, “Why should we care?”

Revising and Proofreading

Like any piece of writing, your abstract should be meticulously revised and proofread.

A well-crafted abstract reflects the quality and professionalism of your research.

During the revision process, consider the following:

Clarity: Ensure that your language is clear and unambiguous. Eliminate convoluted sentences and ensure logical flow.

Grammar and Spelling: Correct grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, as they can affect the credibility of your work.

Conciseness: Review your abstract to ensure that every word serves a purpose. Remove any redundant information that does not add value.

Coherence: Examine the overall structure and flow of your abstract to ensure it reads smoothly and maintains a logical progression from the research objective to the conclusion.

Tone and Style: Tailor the tone and style of your abstract to the conventions and expectations of your field and the venue where you plan to submit your work.

Seek Feedback: Before finalizing your abstract, seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, or peers. Fresh perspectives can offer valuable insights and help you refine your abstract further.

An abstract is often the first impression of your research, and it should leave a positive and lasting impact on your audience.

Also read: 12 Best AI Proofreader: Elevate Your Writing

Seeking Feedback

Though writing can be a solitary endeavor, the process of crafting an abstract benefit from collaboration and feedback.

Before finalizing your abstract, seek input from colleagues, mentors, or peers.

They can offer valuable insights, suggest improvements, and ensure that your abstract effectively communicates your research.

Feedback can encompass various aspects:

Content: Request feedback on the clarity and completeness of your abstract. Are there any essential elements missing? Is the significance of your research adequately conveyed?

Structure: Inquire about the overall structure and flow of your abstract.

Does it follow a logical progression from the research objective to the conclusion?

Are there abrupt transitions or gaps in the narrative?

Language: Seek input on the language and style of your abstract.

Are there sentences that could be improved for clarity or conciseness?

Are there grammar or spelling issues that need attention?

Audience Perspective: Encourage reviewers to consider your abstract from the perspective of a potential reader.

Does it engage their interest?

Does it provide enough information to determine whether the research is relevant to their interests?

While it’s crucial to receive feedback, remember that not all suggestions are equal.

Evaluate the feedback you receive and make changes that align with your goals and intentions for the abstract.

Tailoring Your Abstract for Different Audiences

If you plan to present your research in various settings, such as conferences, journals, or academic platforms, be prepared to adapt your abstract to meet the specific requirements and preferences of each audience.

Not all abstracts are one-size-fits-all; different venues may have unique expectations.

For example, a conference abstract may need to be more concise and focused, given the limited time for presentation.

In contrast, a journal article abstract might provide more space for detailed explanations. Review the guidelines provided by the venue and tailor your abstract accordingly.

Moreover, consider the audience when customizing your abstract. Think about the level of expertise and the interests of your potential readers.

An abstract for a specialized journal in your field might use more technical language, while a conference abstract may need to be accessible to a broader audience.

Understanding your audience is key to creating an abstract that resonates with them.

Abstract Sample

Here’re some abstract examples to illustrate the different abstract format which are popular and acceptable among researchers and research journals.

Abstract Sample 1 : From the social sciences

Research Paper: Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography, vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.


Abstract Sample 2: From the humanities

Research Paper: Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.


Sample Abstract /Summary 3: From the sciences

Research Paper: Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell, vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

Note: This journal calls this paragraph at the beginning of the article a “Summary,” rather than an “Abstract.” This journal provides multiple ways for readers to grasp the content of this research article quickly. In addition to this paragraph-length prose summary, this article also has an effective graphical abstract, a bulleted list of highlights list at the beginning of the article, and a two-sentence “In Brief” summary.


Abstract example 4: A Structured Abstract

From Social Sciences

Research Paper: Entrepreneurial Need for Achievement in China, Latvia, and the USA

Carraher, S. M., Buchanan, J. K., & Puia, G. (2010). Entrepreneurial need for achievement in China, Latvia, and the USA. Baltic Journal of Management, 5(3), 378-396.


Purpose: The decision one makes to engage in entrepreneurial activity is affected by many different motivators. The paper aims to focus on one specific motivator for entrepreneurial activity which is the Need for Achievement. The prevailing methods of studying achievement motivation will also be discussed as shall constructs related to Need for Achievement. The paper also examines the dynamics of achievement motivation. The dynamic ability of individual traits is important, if it were not one’s traits would be constant and not capable of being changed or developed. Some of the main factors that can influence achievement motivation are also examined in the paper.

Design/methodology/approach: Design/methodology/approach Specifically, data from 249 entrepreneurs from the USA, 220 from China, and 173 from Latvia were used in order to examine the relationships between variables related to Need for Achievement.

Findings: Findings Goal orientation, conscientiousness, cognitive complexity, age, and gender were found to be able to account for 29.4 percent of the variance in Need for Achievement among American entrepreneurs, 45.3 percent among Chinese entrepreneurs, and 33.5 percent among Latvian entrepreneurs. Differences are found between the countries with cognitive complexity being statistically significant in the USA and China, but not in Latvia. Gender was significant in the USA and China but not in Latvia. Age was not significantly related to Need for Achievement in any of the three countries, while goal orientation and conscientiousness were significantly related to Need for Achievement in all three countries. Finally, the implications of this research as well as areas that need to be considered for future research are discussed.

Research limitations/implications: Research limitations/implications The paper is limited to entrepreneurs of small to medium‐sized enterprises in North America, Asia, and the Baltics. The implications of the research include that Need for Achievement is important for entrepreneurs across these three very diverse cultures and that variables related to Need for Achievement vary between the countries. As Need for Achievement is related to economic development, it is important to understand the factors which might be able to influence the Need for Achievement of entrepreneurs from around the world.

Originality/value: Originality/value The development of entrepreneurs is important if economies desire to have sustainable growth. Little empirical research has examined these issues with data‐sets from three continents. Even less research has examined these issues among entrepreneurs. The paper addresses these areas.

From Sciences

Research paper: Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics, vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.


“Objective The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

Methods: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

Result: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

Conclusion: ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Conclusion: How to Write An Abstract

Writing an abstract is a valuable skill for research students.

A well-structured and concise abstract can significantly enhance the visibility and impact of your research.

Remember that an abstract is more than a formality; it’s a powerful tool for conveying your research’s essence to the academic community.

In this guide, we have explored the art of crafting an effective abstract, from understanding its purpose to identifying key components and adhering to word limit guidelines.

We’ve emphasized the importance of clarity, the use of past tense, and the avoidance of citations in your abstract.

We’ve also highlighted the need to showcase key results and the significance of your research, as well as the importance of revision, proofreading, and seeking feedback.

By following these guidelines and considering the nuances of your field and target audience, you can master the art of creating impactful abstracts.

Your abstract is your research’s ambassador, inviting readers to explore the wealth of knowledge you’ve contributed to your field.

Make it engaging, informative, and memorable, and your work will undoubtedly shine in the academic realm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Writing an Abstract

1. What is an abstract?

An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper, thesis, or academic article.

It provides an overview of the research’s main objectives, methods, results, and conclusions.

2. Why is an abstract important?

An abstract is important because it is often the first thing readers encounter.

It helps them decide whether to read the full document, making it a critical tool for attracting and informing your audience.

3. What are the key components of an abstract?

An effective abstract typically includes the research objective, methodology, results, and conclusion.

These components provide a well-rounded summary of the research.

4. How long should an abstract be?

The length of an abstract varies depending on the requirements of the venue (e.g., journal, conference). However, a typical abstract is around 150 to 250 words.

5. Should I use technical jargon in my abstract?

It’s best to avoid technical jargon in your abstract. Use clear and simple language that can be understood by a broad audience, including those who may not be experts in your field.

6. Can I include citations and references in my abstract?

No, an abstract is not the place for citations or references.

It should focus solely on summarizing your research, leaving the citations for the main body of your paper.

7. How do I make my abstract engaging?

To make your abstract engaging, highlight the most significant findings and emphasize the importance of your research.

Use clear language, active voice, and a concise writing style.

8. Should I seek feedback on my abstract before finalizing it?

Yes, seeking feedback from colleagues, mentors, or peers is highly recommended.

Fresh perspectives can provide valuable insights and help improve the quality of your abstract.

9. Can I use the same abstract for different audiences and venues?

While the core content can remain the same, it’s a good practice to customize your abstract to meet the specific requirements and preferences of different audiences and venues.

Adapt the details to match the expectations of each place where you intend to present your research.

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