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Abstract vs. Introduction: Academic Writing Guidelines

Abstract vs Introduction

Is this your first time writing a research paper or report? Are you confused about what to include in the abstract or introduction? Are you wondering how they differ from each other? Well then, you can relax. You are in the right hands. By the end of the article, you will know the difference between an abstract and an introduction, how to structure both of them, and so much more.

What is an Abstract or Introduction?

An abstract refers to a summary of your work, for example, a research report. It reports the outcomes/results, conclusions, methods, and discoveries you are attempting to make and the research aims. The word count of most abstracts ranges from 200 to 250. After all, you are not trying to give away all the information at the beginning of your work. What you want to do is get the reader’s attention.

An introduction, on the other hand, shows the idea behind the research. That is where you write your hypothesis and the problems you aim at solving. If you are not sure about the project’s direction, I would recommend that you write the introduction as the last thing. That ensures that you include all the significant points in the introduction.

What are the Guidelines for Writing an Abstract Sheet?

Guidelines for Writing Abstract and Introduction

Here are the guidelines for writing an abstract sheet.

  1. Kindly write using the past tense. That is because you are providing a report of your project or study.
  2. Market the abstract. Show the reader that you can give him/her any of the following:
  3. New and contrasting data that no one can explain using the current/existing analysis/theories.
  4. Latest data that goes against or supports existing theories.
  5. Show how your research can provide solutions for older theoretical challenges.
  6. Format the abstract as one paragraph.
  7. Maintain simplicity. However, ensure that the work does not give general ideas. You want to ensure that it is straightforward and concrete. I would recommend using examples from your work where possible.
  8. Avoid using indentations or numbering the page.
  9. Use layman terms where possible. That means that you should shy away from abbreviations or jargon. You want to ensure that anyone is comfortable reading your abstract.
  10. Read through the work and delete repetitive ideas or redundant words. You want to avoid having a wordy abstract.
  11. Keep away from citations, illustrations, figures, or images. It would be best if you had simple text in this section.
  12. Use few words and ensure you are writing within context. To ensure that when writing your abstract, you could begin by picking the main points from all sections of the paper; make correct sentences, and read through them; Finally, come up with a summary of the sentences. Pick only the points that make the abstract watertight. Otherwise, if you pick too many or arguable ones, it will be challenging for you to defend them when it comes to giving an in-depth explanation.
  13. Ensure that the abstract does not have elliptical (that refers to the following symbols “…”) or hints of vague ideas or sentences.

What are the Guidelines in Writing the Introduction?

  1. Show the importance of everything that you mention. Avoid giving statements and leaving them in that manner. Please provide a brief description of their relevance.
  2. Remember to state the hypothesis. It is meant to hook your reader, so make it as juicy as possible. You could use research questions. However, ensure that you also provide an answer or explanation.
  3. Cite the introduction thoroughly. If you realize that the section has too many references, youcan use review articles for the citation. That is applicable only if the reviews reference the individual papers.
  4. Avoid using many citations for a single point. That does not refer to using different sources for the same sentence. What it means is, for example, if you have a 70-page journal and the content you require in general is from pages 35-56, you will not cite all those pages. What you should do instead is reference the specific pages relating to your point.
  5. Provide an overview of the research paper. You can include that in the last paragraph of the introduction. Some fields may not recommend that, so seek guidance from your supervisor.
  6. Ensure it is brief to avoid redundancy. You also want to avoid giving away too much information. You only want to get the reader’s attention here.

Do I Need an Introduction if I have an Abstract?

An introduction is mandatory for any paper. The abstract is, however, optional for some. That means that you have to consider writing the introduction regardless of whether you have a conclusive abstract.

An exception to that rule goes for high-profile journals that have categories known as short submissions or letters. In their case, the abstract serves the purpose of the introduction. It is a requirement to reference that abstract. You, therefore, need to consult the necessary audience before writing.

Some of the contents of both the abstract and introduction may be similar. Please keep reading to find out more about them.

What is the Difference Between an Abstract and an Introduction?

Although the abstract and introduction look similar and give information to a reader, they serve different purposes. The purpose of the abstract is to show what kind of study you are carrying out and the results you acquire. It offers very little background information.  The purpose of an introduction is to give background information. It shows your interest as a writer in a particular field. Below are other differences between an abstract and an introduction. The basis of the categories is the features either of them possesses.

The position

The abstract precedes the introduction. The table of contents also comes before the intro. You want to give the reader a little taste of what he/she should expect before they get to the introduction.

The vocabulary

Abstracts avoid the use of abbreviations or jargon. That means that anyone can read an abstract and understand it even if they do not specialize in the field at hand. However, the introduction goes a little deeper and therefore has some of the terms used in that field. It might be a little challenging to comprehend for a layperson.

The content

The intro never gives details about the results, conclusions, or methods used in the research, but the abstract does. The introduction may give hints or few points, but it will not explain them.After all, the abstract is a top-level summary and therefore needs to indicate your conclusion of the work and discoveries made.

The intro, however, needs only to inform your reader about your topic of discussion. Examples of details include historical information, an explanation of various terms, and a summary of former research. Where you mention the above background information in the abstract, ensure it is brief.

An example of a sentence to use in an intro of a salon management systems research would be,We had several female respondents for the survey. The abstract of the same paper would give a specific number of the respondents, the methods of sampling used, and characteristics of the samples, such as their age ranges.

The urgency/necessity

Some papers require both an introduction and an abstract. That is not, however, the case for all documentation. The intro is mandatory for all documents, but the abstract is optional. You, therefore, need guidelines for the particular paper you are handling.

The number of words

The appropriate length for an abstract ranges between 200 and 250, while the introduction is 500 or less. Some intros do not put a limit on the number of words. You, therefore, need to consult whoever is overseeing your work.

The references

You must accurately cite the introduction using the correct sources. References are not necessary for the abstract.

The searchability

As you carry out more research on the topic you are writing about, you will realize that whenever you carry out research, what you mostly come across is the abstract. That applies to published work.

An abstract is helpful for documentation that needs access. Based on the abstract, the researcher can verify if it is worth purchasing before going through the entire work. Most research papers are made of hundreds of pages, and the abstract therefore comes in handy because it reduces the time spent on going through documents that do not build the researcher’s investigation.

Abstract And Introduction: Example

Below is an example of an abstract

Most small and medium enterprises in the UK face the problem of poor management. That includes salons. For that reason, they are not able to go beyond their maturity stage or five years, yet they are the backbone of the country’s economy. The research aims to develop ways to improve management, specifically through the use of salon software.  If you improve governance, you will increase customer satisfaction and income.Questionnaires were sent to various salon owners, employees, and clients. The respondents were from high-end and low-end salons. They were primarily women between the age of 25 and 40. According to the results, most people prefer to use salon software to carry out activities like booking appointments, making payments, and keeping track of cash inflows and expenses. Many people are also quite comfortable using technology to carry out daily errands. After all, very many respondents have access to smartphones. It would therefore be wise to recommend salon owners to invest in salon management software.

Below is an example of an introduction

Are SMEs responsible for the country’s GDP? Research shows that annually they contribute 47% of the turnover since 2016. The number of those businesses has risen to 52%. They ensure that more people have employment in comparison to large companies(McGowan, 2019). That shows they are essential for the future of the UK. However, they face the problem of management, which disguises itself in the form of poor budgeting skills, lousy customer service, business strategies, and inefficient processes or systems. The beauty industry is on the rise, so the study solely focuses on salons (Roberts, 2021). The research aims at urging salon owners to use salon software to solve most of their management problems.

In chapter one, I go into depth about the challenges that salons face. Chapter two gives a literature review of existing software such as Salon Iris and Rosy. In chapter three, you will see the methodology I used. Chapters four, five, and six deal with the analysis, design, implementation, and software testing.

How do you Write an Abstract?

Shown below is the format of an abstract:

Introduction/background

Here you give a brief introduction of the topic and your thoughts concerning the same. Share what you know about former literature and make critics based on the information you have. Pointing out weaknesses of other studies puts you on the right track.

Goals/objectives

The reader can understand why carrying out the project was necessary.

The methodology

The section shows what you did and how you did it.

The results

Here you give a short report of your discovery. How does your research improve the particular field? Remember earlier on; you stated the limitations of previous studies. Now, this is where you explain.

The conclusion

The section shows your contribution to the research/study and the meaning of your findings. How do your results improve the particular field?

How do you Structure the Introduction?

Here is how to structure the introduction.

Introduction

Communicate to the reader what the topic is and its significance. Try and make that sentence as creative as possible. Ensure that it is clear and within context.

Background description

For an empirical paper, this is the opportune time to review former research. Discuss how yours is more relevant. However, avoid going into depth. Give only the necessary information and leave the rest for the body.

Describe the research problem

What problem does it attempt to solve?

Discuss your objectives

What does your research achieve?

Give an outline of the paper

That means that you tell the reader what to expect in various sections.

In conclusion, I recommend you first read through your work before writing either the introduction or abstract. Remember to stay calm if the two appear similar.

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