How to Write a Clear & Concise Abstract

Write a Clear & Concise Abstract

There are different components that make up a top-notch quality paper. Some of these elements may include an abstract, literature review, introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion among many others. An abstract should be written in brief, but concise form, and all the vital elements of the scientific study should be included. So many people are always left surprised when they hear that it is often the only part of an academic paper that is read and is widely available in various medical databases. Since the abstract is of significant importance, it is essential that the information contained in the abstracts are consistent with the data that is contained in the body of the main paper. Unfortunately, some lecturers have reported that the data contained in some abstracts are usually not consistent with the information in the article.

The definition of an abstract, using the simplest terms, is the summary of a particular article or research paper. At some point in time, I am always tempted to liken an abstract with an elevator. This is because it is always aimed at summarizing important ideas about a particular paper and it is intended to make the reader be interested in the ideas that have been presented. In other words, its primary objective is to entice the reader to want to read the entire manuscript. Since abstracts hold a lot of importance, it is essential that the writers take their adequate time to write excellent abstracts for their academic papers. It is essential to note that the essential role of an abstract can never be overemphasized. After the title, it is the second most read part of a manuscript. After the manuscript is submitted to a journal for consideration to be published, in most cases, the majority of the editors will only go through the abstract and assess whether the article is likely to meet all the academic requirements and preliminary criteria for it to be processed further.

When it comes to the first impression that is made by the title and the abstract, if the two were not well written, the entire paper can be perceived as weak and an individual will just proceed to read the second chapter. This paper will discuss abstracts that are in the context of research papers. The following section will be a discussion of the different types of abstracts.

Types of Abstracts

There are different types of abstracts: they could be either informational or descriptive. To begin with, the descriptive abstracts in most cases only portray what is contained in a particular paper without providing more information. In such a case, the reader will be required to go through the entire research article or academic journal for them to know what the entire paper contains. It is essential to note that such abstracts usually consist of 75-150 words and they are not often used in writing original research articles.

These types of abstracts are mostly seen with opinion and review articles, case reports, and other kinds of articles that do not have original research data. On the contrary, when it comes to informational abstracts, they are always intended to offer a gist of what is contained in the entire research article. In most cases, they are written in the form of a synopsis. They will include information on the entire research study and they can act as a proxy for the whole paper. One of the things people need to know is that the informational abstracts could be structured or unstructured. When writing your abstract, you should always try your best to keep it short, precise, and straight to the point. In most cases, a journal will have a maximum word count. Therefore, you should be cautious enough to check the requirements before you can begin writing your abstract so as to save your time or edit it later.

While writing your abstract, always remember to address it to your audience. Check whether there are specialists, non-specialists, and cross-disciplinarians in the field of study. Apparently, if you find yourself in a situation where you are writing for the general public, or your research paper could catch the attention of the general public, it is essential that you strive to keep the language of your work as straightforward as possible. For instance, if you are writing your content in English, you should always remember that not all of your audience will be English native speakers.

As a writer, you will need to strive as much as possible to concentrate on the key results, conclusions, and communicate your intended message without leaving any room for bias. The other most important thing is that you should concentrate on writing your entire paper first, then you could write the abstract later as a summary. You should also take your time to go through the instructions before you can start writing your abstract. This is because there is nothing as bad as sparing too much of your productive time to write something, only to realize when it is too late that you did not do the correct thing.

Most importantly, you should take your time to include the phrases and keywords that will assist your readers in searching for your work or documented finding in the indexing databases such as Google Scholar or PubMed. On the same note, you should crosscheck your abstract a couple of times and check whether there are any grammatical or spelling mistakes, which might ruin your paper. The good thing is that if they are free from any mistakes, it will be easier for the reviewers to accept the invitation of reviewing your manuscript. In your abstract, you should give your audience a taste of what will be presented in the main paper.

Don’ts of writing an abstract

  • Avoid sensationalizing your research
  • Avoid speculating about where the research might lead to
  • Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations unless the words are widely known.
  • Avoid repeating yourself unnecessarily.
  • Defining terms
  • Referring to other works or citations
  • Grammatical errors
  • Fluffy writing like lengthy background info
  • Routine or mundane details
  • Misleading conclusions
  • Lengthy background information (readers peruse your abstract to learn about your current work, not the previous work of other researchers)
  • Citations
  • Details about routine laboratory procedures
  • Details about the statistical methods or software used
  • Undefined abbreviations or acronyms
  • Results or interpretations that are not discussed in the text
  • Avoid contradicting your abstract with the rest of the paper.
  • Avoid including content that is not covered in your manuscript.

Do`s of writing an abstract

  • Always keep it short, precise, and straight to the point. It is essential to note that the majority of the journals always have a maximum word count and hence, you should take your time to check the guidelines before beginning to write the abstract.
  • Ensure that you are writing the abstract for your audience. Also, ensure that the language used can easily be understood by everyone.
  • Concentrate more on the important things such as the results, conclusions, and finally, the take-home message.
  • Complete your paper first then proceed to write your abstract.
  • Always remember to include key phrases or words that will assist your audience to search for your content.
  • Always double or triple-check your abstract and see whether there are any spelling or grammatical errors. Some of the mistakes can give your reviewers the wrong impression that your work is not up to the required standards. Therefore, your work will not be accepted for the review process.

Qualities of a Good Abstract

  • The abstract should include one or more concise and coherent paragraphs, which should consist of 200 to 300 words.
  • The abstract should utilize an introduction, body, conclusion structure. The abstract mentions the purpose, research questions, research methods, findings, conclusion, and finally the recommendation.
  • The abstract should add more information instead of just summarizing.
  • An individual should be able to understand the abstract without having to go through the entire paper.
  • It should provide a concentrated and condensed version of the full information.
  • It should not contain any citations.
  • It should not contain lengthy background information.

 

Objective of an Abstract

There is no doubt that an abstract plays a very important role since it acts as the representation of the entire findings of a dissertation or a thesis. When researching more about a topic or a subject, the abstract of the research will play a significant role in determining whether a particular set of information is worth reading or not. In other words, the abstract could be used as a selling point of your work. This is because it is used in presenting the topic of the dissertation or research in a way that will make other people interested in reading the entire work. If you want to write an abstract that will capture your audience`s attention and maintain it throughout the entire paper, you should follow the following tips.

Tips to Write an Abstract

  • Write the abstract of your paper last

When you write the abstract of your paper before the research paper, there is a high possibility that you might leave out important information. This is one of the reasons why you should always finish writing the abstract.

  • Identify the problem and the solutions

Your abstract should have an introduction that identifies a specific problem or challenge and how it can be resolved. It is essential for the writer to make everything clear from the beginning of the abstract since the audience will want to know what the thesis or dissertation is all about.

  • Stick to the word count

Generally, before you begin to write an academic paper, you should take your time to understand the instructions. Otherwise, there is a high possibility that you might find it out when it is too late that you used too much time doing the wrong thing. Usually, an abstract is not supposed to be more than 250 words, which can be equated to one page. You should always keep the word count in mind every time you are writing your abstract.

  • Include the methods and results in the information

A part of your abstract should mention the methods that were utilized and the results that were obtained. You should not forget to mention the most important bits of your findings.

  • Remember to be explicit in your research

Towards the end of your abstract, it would be best if you briefly mentioned how your results will affect the problem that was initially mentioned during the opening of the abstract. You should strive to stick to the fact at all times.

  • Keep reviewing and updating your abstract

If you wrote your abstract a couple of weeks ago and you believe that it is complete, it will never harm you to spare some time to review and update the entire abstract. The good thing about performing this essential role is that your views and perceptions might change and hence, it would be best to check whether your abstract reflects the changes in the viewpoints you have presented in your dissertation.

  • Make your abstract broad

Your abstract should not be meant for just a specific number of people. Instead, it should be meant for everyone. Therefore, you should take your time to ensure that it is broad enough for everyone to understand. The writer should avoid using technical jargon that might make a person misinterpret the intended meaning.

Conclusion

Writing an abstract is one of the easiest, yet most difficult tasks for any student. You will need to take your time to come up with something interesting, otherwise, there is a high possibility your thesis or dissertation will not be evaluated or published if it does not meet certain requirements. The good thing is that with the advancement of technology, any person can access information on anything provided they have a laptop or a smartphone, and a stable as well as secured internet connection. Hopefully, this paper will assist you with tips on how to come up with a clear and concise abstract for your research paper.

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