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Academic Writing Guide: Creating an Abstract

Creating an Abstract

A brief comprehensive description (frequently <100 words for conferences) of a piece of writing that highlights major points and findings and summarises your interpretations and conclusions.

An abstract is NOT a simple summary or critique.

  1. Motivation/problem statement: Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling?
  2. Methods/procedure/approach: What did you actually do to get your results? (e.g. reviewed some novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17 students)
  3. Results/findings/product: As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you learn/invent/create?
  4. Conclusion/implications: What are the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem/gap identified in step 1?
  • Attention grabbing. The abstract is often the first contact a reader has with your document.
  • An elevator pitch to convince others why they should read your work.
  • Should tell readers whether they want to look at your article in more detail.
  • Enables readers to quickly evaluate the relevance of an article to their own work.
  • Enables readers interested in the document to find it in indexes and databases.
  • Write the abstract after finishing the paper.
  • Be accurate. Only include information in the original document.
  • Be concise, get right to the point and use precise language. Include only 4 or 5 of the most important concepts, findings or implications.
  • Do not refer to the author (e.g., “Dr. Seuss argues”).
  • Do not refer to what type of document you are abstracting (e.g., “This book describes”).
  • Use active verbs whenever possible.
  • Use complete sentences.
  • Avoid jargon or colloquialisms.
  • Use familiar terminology whenever you can (and always explain terms that may be unfamiliar to the average reader).

Kent State University Library site

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Samples of Abstracts

DIT guide to writing an abstract for a Dissertation