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First impressions are always important, and in the case of your research paper, it is the abstract that the reader gets to see first. Hence, it is good to know how to write the perfect beginning. This paper explains the purpose of an abstract and provides some useful tips to help you write the best one.

Some people say of abstract as a movie trailer. It summarizes key points of research and movie trailer summarizes the plot of a movie. Abstract captures readers’ attention – they read the full article; movie trailer captures audiences’ attention – they watch the full movie.

When you are writing abstract, compare your article to your paper’s headings. Embed many keywords (search terms) and remember, readers will have their first contact with your research in your beginning. Many people decide whether go up and read the whole article based on the abstract that you present.

The magic formula for your successful paper writing is CCC:

C – clear (use simple sentences, avoid the compound ones).
C – concise (it should be maximum 200-250 words. Don’t waste your paper on the long attraction).
C – captivating (the main thing is to grab reader’s attention).

What is an Abstract and How to Write it? Abstract Types and Elements

An abstract is short and useful information about the paper. Since it’s a comprehensive summary, this means that usually, you’ll be writing it at the end, after the rest of the paper has been completed. It will be really helpful for you not to try to do it before because you are not sure what the paper is going to say after it has been written. It helps the reader quickly understand the paper’s purpose.

The main aims of the abstract are to give an overview of your topic, get the reader’s interest, develop the reader’s trust and summarize your study. It begins with a brief description of the article’s main theme. It accurately summarizes the purpose of the research, describes the methodology that is used and academic or practice implications of the results/findings. Abstracts are the summaries of your paper, and like your paper, it will tell the story.

Writing of your abstract is not hard at all, just follow our small advice:
1. An abstract is like a trailer or preview of your research paper. It determines if people will read your full paper.
2. Don’t hurry! Put all your thoughts together and take your time.
3. Write the abstract after you finish writing your paper.
4. Choose the main points of your introduction/conclusion.
5. Mention the problem you are trying to solve or what motivates you to do this.
6. Pick your key points from the methods section.
7. Mention how you want to achieve your objective.
8. Pick out the major findings from the results section.
9. Don’t add any new information or undefined abbreviations.
10. Link your sentences, to make the information flows clearly.
11. Check if the points presented in your paper are consistent.
12. Check if the final abstract meets the guidelines of your target journal.

Learn More About Types of Abstract

There are two main types of abstracts: structured and unstructured abstracts.
The structured paper very clearly separates background, methods, results, and conclusion. It’s very comfortable for the reader, as the work is already divided into the main parts. Because of the defined sections and full coverage of paper, it is easy for people to understand.

If it is the unstructured type, it still needs to provide the reader with introduction, methods, results, and conclusion. It usually has only 1 paragraph, has no clear structure and needs to ensure enough given information.

Modern scientists single out four new types. The type you are writing depends on your discipline area:
1. Critical – need to understand how the author presents the original text and how well the main point of your critical paper should restate the main idea the author develops during the paper. You need to show your evaluation on the certain subject.
2. Highlight – equals to advertising. Its main idea is to attract your attention in any possible way.
3. Descriptive – to represent or explain, without giving a comparison. Describes the major points of the project to the reader. It is used in humanities and social studies.
4. Informative – gives you some facts about the purpose, rather informs all essential points to the reader than evaluate it. It is used in science, engineering and information technology. Answers the questions: Why did you do this study or project? What did you do and how? What did you find? What do your findings mean?

Four Essential Parts Your Abstract Need to Have

There are four parts that kind of paper has to contain:

1. Objective/introduction: the purpose of the introduction is to introduce the topic. It provides background information about the topic and states the objective of the research. The opening sentence needs to seize your readers’ attention to state the problem and state the purpose. Don’t be afraid to start your purpose sentence with “The main goal of this study is… “. That’s a good way to start. It answers the questions: Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling? To make you understand better, we will show you the example of a topic called “Homelessness.”

For instance: Homelessness is associated with many health risks, including high body mass index (BMI). The main goal of this study is to investigate the relationship between homelessness and BMI among Baltimore teenagers.

2. Methods: the purpose of the methods is to describe the techniques used in experimenting. It should be brief and include only necessary details. Now, you are not going to have a lot of space to go into great details about your methodology. If the use of the certain instrument is common in your field, you don’t need to go in great length about it. Ask yourself, what are the most important details about my methodology? In other words, what will readers need to know to understand your results and your conclusions?

For example, High school students around the city anonymously reported their housing status, height, and weight. Height and weight were then converted to BMI.

3. Results: the purpose of the results is to relate the observations and data collected during the experiment. It should be concise and informative and include only the most important results. Just like in methods section, you need to ask yourself a question: What are the most important results? Focus on the result that relates most strongly to your problem and purpose, and to your conclusions and implications. Ask yourself: as a result of completing the above procedure: what did you learn/invent/create?

Here is the result in your example: Homelessness was found to be associated with higher BMI.

4. Conclusion: the purpose of the conclusion is to state the evaluation or analysis of the experiment results. It briefly states the implications of the results and suggests possible future research. This section should point back to your problem and purpose. What do your results mean in the context of your problem?

Here’s the conclusion: Further investigation is needed to determine the causes of high BMI among youths experiencing homelessness.

Things That are Forbidden for Abstract

It’s very good to know what to do and how to do it correctly, but the best thing is to know what not to do at all. The abstract should not contain lack of balanced coverage or hold back significant points of information. References go in the body of the text, but not in the abstract. Some articles are too long. Usually, that are 300-400 words. The common problem is using the same sentence for the first line of the abstract and the first line of the introduction. That paper can not contain figures, tables, or in-text references.

The next concepts are not appropriate for use in your abstract:

Slang (vocabulary that is used between people who belong to the same social group and who know each other well).
Dialect (a variety of a language that signals where a person comes from).
Jargon (a type of language that is used in a particular context and may not be well understood outside that context).
Sentences with incomplete thoughts.
Details that are anyhow connected with a topic.

Talking about the elements of the research paper, there should be 4 of them: objective, methods, results, and conclusion.

The Process of Writing

Certain characteristics make a good abstract.

A good abstract uses an active voice.

– Reports rather that evaluates.

– Writes about events, that was in the past.

A good abstract is concise yet dense:

– Do not exceed 250 words.

– If you study “extends of replicates previous work,” cited in the paper.

– Lead sentence must be “maximally informative.”

– Do not waste space by repeating the title.

– What are the most important 4 or 5 concepts, findings, or implications?

– Use digits for all numbers except those at the beginning of the sentence.

A cool beginning is well organized:

– Names the problem under study (1 sentence).

– General description of participants and setting.

– Methods.

– Findings.

– Conclusions/implications.

It should also be self-contained:

– Must contain the purpose and content of the manuscript.

– Do not include information that does not appear in the body of the paper.

If you follow these instructions step by step, you will finish your paper well.

Bottom Line

Abstracts are very important parts of reports, research papers, and sometimes academic assignments. Due to them, the audience reads whole article or story. Even though they are very short texts, they can be difficult to write because they involve condensing a lot of meaningful information into a few words. Writing an abstract requires the writer/researcher to be very concise.  If you have some interesting ideas, don’t procrastinate! It is the best to write the article immediately after you finish your project while the ideas are still fresh in your mind.

The post The Easiest Way of Writing an Abstract for a Research Paper appeared first on Bla Bla Writing.

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