An abstract is a piece of writing that summarizes a larger piece of writing such as a research paper. It describes the main points of a piece in bold and powerful statements. What the paper details are dependent on what type of paper it is. If it's a science paper it might include the main purpose, contents, and results. A humanitarian piece would probably detail a thesis, background, and conclusion. Abstracts typically contain major keywords found in the larger piece of writing, but it is in no way a review or evaluation.
Abstracts are mainly used to guide people to your writing and help them decide if it's worth reading or not. They are often used for selection and indexing. Scientific journals and other articles often used for research will usually have an abstract to help search for it. Online databases use abstracts to make it easier for people to do research on a particular subject. This is why it's important to contain keywords from the piece in abstracts. This makes searching much more efficient. The abstract should always be a completely separate piece and never contain direct entries from the main article.
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