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.

Why Write One?

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.




When Are they Written?

You can write abstracts for a variety of reasons. They can for online journals or college research papers. Scientific research or medical journals that are utilized for analysis have an abstract. They are also often in proposals. These could include book proposals, chapter proposals, and conference paper proposals. Abstracts are common for things like research grants or complete a dissertation.


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Consider Audience

When thinking about writing an abstract, it is important to consider the audience you are writing to. The primary use will be to help readers find your work as efficiently as possible. Make sure you know what fields you want to appeal to such as workers or other academics. Who will be searching for your paper and how can you make the search easier as well as capture the reader. Make sure readers have a clear and quick access to major points of your article or paper. Draw people into your work by using real information in a powerful way that makes them feel they have to read your piece.


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Identify the Purpose

The purpose of the abstract needs to be crystal clear to readers. Abstracts should easily help the potential reader understand why your research is important over someone else's. The problem should then be explained, the solution and research behind fixing the problem, and a conclusion of the results associated with the findings from the piece.


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Descriptive Abstracts

A descriptive abstract is one type of abstract that describes the information found in the work. There are no judgments in the piece nor is there research or conclusions. It contains keywords essential for searching and gets to the point of the content of the article. Some people call this type of abstract an outline of the piece of writing. Descriptive abstracts are generally concise and only consist of 100 words or so.


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Informative Abstracts

Informative abstracts are far more detailed and act as a surrogate for the main piece of writing. All of the main arguments are clearly summarized for readers to review. Significant research and findings are noted in the writing. Unlike a descriptive abstract, it does include the results and conclusions of the work. They are typically longer in size but should be no more than 10% of the size of the main writing piece.


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As we discussed, different abstracts will contain different information depending on what type of work is being abstracted. There are main points that should be kept in mind when outlining the work of any type of abstract. They should contain the reason for writing, problem, methodology, results, and implications. Furthermore, the information in the format may be written differently, but the format is the same.


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Always Include

There are also certain components that should be included in every abstract no matter what the main piece is. A full citation preceding the abstract should be clearly defined. The most important information should be in the beginning. Abstracts need to have the same style as the main piece of writing. Use keywords that identify the source and focus of the work, phrases as well. All abstracts should use a clear and powerful language to capture attention.


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Never Include

There are also some things that should never be done when writing an abstract. The abstract should never refer to other pieces of work in an extensive way. It shouldn't contain any information that isn't in the main piece of work. Terms should not be defined in the body of the abstract. The abstract shouldn't be lengthy and not include things that don't answer questions. It shouldn't contain too many generalizations and never cite websites like Wikipedia.


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Revise Often

Revising your work and revising often is key to a great success in writing an abstract. Whether it's your own work or you are writing an abstract for someone else it is important to go over the piece often. Remove boring words and replace them with powerful and bold ones. Keep the words to a minimum by using word counting features to help keep it concise and meaningful.


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