How to Write a Good Abstract for a Research Paper
Abstracts of many research scientific papers are sometimes written without essential elements. They might leave out important information and often describe pretty common picture. This post is intended to provide you with guidelines for writing all necessary elements which can be very useful for young researchers in mastering their writing skills.
A research paper is a series of parts and the abstract is one of the most important. The reason is, it is the first part of the paper that the reader will probably take a look at, so interest in reading further can be sparked only by properly written abstract. It is supposed to set the tone for the paper. In order to do this, the abstract should have some qualities.
Sections of an abstract
There are several sections that need to be included: background, methods, results and conclusions. Sometimes different universities require slightly different titles for the sections, so check with your tutor about this.
This section should be no longer than two or three sentences and should shortly describe the following:
- Information that is already available to the reader about the topic
- Connection between available information and the research paper (what needs to be examined by you)
In some cases background is written in one sentence; the length really depends on the length of entire paper. The main purpose of this section is to provide the reader with background information about the subject and provide a smooth transition to the next section. Please pay attention to the length of your abstract because the more space you use for it, the less space will be there for presentation of the results.
Methods of study
The main purpose of this section is to show the reader what have you done in order to prove your point, and how did you do it. There are mandatory elements which should be included, such as sample size, duration of study, and numbers of people in groups and so on. For example, if you are writing a paper on medical topic, you may include information about means of gathering, sample sizes in various groups, experiments setting (if necessary), time of the study and instruments that were used on patients and so on.
Results of the findings
This section is considered to be the most important, because professors expect the highest quality possible. Naturally, it is the longest part of the abstract and should include as much relevant information as it can. Let's continue with medical example: here you may include the number if people that were participating in your study, drop rates, results of your primary and secondary analysis, existing risks, limitation of the study and standard variations.
That’s the “lesson' part of the abstract: it should convey outcomes of the study as precise as possible. Describe primary results of the research and secondary findings and include perspective data on the subject. It is recommended not to claim about something that presented data can prove because writers should be trusted by readers.