How to Write an Abstract in 10 minutes

You’ve worked hard on your paper, so it’s understandable that the last thing you want to do is to churn out a one-paragraph summary of your work. But an abstract is not just a way to summarize your work.

It is also a checklist of instructions for the people who will be reading and grading your paper. Think of it as a document that reveals all the ways your paper has failed and/or succeeded.

An abstract is usually presented at the beginning of a document, report, or presentation. And are mostly used when writing research proposals, journals, and dissertations. But they also show up in other kinds of writing, such as grant proposals and book summaries.

Here’s a simple guide to help you write an abstract in 10 minutes:

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a short description of your paper that tells the reader what it’s about and how it will be organized. It is essentially a summary of your whole paper. The goal of an abstract is to help readers get a glimpse of the entire paper without having to read through everything.  

Abstracts are typically one paragraph long. But it could be longer depending on the topic and length of the paper.

Abstracts contain four main elements.

Introduction: This is usually the first part of an abstract. Itexplains the topic in a few sentences.

Purpose: defines the purpose and importance of your research. That includes a statement of the problem or issue.

Methodology: that states the research methods used to answer your question.

Results: summarizes the main research results.

Conclusion: gives concise details about the implications of your research.

When to write an abstract

An abstract usually appears as the first part of your paper; it is written after you have completed your whole paper. It is a summary of your entire paper.

The abstract should be on its page, usually after the title page.

How to write an abstract like a pro

While it may seem like a daunting task, writing an abstract is easy peasy when you know what you are supposed to do. Here are some of the ways you can write an abstract like a pro:

  • Write your paper
  • Review the requirements
  • Consider your audience and publication
  • Consider your audience and publication
  • Explain the problem
  • Explain the methods that you used
  • Describe your findings
  • Include a conclusion

Write your paper

Since an abstract is a research paper summary, the first step is to write your paper. It is always best to save your abstract for the end so that you can summarize everything at the end.

Trying to write an abstract before completing your paper can be disastrous.

Why?

Things change. You might find new sources or change your methodology. Who knows? And it’ll be exhausting to keep changing little details before completing your paper.

Review the requirements

If you are writing for publication or part of your college project, there may be specific requirements regarding length or style.

It is always advisable to review paper requirements before you start writing the abstract.

Most common assignments will give a minimum word count or page length.

Consider your audience and publication

The primary purpose of an abstract is to provide a concise summary of the paper’s main points without spoiling its content for those who will read it in full.

Therefore, it is important to capture the readers’ attention by being concise and exciting. It should be structured so that readers can quickly grasp the essential ideas in the paper while providing enough detail to decide whether they want to read more or not.

Explain the problem

As you come up with a topic for your paper, you need to answer the question:

  • Is this a problem?
  • What’s the data/past research on the issue?
  • What’s the significance of this problem/argument?
  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • How will you solve the problem?

Explain the methods that you used

The methodology section answers the questions – how did you conduct your research? Did you use a quantitative or qualitative approach? How many people participated in the study? What was their gender/race/age?

The methodology section is one of the most important sections of your research paper. It will help you convince your readers that your work is as rigorous and valid as possible. It also reflects your ability to think critically about the topic at hand.

Describe your findings

Because an abstract is a summary of your paper, it is also important to include the findings. Give a short description of the discoveries you made as a result of your study. Make sure you highlight the most important findings.

Include a conclusion

This is the last part of your abstract, where you describe the implications of your study in a few sentences.

What is the IMRaD structure?

IMRaD stands for introduction (I), method (M), results (R), and discussion (D). It is a standard research project format used in medical and social sciences.

Introduction

This section provides background information about the studied problem and what makes it essential to study.

The introduction should include a summary of the existing research, your thesis statement, and an introduction to the current situation.

Method

This section describes how you performed your research – what kind of research you did, the procedures you followed in each step, and how long it took you to complete each step. It also includes any limitations that apply to your data.

Results

This section includes a detailed account of your findings and any results and data you uncovered.

Discussion

That is where you discuss any limitations of your study and suggest future directions for research in this area or suggest further studies or applications for what you have found out from your research.

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Quick Tips for writing an abstract

  • Be concise (about 100-150 words).
  • Convey the main ideas of the paper.
  • Be well organized, clear, and professional in your tone.
  • Follow specific formatting requirements for your abstract.
  • Include keywords from your entire paper in your abstract.

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