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If you need to write an abstract for an academic or scientific paper, don't panic!

Your abstract is simply a short, standalone summary of the work or paper that
others can use as an overview.[1] An abstract describes what you do in your essay,
whether its a scientific experiment or a literary analysis paper. It should help
your reader understand the paper and help people searching for this paper decide
whether it suits their purposes prior to reading. To write an abstract, finish your
paper first, then type a summary that identifies the purpose, problem, methods,
results, and conclusion of your work. After you get the details down, all that's
left is to format it correctly. Since an abstract is only a summary of the work
you've already done, it's easy to accomplish

An abstract is like a movie trailer. It offers a preview, highlights key points,


and helps the audience decide whether to view the entire work. Abstracts are the
pivot of a paper because many journal editorial boards screen manuscripts only on
the basis of the abstract. If your abstract doesnt grab their attention and make a
good first impression, theres a good chance your paper will be rejected at the
outset. Moreover, even after your paper is published, your abstract will be the
first, and possibly only, thing readers will access through electronic searches.
They will only consider reading the rest of the manuscript if they find your
abstract interesting.

For studies in the humanities and social sciences, the abstract is typically
descriptive. That is, it describes the topic of research and its findings but
usually doesnt give specific information about methods and results. These
abstracts may also be seen in review articles or conference proceedings. In
scientific writing, on the other hand, abstracts are usually structured to describe
the background, methods, results, and conclusions, with or without subheadings.

Now how do you go about fitting the essential points from your entire paper why
the research was conducted, what the aims were, how these were met, and what the
main findings wereinto a paragraph of just 200-300 words? Its not an easy task,
but heres a 10-step guide that should make it easier:

Begin writing the abstract after you have finished writing your paper.
Pick out the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and
Conclusion sections.
Select key sentences and phrases from your Methods section.
Identify the major results from your Results section.
Now, arrange the sentences and phrases selected in steps 2, 3, and 4 into a single
paragraph in the following sequence: Introduction, Methods, Results, and
Conclusions.
Make sure that this paragraph does not contain
new information that is not present in the paper
undefined abbreviations or group names
a discussion of previous literature or reference citations
unnecessary details about the methods used
Remove all extra information (see step 6) and then link your sentences to ensure
that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose; basic
study design, methodology and techniques used; major findings; summary of your
interpretations, conclusions, and implications.
Confirm that there is consistency between the information presented in the abstract
and in the paper.
Ask a colleague to review your abstract and check if the purpose, aim, methods, and
conclusions of the study are clearly stated.
Check to see if the final abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word
limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc.).
Now revisit your abstract with these steps in mind, and Im sure youll be able to
revise it and make it more attractive. Another thing you can do is go back to some
of the most interesting papers you have read during your literature review. Dont
be surprised if you find that they also happen to have some of the best abstracts
youve seen!

For a more detailed tutorial on writing a title and abstract, read the following
articles:

How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords

Why do journals ask for keywords?

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