How To Write An Abstract For Your Research Paper

Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Akwaowo Akpan

Writing a project or thesis can be really daunting. This is basically because of how technical it can be to curate. Writing an abstract is one of the hardest parts of writing a dissertation or thesis. In this article, you’ll learn how to write an abstract.

Do really take your time to go through and learn the specifics of how to write your next abstract.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a brief summary of a lengthy piece of writing (such as a dissertation or research paper). The abstract clearly summarises the goals and findings of your research so that readers understand exactly what the paper is about.

When you’ve finished the rest of the text, write the abstract at the conclusion. It must contain the following four items:

  • Your research question and aims
  • Your strategies
  • Your main findings or arguments
  • Your final thought

When should an abstract be written?

When writing a thesis, dissertation, research paper, or submitting an article to an academic journal, you will almost always be required to include an abstract.

Usually, the abstract should always be the final thing you write. It should be an entirely separate, self-contained work, not a paraphrase of your paper or dissertation. An abstract should be totally understandable by someone who hasn’t read your entire paper or relevant sources.

The simplest way to write an abstract is to mimic the format of the bigger work—imagine it as a miniature version of your dissertation or research article. In most circumstances, this means that the abstract must have four crucial aspects.


Begin by stating the aim of your research. What practical or theoretical issue is the research addressing, or what research question are you attempting to answer?

You may offer some brief perspective on the social or intellectual relevance of your topic, but do not go into detail.

Declare the goal of your investigation after identifying the problem. To express exactly what you want to do, use verbs such as examine, test, analyze, or evaluate.

This section of the abstract can be stated in either the present or past simple tense, but should never refer to the future because the research has already been completed.

For example: The purpose of this study is to look into the causes of motorcycle accidents.


Describe the research methods you utilized to answer your question. This section should consist of a one- or two-sentence summary of what you did. Because it refers to accomplished actions. It is frequently written in the past simple tense.

With 25 individuals, structured interviews were done.

Don’t analyze validity or difficulties here—the purpose is to offer the reader a rapid overview of the broad strategy and processes you utilized, not to give an account of the methodology’s merits and limitations.


Then, summarize your key research findings. This section of the abstract can be written in either the present or past simple tense.

For example: For example; Our research found a robust cause of motorcycle accidents.

You may not be able to include all results here depending on how extensive and involved your research is. Make an effort to highlight only the most important findings that will help the reader understand your conclusions.


Finally, present your research’s primary findings: what is your solution to the problem or question? The reader should have a clear comprehension of the major argument that your research has proven or argued by the end. In most cases, conclusions are written in the present simple tense.

For example:

We came to the conclusion that motorcycle accidents are usually caused by over-speeding and alcoholism.

If your research has significant limitations (for example, sample size or methodologies), you should describe them briefly in the abstract. This enables the reader to appropriately assess your research’s reliability and generalizability.

If your goal was to solve a practical problem, your conclusions could include implementation advice. If applicable, you may give brief ideas for additional investigation.


If your article is going to be published, you may need to include a list of keywords at the conclusion of the abstract. These keywords should refer to the most important aspects of the research in order to assist potential readers in finding your paper via their own literature searches.

Please keep in mind that certain publication guidelines, such as APA Style, have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

Guidelines for Writing an Abstract

It can be difficult to summarize your entire dissertation into a few hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) section that people see, so it’s critical to get it right. These ideas can assist you in getting started.

Outline in reverse

Not every abstract will include the same elements. If your research has a different format (for example, a humanities dissertation that builds an argument through themed chapters), you can write your abstract in reverse order.

List keywords for each chapter or part and write 1-2 sentences that describe the main point or argument. This will provide you with a framework for the structure of your abstract. Then, edit the sentences to demonstrate how the argument evolves and to draw links.

The abstract should provide a simplified summary of the entire tale and should only include material present in the main text. Reread your abstract to ensure that it provides a concise explanation of your general argument.

Read other people’s abstracts

Reading other people’s abstracts is the greatest method to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your area. You’ve undoubtedly already read a number of journal article abstracts when performing your literature review; try using them as a structure and style foundation.

There are also several dissertation abstract examples available in thesis and dissertation databases.

Write concisely and clearly

A good abstract is brief yet powerful, so make every word count. Each sentence should explain one important topic clearly.

Avoid filler words and complicated jargon—the abstract should be intelligible to people who are unfamiliar with your topic.

Concentrate on your own research

The goal of the abstract is to focus on the original contributions of your research, therefore avoid discussing other people’s work in your abstract, even if you discuss it extensively in the main body.

There’s no need to reference specific publications if you offer a line or two summarizing the scholarly background to frame your study and demonstrate its significance to a broader debate. Citations should only be used in an abstract if absolutely essential (for example, if your research responds directly to another study or revolves around one key theorist).

Examine your formatting properly

There are typically precise formatting requirements for the abstract if you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal. You can check the standards and prepare your work correctly. The APA abstract format can be used for APA research papers.

Always stay inside the word limit. If no restrictions for the length of the abstract have been provided, write no more than one double-spaced page.

Things to avoid while writing an abstract

Because the abstract is intended to provide a summary of your research, it normally has a stringent word length constraint. It can be difficult to condense all of the most crucial components of your work into a paragraph of 250 words or fewer.

Therefore, knowing what to avoid when writing the abstract, on the other hand, can make the process a little easier.

For example, the abstract should not include the following:

  • Background information that is lengthy (readers peruse your abstract to learn about your current work, not the previous work of other researchers)
  • Citations
  • Specifics about standard laboratory procedures
  • Information about the statistical methods or software used (unless this is the focus of your study)
  • Undefined abbreviations or acronyms (most journals will include a list of common abbreviations/acronyms that do not require definition; other journals do not allow the use of abbreviations/acronyms in the abstract)
  • Unresolved issues or interpretations that are not addressed in the text

How to Write an Abstract: Frequently Asked Questions

Why write an abstract?

An abstract is a brief description of a research paper (such as a journal article or dissertation). It provides two primary functions:

To assist potential readers in determining the significance of your publication for their own research.

To inform readers who do not have time to read the entire report about your important results.

Abstracts are frequently indexed with keywords in academic databases, making your work more discoverable. Because the abstract is the first thing a reader sees, it’s critical that it explains the contents of your article clearly and properly.

How long should a dissertation abstract be?

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is typically 200–300 words long. There is frequently a hard word limit, so check with your university’s requirements.

When should I start writing the abstract?

The abstract should be the final thing you write. You should only write it after you have completed your research so that you can accurately describe the totality of your thesis or paper.

In a thesis or dissertation, where does the abstract go?

The abstract is presented on its own page, following the title page and acknowledgments but before the table of contents.

Is it possible to reference sources in an abstract?

In your abstract, avoid citing sources. This is due to two factors:

The abstract should emphasize your original study rather than the work of others.

Without referring to other sources, the abstract should be self-contained and fully understood.

Other sources should be mentioned in an abstract in some cases, such as when your research replies directly to another study or concentrates on the work of a particular theory. Citations, on the other hand, should be avoided until absolutely necessary.


Following through this guide will show you how to write an abstract. Carefully follow all the tips given here and you’ll never get to struggle to write your thesis or dissertation again.

If you have any suggestions or contributions or questions, kindly ask in the comment section below.


  • Akwaowo Akpan

    Hi there, welcome to Online Studying Services. As a fan of authentic information and a student, I devise this means to offer reliable information to international students wishing to either study abroad or online. Thanks for stopping by!

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