Cathy A.
Cathy A.

How to Write an Abstract For a Research Paper with Examples

12 min read

Published on: Jan 19, 2024

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

How To Write An Abstract For A Research Paper

Struggling to encapsulate your extensive research into a concise abstract? Writing an abstract for a research paper can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! 

This blog is your guide to deciphering the abstract, understanding its purpose, and learning the art of writing your own.

We'll break down the abstract into clear, simple steps. We'll show you what it is, why it matters, and most importantly, how to write one that's clear, concise, and grabs your reader's attention. 

So, leave your confusion behind, and let’s dive into it!

On This Page

What is an Abstract in a Paper?

An abstract in a research paper is a concise summary that provides an overview of the main points and key elements of the entire document. It is typically found at the beginning of academic papers, articles, or research reports. 

The abstract serves as a standalone piece that briefly communicates the purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions of the study.

Usually ranging from 150 to 250 words, an abstract provides readers with a quick overview of the entire text.

Purpose of Abstracts

Abstracts serve several essential purposes in academic and professional settings, and therefore the importance of abstracts in research can not be overlooked. The primary objectives of abstracts include:

  • Concise Summary: Distills key elements for quick understanding.
  • Quick Information Retrieval: Saves time by offering a snapshot of document relevance.
  • Decision-Making Tool: Helps researchers choose studies aligning with their objectives.
  • Communication of Research: Disseminates findings to diverse audiences effectively.
  • Database Indexing: Facilitates efficient literature review in academic databases.
  • Conference and Journal Submissions: Essential requirement for evaluating contributions' merit and relevance.

When to Write an Abstract?

We need to include an abstract when:

  • Submitting research papers for publication.
  • Sending research proposals for conferences or academic events.
  • Completing theses, dissertations, or comprehensive reports.
  • Drafting articles for scholarly journals.
  • Presenting academic projects or detailed proposals.

Types of Abstract

There are 2 basic types of abstract writing:

Type 

Description

Descriptive Abstract

A brief summary, around 100-200 words, providing an overview of the research focus without delving into specific methods, results, or conclusions.

Informative Abstract

A more detailed summary, approximately 250-300 words, encompassing key aspects of the research, including methods, results, and conclusions. It aims to offer readers a comprehensive understanding of the study's design, outcomes, and implications.

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The Contents of an Abstract

An abstract typically includes the following components:

  • Purpose/Objective: Clearly states the primary goal of the research or document.
  • Methods/Approach: Briefly outline the methodology or approach used in the study.
  • Results/Findings: Highlights the main outcomes or discoveries of the research.
  • Conclusions/Implications: Summarize the key conclusions and their broader significance.

Another way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. It stands for:

  • Introduction: Introduces the research topic and the problem under investigation.
  • Methods: Describes the research methods and experimental design employed.
  • Results: Presents the main findings or outcomes of the study.
  • Discussion: Analyzes the results, discusses their implications, and draws conclusions.

Adhering to the IMRaD structure ensures a logical flow in your abstract, making it comprehensible and informative for readers.

How to Write an Abstract in 5 Steps?

Let’s take a look at the simple steps to write an abstract for a research paper: 

Step 1: Craft an Engaging Introduction 

Begin by clearly defining the purpose of your research. Identify the practical or theoretical problem your research addresses and state the research question you aim to answer. 

Provide brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic without delving into detailed background information. If using specialized terms, offer concise definitions. 

Use verbs like "investigate," "analyze," or "evaluate" to describe your research objective. Write in the present or past simple tense, avoiding references to the future, as the research is already complete.

Example:

Good Example:

This study aims to explore the impact of renewable energy sources on urban air quality. Investigating the relationship between sustainable energy practices and air pollution, the research seeks to evaluate the potential benefits for urban environments.

Bad Example:

In this study, we will be exploring the potential impact of renewable energy sources on urban air quality. We will be investigating the relationship between sustainable energy practices and air pollution to evaluate the potential benefits for urban environments.

Step 2: Outline Your Methods Clearly

Outline the research methods and experimental design employed in your study. Refrain from evaluating the validity or challenges of your methodology. Provide a clear description of how you conducted your research, including any specific techniques, tools, or procedures used.

Be concise but offer enough detail for readers to understand the approach you took. Use the past simple tense to describe methods. 

Example:

Good Example:

Using a randomized control trial, this research gathered data from 500 participants in urban areas. Employing air quality monitoring stations and surveys, the study assessed the correlation between renewable energy adoption and reductions in particulate matter concentrations.

Bad Example:

In this research, a randomized control trial was utilized to collect data from 500 participants located in urban areas. The study employed a combination of air quality monitoring stations and surveys to assess the correlation between the adoption of renewable energy and reductions in particulate matter concentrations.

Step 3: Present Your Results with Precision

Highlight the main findings or outcomes of your research. Summarize the data collected and present key results without interpretation. Use clear and specific language to convey the essential elements of your study.

This section of the abstract can use either present or past simple tense.

Example:

Good Example:

The study revealed a statistically significant decrease in particulate matter levels in areas with higher adoption rates of renewable energy sources. Data analysis demonstrated a 15% reduction in air pollutants, supporting the hypothesis that sustainable energy practices positively impact urban air quality.

Bad Example:

Our research showed that using renewable energy helps reduce air pollution in cities. The data we collected suggests a significant decrease in pollutants, proving that sustainable energy is beneficial for urban environments.

Step 4: Articulate a Thoughtful Discussion

Analyze the results and discuss their implications. Interpret the findings in the context of your research question and objectives. Explore the broader significance of your results and any potential applications or recommendations.

Include brief mentions of any significant limitations in your research, such as those related to sample size or methods. This provides readers with insights to assess the credibility and generalizability of your study.

Example:

Good Example:

The observed reduction in air pollutants suggests that promoting renewable energy initiatives can contribute to mitigating urban air quality challenges. This finding emphasizes the importance of sustainable energy policies in fostering healthier and cleaner urban environments.

Bad Example:

Our research showed that using renewable energy is good for reducing air pollution. It's important to promote sustainable energy to make cities cleaner and healthier.

Step 5: List Relevant Keywords

Conclude your abstract by listing keywords that capture the essential concepts and topics addressed in your research. These keywords assist in indexing and categorizing your work for easy retrieval in academic databases.

Example:

Good Example:

Renewable energy, urban air quality, sustainable practices, particulate matter, environmental impact.

Bad Example:

Air, pollution, cities, energy, impact.

Abstract Examples

Below are some samples to help you understand how to write an effective abstract for a research paper: 

Sample Abstract 1

Abstract for a research paper humanities

Reference:

Bagó, B., Kovács, M., Protzko, J., Nagy, T., Kekecs, Z., Pálfi, B., Adamkovi?, M., Adamus, S., Albalooshi, S., Albayrak?Aydemir, N., Alfian, I., Alper, S., Solas, S. Á., Alves, S. G., Amaya, S., Andresen, P., Anjum, G., Ansari, D., Arriaga, P., . . . Aczél, B. (2022). Situational factors shape moral judgements in the trolley dilemma in Eastern, Southern and Western countries in a culturally diverse sample. Nature Human Behaviour, 6(6), 880–895. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-022-01319-5

Sample Abstract 2

Social sciences Abstract 

Reference

Hanlon, M., Yeung, K., & Zuo, L. (2021). Behavioral Economics of Accounting: A review of archival research on individual decision makers*. Contemporary Accounting Research, 39(2), 1150–1214. https://doi.org/10.1111/1911-3846.12739

Sample Abstract 3

Abstract for the Sciences

Reference: 

Widén, E., Junna, N., Ruotsalainen, S., Surakka, I., Mars, N., Ripatti, P., Partanen, J., Aro, J., Mustonen, P., Tuomi, T., Palotie, A., Salomaa, V., Kaprio, J., Partanen, J., Hotakainen, K., Pöllänen, P., & Ripatti, S. (2022). How Communicating Polygenic and Clinical Risk for Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Impacts Health Behavior: an Observational Follow-up Study. Circulation, 15(2). https://doi.org/10.1161/circgen.121.003459

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Sample IMRaD Abstract

Abstract

Background: High-Intensity Interval Training (H3) has gained popularity as an effective exercise strategy, but its specific impact on cardiovascular health remains a subject of ongoing research. This study aims to investigate the effects of H3 on various cardiovascular parameters, including heart rate, blood pressure, and endothelial function.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 100 participants, aged 25-45, who were assigned to either an H3 intervention group or a control group engaging in moderate-intensity continuous exercise. The H3 group underwent a 6-week training program consisting of short bursts of intense exercise alternated with periods of rest, while the control group engaged in traditional continuous aerobic exercise.

Results: Our findings reveal a significant improvement in cardiovascular health markers among participants in the H3 group. A statistically significant reduction in resting heart rate (p < 0.05) and systolic blood pressure (p < 0.01) was observed compared to the control group. Furthermore, H3 participants demonstrated enhanced endothelial function, as evidenced by a significant increase in flow-mediated dilation (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: High-Intensity Interval Training (H3) appears to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, as indicated by improvements in resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and endothelial function. These findings suggest that H3 may be an effective and time-efficient exercise strategy for individuals seeking to enhance their cardiovascular well-being. Further research is warranted to explore the long-term effects of H3 and its applicability across diverse populations.

Here are some PDF samples of the abstract; check them out for a more detailed understanding: 

Tips For Writing an Abstract

Here are some essential tips for writing an effective abstract:

  • Understand the Types: Familiarize yourself with different types of abstracts – such as descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts.
  • Clarity is Key: A good abstract is clear, concise, and easily understandable. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complex language.
  • Follow a Structure: Organize your abstract with a structured format, including the research problem, methodology, key findings, and conclusions.
  • Stay Within Word Limits: Adhere to specified word limits. Balancing brevity while conveying essential information is crucial.
  • Define the Research Problem: Clearly state the research problem or objective to provide context for your study.
  • Highlight Methodology: Briefly describe the methods used in your research, giving readers insight into your approach.
  • Include Vital Information: Specify the type of information covered in your research abstract.
  • Active Voice and Strong Verbs: Use active voice and strong verbs to convey a sense of authority and engagement.
  • Follow Guidelines: Adhere to formatting requirements stated in the title page or table of contents.
  • Choose Impactful Keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords that potential readers might use when searching for similar studies.
  • Revise and Edit: Prioritize the clarity and coherence of your abstract, ensuring it aligns with guidelines and objectives.

 Abstract Checklist

Here's a checklist for writing an abstract for a research paper:

Aspect

Checklist Item

Title

Clearly reflects the content of the research

Background

Briefly introduces the research problem or context

Objective/Purpose

Clearly states the aim or objective of the study

Methods

Describes the research design and methodology used

Results

Summarizes key findings without interpretation

Conclusion

Presents the main conclusions drawn from the study

Keywords

Includes relevant keywords for search optimization

Length

Adheres to the specified word limit 

Originality/Significance

Highlights the novel aspects or importance of the study

In summary, writing a compelling abstract is essential for conveying your research paper's core elements concisely. Remember, clarity and brevity are key. Feel free to revisit the examples provided for inspiration. 

If you face challenges in any section, including the abstract, reach out to CollegeEssay.org for professional assistance. Our expert writing service is here to guide you through academic intricacies. 

Get research paper writing help today for tailored support in achieving your scholarly goals.

Cathy A.

WRITTEN BY

Cathy A. (Marketing, Literature)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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