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How to Write Research Abstracts: Writing the Abstract

Description of what a research Abstract is, how to conduct one, and examples.

Steps for writing the abstract

1. Take Notes on the article as you read it.  Write or highlight those things that stand out to you.  Don't highlight every sentence.  Think about what is important in each paragraph.

2. When you have finished reading the article ask yourself what do you now know about the topic.  Write that in a sentence.

3.  Why is that important?  Write that in a sentence.

4. What is the study about?  Write that in a sentence.

5. How was the study done?  Write that in a sentence.

6.  What was discovered?  Write that in a sentence.

7.  What do these findings mean?  Write that in a sentence.

8.  If you are writing a long essay type abstract, each of the previous sentences are the base sentence for a paragraph for your abstract.

9.  If you are writing a short abstract (500 words, or 1 to 2 pages) each of these sentences will be in the final abstract.  A few of them will need some elaboration.  Not all of them will.

10.  Brevity is best.  The main objective of an abstract is to encourage readers of your abstract to read the article for themselves to get the details.


Key words to use in an abstract

Here is a list of keyword that can be used in an abstract.

"objective is ..."

"are given"

"are tabulated"

"are graphed"

"are listed"

"is indicated"

"Procedures are given ..."

"is discussed"


"is described as ..."

"diagrams include ..."

experimental methodology is ..."

"results are ..."

"listed as ..."

Opening Sentence

There are 4 types of opening sentences.

1. State a real-world phenomena or a standard practice.

2. Start with a purpose or an objective.

3. Start with present research action.  (This is a general statement - and often contains words like "currently" or "presently" or some variation of those words.)

4. Start with a problem or an uncertainty.  (This statement often contains words like "unclear" or "uncertain," and is generally about relationships. between something.)

Methods Descriptions

Keep these short.  50 words.  Condense. 

Unless you are doing a long form abstract/essay.  In that case fully describe the method.


1.  Report specific results.

Follow the results summary with more detail - the General summary.

1. Point out general trends in the results.

2. Summarize the author's observations.


1.  Make it definitive and firm.

2.  Make it upbeat.

3.  Make it useful.

4.  Use words such as "applicable" or "demonstrate."

Final Check List

When the Abstract is complete review it using this checklist.

1. Does it fall within the word or page limit.

2.  Number of sentences is appropriate for the assignment.

3.  Make sure that the methods section is not too long.

4.  Check grammar and spelling.

5.  Check acronyms or abbreviations and make sure that they are easily understood or explained.

6.  Make sure all citations are complete and accurate.