Sample Abstracts For Research Papers

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How to Write an Abstract

Four Parts:Getting Your Abstract StartedWriting Your AbstractFormatting Your AbstractSample AbstractsCommunity Q&A

If you need to write an abstract for an academic or scientific paper, don't panic! Your abstract is simply a short, stand-alone summary of the work or paper that others can use as an overview.[1] An abstract describes what you do in your essay, whether it’s 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!

Steps

Part 1

Getting Your Abstract Started

  1. 1

    Write your paper first. Even though an abstract goes at the beginning of the work, it acts as a summary of your entire paper. Rather than introducing your topic, it will be an overview of everything you write about in your paper. Save writing your abstract for last, after you have already finished your paper.
    • A thesis and an abstract are entirely different things. The thesis of a paper introduces the main idea or question, while the abstract works to review the entirety of the paper, including the methods and results.
    • Even if you think that you know what your paper is going to be about, always save the abstract for last. You will be able to give a much more accurate summary if you do just that - summarize what you've already written.
  2. 2

    Review and understand any requirements for writing your abstract. The paper you’re writing probably has specific guidelines and requirements, whether it’s for publication in a journal, submission in a class, or part of a work project. Before you start writing, refer to the rubric or guidelines you were presented with to identify important issues to keep in mind.
    • Is there a maximum or minimum length?
    • Are there style requirements?
    • Are you writing for an instructor or a publication?
  3. 3

    Consider your audience. Abstracts are written to help readers find your work. For example, in scientific journals, abstracts allow readers to quickly decide whether the research discussed is relevant to their own interests. Abstracts also help your readers get at your main argument quickly. Keep the needs of your readers in mind as you write the abstract.[2]
    • Will other academics in your field read this abstract?
    • Should it be accessible to a lay reader or somebody from another field?
  4. 4

    Determine the type of abstract you must write. Although all abstracts accomplish essentially the same goal, there are two primary styles of abstract: descriptive and informative. You may have been assigned a specific style, but if you weren’t, you will have to determine which is right for you. Typically, informative abstracts are used for much longer and technical research while descriptive abstracts are best for shorter papers.[3]
    • Descriptive abstracts explain the purpose, goal, and methods of your research but leave out the results section. These are typically only 100-200 words.
    • Informative abstracts are like a condensed version of your paper, giving an overview of everything in your research including the results. These are much longer than descriptive abstracts, and can be anywhere from a single paragraph to a whole page long.[4]
    • The basic information included in both styles of abstract is the same, with the main difference being that the results are only included in an informative abstract, and an informative abstract is much longer than a descriptive one.
    • A critical abstract is not often used, but it may be required in some courses. A critical abstract accomplishes the same goals as the other types of abstract, but will also relate the study or work being discussed to the writer’s own research. It may critique the research design or methods.[5]

Part 2

Writing Your Abstract

  1. 1

    Identify your purpose. You're writing about a correlation between lack of lunches in schools and poor grades. So what? Why does this matter? The reader wants to know why your research is important, and what the purpose of it is. Start off your descriptive abstract by considering the following questions:
    • Why did you decide to do this study or project?
    • How did you conduct your research?
    • What did you find?
    • Why is this research and your findings important?
    • Why should someone read your entire essay?
  2. 2

    Explain the problem at hand. Abstracts state the “problem” behind your work. Think of this as the specific issue that your research or project addresses. You can sometimes combine the problem with your motivation, but it is best to be clear and separate the two.[6]
    • What problem is your research trying to better understand or solve?
    • What is the scope of your study - a general problem, or something specific?
    • What is your main claim or argument?
  3. 3

    Explain your methods. Motivation - check. Problem - check. Methods? Now is the part where you give an overview of how you accomplished your study. If you did your own work, include a description of it here. If you reviewed the work of others, it can be briefly explained.[7]
    • Discuss your own research including the variables and your approach.
    • Describe the evidence you have to support your claim
    • Give an overview of your most important sources.
  4. 4

    Describe your results (informative abstract only). This is where you begin to differentiate your abstract between a descriptive and an informative abstract. In an informative abstract, you will be asked to provide the results of your study. What is it that you found?[8]
    • What answer did you reach from your research or study?
    • Was your hypothesis or argument supported?
    • What are the general findings?
  5. 5

    Give your conclusion. This should finish up your summary and give closure to your abstract. In it, address the meaning of your findings as well as the importance of your overall paper. This format of having a conclusion can be used in both descriptive and informative abstracts, but you will only address the following questions in an informative abstract.[9]
    • What are the implications of your work?
    • Are your results general or very specific?

Part 3

Formatting Your Abstract

  1. 1

    Keep it in order. There are specific questions your abstract must provide answers for, but the answers must be kept in order as well. Ideally, it should mimic the overall format of your essay, with a general ‘introduction, ‘body,’ and ‘conclusion.’
    • Many journals have specific style guides for abstracts. If you’ve been given a set of rules or guidelines, follow them to the letter.[10]
  2. 2

    Provide helpful information. Unlike a topic paragraph, which may be intentionally vague, an abstract should provide a helpful explanation of your paper and your research. Word your abstract so that the reader knows exactly what you’re talking about, and isn’t left hanging with ambiguous references or phrases.
    • Avoid using direct acronyms or abbreviations in the abstract, as these will need to be explained in order to make sense to the reader. That uses up precious writing room, and should generally be avoided.
    • If your topic is about something well-known enough, you can reference the names of people or places that your paper focuses on.
    • Don’t include tables, figures, sources, or long quotations in your abstract. These take up too much room and usually aren’t what your readers want from an abstract anyway.[11]
  3. 3

    Write it from scratch. Your abstract is a summary, yes, but it should be written completely separate from your paper. Don't copy and paste direct quotes from yourself, and avoid simply paraphrasing your own sentences from elsewhere in your writing. Write your abstract using completely new vocabulary and phrases to keep it interesting and redundancy-free.

  4. 4

    Use key phrases and words. If your abstract is to be published in a journal, you want people to be able to find it easily. In order to do so, readers will search for certain queries on online databases in hopes that papers, like yours, will show up. Try to use 5-10 important words or phrases key to your research in your abstract.[12]
    • For example, if you’re writing a paper on the cultural differences in perceptions of schizophrenia, be sure to use words like “schizophrenia,” “cross-cultural,” “culture-bound,” “mental illness,” and “societal acceptance.” These might be search terms people use when looking for a paper on your subject.
  5. 5

    Use real information. You want to draw people in with your abstract; it is the hook that will encourage them to continue reading your paper. However, do not reference ideas or studies that you don’t include in your paper in order to do this. Citing material that you don’t use in your work will mislead readers and ultimately lower your viewership.

  6. 6

    Avoid being too specific. An abstract is a summary, and as such should not refer to specific points of your research other than possibly names or locations. You should not need to explain or define any terms in your abstract, a reference is all that is needed. Avoid being too explicit in your summary and stick to a very broad overview of your work.[13]
    • Make sure to avoid jargon. This specialized vocabulary may not be understood by general readers in your area and can cause confusion.[14]
  7. 7

    Be sure to do basic revisions. The abstract is a piece of writing that, like any other, should be revised before being completed. Check it over for grammatical and spelling errors and make sure it is formatted properly.

  8. 8

    Get feedback from someone. Having someone else read your abstract is a great way for you to know whether you’ve summarized your research well. Try to find someone who doesn’t know everything about your project. Ask him or her to read your abstract and then tell you what s/he understood from it. This will let you know whether you’ve adequately communicated your key points in a clear manner.[15]
    • Consulting with your professor, a colleague in your field, or a tutor or writing center consultant can be very helpful. If you have these resources available to you, use them!
    • Asking for assistance can also let you know about any conventions in your field. For example, it is very common to use the passive voice (“experiments were performed”) in the sciences. However, in the humanities active voice is usually preferred.

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Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • What is the difference between an abstract and an introduction?

    wikiHow Contributor

    An abstract explains the aim of the paper in very brief, (the methods, results, etc.). In the introduction, you write the background of your topic, explain the purpose of the paper more broadly, and explain the hypothesis, and the research question(s).

  • Can an abstract be a paper written or a soft copy?

    wikiHow Contributor

    An abstract can either be written, soft copy or any other form with words, it's the content that matters.

  • Which tense should be used to write an abstract?

    wikiHow Contributor

    In all the description of what you did, a simple past tense is best; since you're describing what you did, neither present nor future would be appropriate.

  • Should I cite references in my abstract?

    wikiHow Contributor

  • How do I calculate the number of words in my abstract?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Your word processing software probably includes a word count feature, consult the documentation. If you're doing it by hand, approximate the number of words per line (very roughly). Then count the number of lines, and multiply it by the number of words per line. It gives a fairly accurate estimate.

  • Should an abstract be put in the beginning or at the end?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Usually, abstracts are provided at the beginning of the thesis or article. This will help readers to understand the work, and will attract interested readers.

  • Am I supposed to add the author's name on the informative abstract?

    wikiHow Contributor

    First write down the important points about the author, such as name, date of birth, in which field he/she is involved - then add extra points.

  • What is the importance of an abstract?

  • Why must one create an abstract?

    wikiHow Contributor

    An abstract is one of the best tools to help researchers determine if a paper would be useful for them to read or not.

Ask a Question

Tips

  • Abstracts are typically a paragraph or two and should be no more than 10% of the length of the full essay. Look at other abstracts in similar publications for an idea of how yours should go.[16]
  • Consider carefully how technical the paper or the abstract should be. It is often reasonable to assume that your readers have some understanding of your field and the specific language it entails, but anything you can do to make the abstract more easily readable is a good thing.

Let’s face it, most of us are used to writing essays and research papers. We’ve written them throughout our entire academic careers. The abstract, on the other hand, is likely a relatively new endeavor.

Without a lot of practice and experience writing abstracts, it can be pretty daunting. Heck, it’s enough to leave your fingers paralyzed and leave you staring at a blank screen.

Worse yet, it might make you want to abandon your work altogether and find something more interesting to do—like watch cat videos for the next hour.

Don’t give up hope yet! If you’re struggling to get started with writing your abstract, here are 10 good abstract examples that will kickstart your brain.

10 Good Abstract Examples That Will Kickstart Your Brain

The 10 examples I’ve included here are all published, professionally written abstracts. While some of them are a little more technical than others, they all follow the basic rules of what it takes to write a good abstract.

If you want a quick refresher on writing abstracts, read How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper.

(And if you’re just getting started on your research paper, I recommend starting here instead: How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide.)

Abstract example #1

Video Game Addiction and College Performance Among Males: Results from a 1 Year Longitudinal Study

The abstract:

“This study explored the pattern of video game usage and video game addiction among male college students and examined how video game addiction was related to expectations of college engagement, college grade point average (GPA), and on-campus drug and alcohol violations. Participants were 477 male, first year students at a liberal arts college. In the week before the start of classes, participants were given two surveys: one of expected college engagement, and the second of video game usage, including a measure of video game addiction. Results suggested that video game addiction is (a) negatively correlated with expected college engagement, (b) negatively correlated with college GPA, even when controlling for high school GPA, and (c) negatively correlated with drug and alcohol violations that occurred during the first year in college. Results are discussed in terms of implications for male students’ engagement and success in college, and in terms of the construct validity of video game addiction.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract doesn’t specifically state why the problem is worth researching, though it is implied as the study focuses on addiction.

Also, this abstract doesn’t overtly state the implications. It states only that the paper discusses the implications. While in most cases it’s better to briefly summarize the results of the study, sometimes it’s impossible to summarize the information in only a few sentences.

If that’s the case, it’s best to include a statement, as this abstract does, simply to indicate that the results and/or implications are discussed within the research paper.

Abstract example #2

Study Skills and their Correlation with Academic Satisfaction and Achievement among Medical and Pharmacy Students in Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences (2013)

The abstract:

Introduction: Study skills and students’ satisfaction with their performance positively affect their academic achievement. The current research was carried out to investigate the correlation of study skills with academic achievement among the medical and pharmacy students in 2013.

Methods: This descriptive-analytical study was conducted on 148 students of basic medical sciences and pharmacy through convenience sampling. Data were collected by a valid and reliable questionnaire, consisting of two sections: Demographic information and questions about daily study hours, study skills in six domains, and students’ satisfaction with study skills. Collected data sets were analyzed by SPSS-16 software.

Results: In total, 10.9% of students were reported to have favorable study skills. The minimum score was found for preparation for examination domain. Also, a significantly positive correlation was observed between students’ study skills and their Grade Point Average (GPA) of previous term (P=0.001, r=0.269) and satisfaction with study skills (P=0.001, r=0.493).

Conclusion: The findings indicated that students’ study skills need to be improved. Given the significant relationship between study skills and GPA, as an index of academic achievement, and satisfaction, it is necessary to promote the students’ study skills. These skills are suggested to be reinforced, with more emphasis on weaker domains.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract uses headings instead of writing all the information in one paragraph. In some ways, it can be easier to use headings because you don’t need transitions to link sections.

However, you should always check with your professor to make sure that this is an acceptable format for your assignment.

Abstract example #3

The Sandra Bland story: How social media has exposed the harsh reality of police brutality

The abstract:

“This quantitative research study was conducted to illustrate the relationship(s) between social media use and its effect on police brutality awareness. In 2015, social media was used to assist in revealing an act of impulsive police brutality on an adult black woman in Waller County, Texas. This act was one of a few examples of a substantial number of law enforcement officers around the United States and other countries that are abusing their power by using excessive force against citizens without penalty. The study found there is a relationship between social media use and its impact on police brutality. The study also found that social media gave a voice to people who may have feared isolation and/or negative consequences against police brutality. Over 100 undergraduates at Bowie State University in Maryland completed a survey questionnaire instrument. The instrument consisted of 10; of which 2 were directly related to the hypothesis. The author’s result of data analyses presented that there is a significant relationship between independent and dependent variables.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

In this abstract, the results are discussed before the methods—usually it makes sense to write it the other way around. If you’re thinking of doing the same, you’ll need to check with your professor to see if you must write the elements of your abstract in a specific order.

Abstract example #4

An Examination of Concussion Injury Rates in Various Models of Football Helmets in NCAA Football Athletes

The abstract:

“While newer, advanced helmet models have been designed with the intentions of decreasing concussions, very little research exists on injury rates in various football helmets at the collegiate level. The aim of this study was to examine concussion injury rates in various models of football helmets in collegiate football athletes. In addition, to compare injury rates of newer, advanced football helmets to older, traditional helmets among collegiate football athletes, a total of 209 concussions and 563,701 AEs (athlete-exposures) Among 2,107 collegiate football athletes in seven helmet models were included in the analyses. Concussion injury rates revealed that the Riddell Revolution® had the highest rate of 0.41 concussions per 1,000 AEs. The Schutt ION 4D TM helmet had the lowest rate of 0.25 concussions per 1,000 AEs. These newer helmet models did not significantly differ from one another (P=0.74), however all models significantly differed from the older, traditional helmet model (P<0.001). The findings of this study suggest that concussion rates do not differ between newer and more advanced helmet models. More importantly, there are currently no helmets available to prevent concussions from occurring in football athletes.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

Do you know what the research paper is about by only reading the abstract? Of course you do! This abstract clearly summarizes all components of a traditional abstract and makes it easy for readers to understand the focus of the research.

Abstract example #5

Diet and obesity in Los Angeles County 2007–2012: Is there a measurable effect of the 2008 “Fast-Food Ban”?

The abstract:

“We evaluate the impact of the “Los Angeles Fast-Food Ban”, a zoning regulation that has restricted opening/remodeling of standalone fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles since 2008. Food retail permits issued after the ban are more often for small food/convenience stores and less often for larger restaurants not part of a chain in South Los Angeles compared to other areas; there are no significant differences in the share of new fast-food chain outlets, other chain restaurants, or large food markets. About 10% of food outlets are new since the regulation, but there is little evidence that the composition has changed differentially across areas. Data from the California Health Interview Survey show that fast-food consumption and overweight/obesity rates have increased from 2007 to 2011/2012 in all areas. The increase in the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity since the ban has been significantly larger in South Los Angeles than elsewhere. A positive development has been a drop in soft drink consumption since 2007, but that drop is of similar magnitude in all areas.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract begins with the word “we.” In many cases, use of first person isn’t acceptable. (Your prof may ask you to avoid first person in your own abstract.) If you were the person (or part of a group) who did the actual research, first person is typically okay if you conducted primary research.

This abstract was submitted to a specific journal, so it’s clear that submission guidelines permitted use of first person.

Abstract example #6

The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students

The abstract:

“The cell phone is ever-present on college campuses and is frequently used in settings where learning occurs. This study assessed the relationship between cell phone use and actual college grade point average (GPA) after controlling for known predictors. As such, 536 undergraduate students from 82 self-reported majors at a large, public university were sampled. A hierarchical regression (R2 = .449) demonstrated that cell phone use was significantly (p < .001) and negatively (β = −.164) related to actual college GPA after controlling for demographic variables, self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, self-efficacy for academic achievement, and actual high school GPA, which were all significant predictors (p < .05). Thus, after controlling for other established predictors, increased cell phone use was associated with decreased academic performance. Although more research is needed to identify the underlying mechanisms, findings suggest a need to sensitize students and educators about the potential academic risks associated with high-frequency cell phone use.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

“A hierarchical regression (R2 = .449) demonstrated…” Yeah, I’m not sure what that means, either. If you’re a math expert, you can certainly write the results of your research in this way, but in most cases, you won’t be required to write in such technical terms.

Abstract example #7

Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood

The abstract:

“The present study experimentally investigated the effect of Facebook usage on women’s mood and body image, whether these effects differ from an online fashion magazine, and whether appearance comparison tendency moderates any of these effects. Female participants (N = 112) were randomly assigned to spend 10 min browsing their Facebook account, a magazine website, or an appearance-neutral control website before completing state measures of mood, body dissatisfaction, and appearance discrepancies (weight-related, and face, hair, and skin-related). Participants also completed a trait measure of appearance comparison tendency. Participants who spent time on Facebook reported being in a more negative mood than those who spent time on the control website. Furthermore, women high in appearance comparison tendency reported more facial, hair, and skin-related discrepancies after Facebook exposure than exposure to the control website. Given its popularity, more research is needed to better understand the impact that Facebook has on appearance concerns.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract clearly summarizes the research process and results of the study. In this case, the study is inconclusive, and the writer feels that more research is required. Remember, your study might not always produce the results you anticipated.

Abstract example #8

The Process of Adapting a Universal Dating Abuse Prevention Program to Adolescents Exposed to Domestic Violence

The abstract:

“Adolescents exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk of dating abuse, yet no evaluated dating abuse prevention programs have been designed specifically for this high-risk population. This article describes the process of adapting Families for Safe Dates (FSD), an evidenced-based universal dating abuse prevention program, to this high-risk population, including conducting 12 focus groups and 107 interviews with the target audience. FSD includes six booklets of dating abuse prevention information, and activities for parents and adolescents to do together at home. We adapted FSD for mothers who were victims of domestic violence, but who no longer lived with the abuser, to do with their adolescents who had been exposed to the violence. Through the adaptation process, we learned that families liked the program structure and valued being offered the program and that some of our initial assumptions about this population were incorrect. We identified practices and beliefs of mother victims and attributes of these adolescents that might increase their risk of dating abuse that we had not previously considered. In addition, we learned that some of the content of the original program generated negative family interactions for some. The findings demonstrate the utility of using a careful process to adapt evidence-based interventions (EBIs) to cultural sub-groups, particularly the importance of obtaining feedback on the program from the target audience. Others can follow this process to adapt EBIs to groups other than the ones for which the original EBI was designed.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract provides a clear synopsis of why this research is needed (the fact that no programs have been specifically designed for adolescents exposed to domestic violence).

This abstract also uses first person. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re using first person, make sure it’s allowed by your instructor and appropriate to the type of research you’ve conducted.

Abstract example #9

Children’s consumption behavior in response to food product placements in movies

The abstract:

“Almost all research on the effects of product placements on children has focused on brand attitudes or behavioral intentions. Drawing on the important difference between attitudes or behavioral intentions on the one hand and actual behavior on the other, this paper tests the effects of brand placements on children’s food consumption. Children from 6 to 14 years old were exposed to an excerpt of the popular movie Alvin and the Chipmunks, including placements for the product Cheese Balls. Three versions were created: one without placements, one with moderate placement frequency, and one with high placement frequency. Results showed that exposure to high-frequency product placements exerted a significant effect on snack consumption, but no effect on brand or product attitudes. These effects were independent of children’s ages. The findings are of great importance to consumer behavior scholars, nutrition experts, and policy regulators.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

Notice how specific the methods section is in this abstract? Including the specific details of how the study was conducted provides a clear and effective summary for readers.

Abstract example #10

Looks and Lies: The Role of Physical Attractiveness in Online Dating Self-Presentation and Deception

The abstract:

“This study examines the role of online daters’ physical attractiveness in their profile self-presentation and, in particular, their use of deception. Sixty-nine online daters identified the deceptions in their online dating profiles and had their photograph taken in the lab. Independent judges rated the online daters’ physical attractiveness. Results show that the lower online daters’ attractiveness, the more likely they were to enhance their profile photographs and lie about their physical descriptors (height, weight, age). The association between attractiveness and deception did not extend to profile elements unrelated to their physical appearance (e.g., income, occupation), suggesting that their deceptions were limited and strategic. Results are discussed in terms of (a) evolutionary theories about the importance of physical attractiveness in the dating realm and (b) the technological affordances that allow online daters to engage in selective self-presentation.”

What’s notable about this abstract:

This abstract packs a lot into 136 words! All of the components are clearly described, and the abstract is an excellent example of how to make every word count.

Sufficiently Energized?

I trust these abstract examples have inspired you. But before you add your abstract to the final paper, check out these resources for some additional tips to help perfect your writing:

Here’s one final tip to help make your abstract (and your paper) the best it can be: let a Kibin editor provide some expert feedback.

Happy writing!

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