How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

What is a Research Paper Abstract?

An abstract is a synopsis of a research paper. An abstract is typically 6-7 sentences long (approx. 150-250 words). An abstract can be used for a variety of purposes. First and foremost, it provides readers with an overview of your paper. This allows your readers to decide whether or not your study is worthy of their full attention. An abstract can also be used to prepare your audience for the details of your research, arguments, and supporting evidence. Finally, an abstract introduces the critical points of your paper so that readers can remember them as they read your research.

Abstracts are frequently used as book and scholarly article descriptions. They summarize a book’s or article’s main points and provide a general understanding of its contents and purpose. Professors may give students precise instructions on how to write an abstract. If these instructions are available, make sure to follow them to meet all requirements.


Types of Abstract

There are two types of abstracts that are commonly used: descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts:

A descriptive abstract provides readers with an outline of the author’s main points throughout their research. This allows readers to decide whether or not to continue reading based on their level of interest in the subject. A descriptive abstract is similar to a book’s table of contents, except an abstract’s format uses complete sentences combined within a paragraph. Unfortunately, a descriptive abstract cannot be used to read a paper because it is only an overview, depriving the audience of a complete picture. It also cannot fill in the gaps that a reader may have after reading this abstract, as it lacks the necessary details required for a thorough evaluation of the paper. Finally, a descriptive abstract: It simply summarizes the job, but some researchers consider it more of an outline; it is typically around 100 words long—very short in comparison to an informative abstract; it provides a very brief description and is unable to satisfy the reader fully, and it omits results and conclusions.

An informative abstract is a thorough summary of the research. There are times when readers rely solely on the abstract for information. As a result, it is critical to include all of the specifics from a particular study. A well-presented, informative abstract can almost entirely replace the rest of the paper.

A format for an informative abstract is usually followed. First and foremost, the author provides identifying information that is supported by citations and other document identification. Following that, all of the main points are restated to ensure a thorough understanding of the research. This is followed by the methodology and all of the study’s key findings. Finally, a conclusion summarizes the research findings and brings the informative abstract to a close.

An informative abstract in a nutshell: has a variable length depending on the topic—but no more than 300 words; contains all relevant information, such as methods and intentions; and provides evidence and possible recommendations.

Informative abstracts are more common than those that are descriptive. It results from their more extensive content specifically related to the subject. It is also recommended that different types of abstracts be used for different kinds of papers, depending on their size: informative abstracts for longer and more complicated research papers and descriptive abstracts for shorter and simpler research papers.


The Abstract’s Structure: Step-by-Step Instructions


The Problem of a Research

It is typically concerned with the significance and importance of the subject matter of a work. Returning to our earlier discussion of the importance of plastic recycling, the purpose of this paper is to reduce plastic waste contamination by recycling your plastic waste. In this section, you must respond to the question, “What problem does your study help to resolve on a global scale?” Is it reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in oceans preventing global warming? Is it evaluating the effects of global warming? Is it a viable solution for marine life conservation? The possibilities are limitless, so make sure to choose the right path to appeal to any audience, regardless of their background or interests. In this section, you should address the problem directly, indicate whether it is broad or specific, and present your argument.


Purpose and Motivation

One of the most challenging yet crucial aspects of your abstract is determining your purpose and motivation. Assume your paper is about the significance of recycling plastic. Your primary responsibility is to explain to readers why they should be concerned about plastic pollution on land and in the ocean. It is essential that you present some compelling arguments to keep your reader engaged in continuing to read. It is critical to answering the following questions: What is the purpose of your research, what are you hoping to achieve, and why is your topic important to you and the rest of the world?

Make sure to include information about your interests in the subject of your paper and how it relates to your life and humanity, in general, to make it sound more personal and motivating. In a nutshell, the first section should include information about the significance of your research and how it may be helpful to your readers.


Research Results

Finally, you will be able to present your research findings to the readers. It is critical to be specific with your results. Statistical evidence is far more impressive than being vague and using abstract words. Instead of saying “a large portion of the ocean is polluted,” say “80 percent of the oceans are polluted with plastic.” This aids the reader in visualizing the specific proportion of the ocean that is contaminated and enhances its impact on the audience. In this section, you should answer the following questions: what are the results of your study in numbers and terms (be specific), did your results support your argument, and were the outcomes predicted, or did they surprise you?


Researching Approach

After you’ve explained to your readers the importance of your topic, your interest in the issue, and the problem discussed in your paper, it’s time to show off the methods you used to conduct all that significant research. The description of your processes and procedures is just as important as the research itself. It demonstrates to the readers the breadth of your research and the professional approach you took to your subject. Describe where you went for information, what sources you consulted, and what kind of research you did on your own to come up with your findings. Did you run an experiment, a survey, an interview, or a field study to look for traces of plastic pollution on your local beach? A detailed description of your research approach is an excellent tool for demonstrating to your reader how academically capable you are of conducting severe scientific research. The details of your study, such as specific studies and highlights from the most significant works you used, should be included in the section that examines the approach you took for your research.



In the conclusion section of your abstract, you should return to the argument you began with and connect it to the results you obtained. It is critical to provide the reader with a complete picture of not only the insights you’ve discovered about the subject but also whether you’ve found a solution to the problem you addressed. Explain whether your research is sufficient to persuade people to be more mindful of their plastic consumption. Will it affect their behavior and daily routines? Your conclusion should tie everything together and leave no room for doubt. Let’s move on to some helpful hints after you’ve mastered all of the structural details.


Tips and Recommendations

Always do your research first. Although it may appear that the abstract should be the first thing you write because it is a summary of your entire paper, there are numerous benefits to choosing this sequence of actions when beginning to work on your paper:

  • First and foremost, you can go through the full essay and retain all of the information included within it. Then you’ll be able to condense the data into an abstract while not forgetting important details.
  • Second, you can design the abstract to fit around your results, demonstrating that you accomplished what you set out to do.

In your paper, always use the past tense. You should use the past tense because you have already completed the research. Make sure your sentences are clear and concise.

Jargon should be avoided. A research paper is an academic piece of writing that should not contain any slang. Try not to perplex the reader. Explain anything that the reader might not understand. Any abbreviations, for example, must be defined at least once.

Leave out lengthy background information; you must balance explaining enough and going into too much detail.

Make an effort to get right to the point. Allow someone else to look over your work; don’t be afraid of someone else critiquing it—your paper could get a lot of attention, so be prepared! Allow a fellow professional in a related but unrelated field to read it. Allow them to summarize the research to see if you have communicated it effectively throughout the paper.