Writing An Abstract Of The Academic Research Paper


Every time someone goes into a bookshop and takes a book off the shelves, most people will flip the book over and read the blurb on the back cover. This is a synopsis or a mini version of what the book is all about. This particularly applies to novels. When you are asked to write an abstract of an academic research paper, the situation is explained using the analogy of books in a bookshop. It’s pretty much the situation you are facing right now.

The book has already being written. The synopsis of the book is equivalent to your abstract. In the case of the novel, it wouldn't be the novelist who would write the abstract but rather somebody in the publishing company. In your case, you've written the academic research paper and now you have to write something else, the abstract.

  • It is both easy and not easy
  • It's easy to write the abstract because all you're doing is writing a short summary of what you've already done. You know the topic and you know it well. You spent ages researching material and planning and then writing and refining your research paper. All you have to do now is write a summary of that work. On the surface it sounds like it's pretty easy. And from having the knowledge of the subject point of view, it is easy.

    But it's not easy from the point of view that you must summarize a vast amount of information in a much smaller document. How can you possibly include all the points you make in your research paper in a much shorter version of it, the abstract? Well the answer to that is at the heart of this article.

  • Tip number one
  • Never write the abstract of your research paper until you have completely finished the work. Don’t be tempted to produce your abstract because you think you know what your research paper is all about and can do so in a flash. That's wrong. Wait until you have the completed document and then put a bit of time between the end of writing a research paper and the actual writing of your abstract.

  • Tip number two
  • Think of yourself as a reviewer, somebody who is reading the research paper as if it had been written by somebody other than you. Take a critical approach to the research paper. Ask the basic questions. What is it all about? What is the main point of the research paper? Does the research paper address the topic at hand? This approach allows you to create an abstract which tells the reader exactly what they can expect in the research paper and does so in a way which is not subjective.

  • Tip number three
  • Follow the rules. You might think you've written a brilliant abstract because it contains all the necessary information, it reads well and is a superb entrée to the main course, that is, your research paper. But if there is a rule that the abstract must have no more than 400 words and you've written 800 words because, well because it looks good, you've done yourself more harm than good. Follow the rules.

  • Tip number four
  • Always consider the audience. Who will be reading your abstract? In the vast majority of cases it will be a teacher or professor, the academic who will be assessing your research paper. You want them to be informed and you want them to be keen to read the actual research paper. If you think of those matters as you create your abstract you give yourself a much better chance of producing something which is interesting and beneficial.