One of the last sections made when writing a research paper is the abstract. But even if it is the final portion written, it does not mean you should just rush through it. The abstract, like the other sections of your paper, serves a purpose, so you need to give some time to it too.
If you are just about to make your abstract, read on to learn how to create it properly.
The abstract purpose
The abstract is more than just a quick synopsis for your paper. It is there to attract the attention of other researchers who may find the contents of your research relevant to their research.
There are lots of studies published every day, so researchers comb through hundreds of possibilities. But if your abstract is done well, they may come across your paper, look into it, and then possibly use it as a reference in their study.
Of course, the whole purpose of your paper is to uncover the truths behind the problem you are investigating. But citations by others helps to affirm that you have done something right. Thus, it is important to create your abstract well.
- Stay within the word count
The abstract should not be very long. Depending on the length of your paper and type, this may be around 150 to 250 words. But if your professor or the journal you are submitting your paper to has a specific limitation, then always follow that.
- Summarize the main ideas
Since the abstract is short, you will not be able to mention everything. Instead, you will summarize the main points that will allow the researchers to understand what your paper contains. These will include the research question, thesis statement, summary of the methodology, the most important findings, and the conclusion.
- Include keywords
Researchers often find what they need by searching online. If you want your paper to be discovered, your abstract should include some keywords. Some sites indicate the terms many people search for, so you should check what is available there. Just be careful not to overdo it as search engines also have protocols to ignore posts that do not use keywords properly.
- Leave out the technical terms
Since researchers from other fields might also need what you have done, it is best to leave out technical terms. Assume that novices in your field may be reading what you have written, so use layman’s terms as much as possible.
- Don’t include the figures
The abstract is generally not the place for your research’s details. The casual reader will not understand the significance since much is missing from your abstract. So the figures ought to be left inside the paper itself.
Although the abstract is just a brief glimpse into your paper, it is still something you should give due attention to, especially if you want other people to use it in their studies. So take note of the pointers above so you can make a useful abstract.