Research Paper Abstract
The research paper abstract is usually the first section to be read and its content can either attract or repel a reader. An understanding of the meaning and purpose of the article, research paper abstract is important to good research paper abstract writing. An abstract has been defined as " brief summary of a research article that emphasizes what is new, captures the salient features of the purpose, design, findings, and implications, and contains no unnecessary sentences or explanations ."
The purpose of the article, research paper abstract is to make it easy for readers to quickly grasp the key points of the article. This will help them determine the interest in the article and/ or its relevance to their work. As a brief summary, the research paper abstract is expected to be an exact reflection of the content of the main text. It should not contain any information that is not presented in the main text, neither is it expected to exclude vital findings or shortcomings of the research. The emphasis should be on the novel features of the article, and it should be presented logically along the lines of the sections of the article's main text. This includes context background, objectives, the setting of the research work done or materials and methods, findings / results and conclusions from the results.
Importance of abstract in a research paper are:
- Let readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly.
- Prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper.
- Helps readers remember key points from the paper.
As a rule, research paper abstracts do not include citations, figures or tables; however, the format of an research paper abstract may vary from discipline to disciple and from journal to journal Some features of a journal article's abstract distinguish it from conference abstracts designed for oral or poster presentation. These features, among others, include that journal abstracts could be indexed in academic databases while conference abstracts are not so indexed some journals do not allow conference abstract citation in their articles, and often conference abstract are recognized as publications in the same manner articles are treated.
Sections of a Research Paper abstract
- Context/ Background: This section of the research paper abstract answers the questions: Why did you start? What is the article about? Why is it important? This should be stated in one or two sentences.
- Objectives: You may use one sentence to summarize the aims or objectives of the article. Some journals do not include background material in their abstract so the objectives may be the opening section of the research paper abstract.
- Methods/ Setting/Work Done: In this section, you are expected to provide a concise description of study design & methodology used in the study. Because this section provides a lot of information, it should be generally comparatively longer than the previous two sections. One of the pitfalls of this section includes omitting vital information on the methods used in attempt to reduce word count. Rephrasing sentences could be helpful while words and phrases that do not add to the understanding of the research paper abstract should of course be removed.
- Results: This is usually the longest section of the abstract. Occasionally it may be as long as or shorter than the methods section. You should concisely present your findings including real data! A research paper abstract that contains no real data is not complete. However, research paper abstracts should not contain tables and figures.
- Conclusion: Here you should present a brief interpretation of the results, stating the implications and making recommendations for action. The conclusions should be supported by the results presented. Limitations of the study may be briefly highlighted. One or two sentences will be okay for this section.
Form, Style, and Grammar
Though the research paper abstract is usually the last section of the article to be written, it should not be done in a hurry. Attention to detail with respect to language is important. The research paper abstract should preferably be written in the active voice, objectively, and briefly. Research paper abstracts generally capture the interest of readers by using a simple language appropriate for conveying information in the discipline. Authors as their own editors should read and proofread their research paper abstract and be satisfied that it is a true summary of the text. Submitting the article and, in this context, the research paper abstract to colleagues to proofread may be helpful.The text of the abstract should be in Time New Roman with size equal to 9 pt. It is recommended that the abstract be in a single paragraph not exceeding 250 words. The abstract should begin with a brief but precise statement of the problem or issue, followed by a description of the research method and design, the major findings, and the conclusions reached.
Authors should remember that brevity and conceptual precision is important! The authors should refer to the journal's instruction to authors to ensure the abstract is in the right format. Some journals have their research paper abstracts structured, with specified subheadings. Others use unstructured format. Whatever the format recommended by the journal, the concepts presented in this article are applicable.