Background This section should be the shortest part of the abstract and should very briefly outline the following information: What is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question What is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine or what the paper seeks to present In most cases, the background can be framed in just 2—3 sentences, with each sentence describing a different aspect of the information referred to above; sometimes, even a single sentence may suffice.
The purpose of the background, as the word itself indicates, is to provide the reader with a background to the study, and hence to smoothly lead into a description of the methods employed in the investigation. Some authors publish papers the abstracts of which contain a lengthy background section.
There are some situations, perhaps, where this may be justified. In most cases, however, a longer background section means that less space remains for the presentation of the results.
This is unfortunate because the reader is interested in the paper because of its findings, and not because of its background. A wide variety of acceptably composed backgrounds is provided in Table 2 ; most of these have been adapted from actual papers.
Note that, in the interest of brevity, unnecessary content is avoided. Table 2 Open in a separate window Methods The methods section is usually the second-longest section in the abstract. It should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. Note: The following are specifications for an abstract in APA style, used in the social sciences, such as psychology or anthropology.
If you are in another discipline, check with your professor about the format for the abstract. People use the abstract to decide whether to read the rest of the paper, so the abstract for such a paper is important. Because the abstract provides the highlights of the paper, you should draft your abstract after you have written a full draft of the paper. Typically, an abstract for an IMRaD paper or presentation is one or two paragraphs long — words. Methods To answer this question, we compared the performance of 12 novices medical students with the performance of 12 laparoscopic surgeons using a 2D view and 4 robotic surgeons, using a new robotic system that allows 2D and 3D view.
If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review.
If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor if the abstract is for a class or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.
Descriptive abstracts A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short— words or less.
Informative abstracts The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself.
An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract purpose, methods, scope but also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less. Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts.
Descriptive abstract: The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided. Informative abstract: Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research.
Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results.
This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one. Which type should I use?
Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.
How do I write an abstract? The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind: Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research?
Why would a reader be interested in the larger work? This clarifies the central theme to the reader. Now the problem statement is made crisp and clear in the first half of the abstract. Here, the author clearly mentions a common assumption. And why it is a problem. How the author went about understanding the problem and what happened as a result?
Here the author briefly mentions the study and experiments that were run and what was the learning from the same. Why this is important for readers to know? By identifying the importance of the issue — potential cost of performance goals, the author gets the reader to give sufficient importance to the study and its conclusions. A quick read of popular research papers in your domain would give you a clarity on how abstract is similarly structured. Your research paper idea can be an insight.
Or a way of shattering commonly accepted assumptions. Or a new way of looking at the old problem. As a reader, we look for ideas that add value to us.
I will prove that scientists have ethical and moral questions about genetic engineering because of this project. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Another thing you can do is go back to some of the most interesting papers you have read during your literature review.
An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement. If you are in another discipline, check with your professor about the format for the abstract. Then, use these sentences as an outline to write your abstract. Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential.
Write the abstract after you have finished writing your whole paper. There is a tension here in that you should not provide numbers that can be easily misinterpreted, but on the other hand you don't have room for all the caveats. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. Usually the context of a paper is set by the publication it appears in for example, IEEE Computer magazine's articles are generally about computer technology.