Abstract

Purpose

The Abstract serves to "advertize" your research paper. After reading the title, most scientists read the abstract, and from there, decide if they want to read the entire paper.

What to include:

  • the question you asked and/or the rationale behind the experiment,
  • a brief description of the experimental procedures you used,
  • a summary of your major findings,
  • the central conclusion(s).

The abstract should:

  • be a single paragraph, usually no more than 250 words,
  • be self contained (i.e. understandable without reading the rest of the paper),
  • have no citations (because you are summarizing the current paper).

Strategy

Most people write this second to last, before they construct a title.

Try to hit the high points of each section of your report (Introduction, Methods, Results and Conclusion).

Edit this section ruthlessly. You want it to be as succinct as possible and then some.

This can be the hardest section to write so make sure you leave yourself enough time to do it justice.

WARNING: Some instructors do not require an abstract, while others do. Make sure you have carefully read the requirements for the particular report you are writing.


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