Even though abstracts are short (APA recommends between 150 – 250 words; some journals, conferences, or programs have different requirements), they need to pack a punch. The abstract should be a concise description of the paper and should be able to make sense by itself, without the paper.
Things Your Abstract Should Address
There are several things your abstract should touch upon or include:
- Why the reader should care about your research problem and the results. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of research papers out there; why should YOURS be the one they want to read? Especially if your research is more obscure, this should be front and center.
- What is the problem you’re addressing?
- How did you solve this problem, or try to solve it? What were your variables? What software or approach did you use?
- What were your results? Be specific.
- What does your research mean? What are the implications, in your field and in the larger world? Where does it fit in academia? Can your findings be generalized?
When writing your abstract, keep in mind the keywords that people will search for when looking for your paper. Make sure you include these in your abstract so your work will be in their search results. Since each journal, conference, or academic program can have different specifications for an abstract, make sure you’re familiar with the submission guidelines. This is extremely important, because editors of journals won’t even bother looking at your submission if they see that you can’t follow directions.
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