Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 9 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Further reading on RA abstracts

A written text summarizes the lecture and provides further learning resources.

Writing an Effective Abstract for Research Articles

Abstracts are an essential component of research articles. They are typically located at the beginning of a research article, below the title and before the introduction section. An abstract is an independent text that summarizes the study and can be read by itself. The purpose of an abstract is to promote the research, attract readers’ attention and interest, and provide a basic understanding of the research without reading the whole paper. For authors, an abstract is an advertisement to promote their research and attract readers to the main text. For readers, an abstract is a tool to filter the literature and decide whether to read the full article. In this article, we will discuss how to prepare an effective abstract for a research article.

Purpose of an Abstract

The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the research study and provide a basic understanding of the research to the readers. An effective abstract should summarize the research following the IMRD structure (introduction, methodology, results, and discussion). The author should emphasize the contributions and significance of the research to attract readers’ attention and interest. Including 4-5 keywords will make it easier for readers to locate the article in the database. An abstract is not an introduction to the research, but it should provide answers to the following questions: Why is the research being conducted? What is the context and background? What are the previous findings? What is the objective of the research? What is the problem to be solved? What is the main argument and claim? How was the research conducted? What are the key findings? What is the meaning generated from the findings?

Components of an Abstract

An effective abstract should be brief, concise, and informative. It should contain the following components: – Background: a statement of common knowledge or a fact related to the research. – Objective: the goal of the research study. – Methodology: a brief description of how the data was collected. – Results: a summary of the key findings. – Conclusion: a statement about the significance of the research.

Examples of Effective Abstracts

  • Example 1: “Physical properties of crude oil from acoustic measurements.” The first sentence provides the background knowledge, which is a statement of common knowledge in the field. The second sentence describes the objective of the research. The third and fourth sentences describe the methodology, which is how the data was collected. The fifth and sixth sentences report the key findings and the implications for future research.
  • Example 2: “Use of a novel water-soluble polymer blend as a coating to control drug release.” This abstract starts with the objective of the research, which is the goal of the study. The second sentence provides the methodology, which is the material and method used in the research. The third and fourth sentences report the key findings and the implications for future research.

The Summary Type Abstract

The summary type abstract is a concise summary of an academic paper that follows the same structure and order as the main text. It consists of 4 to 5 sentences that provide key ideas for each section, such as introduction, methodology, results, and discussion and conclusion. This type of abstract is common in many fields, and its purpose is to introduce the research background and present the main findings to readers.

The Result-Driven Type Abstract

The result-driven type abstract is common in engineering-related fields, where research objectives are often obvious and well accepted. Instead of providing background information, this type of abstract reports research findings with more detail and specificity. The author usually comes up with a conclusion based on the findings, making it results-driven. The length of the abstract is not an indicator of its type; however, the difference between the two types is more about the components included.

Conclusion

Abstracts play an important role in academic papers, and writers must choose the appropriate approach based on their field and research objectives. The summary type abstract provides background information and main findings, while the result-driven type focuses on reporting detailed research findings and conclusions. Regardless of the approach, an effective abstract must capture the essence of the research and be concise enough to attract readers to the full article.

This article is from the free online

Deconstructing Research Articles: How to Read and Write a Research Paper

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now