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What is an abstract and why is it important?

What is an abstract and why is it important for a research project? This article summarises the key points.
© University of Southampton

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An abstract is a brief SUMMARY of your work which is capable of being read independently of it. The abstract is important as it is the first thing that your reader will see and they are likely to start forming an opinion of your research project based on your abstract.
An abstract is written after you have finished writing up your research project as it summarises what your project contains.
It should contain:
  • what you set out to do and why (hypothesis and research questions)
  • how you did it (methodology)
  • what you found (results and conclusions)
  • recommendations (whether you have any will depend on the type of research project)
If you are not sure what an abstract should look like, re-visit some of the resources that you have already encountered so far. For some examples, have a look at the journal articles in the online scientific journal PLOS One that we introduced you to in Week 3.
© University of Southampton
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