How to Write a Research Abstract
An abstract is a preliminary report of research results. It serves several purposes: it is generally the first announcement of the findings of a study; it provides access to feedback from one's peers; and it is the stepping-off point for achieving the ultimate aim of a research project, the writing and publishing of a full paper in the peer-reviewed literature. An abstract is a condensed version of the first draft of the paper. Its purpose can be boiled down to providing the answers to the following questions:
Why did you start?
What did you do?
What did you find?
What does it mean?
The different sections of the abstract address these 4 questions, and, even though it cannot go into detail, every abstract should answer all of them. After the title and list of authors and affiliations, these sections are the introduction (background), the methods used, the results, and a statement of the conclusions drawn.
The title should be an accurate promise of the abstract's contents. It should convey as much as possible about the context and the aims of the study. Ideally about 10-12 words long, it should include the scope of the investigation, the study design, and the goal. In general it is preferable to make the title a description of what was investigated rather than to state the results or conclusions. The abstract's title should be easy for the reader to understand and should not include jargon or unfamiliar acronyms.
Authors and Affiliations
The list of authors should be restricted to those individuals who actually did the study-conceived of it, designed it, gathered the data, crunched the numbers, and wrote the abstract. The author who will present the abstract should be listed first. Only affiliations relevant to the study should be included -- generally the department and institution at which the work was done.
The Introduction or Background: "Why did you start?"
This should provide a...
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