Abstracts are brief summaries of research papers or dissertations. The purpose of an abstract is to summarize your work without going into great detail. A good abstract explains your work as briefly and clearly as possible and should be self-sufficient and concise.
Abstracts are typically written at the end after you’ve finished the rest of the text in the research. There are four parts you should include in your abstract:
1. Research Problem and Objectives
You should start by defining your research purpose clearly. Does the research address a practical or theoretical problem, or what was the research question you set out to answer?
You should briefly describe the relevance of your topic in terms of a social or academic context but refrain from providing detailed background information.
Once you’ve identified the problem, identify your research objectives. To describe exactly what you intend to do, use verbs such as investigate, test, analyze, or evaluate. Further, you can write this part of the abstract in the present or past simple tense but never refer to the future because the research has already been conducted.
2. Research Methods
Your next step should be a summary of the research methods that you used to answer the question. In one or two sentences, summarize what you have done. Generally, it refers to actions that have already been completed, so it is written in the past simple tense.
This section does not evaluate the validity or obstacles of the methodology as the objective is to give a reader a quick understanding of the steps you took and how you handled them.
Next, summarize the major findings of the study. There may not be room here for all the results, depending on how long and complex your research was. Therefore, it is important to emphasize only your most significant findings that will assist the reader in understanding your conclusions.
Lastly, it is important that you state the main conclusions of your research. That is, what is your solution to the problem or question? At the end of your research, the reader should understand the central point that you have proved or argued.
A brief mention in your abstract should be made of any limitations in your research (such as the size of the sample or the methods). This way readers will be able to determine whether your research is credible and generalizable or not.
The conclusions might include recommendations for implementation if your objective was to solve a practical problem. If appropriate, you can suggest further research.
The word limit of an abstract can sometimes be strict, so make sure to check the institution’s/journal requirements. Abstracts should be placed following the title page and acknowledgments but before the table of contents.
Also, you may have to include a list of keywords at the end of the abstract if your paper will be published. In order for potential readers to find your paper when conducting their own literature searches, keywords should refer to the most significant aspects of your research.