Tips on Writing an Informative Abstract

Monday, January 25, 2010

Research paper abstracts are prepared for the purpose of giving the readers an idea of a lengthy research paper document. There are two types of abstracts – descriptive and informative. Descriptive abstracts are not much preferred for academic writing assignments as they are rather vague in nature. If the guidelines do not specify the type of abstract to be used, you can safely assume that it is supposed to be an informative one. It is necessary for all students to know how to write an informative abstract.

A research paper abstract is expected to summarize the research paper document for the readers for quick reference. An effective one would leave no surprises for the readers within the document. It would reveal all the important aspects of the research paper, less the detailing. This helps the readers to determine whether the contents of the research paper are suitable for their purpose. In certain cases where the abstracts are to be submitted in advance, it even determines whether your research paper would be accepted or not.

An informative abstract is allowed to be around 250 words, in normal circumstances. There are certain cases where longer abstracts are permitted. It usually happens when the research paper document is too long to be summarized into 250 words. But it is never shorter than 250 words as this type of abstracts are expected to be highly informative of the document. Just because the maximum limit is all that is specified, do not take it for granted that it can be as short as you want. Your abstract should not be less than 200 words, ideally. If the abstract is too short, you should understand that it must contain less information than what it is expected to contain.

The first portion of the abstract will discuss the main aspects of the topic you are studying. This would include the perspective from which you are handling the topic and the specific features of the topic which is included in your research. The subject area of your research should also be mentioned. If you have any background information on the topic that is relevant to your research, that should be included in the abstract as well. The scope of the topic would be another point which should be mentioned in your abstract.

Your thesis should be stated in the abstract clearly. The methodology of your research and the sources you have used for your research should also be included in your informative abstract. Do not elaborate on any of the points as you are expected to keep it within 250 words. The key words which would define your subject area and topic should be a part of the abstract, as we live in an era where almost all information is stored and retrieved electronically. Do not mention any point which is not a part of your research paper, in the abstract. Remember that it is a summary of the final draft of your research paper.

An inadequately prepared abstract can disqualify your research paper. So make sure that the informative abstract you have prepared for your research paper contains all the necessary information which is included in the research paper.

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