The Different Types of Research Paper Abstracts

Sunday, January 24, 2010

While writing a research paper, you will be asked to present an abstract before the original or as the first page of your completed research paper document. It is necessary to know the various purposes of the abstract and the different methods of writing it, in order to be able to prepare a good one. Not all research paper abstracts get accepted. There are many which get rejected due to the wrong kind of presentation.

There are basically two types of abstracts – descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts. Before starting to write your research paper abstract, check the assignment guidelines to ascertain whether there are any instructions regarding the type of abstract to be presented. It is mandatory to follow the instructions given in the guidelines. If you have not been asked to follow any rules regarding research paper abstracts, you can choose the type of abstract which suits your project. The two types of abstracts differ in everything starting from its aim to its content and looks. Learning the main aspects regarding these two types of abstracts will be of use throughout your educational period.

A descriptive abstract, even though the word ‘description’ gives the idea of a long and elaborate article, is the shorter of the two types of abstracts. This type of abstract will give only a very vague idea of the content of the research paper. It will discuss the topic in general but there is no obligation to explain any of the specific aspects of the project. Hence, you will find that a descriptive abstract is not very commonly used in research paper assignments. But if there is an instruction in your research paper guidelines, asking you to make do with a descriptive abstract, you should most certainly prepare one.

Another feature of a descriptive abstract is its length. It is expected to be just around 100 words. That explains why it is incapable of containing any details of the assignment. There is very less space for anything to be discussed at all. The short document becomes favorable when you prefer not to reveal much in the research paper abstract. But if you want your reader to be aware of the contents before reading through the entire research paper, the length limitations of a descriptive abstract becomes tough to deal with. Hence, unless you have been asked to present a descriptive abstract, it is better not to choose it for an academic research paper assignment.

Informative abstracts, on the other hand, have a bigger word limit and contain all the relevant points of the research paper document. This type of abstracts gives the readers a very good and clear idea of the contents. Such abstracts are preferred for the fact that the reader will be able to determine the suitability of the content by reading the abstract alone. It will avoid wastage of the reader’s time as research papers are rather lengthy documents.

If you are not sure of the type of research paper abstract that will suit you, it is better to take advice from your teacher than make a mistake about it. If you need any further assistance with preparing your abstract, you may consult our academic writers also.

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