If you have ever searched online for a study or taken a look at a scientific journal, the first thing you will often encounter is the abstract of the paper. Aside from being a summary of the paper, the abstract can already inform the one searching whether the research paper is worth reading or not. Because there are thousands of studies already in digital libraries and journals, the abstract makes it easier for researchers to locate what they need.
If you are in the process of making your abstract, read on to learn what you should and should not do.
What you should do:
- Summarize what is important
The abstract is too short for you to include everything, so you will need to summarize only the important parts. The summary usually includes the purpose of your paper, the hypothesis, the methods used, key findings, and the conclusion.
- Stick to the word count
As you weigh what you need to insert, always keep in mind the word count. If you go beyond it, the journal you are sending it to may reject your paper outright. And if you are submitting it for school, your professor may deduct points.
- Make it enticing
As the entry point to your paper, your abstract should sound interesting. So even if you are just summarizing your finished work, take time to make it descriptive – but sticking to academic language, of course. Do not just cut and paste phrases from your main paper as it will not fit together, creating a senseless abstract.
- Use SEO keywords
In the same way that content writers ensure that their articles rank well on search engines, you should use SEO keywords to ensure that other researchers can find your work. If not, the paper you worked hard on for many months may never be found.
Some sites provide a list of the top searchable words per category. You should view these lists and figure out which terms can help your paper.
What you should NOT do:
- Avoid using technical terms
Not everyone that comes across your abstract is knowledgeable in your field. This is why it is best to use common terms whenever possible so that others can understand what your research is about. Even if what the person is researching is in another field, they may still find your paper helpful if it uses a similar methodology as theirs or is investigating a similar population. So make sure they understand what your abstract is saying.
- Do not include any data
The abstract is too short to have figures included, even if the numbers are very significant to you. So drop any plans of yours to place any data.
- Do not include yourself in the abstract
As in most researchers, YOU should not be a part of it. You should write in the third person and keep yourself out.
As the entry point to your research paper, your abstract must be done well. So take note of the tips above so you can make a great one.