Abstracts - A Guide to Writing

In this Research Guide, you will find information on the different types of abstracts, tips and procedures on how to write them, and where to find more sources that will help you write stronger abstracts.

Abstracts Defined

Abstracts act as concise surrogates or representations of research projects. Abstracts precede papers in research journals and appear in programs of scholarly conferences. They should be brief, concise, and use clear language. A researcher reading an abstract should have a clear idea of what the research project is about after reading an abstract. 

Abstracts allow readers to grasp the purpose and major ideas of a paper, poster, or presentation. A great abstract will be packed with information on the research project and will let other researchers know whether reading the entire paper or attending a presentation is worthwhile.

Importance of Abstracts

Abstracts often serve as the advertisement of a research project. They allow readers to quickly scan a small amount of text and to make a decision as to whether the work will satisfy their information needs. If a researcher is interested, he or she will continue on to read the entire document or attend the session.

Many online databases use abstracts to index larger research projects. Using keywords from your research project in your abstract will ensure your project is easily searched.