Writing an Abstract

A research abstract is a summary of the project's key results or findings. It is succinct (200 to 300 words). It concisely explains the conclusions of the research. If well written, the abstract entices readers, making them want to learn more about the project.

Abstracts are generally included with research publications. They also are included on research posters. Abstracts submitted by students to VWC's Undergraduate Research Program are published on the Undergraduate Research webpage under Student Research Projects.

An abstract  focuses on explaining what the research discovered. In other words, it should summarize what the research did. By contrast, it should not focus on what the research will  do.

Research abstracts generally address the following components:

  1. Problem: Explains the central question the research investigated. It might explain how this research addressed some of the gaps in previous research.
  2. Method: Explains the approach or procedure that the research used. In other words, what exactly did you do to study the research problem?
  3. Results: Explains the research's key findings. In other words, what do we learn from this research?
  4. Conclusions & Implications: Explains how the research contributes to the field. It might also suggest additional research problems based on its findings.

Different academic fields cover different research components in their abstracts. For example, disciplines in the Humanities generally focus on explaining the research's key interpretations or theses. Disciplines in the natural and social sciences commonly explain the research's methods, results, and conclusions.

To learn more about writing an abstract in your discipline, consult the abstracts of other scholars. Abstracts are generally included with scholarly journal articles, and they are available in the academic databases.