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Creating an academic paper: how to write an abstract


There are three very important things to remember about writing an academic paper.


  • The abstract is very important; it has to give a snapshot or précis of everything that your paper covers (the methodology, the results, applications).
  • The abstract is the selling point or overview of your paper.
  • The abstract is the very last part of your paper that you write, not your first.
  • It is quite a skill to précis all the important information in to 150 to 200 words.

Let’s get started


  • Check with the guidelines form your college or university about the requirements for the abstract. Check style and length. Remember as it is an academic paper that you will need to write it for an academic audience.
  • There are essentially two types of abstracts
    • Informative which condenses the paper and
    • Descriptive – condenses but does not include the results.
  • You first need to write your paper.

Abstract Writing


  • Let the reader know why your paper is so important. What are the correlations with what variables? What is the purpose of your paper? Was you hypotheses supported or rejected?
  • Describe the problem/s is the problem general or specific?
  • What is your motivation behind this paper/research? What evidence/sources did you draw on?
  • What methods did you use?
  • What were the conclusions of the research? Ado the results of your work have any extensive implications on your field of study?

Keep reviewing what you have written


  • It is very rare to be able to write a perfect abstract in one sitting. Allow yourself time to write the abstract and time to go back to it several times.
  • If you use key words in your abstract it will be very helpful for readers if you work is published in a journal as it will be fairly easy for readers to locate your work and make a decision if they need to read the whole paper or not.
  • Try not to be too specific in your abstract as it will use up the word allowance.
  • Make sure that at the end of your abstract that you give it a conclusion that addresses the issues that you have highlighted such as why your paper is on importance and what implications it has concerning your field of study.
  • When you think that you have finished, reread and check again. Writing an abstract is a skill that needs to be mastered.

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