An informative abstract is a concise, jargon-free paragraph that explains the topic of a research paper, the research findings, and the author’s conclusions. The abstract should be understandable enough to stand on its own and at the same time entice readers into wanting to read more. If you find it challenging to boil your work down to 250 words, remember that your abstract should only include the few pieces of knowledge that you want your readers to take away from the report, even if they have forgotten the details of the main paper, according to the University of Mississippi Writing Center.
Write a draft of the entire paper or report before starting the abstract. As you complete your work, take note of important elements that you want to stress in the summary.
Introduce your subject with a sentence about the reason for your research. What made you start the project? Why should readers be interested?
Give an explanation of the problem that your experiment or research will address.
Explain the methods you used to answer the problem you just outlined.
Provide the results of your research or experiment.
Offer your conclusions based on the results and include additional questions that your research has raised.
Polish the abstract draft, paying particular attention to avoiding passive verbs and wordy phrases. For example, you can shorten “a ratio of 2 to 1” to “twice as” without losing meaning, says the Colorado State University Writing Center. Make sure each sentence in the abstract flows smoothly into the next.
Your professor, or the journal for which you are writing, may have a required abstract format. Be sure to follow specific guidelines as you complete your work.
Use essential keywords in your abstract, so that readers searching for the topic electronically can find your report easily.
Alicia Turner has worked in journalism for more than 20 years. She has served as a reporter for publications such as the "Roanoke Times" and the "Tallahassee Democrat," covering local politics, transportation and education. Turner holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism.