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Write an Abstract for Your Paper

Page history last edited by msellar@marymountpv.edu 8 years, 5 months ago

Library Guide


Write an Abstract for Your Paper


What is an Abstract?


In the simplest terms, an abstract is a short summary of an article, book, or other written work.  You write an abstract for papers in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, or fine arts (in other works, all disciplines!). 


An abstract is not the same as an introduction. The goal of an abstract is to provide the reader with a snapshot summary of the entire work (from beginning to end), helping them in part to decide whether the paper is relevant to their interests before reading the full (unabridged) work.


An abstract IS  An abstract does NOT include 
  • a summary of the entire paper or article 
  • written after the entire paper is completed 
  • clear and concise (no jargon)
  • complete: covers all major parts of the paper 
  • typically 100-400 words in length 
  • interesting: makes your reader want to read it 


  • opinions or editorializing 
  • charts, graphs, or other media
  • examples or supporting material 
  • first person writing "I" or "We" 
  • any writing errors (grammar or spelling) 


What Should You Include in an Abstract?


  • a brief introduction to the topic, providing context
  • a statement of the research questions / project objectives
  • a summary of the subtopics and arguments
  • an outline of the methods you used to accomplish your objectives
  • a description of the project's results or product
  • conclusions about the implications of your project 



Where Do You Find an Abstract in a Paper?


Click below to view an interactive tutorial that will introduce you to parts of a scholarly article, including the placement and purpose of an abstract.



Tutorial courtesy of the NC State University Libraries


Examples of Abstracts


Social Sciences




(Click image to launch. You may need to login with your MPV username and password.)




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Additional Resources on Writing Abstracts


Abstracts - Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 






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