An abstract for a research paper – how to make it perfect?

As soon as you receive an assignment to write a research paper, there will be an Abstract required in most cases. So, what is an abstract, and how to write an abstract for a research paper? This article will guide you through all ins and outs of high-quality abstract completion.

First, you need to keep in mind that an abstract precedes the research paper’s body and serves as its brief annotation. Many researchers skim through paper abstracts to see whether this or that study fits their search criteria. When you conduct research, you may waste hours, if not days, of vital time reading full texts of articles. Based on the information in the abstract, a careful reader can extract the key facts about this specific study, thus making a quick decision whether to read it on or not. 

The expected content in any abstract is the study’s objective, study type (qualitative or quantitative, case study or interview, etc.), the research methods you used, the study setting and population, key findings, and their implications. All these data form the gist of your study encapsulated in a maximum of 250 words.

Contents of an abstract

As soon as you complete a paper and start thinking how to write an abstract for a research paper APA, keep the following components in mind: 

  • The abstract typically starts with a context description and a brief account of the study phenomenon’s background. 
  • Then come the topic and objective of the study.
  • It’s good to include the central research question in the abstract 
  • If space allows, make sure to give a brief account of previous research on your subject so that the reader understands what is known and not known about it, what gaps researchers point out, what urgency the issue represents, etc.
  • Research methodology, data collection, and analysis methods 
  • Key findings derived from the study 
  • Implications of your findings and recommendations for improving the situation/solving an issue. 

With these contents in mind, you can write your abstract, but be careful about the choice of language and tone. Abstracts should be super-readable so that the researchers distinguish the essential components of your abstract in an instant. As a rule, abstracts do not include any references to outside sources as they present the epitome of your research. However, if you need to present some key point or reference a seminal study, make sure to use the referencing style that your paper has.

Use the right language

As your abstract is typically small (most academic institutions and scholarly journals put a cap of 250 words), every word in this section counts. So, choosing the correct language and formulating your ideas concisely is of strategic importance. Are you wondering how to write an effective abstract for a research paper? Here are some pro tips for structuring your abstract so that it gives maximum value to the readers.

  • Use proper tense. The choice of tense is still debated because many academic scholars consider using past tense as a preferable option in academic texts. Yet, as a rule of thumb, you should use past tense to describe previous research (yours and that of other scholars) and apply past-tense forms to describe the events that ended in the past. In all other cases – when you describe general facts or offer your interpretations of the research subject – use the present tense. 
  • Don’t be defensive or evaluative. Remember, your abstract’s task is to present your study, not to advertise or defend it. So, avoid any evaluative language and stick to an objective presentation of facts. 
  • Use keywords. Don’t forget that most researchers (and your supervisor as well) look through abstracts quickly, looking for some keywords and phrases that serve as attention anchors. Thus, to make the audience interested in your study and urge them to read further, you need to carefully stuff the abstract with relevant keywords encapsulating your research focus.  
  • Stay focused. Since you only have 150-250 words, don’t write extended, complex sentences. Be brief and concise in presenting the central research problem. 

Following these rules, you’re sure to make your abstract much more readable and way more understandable for the target audience. 

Research Paper Samples

Those still unsure about how to write an abstract for a scientific paper can look at the following examples and try to create their abstracts. 

Sample #1 Closing the education gap in the USA 

Regardless of the comprehensive legislation serving to eradicate racial discrimination in the USA, race-based gaps still exist in access to numerous social resources, such as healthcare and education. African Americans are statistically worse positioned in academic achievement, school graduation, and higher education access. This retrospective quantitative study examines the racial gap statistics of school graduation in three mid-sized public schools in Austin, Texas. The researcher analyzes school graduation rates in 2010-2020 in terms of race/ethnicity. The data for analysis were taken from official state registers on school graduation, with student profiles containing socio-demographic information about the students. Data were analyzed with the help of SPSS statistical software. ANOVA test was done to test the statistical significance of race’s effect on school graduation, while descriptive statistics were used to quantify the gap. The findings suggest a considerable 7-12% gap between White and African American schoolers, though the gap has reduced within the past three years. ANOVA results show a statistically significant difference in school completion rates among African American and non-African American students. The far-reaching consequences of racial disparities in school achievement and policies to target racial gaps in school graduation and academic achievement are discussed.  

Sample #2 Arabic language acquisition through role-playing in Saudi kindergartens 

With several million newcomers every year, Saudi Arabia faces the challenge of immigrant adaptation and enculturation. Arabic language learning places a key role in acculturation. Yet, while adults can effectively learn Arabic language courses, minor children of immigrants have a limited arsenal of language skills (listening and speaking) to acquire a new language. This observational case study focuses on five 4-year-old children of immigrants from Europe attending a Saudi kindergarten. The researcher utilizes Bandura’s social learning theory to examine the way children learn from their teachers and Arabic-speaking peers during kindergarten role play. The observation took place for three months, with the researcher focusing on Arabic speech comprehension and speed reproduction trends. The Arabic language progress is discussed, focusing on adopted speech patterns based on the researcher’s dialogue fragments. The study’s findings suggest that oral competency (speaking and listening) is sufficient for effective Arabic language acquisition through role-play, with children learning the best in the exciting, interactive role-play sessions. Teacher scaffolding in English serves as a powerful accelerator for Arabic language acquisition.  

Sample #3 Efficiency of self-monitoring blood pressure apps for patients with uncontrolled hypertension 

Hypertension is the primary cause of CVD, heart attack, and associated mortality in the USA. With over 45% of the U.S. population diagnosed with hypertension, only one-quarter of this population effectively controls their blood pressure. The remaining three quarters have uncontrolled hypertension (UHTN) – a hazardous condition with grave health consequences. While UHTN is best managed with anti-hypertensive medications, most UHTN patients exhibit low medication regimen compliance rates or have insufficient knowledge of their condition. Thus, with the commonplace use of smartphones and health control apps in the USA, the researcher hypothesized that introducing a self-monitoring B.P. app would benefit UHTN patients. The app was designed to issue notifications about regular B.P. control and give health improvement tips and B.P. level interpretation. The intervention was held for eight weeks, during which the volunteer group used the software. The pre-test and post-test B.P. level evaluation revealed no statistically significant improvement of B.P. levels among the volunteer group. The level of knowledge about B.P. and hypertension improved by 18.5%, with 79.4% of the intervention participants able to distinguish the symptoms of UHTN and knowing the significance of regular B.P. control. Implications of self-monitoring tool use and recommendations for further research of self-monitoring combined with outpatient nursing interventions are presented.  

Here you go with a couple of effective abstract samples; we hope that now you have a better idea of how to write an abstract for a research paper. Remember that our abstracts can serve illustration purposes only; you need to craft your own abstract depending on your assignment’s original topic. Good luck!