Research Paper Abstract for Students

11.01.21 Research paper structure & sections Time to read: 5min

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After completing their research, every student is required to write an abstract. The abstract summarises the entire report and gives readers a quick overview of the study. This blog provides answers to some of the frequently asked questions and offers guidance on how to write and organise a college/university research paper abstract.


You have to conduct a research first, before writing a research paper abstract. It would be best if you consequently summarised the critical aspects of the investigation. These include details about your research problem and objectives, as well as the methods you used to conduct your research. It must also contain key findings or arguments, as well as your conclusion.

A research paper abstract is a condensed and detail-concentrated version of the entire research. It should contain a minimum of 150 words and a maximum of 300, regardless of the format you choose.

A research paper abstract offers readers a detailed overview of the investigation. It’s meant to give the reader all details of the entire research without going through the entire paper. It gives your professor a chance to decide whether your research is going on smoothly. The audience, particularly peers, your family, faculty and school administrators, will also use the abstract to determine whether or not to attend to your presentation. As such, it’s a must-have in every research paper.

Your audience covers an extensive scope of people. It includes lay people as well as experts on the subject you have discussed in your paper. As such, you need to find the right balance between writing a research paper abstract that portrays your knowledge on that particular subject and is still comprehensible for any member of your audience. Ideally, you need to write in simple English and limit technical words. Where using industry jargon is inevitable, take an effort of explaining the terms. Also, you ought to write full terms before using their acronyms. For instance, you should write drug abuse resistance education before its acronym DARE.

Keep in mind that experts in the same field as you will understand everything you say, but some readers don’t share the insider knowledge of your subject.

Your abstract should contain critical details of your research but in a concise format. Whether it’s based on humanities or sciences, the content will vary according to your specific project. Regardless of the field, it should convey the following information:

  • The purpose of the investigation and the area of study in which it belongs
  • The motivation of the research, ie, the problem you investigated
  • Methods used to conduct the study and the evidence and documents you analysed
  • A conclusion/preliminary results of the investigation if it’s still underway
  • The significance of your study; why are the results of your research useful?
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Definition: Research Paper Abstract

In basic terms, a research paper abstract is a summary of the entire study, whether it’s complete or not. This summary provides your professor, faculty and other interested parties such as family members detailed insight about your research.

The Best Time to Write a Research Paper Abstract

Since the abstract appears on the very first page of the research paper, many students are tempted to write it before conducting their research. After all, they know what they are about to investigate and have an elaborate plan on how to conduct the study. However, you cannot tell where the research will lead to, and you don’t know what problems you may face during your investigation.

It’s also not surprising to find that you have to change your methods mid-investigation. As such, it’s a good idea to wait until you have drafted your paper so that you can have complete knowledge of what you are summarising.

How to Write a Research Paper Abstract

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to write a good research paper abstract.


Step 1: Determine your Target Word Count

While the general word count for any research paper abstract should be between 150 and 300, your professor may have specific word requirements. As such, ensure to ask them before you begin. Also, keep in mind that your abstract should be written as a single paragraph with no indentation.


Step 2: Create a Rough Draft of your Abstract

Create a rough draft of your abstract by following the format required. This means that you have to create your abstract in the same order as your research paper. Begin by creating a summary of your introduction and flow towards methods, results and conclusion.

While you ought to aim for brevity, ensure not to be too short on the rough draft. Ideally, summarise each section with two sentences and ensure to include only the key points.


Step 3: Write Your Research Paper Abstract

This is the trickiest and most critical part of writing your abstract. It requires you to summarize your rough draft into something precise and concise. This part requires you to omit any extra information you may have written on the rough draft without removing vital points. It also needs you to write in a language that everybody will understand. Finally, ensure that you follow the same format as the rough draft.


Step 4: Ask Someone to Read it Out Loud to You

Sometimes the best way to understand your research paper abstract is by having someone read it to you. It’s also the best method of detecting any typos or errors in your abstract. Having someone read your abstract loudly will also help you confirm the consistency of the information you have provided.


Step 5: Confirmation

You ought to recheck your work and ensure that it meets the guidelines of writing an excellent research paper abstract. Ideally, compare your work to professional abstracts and see whether the formatting is ok. Remember to look for any strongpoints they may have used.

Example of a Research Paper Abstract

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In a Nutshell

  • Every student must include an abstract in their research paper
  • The abstract provides a comprehensive summary of the entire research paper
  • It should not exceed 300 hundred words
  • This summary gives professors and readers a detailed overview of what the research paper entails
  • A student must write it concisely without leaving key details and without providing too much information