How to write a brilliant abstract?

It may seem to be impossible to cut down 30 pages to just into some 120 words*. Still, this is the part of your work upon which readers will decide whether they want to keep reading your paper. Therefore, you should carefully plan what to tell researchers who stumble upon your work in a database.

Write a Catchy Text

A well written abstract balances between being concise and having a nice flow. You want to give the optimal amount of information in a way that is easy to grasp. As the text is very short, every word should be carefully calculated and weighed against its alternatives. To achieve that, the abstract should be the last bit of your work you write.

Once you have finished your manuscript, you have read tens and tens and tens of articles. Go back to them and pay attention to their abstracts. You know the content of the paper – how do the authors summarise it?

Describe the key points of your research: the topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis and conclusions. Keep it to the essential – do not enlist all the results and all the analysis you conducted, just mention what was the most important. Start off by writing down the first draft of your abstract, check the word count and then try to work from there – should it be shortened? Do you really need to express everything you did or can some things be omitted?

Also, do not forget to mark down some keywords, which will make it easier for readers to find your article.

Follow APA Style

The abstract page is the second one just after the title page. On the first line, centre the word ‘Abstract’ according to the APA Style heading rules. The text under the title should be in one paragraph. Also keep in mind that numbers one to nine should be expressed in words and those from 10 in numerals (see the manual for more details).

After the Abstract, centre the text, write ‘Keywords:’, and enlist the significant phrases which help readers reach your article once it’s published. Remember, it will be the keywords that leads to your abstract!

*The word limit differs between journals, JEPS asks you to keep your abstract at a maximum of 120 words

About the author

Maris Vainre

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  • http://journal.efpsa.org Maris Vainre

    PS: Also, APA Style Blog wrote about writing an Abstract: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/03/making-a-concrete-abstract.html

  • http://www.cyprus101.com Cleo

    Hi Maris,
    I like your post and the way you write. I simply struggle putting in words what I feel and so being able to write in the ways you talk about are only a fantasy for me. I do enjoy reading and trying to learn.
    Thanks.
    Cleo

  • Ulopo Fova

    HI,

    I’m very interested in the way you construct your abstracts. Send me some of your writings.

    Thanks