An abstract is a short, separate, one page--and no more than one page (about 250 words)--summary of a research paper. It is a double spaced, blocked paragraph. It is the first narrative of a research paper, but it is the last narrative to be written. The research paper abstract is informative rather than descriptive since descriptive abstracts are mere tables of content. The informative abstract provides readers with an overview of the entire paper, stating its purpose, scope, and all its relevant facts and conclusions. It is written in the third person. An abstract is a courtesy to both readers and to other researchers. In one page an abstract provides readers and researchers with the contents of a paper. From the abstract they can determine whether a paper has information of enough interest and validity to be read in its entirety, and whether the information/conclusions/results can be used in papers they may be writing. While an abstract includes all the relevant facts, statistics, and conclusions of a research paper, it does not include examples, tables, and general supporting detail. Such phrases as "This paper will look at . . ." or "This paper will explain . . ." or "This paper will discuss . . ." are never used in an abstract. Abstracts usually end with a list of key words. The following links provide additional information about abstracts: LEO Abstracts. KEY WORDS: abstract, descriptive, informative, purpose, scope, and summary.
By Bernard Selzler, EdD
Literary Education Online