#12 Tips for Writing a Perfect Research Paper Abstract

A research paper abstract is a summary of the main aspects of a research paper in a paragraph of about 300 words. Any abstract should capture the key points adequately such that it can be read as a standalone document.

It explains the purpose of conducting a particular study, the research problem under investigation, the design employed in the research, the findings, and the interpretations and conclusions deduced from the study. An informative research paper abstract helps the readers understand the study objectives and the importance of the research.

writing a research paper abstract

A research paper abstract should give an unbiased picture of the study. This means that the researcher should not limit their findings to those that support their hypothesis. Instead, they should also mention other unfavorable and insignificant results. This allows the reader to make an independent evaluation of the researcher’s conclusions.

Most readers seldom read beyond the topic of an article. If they find the title interesting, they will go through the abstract. However, they hardly read the entire paper. Unless a reader has a particular interest in that research area, only then will they go through the whole article.

Therefore, the paper abstract helps the readers decide if they would like to read the entire manuscript. It is, therefore, your duty to ensure that your abstract adequately represents your full article.

The Context of a Research Paper Abstract

Outside the classroom context, a research paper abstract is the only part of an article published in conference gatherings. No other section of a research paper is given to a potential referee who has been asked by an editor to review a research document except the abstract. The abstract is also the only part of a journal article that is available for scholars in online databases. With that in mind, learning how to write your research paper abstract is crucial.

It is essential to know the different types of research paper abstracts before learning how to write them.

context of a research paper abstract

The Four Types Abstracts

Critical Abstracts

They not only discuss the main aspects of a paper and, but also critique it. A critical abstract evaluates a research paper and compares it with other works in that field of study. The writer usually offers their views on the reliability, validity, completeness of the research, etc. Critical abstracts are generally about 500 words. Their use is infrequent.

Informative Abstracts

Most abstracts are informative. Informative abstracts do not evaluate or critique a manuscript, but they provide a detailed account of the research. Its components are arguments in the research paper, findings, any relevant evidence, and information found in descriptive abstracts (the purpose of the study, methodology, and scope).

The other contents of an informative abstract are the findings of the study, the conclusions, and the recommendations. Informative abstracts are about 300 words long.

Descriptive Abstracts

A descriptive abstract reveals the type of information found in an article. It does not offer any views regarding the research, and it does not provide any findings or conclusions of the study. Keywords used in the research paper are mentioned in this type of abstract.

Other things that are included when writing a descriptive abstract are the purpose of the study, the methodology, and the scope of the research. A descriptive abstract is a summary of the research article. Others consider it to be merely an outline of a research paper. Descriptive abstracts are usually very brief about 100 words in length.

Highlight Abstracts

A highlight abstract is purposely written to draw the reader’s attention to the article. A highlight abstract does not provide a complete representation of the research paper. Incomplete and suggestive statements are often employed to arouse the reader’s interest.

Due to the fragmentary nature of a highlight abstract, it cannot be used independently. As such, it is not considered a ‘true abstract’; thus, it is rarely used in academic writing.

Sections of an Abstract

Most of the research paper abstracts have the following sections: background, methods, results, and conclusion. In some cases, however, you might be asked to add objectives (between the background and methods section) and the limitations at the end of your abstract.


This is the shortest part of abstracts and is typically two to three sentences long. It provides a background to the research thus allowing the reader to make sense of the methodology section. In this part, start by providing information that is already known about the study subject. Secondly, state what is unknown about the issue and hence made your research necessary.


The methodology part comprises a big part of the research paper abstract. It explains what was done during the research and how. Information such as the research strategy used, the sample size, the duration of the study, the number of participants, the research instruments employed, the treatment each participating group received, the study setting, etc. should be mentioned in the methods section.


The findings section is the most salient part of your research paper abstract. As such, it should be well written. The reason is that readers who read research paper abstracts do so to find out the results of the study. Therefore, it should be the longest part of a research paper abstract because it should be sufficiently detailed.


The conclusion contains the main idea of your research that you want to impress upon your reader. It should be brief. Ordinarily, the main findings are mentioned in this part. Nevertheless, you can also highlight other significant findings or unexpected results.

Additionally, you can talk about the implication of your results or their importance to that field of research. Although the conclusion is brief, it has the most profound impact on readers. That is so because readers take the deductions made by the writer at face value. Therefore, all assertions made should be truthful and should reflect the data presented.

Writing Tips

  • Always find out the requirements of all your assignments.

Ask your instructor to provide you with the guidelines for writing your research paper abstract. You should have information relating to the required word count, style and format, the purpose of writing the article (whether for use within the classroom context or outside), and any other requirements.

  • It is essential to write your abstract after finishing your paper.

You will get stuck if you begin writing your research paper abstract before completing your paper.  A research paper abstract is a summary of your entire article. Therefore, you can only write it after you have finished your research paper. 

A great way to begin writing your abstract is obtaining complete sentences or main phrases from each section of your research paper. Afterward, place them in a sequence that summarizes your work and insert connecting phrases and words to create a meaningful and cohesive text.

  • Write your abstract in the past tense.

Remember you are discussing a study that has already been done.

  • Write concisely.

Use complete sentences that arrive at the point quickly. Your abstract should be brief but still informative.

  • Keep your audience in mind.

It is essential to know whom you are writing for so that you tailor your work accordingly.

  • Understand the nature of the abstract you are required to write.

As mentioned above, each of the four types of research paper abstracts has different content. Knowing which abstract you are required to write will help you provide your reader with the appropriate information.

  • Determine the purpose of your research.

When writing your research paper abstract, you will be required to demonstrate the relevance and objectives of your study. The best way to approach this requirement is to think about the importance of the topic and the significance of the research to you.

  • Talk about the research problem briefly.

After providing your reflection on the topic, discuss the research problem in a few sentences.

  • Mention the methods you used to conduct your study.

The methodology comprises of one of the bulk parts of your research paper abstract. When writing your methods, explain to your reader the steps you took to arrive at your conclusions.

You can include examples and evidence that you used to back up the arguments in your paper.  Also, you can talk about the most significant sources you used when conducting your research.

  • Provide your research findings.

Discuss the results you obtained from your research.

  • Finish your abstract with the conclusion.

A proper conclusion is logical and answers the research questions adequately. Additionally, it explains the implication of the research findings to that field of study both presently and in future.

  • Polish your abstract.

Read your research paper abstract after completing it. Identify any mistakes and gaps in your work. The information given in your research paper abstract should match with the one in your research article.  Ensure that you have met all the requirements and that there are no sentence and grammar errors or plagiarized content.

Writing a research paper abstract follows key points that must be followed if the research paper abstract is ti capture all the information from the research.

Avoid the following:

  • Giving too much background information.
  • Use of complicated language, jargon, and abbreviations.
  • Making references to other literature.
  • Using a pictorial representation of data or referring to them.
  • Writing incomplete sentences.
  • Using elliptical language.

Now that you know how to draft a research paper abstract, you may be interested in writing a research paper introduction.

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