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Scientific Abstract - Where Each Word Counts

Image credit: Pixabay

Few Words - Much Content

Writing a good abstract is the key to earning credibility for your research. The abstract is the face of your paper. With few words, it tells the reader about the content and the importance of the research. Having a good abstract means that your paper and you as a scientist will get the deserved attention.  Below we will take a brief look at how to master the art of writing a scientific abstract and will give you some useful tips.


What is a Scientific Abstract?

The Scientific Abstract is the summary of your paper. It is a way to give the essence of your paper in about 200-250 words. The abstract is the first thing the audience reads and often determines whether they will continue with the full paper or not. Although there is no codification, it is widely accepted, that the abstract should contain 1-2 sentences on the following: Background, Methods, Results, and Conclusions of the research. 

General Tips

When writing an abstract, there are usually few general things you need to consider:

-To know the audience you are writing the abstract for without assuming that the level of their knowledge on the topic is very high or very low.

- To write the abstract last - make sure you read the whole paper carefully and choose the most important parts.

- Make sure all that is mentioned in the abstract can be found in the paper.

Image credit: Pixabay

 - Avoid referring to tables and figures that can be found in the body of the paper.

- If you are using an acronym, spell out its meaning.

- Don't use citations.

- Think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - In addition to the title and keywords part of your paper, include in the abstract as well terms people are likely to use when searching online for papers on your topic. 

Background

Here you need to briefly outline few things: What is the problem your research deals with? Why is this problem important? What is already known about the subject, what is the context in which your research takes place? What is the new aspect you will be researching? Try to be concise and fit in as few sentences as possible. This is basically a summary of the Introduction section of your paper - so use it as a basis!

Methods

This is usually the second-longest section in the abstract. When you are writing it, put yourself in the shoes of the readers as though you need to understand,  what was done, and how. This is going to be the main point of evaluation of the credibility of your research. Make sure you describe:  What type of method you used? How was the data collected and analyzed? What materials and tools were used? Why did you choose this methodology?

Image credit: Pixabay 

Results

Here you will summarize the main findings of your research. This is the most important part of the abstract, so don't overlook it. This should be the longest part and provide as much information as possible considering the word count limits. Don't forget, that the results of your research are the reason the reader is paying attention to your abstract. Always write this part only AFTER your data has been collected and analyzed.


Conclusions

This is the last section of your abstract. It should leave the reader with a clear understanding of the main discovery of the research. You should answer the main research questions, briefly state the new findings you have made and their possible implications and suggest what can be done on this topic in the future.

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