What is an abstract?
An abstract is a short preview of your report intended to inform
potential readers about your topic, research, and findings. It usually
comes at the beginning of a paper and allows people to get a brief
glimpse into the content of your research before reading your report
in its entirety.
Abstracts are also commonly used as presentation proposals for
academic conferences. The abstract gives conference organizers an idea
of what you’d like to present. At times, the abstract is publicized in
the conference program, so that attendees can decide whether to attend
your session or someone else’s. For all these reasons, it’s important
than an abstract be clearly written and give a focused overview of
your report or presentation.
An abstract should include the following:
• A title that clearly indicates the focus of you report,
presentation, or essay
• The research or data that you have
incorporated into the report
• The methodology you used to collect
data (if you are writing a scientific report) or the logical structure
or theoretical framework from which you are writing your argument (if
you are writing an essay in the humanities)
• Your findings, if
you are writing a scientific report; your argument, if you are writing
an essay in the humanities
• If you have space, a hint as to the
implications of your findings or the general importance of your argument
A good exercise for writing an abstract is to continually answer the
question “What is my report/paper/presentation about?” or, more
accurately, “What does my report/paper/presentation do?”
The Writing Center
The Writing Center has Writing Consultants who may be able to
help craft an effective abstract. Contact the center for more details.