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An abstract is a short preview of your report, generally 150-250 words, 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 these reasons, it’s important that an abstract is a clearly written, focused overview of your report or presentation.
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?”
For additional information and examples of abstracts in the sciences and humanities, please see: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/abstracts/
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