Answered By: Todd White
Last Updated: Jun 15, 2015     Views: 87

What should be included in an abstract can vary between disciplines, and since this is a student paper, and not a piece of research (i.e. you did not conduct an experiment using a methodology) I'll try to split the difference and use a social sciences abstract.

My source is Wendy Laura Belcher's excellent book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks (Sage, 2009). Here are her points for a a good social sciences abstract (p. 55) -

  • "State why you embarked on the project - often some reference to a gap or debate in the literature or a persistent social problem.
  • State what your project/study was about, the topic of the article.
  • State how you did the project, your methodology.
  • State what you found through the project, your findings
  • State what conclusions you draw from your project, your argument.
  • Some abstracts include recommendations, although this isn't necessary."

Belcher also discusses the fact that many people will never read a published paper, only the abstract. So keep that in mind. If you distill your paper down to four sentences, what was its essence? You must have a had a question you tried to answer with this paper. You must have conducted a search for articles to read. You then read them (or at least the abstract! :) ) and then drew some conclusions. If you have only four sentences, this would seem to be the essence of what you want.

Good luck!

Contact Us

College of St. Scholastica Library
1200 Kenwood Avenue
Duluth, MN  55811

Phone: 218.723.6140

Fax:  218.723.5948

Text:  218.422.6942