An abstract is a succinct summary of a longer piece of work, usually academic in nature, which is published in isolation from the main text and should therefore stand on its own and be understandable without reference to the longer piece. Its purpose is to act as a reference tool, enabling the reader to decide whether or not to read the full text.

There are four fields which are obligatory in abstracts: Purpose, Design/methodology/approach, Findings and Originality/value; the other three (Research limitations/implications, Practical implications, and Social implications) may be omitted if they are not applicable to your paper.

Basic Requirements for Abstracts

Follow the chronology of the paper and use its headings as guidelines. Write concisely and clearly: do not include unnecessary details. You are writing for an audience “in the know” – you can use the technical language of your discipline or profession, providing you communicate your meaning clearly, and bear in mind that you are writing to an international audience. Make sure that what you write “flows” properly, that there are “connecting words” (e.g. consequently, moreover, for example, the benefits of this study, as a result, etc.) and/or the points you make are not disjointed but follow on from one another. Use the active rather than the passive voice, e.g. “The study tested” rather than “It was tested in this study”.

Abstracts should contain 200–250 words.

Using keywords

Using keywords is a vital part of abstract writing. Keywords act as the search term. Use keywords that are specific, and that reflect what is essential about the paper. Keywords must include the name of the author whose texts are researched.