Writing Abstracts

The abstract is a brief, clear summary of the information in your presentation. A well-prepared abstract enables readers to identify the basic content quickly and accurately, to determine its relevance to their interests or purpose and then to decide whether they want to listen to the presentation in its entirety.

Format

The abstract should include:

  • Introduction: (1-3 sentences) 
    State the principle objectives, the scope of the investigation or the reason for addressing the topic (the “what” and “why”). This would include your thesis statement.
  • Methodology: (1-3 sentences) 
    Describe very briefly the methodology employed or the approach to the problem or topic (the “how” or “where”).
  • Results: (1-3 sentences) 
    Summarize the results that were found. If some studies had similar findings, then you don’t need to elaborate on each study.
  • Summary: (1 sentence) 
    State the principal conclusions. What do the results of your studies suggest? What will you do in the future?

The abstract should not exceed 200 words and should make sense to someone not familiar with the topic. It should be typed as a single paragraph and must contain complete sentences with correct grammar and spelling. The abstract should not give information or conclusions that are not in the paper or presentation.

Tips

  • Omit extensive introductory and background information. For example, if you are doing a presentation on the effects of global warming on X, you should not discuss the background behind global warming in your abstract.
  • Do not use phrasing that describes what your presentation will do. You should not see phrasing like this: "This presentation presents conclusions and recommendations from a survey done on global warming." This provides ZERO substantive information to your audience. Instead, present the actual results of the studies.
  • Revise your rough draft over and over again to
  • Correct weaknesses in organization.
  • Omit unnecessary information.
  • Add important information you left out.
  • Eliminate wordiness
  • Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

For more assistance, visit the U of M writing center.

This information is modified from J. Etterson and L. Shannon.

Conducting Your Research