Writing assignments can come with the task of providing a research paper abstract which serves as the summary of the whole paper. Some professors, however, do not assign their students to provide one. Nevertheless, students are still required to know the technicalities to write a proper abstract.
The abstract serves as an intensive summary and recap of a report or article. It could be a paragraph or it could take a whole page, depending on how long the report is. The aim of the research paper abstract is to provide a clear blow by blow of the report that can give the readers a general idea of what the document is about. The abstract differs from the introduction in content. The former gives a brief account of the contents of the report while the latter gives the background of the topic of the paper.
Since an abstract is the summary of a document, it makes perfect sense that it be written after the report is created. Without the report, what will the student summarize? The point is to develop a report with a main focus, understand it well and then write the research paper abstract. There are those who insist that an abstract is what a paper should start with but if you try writing it last, then you will realize that it is logical, if not easier, to complete a report first and then making the research paper abstract.
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The research paper abstract should ideally be written only after the conclusions have been drawn from the report. It may not necessarily recap the whole paper, but the significant parts should be mentioned. It tells what the reader should expect from the paper but it does not have to tell them the details of what they will learn from it. The abstract should be at least 200 words worth of summary. It should include the purpose of the research, the methodology, the results and the conclusion; all these have to be stated briefly. Be short but concise. It is a separate page from the rest of the paper that readers look so they can get an idea what the paper is about without having to go through the many pages. It will help them decide whether they do want to read the rest of the paper or not.
How should one go about writing the research paper abstract? Go back to the outline of the better and highlight the main points. These will serve as the basis of what should be included in the abstract. They do not have to be explained in detail; they just have to be stated and organized comprehensively.
If the professor does not specify where the abstract should be put, it is usually placed in between the cover page and the introduction of the report. This set up makes the abstract easier to find for the readers. To be sure, read the instructions and requirements of the writing assignment before placing the abstract anywhere. Recheck before final submission.