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Doctor of Education - Orientation: Writing an Abstract

What is an Abstract?

A brief comprehensive description (frequently <100 words for conferences) of a piece of writing that highlights major points and findings and summarizes your interpretations and conclusions.


Qualities of a Good Abstract

An effective abstract

  • Uses one or more well-developed paragraphs, which are unified, coherent, concise, and able to stand alone
  • Uses an introduction-body-conclusion structure in which the parts of the paper are discussed in order: purpose, findings, conclusions, recommendations
  • Follows strictly the chronology of the paper
  • Provides logical connections between material included
  • Adds no new information but simply summarizes the paper
  • Is intelligible to a wide audience

Steps for writing an effective abstract

To write an effective abstract, follow these four steps.

  1. Reread your paper with the purpose of abstracting in mind. Look specifically for these main parts: purpose, methods, scope, results, conclusions, and recommendations.

  2. After you have finished rereading your paper, write a rough draft without looking back at your paper. Consider the main parts of the abstract listed in step #1. Do not merely copy key sentences from your report. You will put in too much or too little information. Do not summarize information in a new way.

  3. Consider the following suggestions
  • Use active verbs whenever possible.
  • Use complete sentences.
  • Avoid jargon or colloquialisms.
  • Use familiar terminology whenever you can (and always explain terms that may be unfamiliar to the average reader).

Revise your rough draft to

  • Correct weaknesses in organization and coherence,

  • Drop superfluous information,

  • Add important information originally left out,

  • Eliminate wordiness, and

  • Correct errors in grammar and mechanics.

  • Carefully proofread your final copy.


Resources Consulted

Resources consulted: Abstract. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Abstracts. Introduction to Scholarly Communication. Purdue Univeristy Libraries. The Abstract.