The abstract of a research paper provides a quick rundown or summary of the aim, method, and results of your research as well as what your findings mean. It breaks your research paper and questions into a quick, easy-to-read highlight.
An abstract is different from an introduction. With an abstract, you're condensing thousands of words and giving a reader an idea of your research, findings, and outcomes, which helps them determine if it’s worth reading the actual piece. It also offers a perfect way for researchers to highlight key points.
See how to write an effective research abstract by exploring the components of several examples.
Research abstracts can appear at nearly every level of writing, from high-school papers to more professional literature. They are extremely straightforward with very little room for opinion.
The exact format will vary, but most abstracts are about one or two paragraphs (about 100 to 150 words each) in length.
A general research abstract will include:
- the main goal of the paper
- data, research, and methods
- the outcome and significance
In APA format (which is the format of most research papers), abstracts have their own page and are placed immediately following the title page.
To get a good understanding of what makes a good abstract, it can be helpful to look at some abstract examples in action.
While the specific contents will differ, seeing some abstract examples can give you a better idea of how to approach and format your own abstract.
In this abstract about video game addiction, you’ll see that the information follows a formal structure.
For example, the first sentence provides the topic of the research. It then breaks down who was in the study and how the study was conducted.
The third and final section discusses the correlation of video games and college engagement, along with the validity of video game addiction. You’ll also notice the past tense wording since the abstract is created after the research is finished.
Video Game Addiction and College Performance Among Men
This study explored the pattern of video game usage and video game addiction among male college students and examined how video game addiction was related to expectations of college engagement, college grade point average (GPA), and on-campus drug and alcohol violations. Participants were 477 male, first year students at a liberal arts college. In the week before the start of classes, participants were given two surveys: one of expected college engagement, and the second of video game usage, including a measure of video game addiction. Results suggested that video game addiction is (a) negatively correlated with expected college engagement, (b) negatively correlated with college GPA, even when controlling for high school GPA, and (c) negatively correlated with drug and alcohol violations that occurred during the first year in college. Results are discussed in terms of implications for male students' engagement and success in college, and in terms of the construct validity of video game addiction.
In this abstract about cell phone usage, the beginning breaks down the background information for the study.
In the middle, you can see the parameters that were used for the research. It concludes with the findings and significance.
The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students
The cell phone is ever-present on college campuses and is frequently used in settings where learning occurs. This study assessed the relationship between cell phone use and actual college grade point average (GPA) after controlling for known predictors. As such, 536 undergraduate students from 82 self-reported majors at a large, public university were sampled. A hierarchical regression (R2 = .449) demonstrated that cell phone use was significantly (p < .001) and negatively (β = −.164) related to actual college GPA after controlling for demographic variables, self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, self-efficacy for academic achievement, and actual high school GPA, which were all significant predictors (p < .05). Thus, after controlling for other established predictors, increased cell phone use was associated with decreased academic performance. Although more research is needed to identify the underlying mechanisms, findings suggest a need to sensitize students and educators about the potential academic risks associated with high-frequency cell phone use.
While a high-school or college research paper may not have the same stakes as a professional paper, the same rules still apply to write a good abstract.
This sample abstract clarifies the aim of the research to test sleep and student performance. It also specifies the method (the questionnaires), and briefly discusses the results and what those results could potentially be used for.
This research paper analyzes the correlation that exists between sleep and high school student performance in class. To answer this question, we compared academic performance against questionnaires that detailed the sleep schedules of 122 high school students. Our results showed that there was a positive correlation between poor academic performance and getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night. The results also revealed that poor sleep patterns can lead to concentration and behavior issues. The implications of this study could be used to promote high schoolers sleeping at least 8 hours a night.
This original abstract clarifies the aim of the research to test sleep and student performance. The method included the questionnaires, while the results clarified the correlation between the two factors being studied. The significance of how these results could be used rounds out the abstract. This offers the reader a clear outline of what they will find if they read the student research project paper.