Components of an abstract in academic research- Research Paper, proposal, scientific paper, thesis

This post will make effort to address the major components of an abstract in academic research which include articles, Research Paper, proposals, scientific papers, and thesis among others.

What is an abstract

An abstract is provided in the first section of virtually all types of academic writing. It can be defined as a brief or concise summary of a particular subject matter or academic piece. In other words, an abstract is the first part of any academic piece which provides an in-depth summary of the entire piece or subject matter.

Examples of the types of academic papers which demand an abstract include a thesis, a dissertation, a conference preceding and a research proposal. The sole aim of an abstract in academic writing is to provide the readers with a brief overview of what the proposed academic piece is all about.


An abstract can either be (I)Informative or (II)Descriptive(III) Critical.

It can be regarded as ‘Descriptive’ or ‘Complete’ when it consists of a detailed and brief summary of all sections in the academic piece. The term ‘sections’ in this context refers to the subject matter of the academic piece, its background of the study, aims and objective, methodology as well as the results included. In other words, an informative abstract summarizes the entire research paper and summarizes its main points. Ideally, it ought to contain between 150 to 250 words.

Similarly, an abstract is regarded as ‘Descriptive’ or ‘Limited’ when it consists of a general description of the research paper without any identification or highlights on its intricate points or substances.

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Lastly, an abstract is regarded as ‘Critical’ when it provides a brief overview of the academic piece with special references to the inclusion of intricate points as well as additional comments or judgments regarding the conclusion of the subject matter in the academic piece. Such types of abstracts are not used frequently and it ideally consists of 400-500 words.


A well-written abstract ought to consist of the following elements or components:

  • The research problem
  • The objectives of the research.
  • The Research Methods.
  • The conclusion.

The Research Problem

This section includes a brief summary of the general problem or issues affecting the subject matter of the academic research. It takes up only five per cent of the abstract’s word count.

The objectives of the Research

This section of the abstract includes a general overview of what the writer seeks to achieve during the course of the research paper. Remember it ought to be as brief and concise as possible, hence, the writer is encouraged to finish writing the research paper entirely before coming back to write an abstract. That way, it will be easier for the writer to come up with brief summaries of the objectives of the research.

The Research Methods

This includes a brief overview of the method of approach used by the writer to conduct the research and come up with a tangible result regarding the problem of the research. The research methods which the writer uses under this veil include a case study, questionnaires as well as empirical research.

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The Conclusion

This section of the abstract is aimed at providing a brief overview of the solution to the proposed question in the research as well as how this solution ought to be conducted or concluded.


The importance of an abstract in academic writing includes the following:

  • It is used as a means of communicating the complexity or simplicity of the academic paper.
  • It serves as the first impression a reader gets about a research paper. Hence, it is used by many organizations in a bid to identify the abstracts that best suit the job or proposal description.
  • It serves as a means of saving the readers from going through the entire article in a bid to understand the subject matter of the research paper when it can be done at one glance.
  • It serves as a means of testing and ascertaining the summarisation skills of the writer of the research paper.


In order to compose a well structured and composed abstract, the reader is advised to perform and refrain from doing the following:

  • Avoid the use of long and unnecessarily ambiguous words when writing an abstract.
  • Avoid the use of citations of any sort in an abstract.
  • Avoid the inclusion of additional information in the abstract. The particulars of the abstract must be included in the body of the actual research paper at one point or another. If it is not included in the paper then it should not be included in the abstract.
  • The abstract should not be considered as a part of the academic piece. It should be written independently with the aim of providing significant information about the paper to the readers.
  • Be as concise and brief as possible.
  • Have a considerable amount of knowledge regarding the subject matter of the research paper before writing the abstract of a paper. That way, it will be easier for the writer to touch all the necessary areas in the paper while writing the abstract.

Now it is your turn. Let us know if you have comment, suggestions or a different view

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