Although one of the shortest sections in your research report, the abstract is also one of the most important sections.
The abstract is sometimes also called the synopsis or summary.
It is like an executive summary of a business reports.
The purpose of the abstract is to enable interested readers to grasp the salient elements of the report without having to read the whole report.
The abstract is a mandatory section of your research and should be short and informative.
It should cover the following:
- The problem that was researched.
- Your main argument or arguments.
- The nature of the research.
- The context of the research.
- The research methods and procedures that you used.
- Your main findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Some universities will require of you to cover everything in not more than 300 words – that is one A4 page.
Obviously, the abstract can only be written once you have completed your research and wrote your research report.
It should appear directly after the table of contents, authentication and acknowledgements.
The abstract should end with a list of not more than ten keywords.
Abstracts are often published in specialist journals.
Here is an example of the structure (headings that you can use in your abstract:
- Background to the study.
- Definition of the problem and research question.
- Research design.
- A title that is the same as or like the title of your research report.
The abstract should briefly explain the following:
- What you did – the topic of your research.
- How you did it – the methodology that you used.
- What you found out – the results of your research.
- What the significance of the research was – your conclusions and recommendations.