Writing A Clear and Concise Term Paper Abstract

One of the writing tasks many young university students face is the writing of abstracts. Once you begin doing proper research projects, theses, and term papers, the necessity of writing an abstract will become common. Writing an abstract need not be difficult, but it can appear to be a challenge for those who aren’t used to it. Here are some tips to help you write a clear and concise term paper abstract.

  1. List what your abstract should contain.
  2. This list should include things like:

    • The topic of the paper
    • The purpose of the paper
    • The thesis
    • The conclusion*

    * Note: some abstracts are intended to be open ended. This isn’t the norm, but it does occasionally occur. If your instructor wishes for your abstract to be open ended in nature, he or she will specify this. If they do not, your conclusion or results should be paraphrased in the abstract.

  3. Write out this list as concisely as possible
  4. The primary goals of an abstract are to inform and to be concise. Before considering any other aspect of the abstract, you must fulfill these two goals. So, in as few words as possible, write out the list above as it pertains to your research paper.

  5. Edit the abstract
  6. Now, it’s time to edit and polish your abstract. You need to be aware, however, that the first two goals are still paramount—do not make sentences longer or more complex for the sake of style, or even for flow. So long as the sentence is intelligible and grammatically correct, it should contain as few words as possible.

    That’s it! When students find themselves stressed about writing abstracts, it’s frequently because they are trying too hard to make the finished product sound fancy, complicated, or exciting. An abstract need not be any of those things. So long as it communicates clearly and contains the necessary information, it’s fine. Keep in mind the purpose of abstracts—they are essentially search result returns for researchers, not an advertisement for a product you’re selling. Communicate clearly and be informative in your abstract, and make it concise so that busy researchers can skim it quickly and find the information they need without having to linger. Abstracts may not be creative, or intriguing in terms of writing style, but they have a specific (and very important!) purpose to fulfill.