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CSTEP Summer Research Program Library Resources Guide: Writing Abstracts

This Guide is intended for students in UB's CSTEP Summer Research Program. It contains links to library research resources, as well as contact information for the Engineering Librarian.
Last Updated: Sep 7, 2021 10:16 AM

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.

An abstract is NOT a simple summary or critique.

Hilda Bastian cartoon about paper abstracts

"Abstract" by Hilda Bastian licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

How to Write an Abstract

The key information that needs to be communicated in the Abstract is:

  1. Why was there a need to do this study?;
  2. How was the study carried out?;
  3. What key aspects/limitations of the study would a reader need to be aware of?;
  4. What exactly was done?;
  5. What were the findings?, and finally;
  6. How exactly does the new knowledge that has been generated serve to advance the field?

Tips for Writing an Abstract

  • Write the abstract after finishing the paper.
  • Be accurate. Only include information in the original document.
  • Be concise, get right to the point and use precise language. Include only 4 or 5 of the most important concepts, findings or implications.
  • Do not refer to the author (e.g., “Dr. Seuss argues”).
  • Do not refer to what type of document you are abstracting (e.g., “This book describes”).
  • 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).

Resources consulted: Abstract. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Abstracts. Introduction to Scholarly Communication. Purdue University Libraries. The Abstract. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper. University of Southern California Libraries. How to Write a Research Abstract. The Office of Undergraduate Studies. University of Kentucky. Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University. Writing an Abstract for an Article, Proposal or Report. UNM Biology Undergraduate Labs. University of New Mexico.

Thanks to Kent State University Libraries for this great set of tips and resources! 


Additional Tips for Writing Scientific Abstracts:

  1. Why was there a need to do this study?
  2. How was the study carried out?
  3. What key aspects/limitations of the study would a reader need to be aware of?
  4. What exactly was done?
  5. What were the findings?
  6. How exactly does the new knowledge that has been generated serve to advance the field?

Engineering Librarian

Profile Photo
Erin Rowley
Contact:
119 Lockwood Library
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
epautler@buffalo.edu
716-645-1369