Research Paper Abstract: 10 Simple Steps to Make a Big Difference

Research Paper Abstract in 10 steps

In the ever-expanding realm of academia, research papers are the pillars upon which knowledge and innovation are built. Yet, amidst the vast sea of scholarly publications, one small but mighty component holds the power to captivate readers, draw attention, and leave a lasting impact – the abstract.

The abstract is the gateway to your research, the ambassador that entices readers to explore further. Like a finely crafted work of art, it weaves a concise yet comprehensive tapestry of your study, revealing the core essence of your research endeavor. In a world inundated with information, writing an abstract that stands out and compels readers to delve deeper into your work is an art form in itself.

In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the secrets of crafting compelling abstracts for research papers. We delve into the core elements that make an abstract truly captivating, transcending the boundaries of disciplines and welcoming readers from various academic backgrounds.

The first challenge lies in capturing the essence of your research in a limited word count. The abstract must succinctly convey the purpose, methodology, and key findings of your study, all while leaving readers hungry for more. We explore the art of condensing complex ideas into a few well-chosen sentences, ensuring clarity and accessibility to a diverse readership.

Beyond brevity, we uncover the importance of language and tone in crafting an abstract that resonates with readers. The artful use of words can ignite curiosity, evoke emotion, and ignite an insatiable desire to explore your research further.

Furthermore, we delve into the significance of aligning your abstract with the specific guidelines and requirements of target journals or conferences. By tailoring the abstract to the preferences of your audience, you increase its chances of shining amidst the vast sea of publications.

In this pursuit of abstract excellence, we explore real-life examples of captivating abstracts, analyzing their structure and impact. Drawing from the wisdom of seasoned researchers, we uncover the strategies and techniques they employ to master the art of abstract writing.

Join us on this enriching journey as we unlock the secrets to crafting compelling abstracts for research papers. Whether you are an aspiring scholar seeking to make a mark in your field or an established researcher aiming to amplify your impact, the lessons learned here will elevate your abstract-writing prowess and ensure that your research receives the attention it rightfully deserves. Together, let us embrace the art of abstracts and unleash the potential of our research to shape the future of knowledge.

Introduction

When I started my research journey as PhD research scholar I had an innovative idea for implementation. My research supervisor felt very happy and asked me to submit an abstract of the work for an international conference.

Being unaware of paper writing I struggled a lot to understand the gist of abstract writing and took a lot of time to prepare my own. It was after several iterations my supervisor approved my abstract.

Based on my first experience I decided to prepare a template for the research paper abstract with 10 simple steps so that I can write it in less than an hour.

Abstracts are a good way to summarize the key contents of a paper. It is a single paragraph containing a minimum of 200 words up to 300 words.  It offers a preview that highlights key points and helps the reader to decide whether to read the entire paper or skip to the next paper.

Many of the conference proceedings only publish abstracts for indexing. Many journal editorial boards screen manuscripts only based on the abstract.

For the referees and a few readers who wish to read the complete paper, the abstract sets the tone for the rest of the paper. If it fails to attract the attention of the reviewer then there’s a good chance your paper will be rejected before reading the complete content.

The author therefore must ensure that the abstract is a proper representative of the entire paper. Moreover, even after your paper is published, it will be the first and possibly only thing readers will access through electronic searches. Thus, for the vast majority of readers, the paper does not exist beyond its abstract.

The primary sections of many publications in the social sciences, sciences of nature, and sciences of engineering are Background(Introduction), Methods, Results, and Discussion(IMRaD).

An IMRaD paper or presentation abstract usually has one or two paragraphs.  This type of abstract writing  typically invests

First 25% of the text for the goal and significance of the research (Background)

Next 25% of the  text is devoted to the Methodology followed

Next  35% of the text on what is discovered (Results)

The last 15% of the text is devoted to the research’s conclusions

.

IMRaD Research Paper Paper Content Distribution

Some researchers add  Objectives between Background and Methods and Limitations at the end of the abstract.

The Background Section of the Abstract

The background section of an abstract should provide a brief overview of the research topic, including what is already known and what is not known about the subject, and what the study intended to investigate. It should set the context for the study and help the reader understand the significance of the research question being addressed.

Here are some tips for writing the background section of an abstract:

  1. Start with a general statement about the research topic: Begin by introducing the general topic of your research and why it is important. This can be a sentence or two that provides context for the rest of the background section.

Example: “Machine learning has become an increasingly popular research topic in recent years due to its potential to automate tasks and improve decision-making.”

  1. Provide a brief overview of what is already known: This should include a brief summary of existing research and knowledge about the topic.

Example: “Previous research has shown that neural networks can be used to improve accuracy in image classification tasks.”

  1. Identify gaps in the existing research: After summarizing what is known about the topic, identify what is not known or what gaps in knowledge exist.

Example: “However, little research has been done on the impact of neural network architecture on image classification accuracy.”

  1. State the research question or hypothesis: End the background section with a statement of the specific research question or hypothesis that your study aims to address.

Example: “This study aims to investigate the impact of different neural network architectures on image classification accuracy.”

Here’s an example of a background section for a research paper on machine learning in computer science:

Background: “Machine learning has become an increasingly popular research topic in recent years due to its potential to automate tasks and improve decision-making. Previous research has shown that neural networks can be used to improve accuracy in image classification tasks. However, little research has been done on the impact of neural network architecture on image classification accuracy. This study aims to investigate the impact of different neural network architectures on image classification accuracy.”

In summary, the background section of an abstract should provide a brief overview of the research topic, what is already known and what gaps in knowledge exist, and the specific research question or hypothesis that the study aims to address. It should be brief and to the point, allowing for more space in the abstract for the methods and results sections.

The Method Section of the Abstract

The methods section of an abstract should provide a brief description of the algorithms, processes, and data sets used in the study so that the reader can understand how the research was conducted. This section should be concise but provide enough detail to convey the methodology used.

Here are some tips for writing the methods section of an abstract:

  1. Start with a general statement about the methodology used: Begin by introducing the methodology used in the study, such as the type of algorithm or statistical analysis employed.

Example:

“This study employed a convolutional neural network (CNN) to classify images.”

  1. Provide a brief overview of the data set: Briefly describe the data set used in the study, including any preprocessing or cleaning steps taken.

Example:

“The study used the CIFAR-10 data set, consisting of 50,000 training images and 10,000 test images of 10 different classes, which were preprocessed by resizing and normalization.”

  1. Describe the experimental setup: Provide a brief description of the experimental setup, including any specific hardware or software used.

Example:

“The CNN was trained on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU using the TensorFlow deep learning framework.”

  1. Outline the steps taken in the analysis: Summarize the steps taken in the analysis, including any cross-validation or hyperparameter tuning.

Example:

“The CNN was trained using stochastic gradient descent with a learning rate of 0.001 and batch size of 128, and evaluated using 10-fold cross-validation.”

Here’s an example of a methods section for a research paper on image classification using a convolutional neural network:

Method: “This study employed a convolutional neural network (CNN) to classify images. The study used the CIFAR-10 data set, consisting of 50,000 training images and 10,000 test images of 10 different classes, which were preprocessed by resizing and normalization. The CNN was trained on a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU using the TensorFlow deep learning framework. The CNN was trained using stochastic gradient descent with a learning rate of 0.001 and batch size of 128, and evaluated using 10-fold cross-validation.

In summary, the methods section of an abstract should provide a brief but informative description of the algorithms, processes, and data sets used in the study. It should be concise and to the point, but provide enough detail to convey the methodology used.

You can visit my other blog post related to the “writing method section”  for a detailed understanding on how to put your idea into practice using a proper method.

The Results Section of the Abstract

The results section is the critical part of an abstract because it summarizes the main findings of the study. Readers who are scanning the abstract usually want to make a decision about whether to read the full paper based on the results. Therefore, the results section should be the longest part of the abstract and contain as much detail about the findings as the word count permits.

Here are some tips for writing the results section of an abstract:

  1. Start with a general statement about the findings: Begin by summarizing the main findings of the study in a concise, clear statement.

Example: “Our study found that the use of virtual reality training improved surgical performance in novice surgeons.”

  1. Describe the key results in detail: Provide a summary of the key results of the study, including any statistical analyses conducted and significant findings.

Example: “Novice surgeons who received virtual reality training showed a significant improvement in surgical performance, with an average reduction in error rate of 35%. The difference between the virtual reality group and the control group was statistically significant (p < 0.05).”

  1. Provide specific details: Include specific details about the findings, such as the size of the effect or the magnitude of the difference observed.

Example: “The mean error rate for the virtual reality group was 12.5%, compared to 19.2% for the control group. This represents a 35% reduction in errors in the virtual reality group.”

  1. Discuss any limitations or implications of the findings: Briefly discuss any limitations or implications of the findings, and how they relate to the broader research question.

Example: “While our study provides evidence for the effectiveness of virtual reality training in improving surgical performance, further research is needed to determine the optimal duration and frequency of training. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that virtual reality training could be a valuable tool for improving surgical training and patient outcomes.”

Here’s an example of a results section for a research paper on the effectiveness of virtual reality training for improving surgical performance:

Results: “Our study found that the use of virtual reality training improved surgical performance in novice surgeons. Novice surgeons who received virtual reality training showed a significant improvement in surgical performance, with an average reduction in error rate of 35%.

The difference between the virtual reality group and the control group was statistically significant (p < 0.05). The mean error rate for the virtual reality group was 12.5%, compared to 19.2% for the control group. This represents a 35% reduction in errors in the virtual reality group.

While our study provides evidence for the effectiveness of virtual reality training in improving surgical performance, further research is needed to determine the optimal duration and frequency of training. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that virtual reality training could be a valuable tool for improving surgical training and patient outcomes.

In summary, the results section of an abstract should be the longest part of the abstract and contain as much detail about the findings as the word count permits. It should summarize the main findings of the study, provide specific details about the results, and briefly discuss any limitations or implications of the findings.

While writing a summary of obtained results care should be taken regarding comparative analysis statements.

For example, it is wrong to write  Leaf Disease detection rates differed significantly between C-Means Fuzzy based clustering and K-Means Clustering  From this, no conclusion can be drawn by the reader.

 It can be written as  “Leaf Disease detection rate was higher in C-Means Fuzzy based clustering than in  K-Means Clustering 

Some authors even write “ Our results are excellent as compared to the method employed by John[]“.

 No author’s work should be degraded.

It can be stated as

Our results are comparable to the results obtained through the Backpropagation network implemented in the earlier work“.

Details regarding “how to write the results section for a research paper”  is presented in one of my posts. The blog post will help you in extracting, transforming, and representing data in various data visualization formats.

The Conclusion Section of The Abstract

The conclusion section of an abstract is the final portion and serves as the researcher’s final say on the subject of the research. The conclusion should contain the most important message that the researcher wants to convey to the reader about the work carried out in a few clearly worded sentences.

Here are some tips for writing the conclusion section of an abstract:

  1. Restate the main finding: Begin the conclusion section by restating the main finding of the study in a clear and concise manner.

Example: “Our study found that the use of machine learning algorithms improved the accuracy of medical diagnosis by 25%.”

  1. Discuss the implications of the findings: Provide a brief discussion of the implications of the findings for the field of study, as well as any potential practical applications.

Example:

“Our findings suggest that machine learning algorithms could be a valuable tool for improving medical diagnosis, potentially leading to more accurate and timely treatments for patients.”

  1. Mention any limitations or areas for future research: Briefly mention any limitations of the study or areas for future research.

Example:

“While our study provides evidence for the effectiveness of machine learning algorithms in improving medical diagnosis, further research is needed to determine the optimal methods for integrating these algorithms into clinical practice.”

  1. Avoid emotional language: As with the rest of the abstract, avoid using emotional language in the conclusion section. Instead, use a neutral and objective tone.

Example:

“In conclusion, our study provides evidence for the potential benefits of machine learning algorithms in improving medical diagnosis, and suggests that further research in this area could have significant implications for patient care.”

Here’s an example of a conclusion section for a research paper on the effectiveness of machine learning algorithms for improving medical diagnosis:

Conclusion:

“Our study found that the use of machine learning algorithms improved the accuracy of medical diagnosis by 25%. Our findings suggest that machine learning algorithms could be a valuable tool for improving medical diagnosis, potentially leading to more accurate and timely treatments for patients.

While our study provides evidence for the effectiveness of machine learning algorithms in improving medical diagnosis, further research is needed to determine the optimal methods for integrating these algorithms into clinical practice.

In conclusion, our study provides evidence for the potential benefits of machine learning algorithms in improving medical diagnosis and suggests that further research in this area could have significant implications for patient care.

In summary, the conclusion section of an abstract should contain the most important message that the researcher wants to convey to the reader in a few clearly worded sentences. It should restate the main finding, discuss the implications of the findings, mention any limitations or areas for future research, and avoid emotional language.

For the entire paper, you need to write the conclusion section covering the details of the entire paper including the methodology, results, and analysis, You can visit my blog post for further details in conclusion section. 

10 Simple Steps  for Writing an Abstract

Now how to go about fitting the critical points from the entire paper— why the research was carried out, what were the objectives, how these were addressed with different methodologies, what the main findings were and what were the unexpected outcomes into a paragraph of just 200-300 words. It’s not an easy task, but here’s a 10-step guide that should make it easier:

  1. Start writing the abstract only after completing the paper write-up.
  2. Explain the domain, subdomain and the historical development in the subdomain in 20-40 words.
  3. List the major challenges identified ( from the research gap of the survey section) in 20-40 words.
  4. Explain the objectives you have set for the research in 20-40 words.
  5.  Describe the Methodology you have used to solve the problem in  30-50 words.
  6.  Explain how the results are presented( in the form of graphs, charts or tables etc)in 20-30 words.
  7. Share your opinion on the results obtained and unexpected observations made while listing the results in 10-20 words.
  8. Make sure that the  abstract does not contain
    • New information that is not present in the paper.
    • Undefined abbreviations or group names.
    • A discussion of previous literature or reference citations.
  9. There must be consistency between the information presented in the abstract and the paper.
  10. Check whether the abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc).

Common Academic Phrases that can be used in Abstract Section

Here’s a table that shows some common academic phrases that can be used in the abstract section of a paper or research article:

PhraseExample
This paper explores/analyzes/investigates/considers/evaluates/examines/argues/discusses…“This paper examines the performance of machine learning algorithms in predicting customer churn in the telecommunications industry.”
The purpose of this study/research is to…“The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of cybersecurity awareness training on employee behavior in a corporate environment.”
The results/findings of this study/research indicate/suggest/demonstrate/reveal/show/illustrate…“The results of this study demonstrate that deep learning models can outperform traditional machine learning models in image classification tasks.”
The implications/significance of this study/research are…“The implications of this research are important for software developers seeking to improve the security of their applications.”
This paper contributes to the field of X by…“This paper contributes to the field of computer networks by proposing a new routing algorithm that reduces network congestion and improves performance.”
This study/research addresses/fills a gap in the literature on X by…“This research fills a gap in the literature on data privacy by examining the impact of differential privacy techniques on machine learning performance.”
The methodology/approach used in this study/research is…“The methodology used in this study involved a user study with a sample size of 100 participants to evaluate the usability of a new mobile application.”
The limitations/challenges of this study/research are…“The limitations of this research include a lack of diversity in the participant pool and the limited generalizability of the results to other populations.”
Future research in this area could explore/investigate/address…“Future research in this area could investigate the impact of quantum computing on cryptography and explore new encryption methods that are resistant to quantum attacks.”
In conclusion/To sum up, this paper/study/research provides insights into/advances our understanding of X.“In conclusion, this research provides insights into the effectiveness of natural language processing techniques in sentiment analysis and advances our understanding of text mining applications.”
 

Examples of  an Abstract for a Research Paper

Research Paper Abstract

Example 1 :

Abstract:

Machine learning has garnered significant attention as a transformative research area, offering the potential to automate tasks and enhance decision-making processes. In particular, neural networks have demonstrated remarkable success in improving image classification accuracy. However, an aspect that remains relatively unexplored is the impact of different neural network architectures on image classification performance. This research paper addresses this gap by investigating the influence of neural network architecture on image classification accuracy. The study employs a convolutional neural network (CNN) and focuses on the widely used CIFAR-10 dataset, comprising 50,000 training images and 10,000 test images belonging to ten distinct classes. Preprocessing involved resizing and normalization of the images. The CNN was trained on a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU using the TensorFlow deep learning framework. Stochastic gradient descent with a learning rate of 0.001 and a batch size of 128 was utilized for training, and the models were evaluated through 10-fold cross-validation.

Three distinct neural network architectures, namely Architecture A, Architecture B, and Architecture C, were examined in the study. Architecture A consisted of three convolutional layers followed by two fully connected layers. Architecture B, on the other hand, boasted a deeper structure with five convolutional layers and three fully connected layers. Lastly, Architecture C had a shallower design with two convolutional layers and two fully connected layers.

The results revealed that neural network architecture significantly influenced image classification accuracy. Architecture B achieved an accuracy of 88.6%, outperforming Architecture A, which scored 85.3%. Surprisingly, Architecture C, with an accuracy of 91.2%, surpassed the deeper Architecture B. These findings underscore the importance of deliberate architectural design and demonstrate that both deeper and shallower architectures can yield competitive performance in image classification tasks.

In conclusion, this research provides valuable insights into the impact of neural network architecture on image classification accuracy. It highlights the necessity of considering architectural choices carefully when developing image classification models. The study contributes to the advancement of machine learning and encourages further exploration and optimization of neural network architectures for image classification tasks, leading to more efficient and accurate image classification systems in various real-world applications.

Example 2:

Abstract:

The extraction of meaningful features from leaf disease images using image processing techniques has been a longstanding challenge, extensively studied by the image processing community for decades. Over the years, significant advancements have been made in image processing research for leaf disease identification, enabling the application of novel techniques to address more complex pathological issues.

In this research paper, we conducted a comprehensive review of recent developments in data extraction methods for diseased leaf images, with a particular focus on three vital Soft computing techniques: Neural networks, Fuzzy logic, and Genetic algorithms. The objective was to explore and analyze the efficacy of these techniques in enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of leaf disease identification.

Throughout the study, we presented comprehensive tables that summarized and differentiated key concepts and approaches within the context of each Soft computing technique. Additionally, we provided comparative analyses wherever relevant, to assess the strengths and limitations of each approach. Moreover, we identified areas where further analyses were necessary to bridge existing research gaps.

Our findings highlighted the transformative impact of Soft computing techniques, particularly Neural networks, Fuzzy logic, and Genetic algorithms, in improving the data extraction process of diseased leaf images. These techniques offered promising results, with Neural networks achieving an average accuracy of 92%, Fuzzy logic providing effective rule-based reasoning, and Genetic algorithms aiding in feature selection and optimization.

Furthermore, the results demonstrated that these advanced techniques facilitated early detection and effective management of plant health, playing a crucial role in agriculture and plant pathology.

In conclusion, this research contributed a holistic overview of recent advancements in diseased leaf image data extraction techniques, underscoring the significance of Soft computing methods for addressing complex pathological challenges. The presented analyses and insights provided valuable guidance for researchers and practitioners seeking to leverage these techniques in their future investigations. The paper concluded by emphasizing the importance of continued research and collaboration to unlock the full potential of Soft computing techniques in revolutionizing leaf disease identification and, by extension, advancing agriculture and plant pathology.

Example 3: For a Survey (Literature Review) Paper:

Abstract:

Cybersecurity is a critical field of study that continues to evolve as digital technologies advance and cyber threats become more sophisticated. This literature review paper aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of existing research in the domain of cybersecurity, focusing on the latest trends, challenges, and solutions.

Through a systematic review of peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, and other relevant literature, we present an overview of the current state of cybersecurity research. The review encompasses a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: cyber-attacks and their classification, malware detection and analysis, intrusion detection systems, encryption techniques, and security in emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing.

The analysis of the literature sheds light on the evolving threat landscape and the strategies employed by cyber attackers to breach systems and networks. Additionally, we examine various cybersecurity defense mechanisms and their effectiveness in mitigating cyber threats. Notably, machine learning and artificial intelligence-based approaches have gained significant attention in recent years for their potential in improving threat detection and response.

Furthermore, the literature review delves into the challenges faced by cybersecurity professionals and organizations, such as the shortage of skilled cybersecurity experts, the impact of insider threats, and the need for enhanced user awareness and education.

Based on the findings, this literature review paper highlights the importance of a holistic and proactive approach to cybersecurity. It emphasizes the significance of continuous research and collaboration to stay ahead of rapidly evolving cyber threats.

In conclusion, this literature review paper provides a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of the current trends and challenges in the field of cybersecurity. The insights gathered from this review can guide future research and policy-making efforts in strengthening cybersecurity measures and ensuring the safety and resilience of digital systems and data. As cyber threats continue to pose significant risks to individuals, businesses, and governments, this literature review contributes valuable knowledge to the ongoing efforts to secure cyberspace and protect against cyber-attacks.

Conclusion

Crafting an effective abstract for a research paper is a crucial skill that can significantly impact the success and impact of your work. The abstract serves as a concise summary of your research, providing readers with a glimpse of your study’s purpose, methodology, key findings, and conclusions.

When writing an abstract, it is essential to adhere to the guidelines and requirements set by the target journal or conference. A well-structured abstract should begin with a clear statement of the research problem, followed by a brief description of the methodology used. Highlighting the most important results and key findings helps engage readers and encourages them to delve deeper into your paper.

Remember that brevity is key; the abstract should be concise while conveying all essential information. Avoid jargon and complex language to ensure accessibility to a broader audience.

By crafting a compelling abstract, you increase the likelihood of your research being read, cited, and making a positive impact in your field of study. It acts as a doorway to your research, attracting readers to explore the full depth and significance of your work.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I submit my research paper abstract to two different conferences?

It should be acceptable to present a paper orally more than once; The issue arises if the conference organisers want you to submit an abstract or perhaps a full paper for publication; in that case, you are required to transfer your copyrights to the conference organizers.

When should you write the abstract of a research paper?

Even though your abstract will be the first section of your paper, it’s best to wait to write it until after you’ve prepared your entire work so that you are aware of what you’re summarising.

What is the difference between normal abstract & extended abstract? 

A normal abstract and a full paper are combined to create an extended abstract, which is both longer than a usual abstract and shorter than a full paper.

Which tense should be used to write a research paper abstract

In general, the past tense is commonly used when writing the abstract of a research paper. The abstract provides a summary of the research that has already been conducted and the results that have been obtained. As such, it is typically written in the past tense to describe the research actions and findings that have already taken place.

What is the difference between a research paper abstract Vs Research paper conclusion?

The research paper abstract is a concise summary of the entire paper, typically ranging from 150 to 250 words, placed at the beginning of the document. It outlines the research problem, methodology, key findings, and main conclusions, providing readers with a quick understanding of the paper’s content.
On the other hand, the research paper conclusion is placed at the end of the paper and serves to summarize the main points discussed in the main body. It can be a few paragraphs or even a page long and should restate the research objectives, summarize the main results, discuss their implications, and emphasize the research’s significance and potential future directions. Both sections are crucial for conveying the essence of the research paper to readers, but they have different purposes, lengths, and placements within the document.

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Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit
Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit is a researcher in Computer Science. He loves to educate researchers and research scholars on Research Paper Writing, Thesis Writing, Research Grants, Patenting Research Work and the latest Research-related issues. You can reach him @ [email protected]