Every research paper begins with the abstract of the research carried out. Abstract is a summary of a research paper explaining the problem investigated, the methods applied, the main results and conclusions. Abstracts are a good way to summarize the key contents of a paper from the research that it uses to the ideas that you want to share with the reader. It is a single paragraph containing minimum 200 words up to 300 words. An abstract offers a preview, highlights key points and helps the reader to decide whether to read the entire paper. Many of the conference proceedings only publish abstracts for indexing. Many journal editorial boards screen manuscripts only on the basis of the abstract. For the referees and few readers who wish to read the sections beyond abstract, the abstract sets the tone for the rest of the paper. If the abstract does not attract the attention of the reviewer then there’s a good chance your paper will be rejected before reading the complete content. It is therefore the duty of the author to ensure that the abstract is a proper representative of the entire paper. Moreover, even after your paper is published, your abstract 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.
Invisible sections of an Abstract
A good abstract has four basic pieces of content. Most of the research publications publish abstracts that are written as a paragraph without sections. Few journals require abstracts to adhere to a specific structure within a limited word count of 200–300 words. Usually the structure of the abstract comes with four sections namely i) Background ii) Methods iii) Results and iv) Conclusions. Some researchers add Objectives between Background and Methods and Limitations at the end of the abstract.
This section is the smallest part of the abstract. It should briefly outline what is already known and what is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to carry out. Background can be prepared in just 2–3 sentences with each sentence describing a different aspect of the information referred to above; sometimes, even a single sentence is sufficient. The purpose of the background is to provide the reviewer or reader with a background to the research and hence to smoothly lead into a description of the methods employed in the investigation. A word of caution : A lengthy background section may lead to less space for the methods and results section and this in turn leads to poor representation of the paper.
This section should contain enough details to make the reader to understand what was done in the research and how it was done. Methods section throw a light on the algorithms, processes and data sets used for the research.
The results section is the critical part of the abstract. This is because readers who scan an abstract usually want to take a decision about their future course of research based on your findings. The results section should therefore be the longest part of the abstract and should contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits. While writing summary on 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 authors work should be degraded. It can be stated as “Our results are comparable to the results obtained through Back propagation network implemented in the earlier work” .
This section should contain the most important message the researcher wants to convey to the reader about the work carried out in a few clearly worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcome measure; however, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary but not essential, for the authors to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. No emotions should be attached to your conclusions but a commentary as a third person is required. Being the final portion of abstract, the conclusion serves as the researcher’s final say on the subject of the research. The tone of conclusion should match that of the results and the rest of the data collection process. The conclusion should be able to wrap up the entire work from the formulation of research objectives up to the satisfaction of such objectives.
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:
- Start writing the abstract only after completing the paper write up.
- Explain the domain, sub domain and the historical development in the sub domain in 20-40 words
- List the major challenges identified ( from research gap of the survey section) in 20-40 words
- Explain the objectives you have set for the research 20-40 words
- Describe the Methodology you have used to solve the problem in 30-50 words
- Explain how the results are presented( in the form of graphs, charts or tables etc)in 20-30 words
- Share your opinion on the results obtained and unexpected observations made while listing the results in 10-20 words
- 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
- There must be consistency between the information presented in the abstract and in the paper.
- Verify whether the abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc).
Example of an Abstract for a Research Paper
Extraction of meaningful leaf disease features by applying image processing techniques is a problem that has been studied by the image processing community for decades. Image processing research for leaf spot disease identification has matured significantly throughout the years, and many advances image processing techniques continue to be made, allowing new techniques to be applied to new and more demanding pathological problems. In this paper, a method for detection and classification of leaf spot diseases affecting Pomegranate crop is developed using Deep learning Neural networks. Throughout, we have presented tables and charts to compare the performance of the proposed method with state of the art techniques. Experimental results show that the Deep Neural Networks handle uncertainty effectively and they can be trained with limited data sets. The paper has also made suggestions for future research directions.
Example of an Abstract for a Survey Paper
Extraction of meaningful leaf disease features by applying image processing techniques is a problem that has been studied by the image processing community for decades. Image processing research for leaf disease identification has matured significantly throughout the years, and many advances image processing techniques continue to be made, allowing new techniques to be applied to new and more demanding pathological problems. In this paper, we have reviewed recent advances in data extraction of diseased leaf images , focusing primarily on three important Soft computing techniques namely : Neural networks, Fuzzy logic and Genetic algorithms. Throughout, we have presented tables that summarize and draw distinctions among key ideas and approaches. Where available, we have provided comparative analyses, and made suggestions for analyses yet to be done.