Week 2 – How to Write an Abstract – Project and Research Planning

Abstract is a summary of what is going to be in the paper.

  •  Title of a paper
  • Abstract
  1. Introduction
  2. Review of literature, technologies and state-of-the-art
  3. Methodology of the work
  4. Results of the research project
  5. Analysis and discussion
  6. Conclusion
  • References, Bibliography
  • Appendices

Introduction – Conclusion

  • Overall Context – research question – outlook

Literature Review – Analysis

  • State-of-the-art – advance over state-of-the-art

Methodology – Results

  • How it is done – what was measured.

What is an abstract?

Short summary (usually one paragraph) of a research paper, report.

Purpose of an Abstract

Informs the reader about the paper so that reader can decide if paper is of interest. Summarises the work, not the topic of the paper. Is always publicly available, whereas the paper itself may not. Is often automatically scanned for keywords, which are put into a database.

Questions to be answered by the abstract:

  •  Why?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Results?
  • Conclusions?

Why do we care about the problem and the results?

  • Larger context of your project
  • Importance of work
  • Difficulty of area
  • Impact if successful
  • What problem are you trying to solve
  • How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem.
  • Simulation? Analytic Models? Prototypes?
  • Extent of work
  • Important variables which you control, ignore, measure.
  • What is the answer?
  • Improvements over state-of-the-art.
  • Be concrete, show numbers.
  • What are the implications of your answer?
  • What did your work improve?
  • How generally applicable are your results?

The abstract is not something you start with. You write it after you have done the report as you need the work to be able to write the summary.

Things to remember when writing the abstract:

  • Do not use jargon
  • Write out each acronym.
  • Avoid vague results (“very” “small” “significant”) Be precise succinct and to the point.
  • Length: one paragraph; usually around 150-250 words.
  • Do not write “descriptive” (identifying the areas to be covered in the paper, show the paper organisation), but write “informative” (summarise entire report).
  • Avoid “will be discussed”. Write concrete results.
  • Do not put literature references in the abstract.



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