Writing an abstract

Following these five simple guidelines for structure and content will help you to ensure that your abstract can be understood by a wide audience.


  • Indicate the ways in which your research approaches and methodologies are underpinned by ethical decision-making (refer to the GERAIS).


  • Explain the purpose of your study/paper.
  • Ideally in one sentence, state the primary objectives and scope of the study or the reasons why the document was written.
  • Also state the rationale for your research. Why did you do the research? Is the topic you are researching an ignored or newly discovered one?


  • Clearly state the techniques or approaches used in your study.
  • For papers concerned with non-experimental work (such as those in the humanities, some social sciences and the fine arts) describe your sources and your use/interpretation of the sources.


  • Describe your findings, the data collected and the effects observed as informatively and concisely as possible.
  • If these results are experimental or theoretical, note it.
  • Give special priority to new and verified findings that contradict previous theories. Mention any limits to the accuracy or reliability of your findings.


  • Describe the implications of the results — why the results of your research are important to your field — and how they relate to your investigation’s purpose.
  • Include recommendations, suggestions and both rejected and accepted hypotheses if appropriate.
Last reviewed: 5 Jan 2017