An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:
• an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
• an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
• and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.
It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.
If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this video, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.