Create a trailer of your manuscript

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By Amina Yaqoob

Anyone wishing to write a research paper, or going to present his/her work at a conference, should know that the abstract is the most influential part of your scientific manuscript. The key purpose of an abstract is to summarize the article, but it does not mean you miss the significant information or put the extra information. Here are a few suggestions and points I would like to share about writing an impressive abstract.

Last thing to write: An abstract is not about the context or background knowledge, which you can write before interpreting your results and conclusion. Instead, an abstract is a brief overview of your complete written content, so the best practice is to write your abstract after completing the whole article.

Word count and selection: An ideal abstract should be of 200-250 words. However, this word limit can vary as per the requirement of the journal, conference or newsletter. Be simple and definite about the topic. Avoid any quotes and clarifications. As you have the “discussion section” for all perceptions and explanations.

Writing an abstract

“Abstract should be concise and brief”, you have already listened to this for so many times. Let me explain it to you in a few key points.

  • Divide your abstract into major parts: Context, Methodology, Results, and conclusion. Each part should not be more than two or three sentences. Consider, each of these lines is a summary of the individual section (e.g. the sentences about methodology in abstract are actually summarizing the whole “materials and methods” section)
  • Develop a suitable flow or harmony among the sentences to generate a strong story-line. Just like, you are making an abstract painting and merging different colors with each other.
  • The structure of an abstract should be interesting, which gives curiosity to its reader. For instance, you have to generate a trailer of your manuscript, and remember the trailer of a movie never constitutes the whole story but possesses a hidden mystery, which catches the viewer’s attention.


Research paper abstract

The research paper is a way to communicate your experimental findings with the scientific community. Therefore, it must be logical, thorough, and understandable. Instead of focusing on elaborated background talks/context/literature, one should just start it effectively with an eye-catching introductory line. Avoid quotes or phrasal lines. Be scientific and rational. Your introduction somehow answers the question, why you have chosen this topic.

We can divide a research paper abstract into the following parts.

  1. Introduction
  2. Research question
  3. Methodology
  4. Findings/ Research outcomes
  5. Concluding line and perspective

Review paper abstract

The review paper usually addresses a research question by citing different scientists’ work or it provides an overview of a scientific object by converting several research findings into simple understandable language. The abstract of a review paper could be divided into 4-5 parts, such as:

  1. Context/background
  2. Research question to be addressed
  3. Objectives/aims
  4. Summary of your proposed work
  5. Conclusion/hypothesis

Summing up the whole topic, I would say, try to be innovative and unique in your own natural way of writing. We all are blessed with many writing skills; just we need to polish them.