HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT

Writing an abstract in an important phase in the research process;
hence in-order to make good grades with your research project and
impress your readers, one must be familiar with the techniques of
writing a good, concise and standard abstract.
Before I discourse on
how to write a good abstract, let’s talk a bit about an abstract. Is it
a bird or an insect? Absolutely not a bird or an insect, an abstract in
simple terms is a summary of a research project, thesis. Dissertation,
research journal etc. abstracts are usually seen at the beginning of
research paper.
In-order to write good and standard abstract,
students must first know how abstracts should be structured and things
to avoid when writing one. This article torches on all of these. So
enjoy!
STRUCTURE OF A STANDARD ABSTRACT
Most well written abstracts by outstanding researchers all over the world are structured as follows:

  • Overview of the study/Background
  • Methods
  • Results or Findings
  • Recommendations and Conclusion

Now let us discourse these sections one after the other.
OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY
This is usually the first part of an abstract. It depicts the central
focus of the study. When writing an abstract, students should know the
central idea behind their study. This section is very important as it
tells readers whether to continue reading or not. In essence when giving
an overview of your study, you should make it concise and interesting
enough to encourage readers to read your whole work. Students must
ensure readers easily get a clue of what the research objectives are as
well as problems motivating the researcher to pick up interest in the
study.
METHODOLOGY
Methodology employed by
the researcher constitutes the second part of an abstract. With a
semi-paragraph or a sentence, state your research methods. This is where
you briefly let readers know your data collection methods, research
instruments employed, sample size and so on. To some extent depending on
your institution’s research project format, you can state how the
research instruments were validated and distributed (i.e. was it
face-to-face distribution? or through email?).
RESULTS
The third section of an abstract is a brief summary of your key
findings or results. Findings or important results recorded in the study
must be briefly stated in the abstract.
RECOMMENDATIONS/CONCLUSION
The last section of most abstracts tells readers recommendations or
suggestions made by the researcher. This section is the most important
section in an abstract as it brings out the essence of research which is
solving identified problems, developing better ways of doing things and
adding to the body of knowledge.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN WRITING AN ABSTRACT
In-order to present a good abstract for academic award(s), the following should be observed by the researcher:

  • Avoid Ambiguous Words and Complex Grammar

Remember
an abstract is like a tip of the iceberg. Complex and ambiguous
words/sentences may discourage readers from reading the full content of
your research. Using keywords at the end of an abstract may help in
letting your readers know the central theme or idea of the study.

  • Do not Loose Focus

When
writing an abstract, just go straight to the point. Do not beat around
the bush. Definition of terms, long stories that are not interesting may
make your abstract too lengthy and boring…..leave all definitions and
stories for your introduction.

  • Avoid Lengthy Abstracts

Abstracts
are meant to be brief and concise. Avoid writing numerous pages and
calling it ‘Abstract’. An ideal abstract should be on a single page.
However, if you wish to write more, seek the advice of your supervisor
first.

  • Avoid Writing Abstracts When you have not completed your Study

This
particular point one is of great interest to me. I see students writing
abstracts before completing their research studies, and it gets me
wondering a lot. How did they get findings and recommendations before
data analysis and interpretation? Or is there any such thing as pre and
post abstracts? If there is any, please feel free to share your ideas by
commenting below because, this one is killing me. An abstract is meant
to be a summary of your entire work; hence it should be after you have
conducted your study.
Below is a perfect example of an abstract:
ABSTRACT
This study was intended to evaluate the extent to which strategic
planning affects organizational performance. The study was guided by the
following objectives; to identify the various components and phases of
strategic planning used in company ABC, to find out other factors
affecting organizational performance other than strategic planning and
to find out the relationship between strategic planning and
organizational performance. 
The study employed descriptive and
explanatory design, questionnaires in addition to library research were
applied in order to collect data. Primary and secondary data sources
were used and data was analyzed using statistical package which was
presented in frequency tables and percentage. The respondents under the
study were 30 employees of ABC, DEF branch. The study majorly focused on
phases and components of strategic planning and how they affect the
organizational performance. 
The study findings revealed that there
is lack of information gathering, where strategic planning does not
begin with collection of the necessary information, there is strong
review of the past performance where by past performance is considered
to make the strategic plans. Pearson correlation coefficient is 0.692
significant at 0.01 level (2-tailed), 0.00 indicates the significance of
interaction between two variables an indication that the significant is
under the range of 0.0 and 0.05. 
Using the above findings, it
implied that there is a strong relationship between strategic planning
and organization performance. According to the study, strategic planning
contributes 69.2% towards performance in banking services and this
implied that other factors contribute 30.8%.  Improvements should be
made in the information altering systems and information should be
gathered first before making the strategic plans.  Company ABC should
evolve all the employees in decision making so as to improve on the
performance.  


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