By Chelsea Weller
What is an abstract?
An abstract is a concise, stand-alone summary of the work at hand. The specific content within an abstract can vary depending on the style of abstract you are writing. The three styles of abstracts are descriptive, informative, and critical:
- Descriptive Abstracts are generally for shorter papers and are around 100 words long. These are written to outline the content and give the reader an idea of what to expect in the paper. These should include all of the major parts of the content, including the purpose or thesis, methodology, and scope of the work.
- Informative Abstracts are usually for longer, more technical research and can range from one paragraph to one page depending on the length of the document that the abstract is written for. These abstracts include all of the main content points with explanations. In addition to everything that is included in a descriptive abstract, informative abstracts should also include the results, conclusion, and recommendations.
- Critical Abstracts are the least common out of the three types. These will critique an article and often compare it to the writer’s own research, kind of like a really short reading response paper.
If you are writing an abstract for scholarly purposes, you likely have some requirements provided to you by your professor or the publication. These requirements may include length restrictions (min or max), intended audience, or style. The various styles often dictate the content of the abstract. If the style of the abstract is not provided to you, you may want to consider asking what information is desired.