modified from J. Etterson and L. Shannon


The abstract is a brief, clear summary of the information in your presentation. A well-prepared abstract enables the reader to identify the basic content quickly and accurately, to determine its relevance to his/her interests or purpose and then to decide whether they want to listen to the presentation in its entirety. An abstract must be included on your seminar posting.


The abstract should:

1.      State the principle objectives, the scope of the investigation or the reason for addressing the topic (the “what” and “why”). This would include your thesis statement.

2.      Describe very briefly the methodology employed or the approach to the problem or topic (the “how” or “where”).

3.      Summarize the results that were found. If some studies had similar findings, then you don’t need to elaborate on each study.

4.      State the principal conclusions. What do the results of your studies suggest?


The abstract should not exceed 200 words and should be fully self-contained; that is, it must make sense to someone not familiar with the topic. It should be typed as a single paragraph and must contain complete sentences with correct grammar and spelling. The abstract should not give information or conclusions that are not in the paper or presentation.  It should contain no bibliographic information, figures or references. Omit abbreviations and acronyms.  




*There was once a scientist who had a terribly involved theory about the relation of matter to energy. He wrote a long and detailed paper. However, knowing the limitations of editors, he realized that the abstract of his paper would have to be short and simple if the paper were to be judged acceptable. So he spent hours and hours honing the abstract. He eliminated word after word until finally all the excess verbiage was removed.  He was left with the shortest abstract ever written:  “e = mc2


*from R. A. Day. How to Write a Scientific Paper. 1983.