When writing a research paper, as well as a variety of other academic papers - such as dissertations - you may have to include an abstract. In many ways, the abstract is like a form of introduction, although it should follow a relatively specific formula, and might not be used as a substitute for an introduction.
Before discussing any useful tips and tricks to help you write an abstract for your paper, it is worth talking about how important the abstract section actually is. Essentially, the abstract will be used at the very beginning of your paper and, therefore, anyone who chooses to read your work will almost certainly read this section of your paper first. Therefore, a well-written abstract can encourage people to continue reading your work; however, a badly written abstract can have the opposite effect, and may encourage people to not read the rest of your work. Essentially, the abstract can have a huge influence on the success of your paper, particularly if you want other people to discover more about the research that you carried out.
If you need to write an abstract then you will most likely be wondering what details you need to include. Basically, you need to provide the reader with a general understanding of what to expect from your paper and, therefore, you will need to elaborate on any title that you have chosen for your work, as well as including various details relating to the research that you will carry out.
For example, you may wish to include details of any primary and secondary aims of your research, as well as highlighting any relevant studies that other people have done. Furthermore, you should include details of the most important methods used in order to obtain any relevant data.
Whilst the rest of your paper may be several pages long and might contain many thousands of words, the abstract should be relatively short. In fact, it is a good idea to try and keep it no longer than half a page in length and, therefore, you should only include the most important details
Sometimes it can be easier just to write down everything you want to include in your abstract, before editing it afterwards, cutting out the least relevant parts, until you have something that is of an appropriate length.