Writing Abstracts


Abstract writing is an essential skill for today’s scientists. More colleagues will read your abstracts than will read your research papers. We will learn in class the whys and wherefores of abstract writing; in this exercise you have the opportunity to practice writing an abstract from a research paper in your own discipline.


1. I will give you a readable scientific research report (peer reviewed) in your discipline. This report will have the abstract and identifying marks removed.

2. You will be given the time between one class period and the next to write an abstract for this research paper. Your abstract must be 250 words or less.

3. When I return your abstract to you, I will also return the authors’ abstract and the identifying marks. Then you will be able to compare your abstract with the authors’ original.

Criteria for evaluation

  • Your ability to follow instructions given in class for writing an abstract.
  • Clarity and precision of your abstract.
  • Degree to which you stayed within the parameters of the abstract (250 words or less).
  • Degree to which your abstract effectively sums up the article’s content.
  • Quality of the mechanics (grammar, punctuation, etc.).


  • Remember that an abstract is a miniature IMRaD format document; each element of the IMRaD must be present.
  • Remember that an abstract is not a mystery story – be clear about the results of your article’s experiment.
  • It’s often more difficult to write a very short document effectively than to write a long paper! Be as efficient and concise as you can; avoid excess verbiage!