How to Write An Abstract

An abstract is a summary of an article. Readers use abstracts to determine whether or not an article contains information of interest to them. Therefore, abstracts have to be well written, informative, and concise!

    1. Your abstract should be as short as possible and grammatically correct. It must also be legible.
    2. By reading the abstract, the following should become apparent:
      1. the subject or problem being investigated;
      2. the hypothesis or proposal being tested (if any);
      3. the methods used in these types of investigations;
      4. the results and conclusions of the investigation.
    3. Abstracts should contain 100 words or less unless the article being abstracted is over 6 to 8 pages in length. In that case, the abstract may contain more than 150 words. Definite and indefinite articles and numbers count as full words. A hyphenated word counts as just one word. Words in the title are not counted in the 100 word limit. YOU MAY TAKE A MAXIMUM OF 200 WORDS WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR ABSTRACT.
    4. The title, which goes at the center and top of the page, should contain the following information:
      1. the authorís name (last name first)
      2. the date (year) of the article or book
      3. the title of the article in quotation marks
      4. the name of the journal or book underlined
      5. the volume number, if a periodical
      6. the pages on which the article is found
      7. your name should appear in the upper left hand corner
    Examples:
    Dupuis, E.M. and C. Geisler. 1988."Biotechnology and the small farm". BioScience 33(6):406-41 BioScience 38(6):406-411

    Marx, J.L. 1988. "Cell growth control takes balance." Science 239:975-976

    ASSIGNMENT

    You are to write three abstracts over the course of this semester. They are due on the dates listed on the laboratory schedule. Your abstract can be from an article of biological interest taken from one of the following journals or magazines: Science, Scientific American, BioScience, Discover, Smithsonian, Natural History, National Geographic, National Wildlife or any Journal of a Professional Society. All articles MUST BE APPROVED BY THE INSTRUCTOR prior to presentation. The library has a number of journals (current periodicals) listed. The articles you choose MUST be at least ONE FULL PAGE in length. Newspaper articles are NOT ACCEPTABLE. Journal articles should be from January 2000 to the current time. Attach a photocopy of the article to your abstract. You may also be asked to present information about one of the articles to your class.