Learning all the rules, structure, requirements, and adhering to the university’s submission guidelines for writing an abstract is a daunting task for most college students. Making mistakes is not an option most students wish to experience during the process of writing an abstract. To save time and give you a jump-start foundation of what to avoid, listed below are the four most common mistakes I’ve seen over the years.
1. Creating a document with incorrect formatting and length that does not meet the school’s guidelines.
Every school has guidelines and requirements for journals and meetings that students must comply with in order to have an abstract accepted.
To avoid making this mistake, make sure you know the requirements for the word count. Some journals allow abstracts in the 200-250 word count range, whereas others only want an abstract that is less than 150 words. Regarding the formatting, it’s best to know if your school allows for an unstructured abstract with a blank space, or if you must include four to five headings, such as Background, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.
To avoid mistakes, be sure to adhere to the exact word count and formatting structure.
2. Forgetting to include important background details that describe the unresolved problem that you will investigate and describe in the abstract.
To avoid making this mistake, create a succinct synopsis of the current state of the problem, and then describe the issue and how important it is to significantly solve the controversy.
3. Using present tense verbs in the Methods section to describe the studies and analyses performed.
Since your research, studies, and analysis can span many months or even years, you will most likely be providing an overview of how you observed and processed your tasks that have led to your detailed findings. These methods and studies need to be written in the past tense, since you have already completed these tasks. Readers and your review team will not, most likely, accept the use of present tense narrative. Should you not understand the difference between present tense verbs and past tense verbs, you can ask your adviser to explain it, or you can search online for examples.
4. Writing a conclusion that is not supported by the information and data provided.
Most students should already know that a conclusion is based on results and the discussions you presented in your document. It’s important to include your research implications to substantiate your position. Otherwise, it would appear that your conclusions were based on your opinions rather than data and facts.
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