What’s an Abstract?
An abstract is a brief summary, usually no more than 150-200 words, of a journal article, thesis, book, or report, which helps to give readers a basic understanding of the material’s content and purpose. You’ll sometimes also find them referred to as précis, or synopses.
There are three different types of abstract:
- A descriptive abstract provides a basic overview of the material, without delving into particular details.
- An informative abstract goes one step further, and includes information on the material’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusion. It summarises the material’s structure, its major topics, and key points.
- A critical abstract covers the aspects usually found in an informative abstract, in addition to a brief critical evaluation of the material’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall usefulness.
Sometimes, abstracts can be a combination of these three different types.
Why would I use an abstract?
Reading an item’s abstract helps you to gain a basic understanding of the material, in order for you to assess its relevance to your research topic.
Need more information?
For further assistance with abstracts visit the Abstracts and other summaries: a general guide webpage on the Academic Skills & Learning Centre website.