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Citations and abstracts


What is 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:

  1. descriptive abstract provides a basic overview of the material, without delving into particular details.
  2. An informative abstract also includes information on the material’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusion. It summarises the material’s structure, major topics, and key points.
  3. 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?

Including an abstract helps readers to gain a basic understanding of your material.

Reading an abstract can help you assess the relevance of materials to your research topic.

Need more information about abstracts?

For further assistance with abstracts visit the ANU Academic Skills website.

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