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1.3: Abstract

  • Page ID
    7126
  • [ "article:topic" ]

    Overview

    An Abstract is a summary introduction for your project.

    For this kind of writing, an Abstract serves as a planning writing. This takes the place of an outline. Each element below should be addressed or each question should be answered. It also serves as an Abstract for others to read and ask questions about. It will serve as a summary to your project. It also may be submitted before you finish your project. It may also serve as part of the detailed introduction to your project.

    Of course, you should consider it a tentative document until you finish all of the sections of your project. This is beneficial because you only have a small amount of writing invested in the Abstract, so even wholesale changes (or starting again) will not be too difficult (as opposed to writing five or more pages – or even a whole paper – only to have to admit it is not going to work). Plan to spend much time on this Abstract and the Introduction; the other sections will come more quickly the more time you spend on the Abstract and the Introduction.

    Elements (statements) that make up an Abstract:

    Issue/problem statement

    Very specific statement(s)

    Summary statement

    draft checklist

    1. Draft Checklist

    ___General Statement

    ___Very Specific Statements

    ___Summary Statement

    Prompts

    Write your Abstract by answering the questions below. Think about each one carefully. Then type an answer to the question in a new, blank document. Each answer is a sentence or sentences in your Abstract draft, so indent the first answer and place each of the rest of the answers, one after another, in paragraph form.

    checklist

    2. Prompts from Draft Checklist

    1. In general, what topic, subject, or problem do I want to explore?
    2. In particular, what do I want to explore, solve, or change about this topic?
    3. How may I summarize the statements I have made so far in other words?

    *Phrases in bold are academic phrases you may use in your draft

    If you need help answering these questions, you may use the template below. The template is taken directly from the questions above.

    Template

    3. Template from Prompts

    Abstract

    I want to explore [a topic, in general, in a single sentence]. In particular, [be as specific as possible about what you intend to do with this subject or topic in 3 to 5 sentences]. In other words, [a summary statement of the previous sentences in your abstract].

    *Phrases in bold are academic phrases you may use in your draft

    Sample Draft

    The draft below is generated from the checklist, prompts, and template above 

    4. Draft from Template

    Abstract

    I want to explore how recreational drug use may affect the learning process. In particular, recreational drugs include ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. Other recreational drugs are prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Valium, and others appear in legal products like coffee and alcoholic drinks. Recreational drugs have a range of effects on people. Some affect people based on age, race, gender, and the like. Others affect different parts of the body, but these tend to affect the brain in some way. In some cases, the effects are helpful in a learning environment. Learning is the acquisition of information and the processing of it. It is also the storing and remembering of this information. Learning also involves applying, synthesizing, and evaluating information. In other words, some prescription drugs may affect the way adolescents learn how to write academic papers.

    *Phrases in bold are academic phrases you may use in your draft

    Tutorial

    How to answer the prompts

    Prompt 1

    In general, what topic, subject, or problem do I want to explore?

    Use a version of the last answer you give in the drill down to choosing a topic above. Remember, this is the first statement of a draft for an abstract; you can change this statement as often as you need to in order to say what you intend to say.

    Here is the way I might start my abstract:

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    I want to explore the way recreational drugs affect the way people learn.

    This is simply a general statement about the topic I wish to explore. Note that you may want to fashion your statement in other ways:

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\):

    Recreational drug use may affect the learning process.

    Or

    People use recreational drugs to change the way they learn.

    These two statements omit the first-person pronoun “I” in the opening statement of the abstract. Now go to the second question and answer it.

    Prompt 2

    In particular, what do I want to explore, solve, or change about this topic, in very specific terms?

    Begin by identifying those main words, ideas, or terms in your initial statement. Then explain, describe, or define (in your own words) each term as specifically as possible. They should be so specific that each should seem hyper- or over-specific. Then put your answer into as few or as many sentences as it takes to make your “term statements” as specific as possible. Again, it should seem almost ridiculous how extremely specific you are with each term.

    For example, here my initial statement with the key terms identified:

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\):

    Recreational drug use may affect the learning process.

     The words highlighted above are words that are general enough that I need to explain them more fully. They are also the words that I understand in specific ways that may not be the same for everybody. Specify in writing each key term as you understand it; note that a term can be a word or phrase. At this point, I only explain or describe my terms as I know them and want to deal with them; I do NOT provide formal definitions. Here are some examples of how I explain the key terms in my first statement:

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    Recreational drugs include ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. Other recreational drugs are prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Valium, and others appear in legal products like coffee and alcoholic drinks.

    The important thing to remember here is to be as specific as possible. This is to put the reader on the same track I am taking. In other words, what the reader may think of as “recreational drugs” might be much different from what I intend to cover in my project. Here are the phrases that indicate I am specifying what I mean by this term:

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    Recreational drugs include ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. Other recreational drugs are prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Valium, and others appear in legal products like coffee and alcoholic drinks.

    Likewise with my second key term:

    Recreational drug use may affect the learning process.

     I might make the highlighted term more specific in this way:

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    Recreational drugs have a range of effects on people. Some affect people based on age, race, gender, and the like. Others affect different parts of the body, but these tend to affect the brain in some way. In some cases, the effects are helpful in a learning environment.

    Here are the phrases that indicate I am specifying what I mean by this term:

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    Recreational drugs have a range of effects on people. Some affect people based on age, race, gender, and the like. Others affect different parts of the body, but these tend to affect the brain in some way. In some cases, the effects are helpful in a learning environment.

     Likewise with my third key term:

    Recreational drug use may affect the learning process.

    I might make the highlighted term more specific in this way:

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    Learning is the acquisition of information and the processing of it. It is also the storing and remembering of this information. Learning also involves applying, synthesizing, and evaluating information.

    After each of the key terms is made as specific as possible at this point in my writing, and I put my answers into prose (paragraph form), my abstract looks like this so far:

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    Recreational drug use may affect the learning process. Recreational drugs include ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. Other recreational drugs are prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Valium, and others appear in legal products like coffee and alcoholic drinks. Recreational drugs have a range of effects on people. Some affect people based on age, race, gender, and the like. Others affect different parts of the body, but these tend to affect the brain in some way. In some cases, the effects are helpful in a learning environment. Learning is the acquisition of information and the processing of it. It is also the storing and remembering of this information. Learning also involves applying, synthesizing, and evaluating information.

    Prompt 3

    How may I summarize the statements I have made so far in other words?

    In order to construct a final statement for my abstract, I want to restate in a summary statement what I have said so far. This statement should be more specific than the first abstract statement, but less specific than the specific statements. The academic phrase that notes a summary statement is in other words, so begin with that phrase and complete the summary statement:

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    In other words, some prescription drugs may affect the way adolescents learn how to write academic papers.

    Notice that there are any number of ways you might have summarized my other abstract statements. You control what is said in the summary statement. Don’t hesitate to try different versions of your summary statement until you get one that you can work with.

    Also, be aware that the scope of your project can be controlled with this statement. For example, to shorten the project, instead of “some prescription drugs,” which implies that I will look at more than one, I could insert “the prescription drug valium” and limit my research to the effects a single drug might have on teenagers learning to write. I could further limit by age, gender, learning activity, and so on. Now, put your answers together into prose and you have a draft for an abstract (see example above).

    Note that the abstract forces us (and the reader ultimately) to think about the problem or issue or subject in “general-to-specific” terms. You start with a very general statement, move to very specific statements, and end with a statement that is somewhere in-between. Remember, all of these statements are tentative and may be changed (probably should be changed) as you continue to write your paper.

    You will continue the revision of the summary statement in the next section of your project: the Introduction.

    Note

    The abstract is a separate section that begins on its own page, usually after the front matter or title page.

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