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  1. Disclaimer All workshops and workshop materials are for student and faculty use only and are the sole property of PEGS. Publishing, copying, or disseminating them without prior written approval from PEGS is strictly prohibited. PEGS credits the Writing Center at UNC for much of the material included in this presentation:

  2. ABSTRACTS Presented by PEGS Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies This presentation is not comprehensive, but it does address the fundamentals for writing descriptive & informative abstracts; for further detail, please consult any one or more of the resources included herein, or visit the PEGS website:

  3. What is an ABSTRACT? ABSTRACT: an original, self-contained, brief, but powerfully informative & persuasive statement describing a longer, larger work

  4. Why an ABSTRACT? Indexing: Many online databases use abstracts to index larger works Selection: Abstracts allow readers to quickly determine if a particular source is worthy of a close-reading

  5. Three types of ABSTRACTS: 1. Descriptive 2. Critical 3. Informative

  6. Descriptive* *Note: most abstracts arenotdescriptive… • relatively brief (typically 100 words or less) • incorporates key words, terms, & concepts • includes: purpose, method, & scope • more an outline; less a summary • primarily descriptive (hence the name!)

  7. Informative* *Note: most abstracts are informative • relatively longer (around 250 words / 10% or less the length of the paper) • descriptive (describes purpose, methods, and scope) • explanatory (explains all arguments and discusses results, conclusions, implications, and recommendations)

  8. Sample A • Descriptive Abstract of this presentation: “Descriptive and Informative Abstracts are the two most common types of abstracts; using examples, this presentation describes and explains each.”

  9. Sample B • Informative Abstract of this presentation: “In a short yet powerful statement, abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in order to a) provide prospective readers the opportunity to assess this work’s relevancy and b) persuade readers to read the larger work in its entirety (Koopman, 1997). It may include key terms and concepts from the larger work, including the purpose and methods of its research. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results, including implications and recommendations. This presentation provides examples of each, including instructions on how to compose one.”

  10. ??? Descriptive or Informative ??? How do we know which one to use? • Ask your professor • Refer to the publisher’s guidelines • Guesstimate!

  11. ??? How do we write an ABSTRACT ??? Your format will depend upon the work you’re abstracting. For example, an abstract for a Science article will be different than one for a Humanities article.

  12. ??? How do we write an ABSTRACT ??? • Identify key terms • Highlight key phrases & sentences • Don’t look back • Revise! Revise! Revise!

  13. Key Process Elements: • Purpose • Problem • Methodology • Results • Implications

  14. All ABSTRACTS include: • full citation of the source • most important info first • same type & style of language used in the original work, including any technical jargon • key words & phrases • clear, concise language • powerful & persuasive rhetoric

  15. Some ABSTRACTS may also include: • the original work’s thesis • background info • same chronological order as the original

  16. NO! ABSTRACT includes: • extensive reference to other sources • additional info not contained in the original • definitions of terms, words, & concepts

  17. ??? What if we’re ABSTRACTING our own work ??? • Reverse Outlining • Cut & Paste

  18. Additional Online Sources: • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Abstracts.” web/abstracts.html • St. Cloud University. “LEO Writing Abstracts.”

  19. Texts: • Borko, Harold. Abstracting Concepts and Methods. NY: Academic Press, 1975. • Cremmins, Edward T. The Art of Abstracting. Philadelphia: ISI Press, 1982. • Lancaster, F.W. Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice. 3rd ed. London: Facet, 2003. • O’Connor, Brian C. Explorations in Indexing and Abstracting. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1996.* *To access this electronic source, simply go to:

  20. References Koopman, Philip. (October, 1997). How to write an abstract. Retrieved from UNC. (2010). Abstracts. Retrieved from

  21. PEGS • • 310-243-2700 •