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An abstract serves as a brief overview of the discussion in a text; it also "enables persons interested in the document to retrieve it from abstracting and indexing databases" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2010, p. 25; see also APA, 2020, p. 73). Depending on the expectations of the document, an abstract is typically 150-250 words long (APA, 2010, p. 27; APA, 2020, p. 38).

For more information on writing abstracts, please see the following resources from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Writing Center:

Abstracts (PDF worksheet) 
How to Write an Abstract: Intro: What is an Abstract (YouTube video)
How to Write an Abstract: Content (YouTube video) 
How to Write an Abstract: Writing Style (YouTube video)

For the APA Style (6th ed.) perspective on writing abstracts, please see pages 25-27 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2010), as well as "Making a Concrete Abstract", "Brevity Is the Soul of Lingerie (and Abstracts)", and "Gimme Structure" from the APA Style Blog.

For the APA Style (7th ed.) perspective on writing abstracts, please see page 38 and pages 73-75 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2020) for information, including how to write abstracts for: 

  • Empirical articles,
  • Replication articles,
  • Quantitative/qualitative meta-analyses,
  • Literature review articles,
  • Theoretical articles, and
  • Methodological articles.

See also the 7th Edition Abstract and Keywords Guide.

Finally, if you're writing an abstract for a conference, please see How to Write a Conference Abstract: A Five-part Plan for Pitching Your Research at Almost Anything.

To search for additional information, please visit WriteAnswers and search the FAQs. If you're a RRU student, you can also use the WriteAnswers contact form to send your questions directly to the Writing Centre. We'll send you a private reply as soon as we can, which is typically within one business day of receiving the message.

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000