Proposal and Abstract Writing

Abstract writing was developed for people like me:  it’s short and to-the-point, without a lot of fluff.  Typically when I begin writing for class (especially since entering grad school) anxiety encroaches, simplifying my writing even further.  Use of extensive vocabulary does not come easily to me; skirting  around the point does not appeal to me.  However, if you are a wordy writer – and I use that phrase with no judgement – I have a few helpful hints in approaching your abstract.  (side note:  some of these were tips from my professor).

  1. What are you interested in?  Write down some ideas, concepts or relationships that excite you.
  2. Develop some related questions.  Maybe this includes what you find exciting about the topic, or what you want to know.  This step will help you hone in on something more specific.
  3. Choose a question to focus on, and determine a few different approaches to the question.  This step aids in clarifying what is known, what is not known, what is most interesting in the topic to you, and will ultimately provide a guide in attacking the research process.
  4. From here, everyone’s writing will be a bit different.  My abstract begins with the purpose of my research, why I find interest and what is important about my topic.  Then it states the ultimate subject of the research, immediately succeeded by followup questions which will be addressed in the paper/presentation.  You may choose to address how the research will be done:  is there a specific example/person/event you will be looking at?  In this last sentence I also choose to include a more specific, rephrased purpose.  It provides a clean, concise closing.
  5. Finally, you will need a title – something that catches the eye and entices viewers to read or listen to your subject.

Hopefully this is helpful to others.  Again, there is no wrong way to write an abstract – it just needs to be short-and-sweet!  Do you have any helpful hints in attacking an abstract?  Are you a researcher – do you have a favorite method of research or writing?


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