Dana Library

How to Write an Abstract

Chemistry Senior Seminar 21:160:453 and 454
Professor: Dr. James Schlegel

Prepared by Veronica Calderhead
Physical Sciences Librarian

An abstract is a brief summary of a paper or article, it should be between 150 to 250 words. The abstract of a scientific research paper must be comprehensive and include the following elements:

Results must be conveyed in the present tense, and specific variables and tests often relayed in past tense. The abstract is a microcosm of the article, it must include the important elements, following the logic of the scientific paper (elements listed above), in a concise, organized, accurate and readable form. The abstract often determines whether or not to pursue the article so it is important that the information is conveyed. Keywords will also help with good indexing. Some ways of ensuring brevity are listed.


Do not include:

Note that an abstract of a review article is slightly different. The elements to include in the abstract of a review article are: statement of topic, organization and scope of review, source type (published articles, conference papers, monographs, observations etc.), and the conclusion.

More information on writing an abstact can be found in the style guides listed below. The article " A Poster worth a thousand words: how to design effective poster session displays" (included in your handouts) also includes a section on writing an abstract.

Return to Using Rutgers University Libraries to Obtain Chemical Literature.
Veronica Calderhead
Last updated on March 25, 1999