How To Write A Scientific Abstract (11 Tips)

scientific abstract graphic
You put in all this hard work into preparing your scientific paper.

But if you want your peers, colleagues, or students to actually read it, you need to put some more effort into crafting an effective abstract.

Let’s find out how to do it.


What is a scientific abstract? A definition.

It’s a summary of a scientific paper, intended to summarize the research project, its purpose, achieved results, and conclusions. It gives a good idea of what’s inside the paper, but you having to read the whole thing.

A more formal definition from Wikipedia: An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding, or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject and is often used to help the reader quickly find out the paper’s purpose.


A good abstract has the following qualities:

1. Summarizes the findings in your paper

2. Persuades the reader to download and read the full article

3. If it’s prepared for a conference, it gets you selected for a talk, and makes the audience curious about your subject

4. It presents the exact results of your research, not only a list of topics

5. It’s composed of an introduction, body, and a conclusion

6. Usually, it’s no longer than 250 words (but may go up to 500), and it’s written in a 12-size font

7. It should be accessible to a general reader (you go into the nitty-gritty in the paper itself)

8. It communicates the main point of your research, why it matters, and what you concluded

9. If you co-authored the paper with someone else, you mention them in the abstract

10. If you’ve been mentored by any members of your faculty while doing research, you mention them as well

11. In it, you share the methods you used, the results you achieved, and finish with a conclusion

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

Types of abstracts for different uses:


Here’s a simple example of an abstract:

example of an abstract

Writing an abstract for an article in a scientific publication

Here are a couple of rules to follow if you’re preparing to submit your work for publication:


Follow a proven format:


Writing an abstract for a conference presentation (poster)

A good abstract can go a long way in advancing your scientific career. The organizers of the event will review it in every detail and select your article for a presentation based on its quality. It all depends on the caliber of the event, but for the well-attended ones, your abstract will make or break your chances to present to a big audience.

People who approve articles for presentation want the audience to be engaged and will accept only the highest quality material.


Here are a few guidelines for preparing a solid conference abstract:

Here you can find six examples of scientific abstracts written for a presentation.

And here you can find a great article, about abstracts for a presentation, written by a Ph.D. with a 90% acceptance rate.

And if you need to create a poster out of your abstract, here’s a great guide you can check as well as some amazing examples.


Here’s another good example from humanities:

Pagel, J. F.; Vann, B. H.

The effects of dreaming on awake behavior.

Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Vol 2(4)229-237, Dec 1992.


Reports of the incorporation of dream mentation into a spectrum of awake behaviors were obtained from a heterogeneous awake population group through the utilization of self-reporting questionnaires (N=265). Results were analyzed to determine associations between age, gender, race, and the dream use variables. Significantly higher dream use was found in females for a majority of behaviors, and a negative correlation was found between increasing age and all dream questions studied. No significant racial/ethnic variation was found in the responses of the sample. These findings suggest that such a sociological approach to the study of the effects of dream mentation on awake behavior can provide insight into the sleep/dream states.

Keywords: dream; dream use; behavior; age; gender; race; sleep; questionnaire.

Here are more examples of abstracts from the University of Wisconsin.

And from another scientific paper about dreams (with the actual paper included below).



As you can see, writing a solid summary of your scientific paper is straightforward. I hope that now you have a better understanding of the process, and will accomplish great things in the scientific community. Please let me know about your ideas in the comments below.

Rafal Reyzer

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