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The abstract and introduction are mandatory components of every academic paper or report describing a research study or project. If you look at any research paper, journal article, master’s thesis, or a doctoral dissertation, you’ll first see the abstract, then the introduction. The abstract is normally a third of a page in length, although the rest of the paper may take up to a full page of A4. On the other hand, the introduction is at least a page long.

What distinguishes the two parts, other than their length, what are they supposed to cover? The abstract is a brief synopsis of the entire study, including its background, purpose, methodology, findings, and main conclusions. The introduction elaborates on the context of the study, justifies the need for it, and lays out the goals and objectives.



An abstract should briefly explain to the reader the background of the study, the goals of the project, the research question, the primary sources and methodologies employed, the most important findings, and the overall conclusions.

It is common practice for abstracts to wrap up with a brief discussion of the research’s relevance or impact. The term “executive summary” is sometimes used to refer to these types of documents. From only reading the abstract, the reader should have a firm grasp of the paper’s central thesis and methodology.

For scholars doing a literature review, which requires reading and analyzing a large number of papers, abstracts are invaluable. With the use of abstracts, they can rapidly discover a paper’s main themes and decide which ones to read in full.

If you want to know more about the research published in papers that are behind paywalls, abstracts are your best bet. Researchers can learn the publication’s context and central argument from the abstract, and then decide if they want to pay to read the full paper. Since this is typically the first thing that people see about your study after the title page, it is sometimes referred to as the “de facto introduction” to the research endeavor.


In what Way Should an Abstract Be Composed?

Most academic journals require that abstracts for submitted papers be no longer than 250 words. This is done so that the reader may quickly get a sense of what the paper is about and whether or not they want to commit to reading the entire thing.

Before beginning your paper, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the journal’s specific guidelines. It is common practice for universities and other academic organizations to set a word limit of 500 words for a Ph.D. thesis abstract.

It is possible to format an abstract in an organized or unstructured manner. The purpose of a structured abstract is to help the reader navigate the research. This is the standard format for research articles in nearly all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) publications. Naming conventions for the various sections can vary, but typically include the following:


Background; This section is often known as the Introduction. This part of the paper should provide a summary of the prior research done on the topic and an explanation of the knowledge gap that exists.

The point, or the intent; Outline the aims of the study and the questions you planned to investigate. The hypothesis is included by certain authors as well.

Materials and Methods;  What you looked into, how the study was set up, and how the research was conducted should all be detailed in the methodology section.

Results;  Briefly summarize your most important findings.

A well-written abstract will provide a synopsis of your entire research effort, from the topic to the main question you set out to answer. Make it fascinating to read as well; this could determine whether or not your abstract is accepted at a conference.

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For large conferences, reviewers may have to read hundreds of abstracts, so yours must stand out. Unstructured abstracts are requested far less frequently than structured ones. In that case, you should know that the primary distinction is in the absence of section titles in an unstructured abstract.

The five bullet points mentioned above should be written out in one continuous paragraph to maintain the abstract’s logical flow.



After the abstract, the introduction is the first major body of text in your paper manuscript or thesis. Typically, a research paper’s second section is devoted to the materials and procedures used to complete the study.

In a thesis, after the introduction comes the review of previous research. Writing an introduction serves primarily to inform the reader of the context in which the research was conducted. It should include a quick summary of the most important existing knowledge, based on the work presented in the existing literature, and where the gaps in knowledge exist.

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Explain in the opening how your study will fill in gaps in previous knowledge about the topic. The purpose of your study and your research aims and questions should be stated in the introduction to your research paper. Make sure to add your hypothesis


How should the introduction be organized?

A standard format for a research paper is to use Times New Roman font size 12 and double space between paragraphs. Put together no more than a page’s worth of text consisting of four paragraphs. Use this guide to organize your four paragraphs:

Introduce the topic and the research project by providing the necessary context.

Describe what is known and what is poorly understood based on existing literature.

Justify the need for your study by detailing why filling this informational void is crucial for your area of study.

Detail the study’s overarching goals and hypotheses.

Neither the research methodology nor the findings and interpretations should be detailed in this section.


Finally, Unlike an introduction, an abstract is a concise synopsis of the entire study, including its purpose, methodology, findings, and overall conclusions. It promotes your work while providing only the barest of context. When compared to an abstract, an introduction typically contains only a subset of its contents.

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