Alverno Biology Guide to Writing Abstracts of 

Journal Articles

A research abstract should clearly describe the main points of a paper, in a form that helps the casual reader decide whether to read the complete manuscript. To achieve this goal, journal abstracts must meet the following criteria:

· The abstract is written as a single paragraph no longer than 200 words. (Abstracts that exceed the word limit or the paragraph limit will be returned unread for revision). 

· The abstract briefly states the essential problem addressed in the paper and the general methods or strategies used to answer the question. 

· The abstract summarizes all significant findings and contributions of the paper, including:

- Novel experimental methods developed in the work;
- Observed outcomes of the experiment(s);
- Inferences from the observations leading to a solution of the research problem; and
- Broader significance of the work. 

· The abstract does not include any of the following:

- Direct quotations from the body of the paper;
- Figures, tables, illustrations or raw data;
- Bulleted or numbered lists of points;
- Information from sources other than the paper; or
- Literature citations.

· A copy of the abstract in Microsoft Word® format is submitted electronically (may vary by course). 

· A self assessment comparing the abstract to the original journal abstract is completed.
· The abstract is well organized, written in an appropriate scientific style and demonstrates appropriate communication abilities for this level, including correct grammar and spelling.


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Author: Angela Frey, Dept. of Biology, Alverno College
Last update: 5/23/03 by Rebecca Burton, Dept. of Biology, Alverno College