Abstract Writing Guidelines


Update 1.20.12 – Here is Kathy Ireland’s (33598 section) Abstract 1: Technology Overview and Impact  post that she very graciously agreed to share with everyone as an example. Thanks Kathy!

For this class, you’ll be writing five abstracts of 150-300 words each based on the “Suggested Readings for Further Study” at the end of each of the chapters we’ll read in the Markert and Backer textbook. Each abstract is worth 20 points for a total of 100 points (10% of your course grade).

  1. Abstract 1: Technology Overview and Impact
  2. Abstract 2: Communications
  3. Abstract 3: Alternate Technologies
  4. Abstract 4: Biotech
  5. Abstract 5: Manufacturing and Production

The Course Schedule lists due dates for the first two abstract assignments. I’ll soon list the remaining three.

What is an abstract?

Check out the UNC Writing Center’s abstract writing guide.

An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline; an abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.

For this class, you’ll be writing a formal, informative abstract of approximately 150-300 words. The UNC guide provides a great explanation of the informative abstract you will be writing for this course, so read this entire guide carefully.

Your abstract must be written in your own words. Many of the articles you find may already have abstracts or so-called executive summaries written by their authors or someone else; the challenge of this assignment is for you to conduct your own reading of the source and craft an abstract that reflects your understanding of the piece.

The abstract must be clear, concise, and complete. Take your time in choosing and revising every word you include in your abstract. The goal is to pack as much meaning as possible into the space of 150-300 words. Check the two examples provided in the UNC guide; although their content is similar, the abstract you write for this course will be closer to a humanities abstract than a pure science one.

How to find articles

As stated earlier, you must base each abstract on the “Suggested Readings for Further Study” at the end of each of the chapters we’ll read in the Markert and Backer textbook. You may choose any of the listed readings.

Note: For Abstracts 1 and 2 only, I’ve put scanned PDFs of the Suggested Readings lists on Blackboard under Assignments & Abstracts –> Abstracts folder. For Abstract 1, you would view / download the PDF “Additional Readings Chapter 11”

Search for any of the articles that sound interesting to you. If you can’t find one, try another. Of course, part of the challenge of this abstract is learning to use another new technology…

Many of the readings are available by searching in the appropriate resource of the ODU Library. If you find an article that you absolutely like — and that is appropriate — but is not listed in the Suggested Readings of the textbook, please clear it with me first.

If you are unsure how to conduct searches, stop by the library and ask one of the friendly staff members, or visit the Tutorials and How-Tos page.

Update 1.20.12 – You may also try using Google Scholar. The ODU Library explains, How to Use Google Scholar @ ODU (view PDF). Actually, once you have it configured (sign-in first with your ODU Gmail account) and tied to ODU, it works really well. Of course, you can always try doing a basic Google search, which may work for sources that are magazines and newspapers (e.g., US News & World Report) since they’d be indexed by Google.

How to write

Abstract section

For the formal abstract of 150-300 words, refer to the, How Do I Write an Abstract? section. Your abstract must include in narrative form the five key elements outlined in the UNC guide as well as the five items listed in All Abstracts Must Include.

Impressions section

After you have completed the formal part of your abstract, please write an additional paragraph of 50-100 words about your impression of the reading you conducted. This impression section should be more informal and conversational. You can even pose question prompts for your readers! Potential items to address may include (but are not limited to): What relevant connections did you make with the reading to your experience with technology? What did the author(s) miss in the article? What further questions do you still have that were left unanswered — or perhaps inspired by — the article? You may include any additional hyperlinks (how to add hyperlink), embedded video, or other images (how to include media) in this informal section.

You must use APA Style, 6th Edition. No exceptions. See the Purdue OWL guide for how to include your citations in APA. Include the full reference at the beginning of your abstract (as shown in the UNC guide examples). I will expect you to determine the type of source and use the correct APA citation.

Please read, revise, and then reread your abstract. Use the spellcheck feature in your post (the button with ABC and a checkmark). I expect college level writing. If you are unsure as to what that means, see this post, College Level Writing Guide.

If at any time you need more help with how to format, please see me or visit the one of the following for help:

ODU Writing Tutorial Services
ODU Library Tutorials and How-To’s

Sample Abstracts

Here are a few generic sample abstracts to help you get a sense for what they look like. Keep in mind the specific requirements for your abstract, of course. Also, when you do searches in the library, you’ll see what their abstracts for articles look like as well.

Sample Informative Abstract

Sample Informative Abstract based on Non-experimental Work

Sample Informative Abstract based on Experimental Work

How to submit

You’ll publish each abstract as a new blog post on your individual blog by the due date and time listed. For example, Abstract 1 would be as follows:

  • Title of post: Abstract 1: Technology Overview and Impact
  • Body of post: Write your formal abstract section in the editor window, followed by the informal impressions section. Format properly using the features available. Check the word count feature in the bottom left of the editor window.
  • Category of post: Assignments (how to add a post category)
  • Tags: Include stem110t (how to add a post tag) as well as at least five additional tags that help describe your abstract.

Grading criteria

I will evaluate your abstract in terms of

  • Effectiveness using the five key elements outlined in the UNC guide as well as the five items listed in All Abstracts Must Include.
  • Overall clarity, conciseness, and completeness.
  • Proper spelling, grammar, and formatting.
  • Proper inclusion of reference and citations using APA 6th Edition.
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7 Responses to Abstract Writing Guidelines

  1. Rose Muniz says:

    Are we emailing this to you once it is complete? If we send it early, could you critique it and let us resubmit it?

    • stem110t says:

      No, it’ll be a post on your individual blog. However, if you post early, I’ll do my best to reply with feedback. Just keep in mind that I can’t guarantee a reply if everyone also asks the same (first posted, first replied).

  2. rhromm says:

    Will you show us a sample?

    • stem110t says:

      Yes, sorry didn’t get to showing the examples today. I’ll update the Abstract Assignment post with links to some generic examples. Also, when you do a search for articles, you can see their abstracts as well.

  3. Pingback: Lecture Materials for Friday Jan 20 « Technology and Your World

  4. Sarah Laurie says:

    What should the time settings be on our blog to ensure that you are getting the abstract on time? I remeber in class you said something about UTC+5 but my time log is showing that I am behind by two hours. Should I change my settings so that my timezone is the same as New York? Or is there something else you want me to do?

    • stem110t says:

      Hi Sarah – Good question. Time settings UTC-5, New York, or Eastern (all the same)

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