I. Types of Abstracts
To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.
A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgement or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.
A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
A highlight abstract is specifcally written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretence is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.
II. Writing Style
Use the active voice when possible, but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on research that has been completed.
Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract, by definition, should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. To begin composing your abstract, take whole sentences or key phrases from each section and put them in a sequence that summarizes the paper. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make it cohensive and clear. Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what your have written in the paper.
The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
- Lengthy background information,
- References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
- Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
- Abbreviations, jargon, or terms that may be confusing to the reader, and
- Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century. Oxford, UK: 2010
1. Citing Sources – General
As a writer of academic papers, you must document any source of information which you use in your research papers, articles, presentations and any kind of scientific projects.
If you properly document the original works of other authors your ideas are based upon, it makes easy for the readers to see and consult the resources you used. Furthermore, accurate and proper quoting shall help you avoid plagiarism, which is considered a serious breach of academic conduct.
There are 3 methods of including other writer’s work into your paper. They are citing (quoting), paraphrasing and summarizing.
Citation should repeat the original text word-for-word and include a reference to the original writer of the source document.
Paraphrasing means retelling a passage of the original text using your own words and sentence structures. The author of the original must also be referenced.
Summarizing means reproducing only the most important ideas and main points of the source using your own words. It usually summarizes a larger statement in a form of a shorter explanation. However, the original source must be referenced, too.
When you have to incorporate other author’s ideas into your text, you should first decide which approach to use.
You should use direct citation in a situation when the exact wording of a passage is important, so that you can be sure you have reproduced the original accurately.
You might also use citation if the original statement is very well formulated and you feel it will enrich your writing.
Paraphrasing is widely used in research papers and argumentative essays, showing your supervisors you understand a source text well and may reformulate it and find and emphasize its main points. It also helps change the stylistic characteristics of your source, adapting it to the readers (for example, if you use it for a presentation of some scientific topic before your class) and omitting unnecessary details.
The purpose of a summary is similar to that of a paraphrasing, but it helps making a long text shorter, explaining a lengthy chapter, article or a book in a brief essay or even in a single paragraph.
There is a list of useful resources on citation and writing in general:
Documentation Style Handouts in PDF
Writing Center at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU), Savannah, GA Annotated Bibliography, APA, Chicago-Turabian, and MLA Documentation, plus Grammar-Mechanics Handouts and Exercises, Regents’ Handouts, Writing Process Handouts, all available in PDF.
KnightCite: A Project of the Hekman Library
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI Free Citation Generator for MLA, APA and Chicago styles.
Site created by Justin Searls, Student Intern, Teaching & Learning Digital Studio, Calvin Information Technology.
Slate: Citation Machine
Online tool that creates MLA and APA citations instantly.
This web tool was created by David Warlick of The Landmark Project on October 29, 2000 and is part of the Landmarks for Schools web site for teachers.
2. Citing Electronic Sources
Students often ask how to cite electronic (digitized) primary sources.
At present, students often access their sources using electronic means, because a large portion of information has become available in the electronic format. Using electronic or online sources is convenient, but you have to know how to cite them properly.
Due to the fact that different disciplines and fields of knowledge require different styles, no universal example for citing electronic sources can be provided. You should look for a particular style guideline used in your field (MLA, APA, Chicago Style etc.). They address citing electronic sources, too.
Saint John Ward Chipman Library, University of New Brunswick, NB APA Style, MLA Style, Related Resources, Navigating EResearch.
How to Cite Electronic Sources
The Learning Page, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
MLA and Turabian citation examples for Films, Legal Documents and Government Publications, Maps, Photographs, Recorded Sound, Special Presentations, and Texts. Includes links to Citation Guidelines.
3. APA Style (American Psychological Association)
Using a particular citing/formatting style can simplify the editors’ work because every author adheres to the same format, as well as make it easier for the audience to follow the author’s ideas because they are organized according to a familiar structure. Demonstrating that you know and follow the style requirements of your field will also make your work more credible and trusted.
APA Style is often used for citation and formatting in social sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Linguistics, Economics, Criminology, as well as the areas of Business and Nursing). It also deals with the overall writing style, content organization and preparation of a paper for publication, if needed.
Thus, we recommend having a look at their manual as well as other online sources.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed.
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Get a quick orientation to APA, Create APA parenthetical citations, Create an APA reference list, Format a paper using APA guidelines, Format APA headings for a paper, Review APA usage and style guidelines, and Locate other APA resources on the Web.
APA Style Guide 6th Edition
USM Libraries, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
Examples of APA citations for books, journals, other media, and electronic information.
The Basics of APA Style (requires audio)
From APA Online, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC
A useful tutorial following the 6th Edition of APA’s Publication Manual, © 2009.
There are also some useful FAQs.
Understanding Electronic Sources from American Psychological Association (APA)
Excerpted from the new 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
4. MLA Style (Modern Language Association)
MLA Style of citation and formatting is widely used in the field of Art, Liberal Arts, and Humanities.
Its approach is to give a writer a universal formatting tool which can be applied to various kinds of sources (citing different kinds of sources, like research papers, articles, essays, government publications, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, charts, spoken interviews, sound recordings, web sites, films and illustrations and more). With the development of the Internet, texts may be found online in any format, and new designs and presentation forms are invented. That is why MLA offers a writer a number of general principles finding them more important than a rigid set of rules for every particular source.
Again there is a manual you can use.
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition
Citing Film and Video in slightly adapted version of MLA style – with Examples
Citing TV and Radio – with Examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
Citing Web Sources MLA Style
Vanguard University of Southern California
1998 MLA Web citation style. In-text Citation, Works Cited, Examples of Typical Web Sites, and Citing from Web Site Databases.
We have prepared a number of articles on particular subjects available on this website for your convenience.
Guidelines on How to Write a Bibliography in MLA Style
Works Cited, References, Bibliography – What’s the Difference?
How to Write a Bibliography – Examples in MLA Style
How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Style
First Footnotes and Endnotes – Examples in MLA Style
Parenthetical References – Examples in MLA Style
Footnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Endnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Parenthetical References in MLA Style – Sample Page
Works Cited in MLA Style – Sample Page
Quoting Passages Using MLA Style
St. Francis Xavier Secondary School Library, Mississauga, ON
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
General information about MLA parenthetical citations, Using the MLA abbreviation guidelines, Using the MLA quotation guidelines, Formatting MLA parenthetical citations, Create an MLA Works Cited Page, and Format the MLA Works Cited page. Includes a section on Numbered References.
University of Houston Libraries
Examples show the correct format for citing online sources in Modern Language Association (MLA) style.
MLA Parenthetical Documentation
LEO: Literacy Education Online, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
How to correctly document different types of sources using MLA Parenthetical Documentation: Author(s) name, Multivolume works, Classic literary works, Special cases.
Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format
The Purdue University Online Writing Lab, West Lafayette, IN
Using APA format, Formatting in Sociology, Handling quotations in text, Works Cited list, Footnotes and Endnotes, Paper format.
5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style
A specialized style guide for citing and creating electronic sources. It is a a special manual that addresses the complications and peculiarities associated with online publishing and offers the rules of online citation to students, researchers and the wide public.
The Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice Walker, Todd Taylor
6. CBE Style – Council of Biology Editors
Used mostly to write research papers and cite sources within the Biology domain. Such works must always adhere to the requirements of Scientific Style and Format, following the rules of Scientific Writing.
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Use the citation-sequence system, Create a CBE citation-sequence reference list, Use the name-year system, and Create a CBE name-year reference list.
Citing Online Media Resources (web sites, online media files, etc.)
Adapted from the Columbia Guide to Online Style, by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor. Citation styles described are Humanities Style.
With examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
7. Harvard Style
A Uniform System of Citation,
aka “Harvard Citator” published by Harvard Law Review Association
in conjunction with Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal 18th edition (January 1, 2005)
Interactive Citation Workbook for The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and ALWD Citation Manual by Tracy L. McGaugh (Book)
Writing a Bibliography (Harvard System)
Dickson College, Canberra, Australia
Essay Writing, Locating Information – Effective Reading, Selecting Information – Note Taking, Bibliographies, Examples of Bibliographic Entries, Points to Remember, and Textual References or Citations (including Parenthetical Reference examples).
8. Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style
Chicago Style and Turabian Style are also similar. They are designed be used first of all in history and economics.
Turabian Style is basically a modification of Chicago Style for the needs of students. It is used in history, literature, and arts. There is also a style used in the scientific field, in natural and social sciences. Turabian Style guide includes the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style.
The recent edition of Kate L. Turabian A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is aligned with the newest Chicago Manual of Style to match its requirements.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed.
Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide
From the Chicago Manual of Style Online.
Provides examples on writing footnotes, in-text citations, reference-list entries and bibliographical citations for both print and electronic sources using Chicago Style.
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Get a quick orientation to note systems, Create Chicago/Turabian first references, Create Chicago/Turabian subsequent references, and Create a Chicago/Turabian Works Cited page.
9. Resumé Writing and Cover Letters
Preparing a good resume and cover letter is important for anyone seeking a job because if these documents are well-written, they help to create a good impression and get a desired positon.
A job applicant should be careful about the content and form of their CV and cover letter. They should use a particular wording and follow a specific structure and formatting requirements.
An efficient resume means a properly written one demonstrating your expertise and credentials and shall help you get an interview from a company.
While a resume highlights your experience and skills, a good cover letter is intended to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience match the position you are currently applying for, therefore it has to be specific and targeted.
The provided information, structure, language, tone and other details of a CV and cover letter should be carefully chosen to help you reach your goal. You might make use of the efficient resume samples and templates found below.
Developing Resumes: Selecting a Resume Style from TTG Consultants.
How to Write Resume in English from About.com – English as 2nd Language (ESL).
How to Write a Resume.org. Resume Writing Tips, Resume Writing & Distribution Services.
ASCII Resumes: How to Create a Plain-Text Version of Your Resume from About.com – Career Planning.
The Resume as a Sales Tool from TTG Consultants.
Resume Writing Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
Resumes and Letters: Sample Resumes from Monster Career Center.
Cover Letter Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
FAQs about Cover Letters by William S. Frank.
Writing Cover Letters: Sample Cover Letters from Monster Career Center.
10. Writing – Grammar Guides
When writing on any assignment, it is critical to avoid grammar, stylistic, spelling and other kinds of mistakes and write properly and accurately. A text full of errors will create a poor impression, no matter how important and profound are the ideas it provides.
It is wise to start improving your style by consulting the classic book by William Strunk first.
The Elements of Style
by William Strunk, Jr.
This classic book by William Strunk, Jr. on the Elements of Style includes: Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, Words & Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style with a List of Reminders: Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more. See details of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. online at Bartleby.com.
Common Errors in English Usage by Paul Brians
Common Errors in English
By Dr. Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Based on Common Errors in English Usage: The Book.
The Grammar Zone
Adjectives and Adverbs, Articles, Comparatives and Superlatives, Clauses, Conditionals, Confusing Words, Nouns, Numbers, Prepositions and Conjunctions, Pronouns, and Questions. Site includes Verbs, Idioms, Paragraph Writing, and more.
The Online English Grammar
By Anthony Hughes
Free but copyrighted material. Sound files to learn to pronounce alphabet. Table of contents. Alphabetical subject index. Grammar clinic. English language practice pages. (Slow loading).
11. Writing – Research Guides
To write a research paper successfully, first thing you need is to know about the formal requirements and the general approach to academic writing you have to be familiar with. It is recommended to make your statement specific, definitive and clear and avoid using unnecessary informal elements. Writing a research paper might be tricky, so there is an extensive list of tips and instructions to follow.
Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations
by Verena Vaneeva
Contents include: How to write an Essay, Coursework or Report, Marketing or Marketing Communications Campaign, Dissertation, How to define Issue or Argument, Research Methods, Dissertation Structure.
How to Write an A+ Research Paper
St. Francis Xavier Secondary School, Mississauga, ON
Step by step guide on how to write an excellent research paper quickly and successfully.
Online Writing Lab
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Tutorial Center for Writers. Online Writing Labs (OWLs), Internet Search Tools, Resources for Writers and Teachers, Purdue Resources, Links to other WWW writing resources.
QuickStudy: Library Research Guide
University of Minnesota Libraries, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN
Learn How to Use the Library: Starting Your Research, Designing a Research Strategy, Find Books, Articles, Web Sites, Facts, Reviews, and More, Evaluating and Citing Sources, and Searching the MLA International Bibliography. Includes an Instructor’s Manual for QuickStudy.
The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing : Short 7th or 2004 edition by Rise B. Axelrod, Charles R. Cooper
A Student’s Guide to Research with the WWW
Saint Louis University, MO
Tutorial guide to conducting research on the WWW for first year college students. Anatomy of a Web page. Evaluating Web sources. Web page types. Web search strategies. Citing online sources. Glossary.
The Writers’ Workshop
Department of English, Northern Illinois University.
Students’ Resources include Editor’s Grammar and Mechanics, Quoting and Quotations, Citing Sources: The MLA Way, and Plagiarism: A MUST read. See also Tutors’ Resources, Instructors’ Resources, and Visitors’ Resources.