Writing an abstract
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Writing an Abstract. Heath O’Connell Fermilab Library. What is an abstract?. Short summary of everything important in the paper. The first thing someone reads (after the title) to decide whether or not to read the rest of the paper.

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Writing an Abstract

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Writing an abstract

Writing an Abstract

Heath O’Connell

Fermilab Library


What is an abstract

What is an abstract?

  • Short summary of everything important in the paper.

  • The first thing someone reads (after the title) to decide whether or not to read the rest of the paper.

  • Has the same structure as the larger paper, so abstract template can be used for the whole paper.


Research paper abstract

Research Paper Abstract

  • Introduction: Why you did it (set the stage).

  • Methods: How you did it.

  • Results: What you found.

  • Conclusion: What you learned.

  • Mechanics: Overall features of the abstract such as spelling and grammar.


Abstract introduction

Abstract: Introduction

  • Why are you doing this: What is the current scientific theory? What is the most recent result? What are you trying to solve?

    • The dynamical generation of a four-dimensional classical universe from nothing but fundamental quantum excitations at the Planck scale is a long-standing challenge to theoretical physicists.

    • The sum of the masses of the three neutrino mass eigenstates is now constrained both from above and below, and lies between 55 and 6900 meV.


Research paper methods

Research Paper: Methods

  • How you studied the problem. Define your terms.

    • The analysis uses an integrated luminosity of 1 inverse fb of pp collisions produced at 1.96 TeV and accumulated by the upgraded Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF II). We employ artificial neural networks both to correct jets mismeasured in the calorimeter, and to distinguish the signal kinematic distributions from those of the background.


Research paper results

Research Paper: Results

  • What you found, i.e., observed or produced.

    • We see no evidence for Higgs boson production.

    • We observed 17 events with an expected background of 3.8+/-0.6 events.

    • We observe an accumulation of events near 4.26 GeV in the invariant-mass spectrum of pi+ pi- J/psi.

    • We show that an instability occurs in the perturbative expansion involving sub-Hubble modes. (This is a theoretical paper)


Research paper conclusion

Research Paper: Conclusion

  • What have you learnt from this? Why is it important?

    • The result sin2beta = 0.59 +/- 0.14 (stat) +/- 0.05 (syst) establishes CP violation in the B0 meson system.

    • The combination of WMAP and other astronomical data yields significant constraints on the geometry of the universe, the equation of state of the dark energy, the gravitational wave energy density, and neutrino properties. Consistent with the predictions of simple inflationary theories, we detect no significant deviations from Gaussianity in the CMB maps.


Research abstract

Research Abstract

  • Introduction: WHY you are doing this.

  • Methods: WHAT you did.

  • Results: What you FOUND.

  • Conclusion: What you LEARNED.


Writing an abstract

Alternative Paper Abstract(not scientific work, e.g. writing computer code or building a machine, or information that can’t be shared)

  • Introduction: Same, why you are doing this.

  • Reference Material Summary: resources used in investigation such as existing methods or literature.

  • Comparison or Interpretation: what was accomplished and how it compares to similar work.

  • Discussion: How valuable and/or unique is the work.


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