Common Assignment & Research Questions: What is/How do I find an abstract?

Answers to the questions we get asked most about your assignments.

What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a summary of points (as of a writing) usually presented in skeletal form ; also : something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or several things. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online) 


An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given scientific paper or patent application. Abstraction and indexing services are available for a number of academic disciplines, aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject. (Wikipedia)


An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article. It allows readers to survey the contents of an article quickly. Readers often decide on the basis of the abstract whether to read the entire article. A good abstract should be:

ACCURATE--it should reflect the purpose and content of the manuscript.

COHERENT--write in clear and concise language. Use the active rather than the passive voice (e.g., investigated instead of investigation of).

CONCISE--be brief but make each sentence maximally informative, especially the lead sentence. Begin the abstract with the most important points. The abstract should be dense with information. (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association)

Locate an abstract in a Summon search results list

Click on the expansion arrow to the right of the article citation to open a right hand panel on the page that includes the full abstract of the article when available.

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