Writing your essay abstract

How to write an essay abstract

This page explains how to write an essay abstract including what should be included, and what shouldn't.

Whilst most dissertations will include an abstract, being asked to write an essay abstract is more rare and usually confined to lengthier/extended essays.

Many students make the mistake of treating the abstract as an introduction paragraph to the essay, but it is not.  Instead, the abstract will include the main points stated in the essay as well as any conclusions that are drawn. It will also allow the reader to know what the essay is going to cover and what is being investigated.  A good template to use for an essay abstract is as follows:

  • Purpose : why did you write about this topic?
  • Design/methodology/approach : how did you investigate this topic?
  • Findings : What did you find/what conclusions did you reach?
  • Practical implications : Why are the conclusions significant?
  • Originality/value : (If applicable) what does your essay offer that adds to what has already been written on the topic?

The abstract should be the last part of your essay that is written. This way you can get a feel for the main ideas you cover as you write, and will know if you were able to draw any conclusions from the information you have researched. As the essay develops, you should write down your main ideas as you go along. This will help you reference them later on and to make sure they are included.

Writing the essay abstract

Once the essay is completed:

  • Reread the essay and look for any key sentences that support your thesis statement.
  • Take the information from the key sentences and your main points and combine them in a summary. This summary can start with a restatement of the thesis, the main arguments in the essay, and a conclusion based on the information.
  • Include an explanation of your methods of research.
  • Once you have written a draft, go back and edit your abstract for length and content.
  • Any repetitive phrases should be taken out as well as minor details.
  • The essay abstract also needs to be properly edited for sentence structure and spelling errors.
  • Once you have revised it to your liking it should be placed behind the cover page of the essay.

When writing an abstract for your essay, there are some key points you need to keep in mind:

  • The abstract should not include any information that is not going to be found in the essay.
  • A good abstract will cover the reasons why you wrote about your topic, the information that supported your thesis, and how the conclusion was reached.

Essay abstract length

The length of your abstract will usually be set by your tutor at the same time as setting your essay assignment.  Usually around 100-150 words is allowed, although this limit may be increased to 250 for an extended essay.

Examples of an essay abstract

These examples show what an essay abstract would look like:

Business management essay abstract example: (total 97 words)

Title: "Business-to-business Service Marketing: How does it differ from business-to-business product marketing?"

"Business-to-business service marketing has received comparatively less attention in the academic literature than business-to-business product marketing; much of the service marketing literature discusses the ways in which services and products are different". <-gives the reason why the student has chosen to write about this topic

"This essay compares service marketing to product marketing in the industrial sector from the perspective of customer value creation". <-explains what is covered in the essay

"The results of a study of managers in the telecommunications industry provide some insight into criteria used by customers to evaluate services and products". <-explains the method used by the student

"According to the results, more similarities than differences exist between service and product marketing in the industrial sector. Managerial implications of this finding are presented". <-explains the results

Business essay abstract example 2: (total 183 words)

Title: "The surpluses and shortages in business-to-business marketing theory and research"

"Business-to-business marketing has come of age in the last three decades and research in this area has been extensive and impressive. This essay examines the extant body of business-to-business marketing research and identifies surpluses and shortages with the goal of stimulating future research." <-gives the reason why the student has chosen to write about this topic

"The essay focuses on two questions regarding future business-to business marketing. First, what has been the focus of understanding in business-to-business marketing theory and what should be its future focus? Second, what has been the purpose or objective to study business-to-business marketing and what should be the future objective for research?" <-explains what is covered in the essay including limitations of the student's research

"It is found that research in business-to-business marketing is fundamentally changing and will continue to change. The essay identifies areas of business-to-business marketing research that have received surplus attention and areas that require additional attention." <-explains the results

"The essay provides guidelines for future exploration of the business-to-business research domain." <-explains practical implications of what the student has found.

"The essay is analogous to the widely cited paper by Sheth (1979) that reviewed the state of consumer behavior research and identified areas that had been unexplored or under-explored, and in the process provided an impetus for new research in consumer behavior". <-considers originality.

Essay abstracts adapted from journal abstracts available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com

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