TL;DR Science: Abstracts

By John Sutor
April 08, 2020 · 3 minute read

An abstract serves as a clear yet concise description of the project or research that you are working on. You can think of them as the TL;DR equivalent for a research paper! Since they are often the first part of a paper that a reader will view, it is important to sell them on the contents of the rest of your paper in this section. Though this may sound daunting, in this TL;DR, we will walk you through the necessary steps to writing an outstanding abstract.

What Information Goes into an Abstract?

The information that makes up your abstract depends on the type of abstract that you are writing. The two main types of abstracts are descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts. A descriptive abstract merely discusses the work being done in a paper without mentioning the results or the conclusion. These types of abstracts are the most concise and are typically 100 words or fewer. In a descriptive abstract, discussing the overall purpose of your study or research, and discussing the basic design of your study or research will suffice.

An informative abstract involves more of a general summary of your paper, including the findings, results, and conclusion. When discussing the findings and results of your paper in an informative abstract, you may discuss general trends found via analysis of your results, as well as briefly summarize your interpretations of these trends for your conclusion. The majority of scientific abstracts are informative abstracts since mentioning promising results and interesting trends can draw a reader to explore your paper in depth.

When Should I Write an Abstract?

Though extremely useful for guiding a reader through the contents of your paper, not every research paper requires an abstract. Although some writing styles, such as APA and MLA, mention abstracts in their writing guides, it is not always necessary to include one when writing papers such as academic reports. To play it safe, it is best to ask your teacher or professor beforehand to confirm whether or not your paper requires an abstract.

if you do have to write an abstract, the best time to incorporate it into your paper is after you have finished all other parts of your paper. Papers are fluid in nature and often change many times up to the last edit. If you were to write an abstract before writing the rest of your paper, your abstract likely won't summarize the rest of your work well after many edits. Writing an abstract after writing key paper components such as your conclusion, methodology, and findings section will allow you to better summarize your paper as you will have a better understanding of your work.

How do I Make Sure my Abstract is Great?

To make sure that you have an excellent abstract, it is important to make sure that it sufficiently discusses the rest of your paper. Accurately discussing the purpose, design, and results and conclusions if necessary, in your abstract is vital to drawing readers in. If you have questions about your abstract, it is best to consult resources such as the MLA or APA guide based on the format of your paper. Furthermore, consult your teacher about their expectations for your paper's abstract. Finally, creating a project on SciTeens and asking for help writing your abstract from within your project's feedback section will allow mentors with lots of experience to assist you in crafting the perfect abstract.


An abstract should serve as a clear yet concise description that aims to draw readers in to explore the rest of your paper. It should include your purpose, project statement, methodology, results, and conclusion, depending on the type of abstract that you are writing and the writing style of your paper. Abstracts should be written last so that you can best summarize your paper as a whole. If you need assistance in writing your abstract, it is best to seek help from online official writing guides, your teacher, or here on SciTeens.


Did you enjoy this article?

More on this topic...

TL;DR Science: Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the field of healthcare, bringing forth a new era of personalized medicine, improved diagnostics, and enhanced patient care. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and make intelligent predictions, AI is transforming the way healthcare professionals diagnose diseases, develop treatment plans, and manage patient outcomes. Find out more in this week's article!

TLDR: Exploring the Frontier of Science: Bioinformatics and Genomic Data Analysis

In today's ever-evolving world of science, one field stands at the crossroads of biology and computer science, promising exciting discoveries and breakthroughs. Bioinformatics and genomic data analysis are captivating domains that offer an intriguing glimpse into the fusion of technology and life sciences. Check out the article this week to learn more!

TL;DR Science: Numerical Analysis: The Unsung Hero of Science

In science, physical processes like chemical reactions or moving bodies are modelled using mathematics. The mathematical models used are ordinarily systems of equations that relate all the quantities being dealt with symbolically. These equations are said to hold for values of the variables that lie in a particular set like the real numbers or a subset of the real numbers. FInd out more in this week's article about numerical analysis and its importance!

TL;DR Science - Vitamins and Minerals

Regardless of our age, we’ve always been told to eat balanced.  Fruits and vegetables form a large part of that ideal diet.  However, we don’t always think about why that is; sure, they’re healthy, but what makes them so important to our eating habits?  What about proteins – what makes lean meats or lentils the central focus of many of our plates?  The answer is pretty simple: all these foods are packed with nutrients. Read this week's article on vitamins and minerals!

TLDR Science: RNA-Seq Analysis: The Fascinating World Inside Our Cells

Check out this week's article on RNA sequence analysis!