The purpose of an abstract is to provide a clear and concise summary of the information presented in an article. The basic organization of an abstract includes a topic sentence or hypothesis (rationale) of the work, a brief description of the methods, a summary of the results, and a conclusion. Literature citations and references to tables, figures, or equations should be placed in the body of the paper to be later submitted.
A brief description of the methods should give the reader an idea of the general approach used by the researcher. What kinds of subjects were used? How were the control and experimental groups treated? The abstract should contain only enough about the methodology, usually two or three sentences, to provide a context for the results, which are presented later.
A summary of the results should include the major trends. The goal of the abstract is to state only the most important results of the study. Data may be given to emphasize the results; group size, p-values, or other statistical results should be provided in summary form.
A concise statement of the conclusions that can be drawn from the study completes the abstract. Results should not be restated here. The researcher may wish to place the work in perspective by stating whether the report confirms or extends the findings of previous research.
A researcher preparing an abstract should consider
1. This is what we studied.
2. This is how we did it.
3. This is what we learned.
4. This is what it means.