As we have established, it is a helpful tool for the reader to get an overview of the whole paper as early as possible. So, it would not be logical to put it at the end, right?
Stickel-Wolf and Wolf recommend embedding the abstract in between the title page and the (cf. The next question about ‘How to write an abstract’ is a bit trickier. Given that it is to be added at the very beginning, before the actual text, you might think it is the first thing you are supposed to write.
The abstract is perhaps the most important section of your manuscript for several reasons.
First, the abstract is the first section that is read by journal editors when deciding whether to send your manuscript for review.
You cannot write about something here which you never mention in your research paper (cf. An abstract is a summary of a publication or an article on one third of a DIN-A4 page (cf. Stickel-Wolf & Wolf provide a rough guideline for the word count: They say that an abstract should not contain more than 100 words (cf. Note: Generally speaking, an abstract for a bachelor’s or master’s thesis should not exceed one page, and the absolute maximum is two pages (cf. The reason for this is self-explanatory: The purpose of the abstract is to offer a quick overview of, for example, a 60- or 80-page paper.
You are probably wondering where the abstract should be placed in your research paper: at the beginning or towards the end?
It is the ultimate way of advertising your research. If you take your time to thoroughly read the abstracts, you will be able to judge whether a particular article will help you to support your line of argumentation. You can check out the sample abstracts in this blog entry to get a better idea of how to write an abstract and what an abstract looks like.
You can save yourself a lot of work and trouble if you concentrate on reading the abstracts of published papers first; most papers these days provide abstracts (cf. Keep in mind: An abstract only refers to concrete facts which are dealt with in the actual paper.
The abstract should not create suspense: Making it very clear early on what your results are will help the reader evaluate the relevance of your paper.
You have very limited space to convince the reader that your work is worth reading and that your results are relevant.