Q: How do I write an abstract for a research paper in marine science?
I am doing a paper on killer whales. I need to do an abstract, but I don't know how.
Killer whales sounds fascinating as a topic! However, you haven’t mentioned the exact focus of your research, such as whether you are studying their predatory behavior, their migratory patterns, their group structure and dynamics, or something else. We bring this up because this is absolutely necessary for an abstract. However, we also understand that you may not wish to share too many details of your research here. :-)
Anyway, the abstract has to communicate the focus of the research and has to do so by talking about the key points: the purpose of the study, the research question, the key findings, and the most significant points of discussion/analysis. The exact length of the abstract depends on the field and the journal, but it’s usually in the range of 250 words.
What you especially need to keep in mind when writing the abstract is that for non-open access (OA) journals, the abstract is the only aspect of a paper (apart from the title) available to a reader. Even for OA journals, readers decide to read the entire paper based only on the title and the abstract. So, the abstract needs to be written in an engaging and compelling manner, to attract the reader to your research/paper and then have them read the rest of the paper.
From a sequential perspective, the abstract is written at the end of the entire paper, although you may write a draft version initially and then fine-tune it once the entire paper is complete.
For more help with writing abstracts, you may refer to the following resources:
- A 10-step guide to make your research paper abstract more effective
- How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords
- How to write a purposeful research paper abstract [Microlearning course]
Apart from this, you may also look up abstracts from actual papers available online, in an OA repository such as DOAJ. Based on a very basic search on DOAJ, we identified one paper around killer whales, which you may go through here.
All the best for the abstract, and in case you are following the sequence mentioned above, then for the submission!