Q: How to write the abstract for a social sciences or humanities paper?

Detailed Question -

Please give me some tips for writing the abstract for a social sciences or humanities paper. Information on how to structure an abstract are often found for medical and engineering fields, but not for social sciences and humanities.

1 Answer to this question

The abstract for a humanities or social sciences paper is generally unstructured, that is, it is not divided into specific sections, such as Introduction, Methods, Results, etc. It usually consists of one single paragraph that gives an overview of the content and scope of the study. Usually, the length of an abstract can be anywhere between 150-250 words, so you must make sure that you include only what is necessary and relevant. 

Although it is written as a single paragraph, the abstract should summarize information about all sections of your study, including your thesis, goals, approach, main findings, and conclusions.

It is best to write the abstract at the end, after you have completed writing your paper, so that you have a clear idea of the content and scope of your work and can present a condensed version of it in your abstract.


Make sure you include the following elements in your abstract:

  • Statement of purpose: Why did you choose to conduct this study? Why is the problem significant? What gap exists in previous literature that your research aims to fill?
  • Methods or approach: What did you actually do to get your results? How did you do it? (For instance, mention whether you have conducted interviews, analyzed novels or paintings, etc.)
  • Results: What did you learn or find as a result of conducting these procedures?
  • Conclusions: How are your findings significant? What are the larger implications of your findings, and how do they relate to the gap in research that you have identified?

You can watch this video for more detailed guidance on how to write an abstract.


Related Reading -
The complete guide to writing a brilliant research paper