One of the most important tasks involved in writing of a research paper is its abstract. It contains the opening lines of your paper, which will make a prime impression on a reader and it will decide whether he goes on and reads it in detail. From your own point of view, the abstract of the research paper encapsulates the gist of your research.
An abstract, as it is aptly named, is the abstraction of your whole purpose, work, and methods used for research, put into words. It is the core idea of your whole paper, which is put into a few words. It is the summary of your work, that you will present, if you are asked to describe it in a few lines.
Be it a research paper, a talk you plan to deliver, or a report, an abstract serves as its briefest introduction. It is a bird's-eye view of your whole work, summarized in as few words as possible.
So, as you must have figured out, writing one for a research paper is not possible until you have already finished your research and have a thorough idea of the purpose, method, and conclusion of your research.
Abstract Writing Tips
You know what research you have done, you know how you did it, and you know what you have found. All that remains is putting the whole story into words. So precision or accuracy of presentation is a necessary feature of a good abstract.
You shouldn't beat around the bush, but cut directly to the heart of the matter. For examples, read some of the papers of the masters of your field. Study the sublime precision with which they say what they want to say. Be to the point.
Though you need to encompass all of your research details, including its purpose, method and conclusion, you have to be brief. In fact, most research journals have a word limit for abstracts. So, know what it is and see to it that you make economy of words to be a necessary principle that guides your writing. Say more, in fewer words.
Though the abstract needs to be brief, it has to be detailed. Do not be economical at the price of sacrificing important details. Three things that should be included are the purpose of your research, your research methods, and the important conclusions that you have derived.
Free-Flowing and Enticing
Let it flow smoothly from the introduction to its end. Let it be presented in such a way that the reader is enticed to read your paper. Let it be catchy, logical, detailed, and precise.
If you have been thorough in your research of the subject, summarizing the purpose and direction of your research in the abstract, shouldn't be a big problem. Filter out the essential idea of your research and your whole work, and present it with utmost economy and detail, in your abstract.