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Abstract vs Introduction: Academic Writing Guide

Many young researchers do not know the difference between an abstract and an introduction. So, is an abstract the same as an introduction? The short answer, no. What is the difference between abstract and introduction? Well, an abstract is a summary written at the start of scholarly articles or one’s thesis. The abstract states the purpose of the paper and the main conclusion.

On the other hand, an introduction is written to whet the appetite of readers. The introduction gives readers a foretaste of what to expect in the paper. Although the difference between an abstract and introduction may seem subtle, they are there and you need to know them before looking for academic writing jobs.

Abstract Vs Introduction APA

An APA paper has five major sections, namely:

  • The Title Page
  • The Abstract
  • The Main Paper
  • The Paper Format
  • References and Citations

In this section, we shall briefly consider the APA abstract vs introduction aspects of a paper. According to the APA, an abstract must show a concise summary of key points in the research. It should summarize the research topic, research questions, participants of the research, methods, results, analysis of data, and conclusion. Usually, the abstract should be between 150 and 250 words – single paragraph and double-spaced.

The introduction is the first part of the main paper. The introduction to all papers should include a thesis statement. Writers must strive to introduce and state what they want to examine, in as little as one or two paragraphs. This section states what you want to prove or disprove in the paper.

Introduction vs Abstract

The difference between introduction and abstract is not limited to their purpose alone. Their structure and layout are noticeably different too. In this section, we will explore more differences between an abstract and introduction. This also applies in an abstract vs introduction lab report.

The Abstract

The abstract of a paper clearly describes the study and the results. Readers can go through the abstract and know the core of the study without reading the entire paper. The abstract is a redeeming feature to researchers who must review and select relevant papers from the numerous papers in their field of study.

An abstract does not require the writer to state the minute details of a study or precise methods and measurements. The abstract is usually more significant for papers that restrict access. From the abstract, readers can decide if a paper is worth their while and act accordingly. Also, if you submit a paper for review, the abstract will help the reviewers decide if your paper is worth reviewing.

How to Write an Abstract

Writing an abstract could be tricky. The reason is that it must provide enough information about a paper without being unnecessarily wordy. Usually, it begins with background or study objectives. Here, you mention the reasons for the research, its importance, and roadblocks encountered. It should also include your methods, results, and conclusions in very concise terms. In most journals, an abstract should not be more than 200-250 words in length.

Format of an Abstract

Abstract vs introduction scientific paper

An abstract can be either “structured” or “unstructured.” Science papers use structured abstracts because they allow readers to find relevant information very quickly. Here are the sections in a structured abstract.

  1. Background. This part of the abstract is the abstract introduction. It gives the latest information on the topic. Here, writers should use key phrases that spark interest in the paper. For example, “never have previous studies been able to grasp the role of this enzyme…”
  2. Objectives. Here, you state the goals of the paper, the what, and why of the study.
  3. Methods. The method gives a straightforward description of the study.
  4. Results. Here, you state your findings and observations.
  5. Conclusions. State whether you expected the results of the study and whether you need to do more research or not.

The abstract is usually the last part of a research paper to write. Never get tempted to write too much in an abstract or to go poetic. Let your readers understand the entirety of your study in just a few seconds!

Unstructured Abstracts

This type of abstract is for non-scientific fields of study. It does not have different sections and summarizes the objectives, methods, etc., in a single paragraph.

The Introduction

Generally, the introduction of a paper is more detailed than an abstract. This area is dedicated to stating the reasons for the study, the aim of the study, and your hypothesis.

The introduction is the first section of a research paper and is in no way the repetition of an abstract. In addition, the introduction does not concern itself with the methods, results, or conclusion. However, the introduction provides in-depth information on the subject’s background. The introduction gives reasons why your study is novel. Besides, it explains your hypothesis, aim, and what your study addresses.

Unlike the abstract, an introduction contains citations to references. Write the introduction after completing the study. Remember to focus on your paper’s main points. In writing an introduction, remember:

  1. Beginning. The beginning states why the study is important.
  2. Tone and Tense. Always use a formal and impersonal tone in the present tense.
  3. Content. The content contains a brief description of the paper. It does not contain results and conclusions.
  4. Length. The length may be up to four paragraphs. Stick to the recommended journal guidelines.

Abstract Vs Introduction – Summary

  • The abstract and introductions of a paper or lab report are usually the first pieces of writing that a reader encounters. They are at the beginning of a paper.
  • The abstract and introduction prepare the readers and whets their appetite for further reading.
  • The abstract prepares the reader by stating the purpose of the paper. The introduction prepares the reader by piquing interest in the paper.
  • Abstracts are usually at the opening of scholarly works. Introductions are usually at the beginning of all written works. Therefore, an abstract is a de facto introduction.

In conclusion, the abstract of a paper is very different from the introduction. These differences are in terms of structure, purpose, length, and position. We hope you can now tell the difference between an abstract and an introduction, and now you’re better prepared to get into writing. We wish you the best of luck!

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