Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology

: 2022  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1--2

Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence

Ashish Kumar 
 Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Lamphelpat, Imphal - 795004, Manipur, India

Correspondence Address:
Ashish Kumar
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Lamphelpat, Imphal - 795004, Manipur

How to cite this article:
Kumar A. Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence.J Indian Soc Periodontol 2022;26:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Kumar A. Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence. J Indian Soc Periodontol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jan 28 ];26:1-2
Available from:

Full Text


A statement published in American Psychological Association's publication manual about the abstract says it all “…can be the most important single paragraph in an article.”[1] This statement actually emphasizes the importance of a paragraph which is the “most read” aspect of a scientific article but is unexpectedly given least attention while writing. It is a fact that abstract writing is most overlooked and ignored part of a manuscript writing.[2]

In reality, when we search for an article, most often and only available aspect is an “abstract” which makes it the “most read” aspect of a scientific article. It is this paragraph that determines, whether, the reader will have any interest in reading the complete article or not. In other words, whether an article is useful and worthy of complete read, is solely decided by the information available in the abstract. So, a well-written abstract not only provides a brief summary of an article's subject matter, but goes way beyond to play a crucial role in the life cycle of a publication.

The abstract is the initial part of the paper, but it is always written last as it summarizes the publication. In most journals, abstract appears beneath the title and the authors of the manuscript. The content of the abstract should be completely in sync with the article contents.

The writing of an abstract should follow the guidelines of the journal including the word limits. References should never be cited in an abstract of the publication.

A well written abstract would present the abridged information in the same order from all the sections of the manuscript. The abstract should answer the questions of (i) Why (was this research done)?; (ii) Who (is involved in the experiment)?; (iii) What (was done)?; (iv) How (was it done)?; (v) What (were the findings)?; (vi) What are the implications? These questions are answered in a structured form of abstract which has subheadings namely background, aims, methods, results and conclusions.[2] A structured abstract is generally written for original research articles. Abstracts vary with the type of articles. The abstracts for review articles or case reports are generally in paragraph form and not in a structured format.

There is no doubt that abstract is a concise summary of the publication or a manuscript. An alternative method of writing an abstract is using an author-friendly approach. In this approach, authors write abstract in such a way that the abstract provides enough information to draw the attention and interest of the readers but does not provide all the information for authors to feel the need to read the complete article.[3],[4] The key is to maintain a fine balance between the summary and preview.[5]

Abstracts are not only written for scientific articles but also for poster or a paper presentations, workshops, conferences, and also for dissertations and thesis. The basic principle of abstract writing for most of these remain similar.

Abstract writing also requires same level of diligence as is shown while conducting a study and writing the main matter of the manuscript.

The abstract may be written last in the process of writing manuscript but it is not “just the one last thing” to write in literal terms. A proficiently written abstract demonstrates the skills of the author/s to summarize their work in one paragraph with eloquence.


1American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2009.
2Ickes MJ, Gambescia SF. Abstract art: How to write competitive conference and journal abstracts. Health Promot Pract 2011;12:493-6.
3Meo SA. Anatomy and physiology of a scientific paper. Saudi J Biol Sci 2018;25:1278-83.
4Gambescia SF. A brief on writing a successful abstract. Educ Health (Abingdon) 2013;26:122-5.
5Jordan C, Zanna MP. How to read a journal article in social psychology. In: Stangor C, editor. Stereotypes and Prejudice: Essential Readings. Philadelphia: Psychology Press, Taylor Francis Group; 2000. p. appendix.