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Writing Abstracts

Graduate students and researchers need to be able to write effective but concise abstracts for presentation and publication opportunities. Readers will decide whether or not to read your paper (if it is published) based on your abstract.

Your abstract is a “selling” point for your paper, so you want to make it clear and, more importantly, it should be a condensed summary of your paper.

What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a summary of approximately 250 words of the main points that you have made in your writing. Therefore it is usually easier to write an abstract once you have finished your research article or manuscript. 

To write an abstract, ask yourself the following questions and use the answers as a guideline for your abstract:

  • What is the research background of this paper?
  • Why did I write this paper?
  • What are the main questions presented in this paper
  • How did I answer my questions in this paper?

Here is an example of an abstract in APA format: 
According to Bernard Spolsky, language policy includes language practices—community members’ specific selection of linguistic repertoire. For over a decade, the Internet has provided social enclaves for the language practices of world Englishes. Adopting the lens of “communities of practice,” defined by Lave & Wenger (1991) as “a set of relations among persons, activity, and world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping communities of practice” (p. 98), the present study looks at the way that a group of Chinese teachers utilize English as a translingual practice, moving beyond a monolithic use of the language to communicate their new teaching experiences in an online forum.

The data for this study were collected on a China-based internet forum called, 21st Century Community. Using socialization theory (Duff, 2011) and rhetorical analysis (Mao 2006; You 2010), I explore the way that these multilingual teachers from China practice and motivate each other by sharing stories about their lived experiences in new teaching communities. As they grapple with these new experiences in English on the forum, they find support and encouragement from each other and discover new ways of utilizing English as a translingual practice. 

Written by: Rachel Griffo

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