how to write an abstract for a research proposal

how to write an abstract for a research proposal

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Proposal

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1. Introduction

Like scientific research, the research proposal has a definite structure and if you have structured your work to this format, it will then make it easier to read. The reader will know where to look for details and be able to have a good overview of your study. If you have not done the work yet, the reader will look at the abstract first in order to know the what, why and how of your research. After this, it is generally the literature review, methodology, results, and discussion. Each of these would be a section in their own right and the reader would know what to expect, depending on your research. For example, it is generally only in the discussion where your paper will go into depth on a particular topic so the overall length will depend on the length of your work. In a few words, abstract is a short summary that is around 100-200 words. It is written at the start of a paper and is usually the only section that a busy reader has time to read. It states the problem, the methods of research, and the general conclusions and should not contain numbers or tables.

2. Importance of a Research Proposal Abstract

An abstract ensures that all the necessary information within the proposal has been provided in summary form. It aids the critical appraisal of the main document and helps the reader to make decisions as to whether a complete reading of the study is necessary. This is important as there are an abundance of research proposals available. By having a clear and concise research abstract, the potential reader will be more readily able to assess whether it is relevant to their interest or topic. Lastly, it acts as a preface for the completion of the study and is a guide to how the author should present the various stages of the main document.

The research abstract has significance and various different methods and places where it can be used; for example it may be used within education to further a student’s knowledge on how an effective research proposal is produced, it can also be used within the academic community for various different purposes. For instance, people may find the study interesting and wish to carry out the study in another place with a similar demographic, or an academic may take elements of the study and implement it into their own teaching practices. In addition, healthcare is an area of the community who often carry out clinically based studies and can learn greatly from an effective research proposal; an example may be an evidence-based study to improve patient care.

An abstract is an important component of a research proposal. It summarises the research proposal and is generally between 100 to 500 words in length. It provides a preliminary assessment of the proposal and assists in the critical evaluation of the main study. The sole purpose of the abstract is to provide an overview of the proposal; this will allow the potential reader to have a better understanding of what the study entails and how it will be presented.

3. Key Components of an Abstract

The four “moves” and the accompanying steps for creating an abstract follow the four “moves” provided by Swales and Feak. Move 1, Establishing a research territory, is accomplished with Step 1, which involves the author stating in one sentence what the research is about. This is followed through Move 2, Establishing a niche, which Step 2 covers. Here you must state what is novel in your research. This is important as the value of a piece of research is judged against what is already known. If you can’t find it, it is likely that your research is simply not novel. Step 3 deals with Move 3, Occupying the niche, involving the research stating how it addresses a specific gap in existing knowledge and what is now possible as a result of this work. This is very often the hardest task as it requires an immense amount of thought. This step should be read and reread many times. Lastly, Move 4, Entering the larger conversation, is achieved through the use of Step 4. Here the author “enters” the significance of the research in terms of what impact it makes on the now broadened knowledge addressed in the previous steps.

As in all abstracts, focused and precise language is the key. In a condensed form, an abstract must communicate why the research was done, what was found, and how in a very direct and accurate manner. This sounds simple enough, but when you are plowing through mountains of data, there is a great temptation to be exhaustive. On the way, you may lose sight of your core message. Many find it useful to use the “one sentence at a time” approach. This involves going through your paper and highlighting the key points in each paragraph and then restating these points in just one sentence. This will help you avoid losing sight of the core message. An abstract is effectively a summary of your work, so you should be proud of what you have accomplished. Some of you may have created lovely diagrams, in-depth analysis, comprehensive yet readable qualitative data. All of this should be summarized, so it is worth taking the time to filter your work down to the fundamental components.

Introduction: Defining “Key Component”

4. Tips for Writing an Effective Abstract

Strive for coherence. The first sentence of an abstract should clearly introduce the topic of the paper so that readers can relate it to other work they are familiar with. However, an analysis of abstracts across a range of fields shows that few follow this advice, nor do they take the opportunity to summarize previous work in their second sentence. A central issue is the lack of structure in standard advice on abstract writing, so most authors don’t realize the third sentence should point out the deficiencies of this existing research. To solve this problem, we describe a technique that structures the entire abstract around a set of six sentences, each of which has a specific role, so that by the end of the first four sentences you have introduced the idea fully. This structure then allows you to use the fifth sentence to elaborate a little on the research, explain how it works and that it is unique, and the sixth sentence to say what the implications of your work are and what the next step will be. This technique is helpful because it clarifies your thinking and leads to a final abstract that is clear and has a logical structure. We have recently used it in our research and have received positive feedback on it. However, there is a general rule of thumb that it should be no more than 5-10% of the overall length of the paper. If you have been given any specific guidelines, follow them to the letter.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, this paper has provided an in-depth discussion on the ways in which qualitative research can be carried out when time is limited. It has been shown that the application of the three strategies, namely, extending the time of data collection, using time efficiently and revising the research goals, can allow the attainment of rich results despite restrictions in time. The paper has discussed the implications and limitations of each of the strategies and has made a case for the pursuit of more flexible time frames for research funding. This is an important issue for the improvement of future research practice and the paper has called for both funding bodies and researchers to give consideration to this matter. This paper provides guidelines on how to write a good abstract for a research proposal and utilizes a methodological framework to accomplish this goal. The information provided in the paper is intended to be useful for those in the social sciences considering submitting an application for a research grant.

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