APA Abstracts

The abstract is a succinct, single-paragraph summary of your paper’s purpose, main points, method, findings, and conclusions, and is often recommended to be written after the rest of your paper has been completed.

What are APA Abstracts?

APA Abstracts are a type of Abstract, which is a genre of discourse.

Like other abstracts (e.g., MLA Abstracts or Executive Summaries)m, APA Abstracts summarize the critical parts (aka essential parts) of a longer paper.

What makes an APA Abstract unique are the following elements:

  1. the abstract must be a single-paragraph summary of the paper’s content that is between 150 to 250
  2. the abstract must list keywords associated with the author’s topic.
    • This enables the work to be indexed correctly in the archive and associated with appropriate scholarly conversations.

Key Concepts: AttributionCitationDiscourse CommunityTextual Research


Examples of APA Abstracts

The information provided in the APA abstract is determined by the genre of the paper, the intended audience or community, prevailing conventions, and conventions related to organizing the Archive, humanities’ textual record of knowledge, scholarly conversations, and record of past works on particular topics.

For instance, when investigators used empirical research methods, their abstract will often have one or two sentences for each major section, such as

  • Introduction
  • Methods,
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion.

Or, if the investigators used textual research methods, then their abstract may follow a CARS (Create a Research Space) Model:

  1. Establish Territory
  2. Reveal a niche
    • The writer will identify a gap in the literature, an unresolved question.
  3. Occupy the niche.

Why Do APA Abstracts Matter?

People who are in a hurry (and who isn’t?) tend to decide whether or not they’ll read a document by scanning its abstract. When investigators search the peer-reviewed literature seeking to better understand the current conversations about topics of interest to them, they are likely to scan the abstracts.

Where Do Abstracts Appear in Report Documents?

APA Abstracts are placed after the Title Page before the Introduction.

How to Write an Abstract APA

The bottom line is that good writing, even writing that is extremely technical and invariably full of jargon, is best conveyed as a story. This truism is expecially true for abstracts. After spending years perhaps on an investigation, it can be difficult to distill it into the smallest, most important parts.

So, when writing an abstract, your first consideration should be identifying the simplest narrative, the through line, that will help contextualize your research.

How should the Abstract Page be Formatted?

The abstract’s length should be a minimum of 150 words and a maximum of 250 words; it should be confined within a single paragraph. Unlike in other paragraphs in the paper, the first line of the abstract should not be indented five spaces from the left margin.

Like the rest of the paper, the pages of the abstract should be double-spaced and typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt. The margins are set at 1” on all sides. While the running head is flush with the upper left-hand corner of every page, the page number is flush with the upper right-hand corner of every page. Note that all letters of the running head should be capitalized and should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation, letters, and spaces.

The title of the abstract is centered at the top of the page; there is no extra space between the title and the paragraph. Avoid formatting the title with bold, italics, underlining, or quotation marks, or mislabeling the abstract with the title of the research paper.

When writing the abstract, note that the APA recommends using two spaces after sentences that end in a period; however, sentences that end in other punctuation marks may be followed by a single space. Additionally, the APA recommends using the active voice and past tense in the abstract, but the present tense may be used to describe conclusions and implications. Acronyms or abbreviated words should be defined in the abstract.

Examples of APA Abstracts

  1. Academic Essay for Undergraduate Writing Course
    Fat women feel enormous pressure to be thin. This pressure is exacerbated by media portrayals of fat women that show characters who are unruly, miserable, or comical. The series Shrill (2019-2021) combats fatphobic representations by offering Annie, a fat woman, as a lead character. She is neither a punchline nor a cautionary tale. Shrill elucidates the societal stigmas of being fat without victimizing its main character. In this essay, I offer an autoethnographic critical media analysis of Shrill. I explore the Western Body Positivity movement, the effects of the United States’ hegemonic beauty ideologies, and my experiences as a white, fat woman alongside Shrill. I argue though the representation of Annie is a huge step forward, some narrative arcs remain problematic. The focus on self-love and reliance on a Black character to facilitate that self-love mirror the real-life dependency on and erasure of Black women in the Body Positivity movement.
  2. Recommendation Report
    Students struggle with stress and anxiety: they struggle to manage their time to study, complete coursework, and excel (citation; specifics needed here). Thus, we designed a healthy coping mechanism to help USF students deal with depression, anxiety, and stress: dog therapy. This will help combat these difficulties and promote mental health awareness. For our primary research, we made a poll on Instagram where people (mainly college students) responded whether or not they would take advantage of the puppy shelter as a way to ease anxiety and stress. We found that the large majority of people reported that they would benefit from having this resource available on campus. The shelter will also bring job opportunities, volunteer work, experience, and a higher morale for students.
  3. Product Pitch
    Millennials’ desire for environmentally-friendly coffee is sweeping the industry, and Coffi™ is perfectly positioned to bring this to the campuses nationwide. “91% of college students say they agree their place of study should actively incorporate and promote sustainable development” (UNESCO 2018). Coffi™ will focus on two different models suited to different customers:  an atmosphere where customers can purchase quality coffee and go about their business in peace, and a vending machine model that maximizes product value and convenience. Beyond our goal to create a successful business through incorporation of modern technology, we seek to serve quality products in reusable and biodegradable cups.
  4. NSF Commercial Potential Abstract
    The Total Available Market for this product is the 35.4M students in high school and postsecondary education. Assuming 2.5% market share of the target market (2.8M students taking first-year composition) and price-point of $35/year/student by two courses, MyReviewers will generate approximately $4.9M/year in revenue or $19.6M with a 10% market share. Higher revenues are feasible once the software is adopted more broadly in general education and high school English courses. This commercialization effort has the potential to disrupt reductionist assessment practices in education and to address shifting demographic populations so that all students may secure rights to literacy.

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