An abstract is a summary of an article. It describes the purpose, focus, and conclusions of the article. Research articles will also discuss the research question and methodology in the abstract. Abstracts appear at the beginning of articles, after the title and author name(s). They are concise summaries, generally no more than 250 words; they briefly describe the information that will be explored at length in the various sections of the article. Reading the abstract is a great way to quickly determine whether an article is relevant to your research.
Abstracts for review articles work differently than those for research articles. Since you will not be doing original research for the former, you will not be describing your research question in terms of original data, nor will you be describing a research methodology. Instead, the abstract for a review article should establish the topic, scope, and implications of the article. Make sure your abstract provides answers to the following questions:
Think of your abstract as being similar to the heading of a news article, or the first slide in a presentation. You have to hook your audience into reading the rest of your article. Put yourself in the reader's position and make sure you can answer another important question: why am I reading this? A strong review article does more than just summarize the state of play for a given topic; it highlights gaps in research and makes suggestions about the direction researchers should take.
Here is an example of an abstract for a review article on a topic relevant to this course:
This systematic review aims to address gaps in understanding how concepts of gender, climate change and security are given meaning and linked in empirical scholarship within the Pacific Islands Region. The review assesses the 53 articles returned through Web of Science, SCOPUS and ProQuest databases that are derived from empirical research and refer to gender, climate change and security. The findings indicate that this is an emerging topic in a region that is one of the most vulnerable to climate change across the globe. Most frequently gender analysis is given superficial treatment; there is limited literature that connects gendered vulnerabilities to historical legacies and structural inequalities; and women’s critical roles that create security are often overlooked and devalued. The review indicates that greater work is needed to question perceived threats to security and to reveal how climate change, gendered institutions, systems and spaces, historical legacies and politics interact to construct security in the Pacific Islands Region.