How to Write an Abstract
Intel ISEF link

Master the Abstract Writing Process - Intel ISEF suggestions for writing effective abstracts for science fair projects

Students may use the Intel ISEF suggestions (link above) or the suggestions below.

How to Write an Abstract
With thanks to Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

With thanks to Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

With thanks to Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon Univer

Checklist: Parts of an Abstract

Despite the fact that an abstract is quite brief, it must do almost as much work as your talk, project display board, and notebook. This means that it should include the sections that follow. Each section is typically a single sentence, although there is room for creativity. In particular, the parts may be merged or spread among a set of sentences. Use the following as a checklist for your next abstract:



Why do we care

about the problem and the results? This section should include the importance of your work, the difficulty of the area, and the impact it might have if successful.


Problem statement:


problem are you trying to solve? What is the scope of your work
(a generalized approach, or for a specific situation)? Be careful not to use too much jargon. In some cases it is appropriate to put the problem statement before the motivation, but usually this only works if most readers already understand why the problem is important.



How did you go about solving

or making progress on the problem? Did you use simulation, or analysis of field data? What was the extent of your work? What important variables did you control, ignore, or measure? Do not copy your procedure.



What's the answer?

Put the result in numbers if possible (% is good.) Avoid vague results such as "very," "small," or "significant."



What are the implications

of your answer? Is it going to change the
world (unlikely), be a significant "win," find something interesting, or simply indicate that this path is a waste of time. (All of the previous results are useful). Are your results
general, or specific to a particular case? What did you learn?

Other Considerations

An abstract must be a fully self-contained, capsule description of the project. It must make sense all by itself. Some points to consider include:

Meet the word count limitation. Abstract word limit is usually 500 words.
  • Use complete sentences in prose format. Treat the abstract as a “how I would tell a friend about my work, from start to finish” letter.

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