From the U C Davis Undergraduate Research website:
What should the abstract include?
Think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole project. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question….Although the content will vary according to field and specific project, all abstracts, whether in the sciences or the humanities, convey the following information:
- The purpose of the project identifying the area of study to which it belongs.
- The research problem that motivates the project.
- The methods used to address this research problem, documents or evidence analyzed.
- The conclusions reached or, if the research is in progress, what the preliminary results of the investigation suggest, or what the research methods demonstrate.
- The significance of the research project. Why are the results useful? What is new to our understanding as the result of your inquiry?
Whatever kind of research you are doing, your abstract should provide the reader with answers to the following questions: What are you asking? Why is it important? How will you study it? What will you use to demonstrate your conclusions? What are those conclusions? What do they mean?
Here are some other great resources for abstract writing:
UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/abstracts/
Business and Technology: http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=10&sid=10619509-5f13-4aa2-ac3d-f668cbfdad02%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&AN=93877589
Your abstract can simply go at the top of your research paper and should be between 100-300 words.