What Is the Difference Between Abstract and Introduction?

Is an abstract the same as an introduction? This is a common question for students who are new to academic writing. Often, you may find yourself struggling to differentiate between the abstract and introduction as they all serve a common goal of sharing information about your paper in a bid to hook your readers.

This article will discuss the purpose of each and highlight various differences between the abstract vs introduction to help you resolve the confusion. We will also tackle the information relevant to each section to help you achieve all the qualities required either for a good abstract or an introduction.

Purpose of an abstract

The abstract is the foremost chapter of an essay. This section provides a summary highlighting the description of your study and key results.

An abstract usually touches on the background, and the importance of your research, and gives a brief analysis of the methods, results, and conclusion. This information usually helps a reader to gauge the relevance of your work to their research, without having to read your entire paper.

In some instances, the abstract may also highlight the keywords and phrases for each section. This usually helps improve the ranking on various academic databases, increasing the likelihood of your work getting suggested to potential readers.

Purpose of introduction

The introduction usually comes after the literature review. This section delves deeper into the background of the topic and aims to highlight the relevance of your study.

The introduction explains your hypothesis and also highlights your research objectives by referring to various gaps which have been highlighted in the literature review. Your introduction may also justify why your approach to research is better than existing work, helping a reader to understand your approach to the study.

Unlike the abstract, however, your introduction does not touch on the conclusion. Instead, it serves as a platform from which you can introduce the rationale of your research, setting the ground for research and discussion.

Difference between abstract and introduction

How does an abstract differ from an introduction? Although the information in these sections may seem a bit similar there are many differences that differentiate the abstract from the introduction.

First, the introduction comprises references where work is cited from a source. Conversely, the abstract offers a summary of what your paper entails and thus does not include in-text citations. 

Also, abstracts are limited to five-hundred words to ensure a precise summary that helps a reader gauge your work. This is in contrast with the introduction which carries up to 15% of the total word count. while the abstract tackles the methods, results, and conclusion of your paper, the introduction does not offer any information about the conclusion.

A good introduction should highlight the background study in a bid to justify various research objectives. The abstract however offers the key ideas in various segments of your paper to highlight the rationale of your research, your methods of study, and the key findings. 

Does a research paper need an abstract?

The research paper abstract is vital for readers who are gauging your work as a potential source. After highlighting crucial facts about your research approach and results, you can allow the reader to determine how your paper fits into their arguments.

Additionally, your abstract helps rank your work on various search engines, increasing the traffic for those searching for ideas within the scope of your research. 

How to introduce a research paper

Your research paper introduction is vital in highlighting the relevance of your study and its effectiveness in investigating a research idea. Ideally, your introduction should nudge your reader to accord as much importance as what you offer for your research topic. 

For this, you may start off your introduction with a statistic, rhetorical questions, or a story that shows the seriousness of the research problem. By piquing your reader’s interest, you promote them to further investigate an idea, ensuring that they read your paper to its completion.

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