Writing an Abstract

Abstracts are often perceived difficult to write due to the requirement to be concise. I came across an useful series of points in Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts (Vol. 1 of the Revised and Expanded Edition of English in Today’s Research World) by John M. Swales and Christine B. Feak. This might be useful as a guideline when writing an abstract.

MOVE 1 – Introduce the background/situation of the topic

MOVE 2 – Highlight the importance of the topic, purpose and present any research carried out on the topic

MOVE 3 – Underline the methods, materials and procedures used

MOVE 4 – State the results/findings

MOVE 5 – Explain and discuss the findings drawing a conclusion. Suggest possible implications/recommendations

These moves are often labelled in structured abstracts as sub-sections but not in traditional abstracts however the content, style and organisation of both remain very similar. These guidelines may be used as a checklist when revising a written abstract.


Swales, J.M., Feak, C.B. (2009). Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts. The University of Michigan Press.