How to Write a Nursing Abstract

by Jen Randall

Abstracts summarize research conducted in a particular field. Abstracts, rather than the full papers or presentations, are widely published in library catalogs, periodicals, databases and conference publication materials. Abstracts can be written prior to conducting or finalizing research as part of a conference or periodical application process. In nursing, writing an abstract entails following a set of standard academic conventions and making clear how the research addresses issues facing the field of nursing today.

Read directions related to writing the abstract. For instance, if the abstract is for a call for papers or for a conference, check to see if the organizing body or publication has posted any specific stylistic directions which need to be met.

Decide on a title for the abstract. Often, this is the same title as the report that the abstract is about. However, if the abstract is written before the paper is finished or is for a research presentation not a paper, write a title that captures the essence of the study. The title should be between 12-15 words.

Write a draft abstract. Include the research problem, research question, brief theoretical literature review, research approach and methods, data, analysis, conclusions and implications in no more than 250 words.

Ensure that the final sentence of the abstract makes clear how the research is relevant to or helps health care practitioners and academics better understand and grapple with issues facing the field of nursing today.

Edit the abstract. Use active, concise language. Provide concrete details and define terms. While nursing is a large field, there are sub-fields that have specific terms that others do not know, which is called jargon, aim to phrase the abstract in an intelligent, well-informed way that does not confuse the readers.

Include references in the abstract. Nursing abstracts and reports often follow the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide.

About the Author

Jen Randall has been a writer and editor since 2004. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, academic editor, freelance blogger and ghostwriter, covering education, art and design, fashion, culture and society. Randall earned her Bachelor of Arts in comparative history from the University of Washington.

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