Table of Contents
The abstract for your medical research is arguably the most important piece of your manuscript. Although brief, typically between 300-500 words, the abstract is a summary of the key aspects of your research. Some researchers find it almost impossible to sum up sometimes years of hard work in just a few paragraphs, but that’s exactly what the abstract is designed to do. You want to pique the interest of your reader so that they’ll want to delve further. A well-written abstract can increase citations, conference presentation invitations and publication opportunities.
In this article, we’ll cover the core ingredients of a solid medical research abstract, how to write a medical research abstract as well as how to write a clinical abstract. We’ll also cover a checklist to make sure you have everything to submit your abstract for a presentation.
How to Write an Abstract for a Medical Research Paper
When writing an abstract, think of it as an advertisement, along with your title, for your article. You want to make it interesting, avoiding jargon, references and excessive abbreviations. Your abstract should be easy to understand, and summarize your research. Even though your abstract needs to be brief, it also needs to be accurate, providing results but minimal details about methods. You’ll also include a brief description of your conclusions.
Before setting down to write your abstract, know the rules of where you’ll be submitting it. Some institutions limit the abstract by length, request particular formatting, and other submission details.
The fundamentals of how to write a medical research abstract and how to write a clinical abstract are fundamentally the same. Let’s take a look at the common elements of both.
What does a medical abstract include?
First, you have to include the “whats” of your research. Namely, what’s been done and what are the findings. More specifically, you want to organize your abstract as follows:
- Title and Author: Write a winning title by making a list of 5-10 keywords, and writing a few sentences including those words. From there, work out a sentence that captures the core meaning of your work, condensing it to focus on the essentials of your research. Take your time when coming up with a title. This is the first aspect of your “advertisement” to pique interest and further reading.
If you’re writing the abstract for a presentation, the first author listed will be the one who is making the oral presentation. Make sure that author meets and presentation requirements, for instance, someone who is a member of the organization sponsoring the event or research.
- Introduction: The introduction includes several sentences that are designed to outline the question or problem addressed in the research. The first sentence should be particularly interesting and attention gathering. For example, “700,000 people die each year from…” versus, “A growing cause of death is…” The rest of the introduction includes a few sentences on how your research fills any gaps of knowledge, and finally any hypotheses you had going into the research.
- Methodology: This may be the most difficult part of the abstract to compose. You have to simplify the description of your methodology to keep to the strict word-count of the abstract, but also include enough detail so that your work can be seen as valid and important. For a clinical or medical research abstract, this will include the research design, setting, number of patients, and how they were selected. Of course, you’ll also include the intervention, if applicable, as well as different outcomes. Finally, you’ll outline briefly statistical methods that were used to analyze your data.
- Results: In this section, you’ll first describe who was included and excluded (and why) from your study. Next, you’ll outline key outcome variables and their frequency, as well as variables among subgroups (like age groups, untreated vs. treated, female vs. female, etc.). Consider a table to present this information, if permitted. Any numerical results need to include 95% confidence limits or standard deviations, as well as the significance level.
- Conclusion: As concisely as you can, state your conclusion and implications. Both need to be supported by data. If space permits, consider including the generalizability of your results to other populations, and possible weaknesses of the study.
Although brief, count on your abstract taking several days to compose. Budget your time accordingly, and seek input from other researchers and colleagues. Share your abstract with a mentor to get honest feedback, and fine-tune accordingly. Double and triple-check for any grammatical, spelling or other errors. Use the following checklist to make sure everything is in order before submitting your abstract for review.
Medical Research Abstract Checklist
- Check due date for the abstract
- Verify number of copies needed for submission
- Presenting author is listed first, and fulfills all eligibility requirements
- All author affiliations are included
- Abstract meets word-limit
- If applicable, abstract is printed using the correct style, font size, etc.
- Abstract has been proofread and reviewed by others for grammar, spelling, style and content
- Abstract includes:
- Conclusion (supported by data presented within the abstract)
Language Editing Plus
Need an extra hand with your manuscript, presentation or medical research abstract? Our Language Editing Plus services include unlimited rounds of language review for up to one year, a focus on logic and flow, manuscript formatting for the journal of your choice, reference checks and a customized cover letter. Find out more here, and get started today!
Check the price with our Simulator: