Skip to content

Preparing the Abstract

Abstract Requirements

  • 175 words MAXIMUM
  • The abstract and heading must be single spaced, left aligned.
  • The heading must include:
    • 1st line: Title of your abstract (should be upper and lower case, NOT all caps)
    • 2nd line: Your name, home address, city, state, zip
    • 3rd line: Name of your school, city, state
    • 4th line: Name of your teacher/mentor and his or her organization, if different from your high school. Precede the person’s name with a subheading—Teacher and/or Mentor: [name]
  • Leave a line of space after the heading and begin your abstract.
  • Leave a line of space after each paragraph.

How to Write an Abstract

A properly written abstract presents a summary of the research conducted and the most significant conclusions reached. Abstracts are the chief means by which scientists decide which research reports to read.

The Title: Make your title concise, but also descriptive.

The Body of the Abstract: The abstract is a very brief overview of your ENTIRE study. The abstract tells the reader WHAT you did, WHY you did it, WHAT you found, and WHAT it means. The sequence of sentences is ordered in a logical fashion, beginning with an introduction that includes your hypothesis and proceeding to your test (e.g., materials, methods and procedures used), results data or findings, discussion, and conclusions.

Think of the most important items that crystallize each part of your research study. Leave out unimportant details. As a first draft, write one or two sentences that summarize each section. For your final draft, make sure the abstract flows logically. Give it to a friend, teacher, parent, mentor, etc., to read. Ask them to tell you what they think you actually did and what you found. Revise as necessary.

Sample Abstract

A Test of the Competitive Exclusion Theory in Two Related Species of Butterflies
Oil City High School, Oil City, PA
Teacher and/or Sponsor: Mrs. Georgiana Spallanzi/Mr. Joseph Pascale

The food habits of larval butterflies of two related species Papilio splendens and Papilio blanchii in a zone of overlap near Oil City, Pennsylvania were examined. The theory of competitive exclusion predicts that food habits of closely related species should not overlap significantly where the species occur together. Transects in five different habitats were used to determine food and habitat preferences in wild populations. Captive caterpillars were offered various foods in the laboratory; weight changes of foods and caterpillar were examined daily. Food habits in overlapping habitats were significantly different between the two species (ANOVA p = 0.001). Food habits in non-overlapping habitats were not significantly different (ANOVA p = 0.52). There were no differences in food preferences (ANOVA p = 0.76) or growth rates (ANOVA p = 0.88) on different foods in laboratory populations. These species are able to co-exist because they are not competing for the same and limiting food resources in the same area. These results support the theory of competitive exclusion because the two species did not use the same food resources in the same habitats.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.