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Preparing the Abstract

Abstract Requirements

  • 250 words maximum
  • The format for the includes 1-inch margins, keyed in 10 or 12-point font (Times or Times New Roman) abstract and heading must be single spaced, left aligned.
  • Leave a line of space after each paragraph.
  • The heading preceding the abstract body must include:
    • 1st line: Title of the research (should be upper and lower case, not all caps)
    • 2nd line: Author name(s)
    • 3rd line: High school, high school city, high school state
    • 4th line: Name of teacher/mentor/sponsor and his or her organization, if different from your high school. Precede the person’s name with a subheading (i.e. teacher, mentor, sponsor)
    • 5th line: Include one line of space between the heading and the abstract body

How to Write an Abstract

The abstract should accurately convey the essential nature of the research conducted and the most significant conclusions reached. A further purpose of the abstract is to attract the interest and curiosity of the non-specialist reader and thus encourage exchange, discussion, and elaboration between various authors and between authors and readers. 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
Sandy Reynolds
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.