VirtualMV/Research Workshop/Activities/Abstract

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How to write your Abstract/Executive Summary

The abstract or executive summary should contain the main points, findings and conclusions of your report. It should be enough that a senior manager, like Donald Trump, could read just your abstract or executive summary and understand all their need to know about your report. They could then hand it to a subordinate to check the details.

For example:

  • Right: "This report reviews previous studies on podcasting, which found that the benefits were mostly for students who missed classses, but that there was low costs involved in providing podcasts. It then presents a year-long study where podcasts were provided in three tertiary-level courses. Contrary to previous studies, the key findings were that podcasts are most beneficial for international students, who can repeat the podcast until they understand it, but that there can be high cost of time involved to record, edit and upload podcasts."
  • Wrong: "This report reviews previous studies on podcasts and presents a year-long study into the use of podcasts in tertiary-level courses."

The abstract or executive summary is written last.

If you have Word 2007, the autosummarise feature is a great way to identify the main points (it was removed in Word 2010). The other way is to go through your report with a highlighter.