Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies

Guidelines for Writing Abstracts

Steinar Figved

Main content

Anyone wishing to give an oral or written presentation at a GRS course should submit an abstract for evaluation. The abstract should normally be no more than 250 words, include 4-6 keywords and cite between 2-4 references.

What is an abstract?

The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the contents of the paper.  Key points to remember:

  • An abstract briefly explains the salient aspects of the content. 
  • Abstracts should be accurate and succinct, self-contained, and readable.  
  • The abstract should paraphrase and summarise rather than quote from the paper.
  • Abstracts should relate only to the paper to be presented/assessed.

Structuring your Abstract

It is difficult to define the “ideal” structure for an abstract as abstract writing varies between academic disciplines, genres and styles of writing. However, below are three widely used formats for abstracts that may be applicable for GRS candidates.

Abstract Structure Example #1

The abstract for empirical articles (qualitative or quantitative) should usually reflect the IMRAD format

  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Analysis
  • Discussion

Abstract Structure Example #2

  • Research questions or hypothesis
  • Theoretical Frame underpinning the questions/hypothesis
  • Methods used to address the research question/hypothesis
  • Results of the investigations
  • Conclusions, applications, or implications

Abstract Structure Example #3

  • Context
  • Research questions
  • Aims
  • Summary of content
  • Conclusions/Significance