On Writing an Effective Philosophical Abstract1
by Dr. Kimberly Blessing
An abstract is a summary of points (as of a article), usually presented in skeletal form.
To capture the very essence of the text, reading, or article.Necessary and Sufficient Conditions2 for Writing an Effective Abstract
- State in as few words as possible the main idea, or thesis of the article
- State in as few words as possible the outline of the line of argumentation used by the author to support the thesis.
Distinction between Abstracts and Summaries
A long abstract can amount to a short summary, and vice versa. An abstract is more brief, however, than a summary; in other words, an abstract is a succinct summary.
Things to Avoid in an Abstract
- All side issues
- Anything that is not essential to the criteria, above
For examples of philosophical texts and a student's abstract of it, see Hugo Bedau, Thinking and Writing about Philosophy (Saint Martin's Press, 1996).
1 Adapted from Hugo Bedau, Thinking and Writing about Philosophy (Saint Martin's Press, 1996), pp. 12-13.
2 Please see additional handout on "Necessary and Sufficient Conditions."