The Second Step in Writing Abstracts - Creative Reading


During the retrieval reading phase, the writer identified and categorized a great deal of material to be used for the various parts of the abstract (purpose, methodology, results, implications).  The next step requires the writer to condense all of this material into the most important themes and relevant conclusions.  At this point the writer should not be overly concerned with exact phrasing or proper grammar but instead trying to tease out the key concepts that must be included in the abstract.


Remembering the key components to include in abstracts for law papers will make this job easier.  Ask yourself whether you have:


  • Piqued readers interest and curiosity
  • Given information about the topic to be covered
  • Provided the argument you will make and clearly identified the central thesis
  • Explained how your article fits with the other research in that area and what is new and original about your work


This challenge for this first draft is to make the abstract not only informative but interesting.  An abstract will not lead to a download if the information is vague, dull or without context.  The reader wants to know what the piece is about and how what you have to say adds to the discourse.  Most readers will not be patient enough to wade through a dense, long abstract to try to uncover the diamond in the rough.  Abstracts should not be mystery novels but instead abstracts should be concise statements in which a reader can easily locate the purpose, methodology, results, and implications of your work.  This will require several rounds of editing to make sure the abstract, like all good legal writing, is clear and concise.  In future blog postings I will give examples of abstracts that do just that.