Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Definition and Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:

  • an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
  • an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
  • and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.

Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:

  • the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
  • the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
  • what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
  • the main reason(s) , the exigency, the rationale , the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
  • your research and/or analytical methods
  • your main findings , results , or arguments
  • the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.

When to Write Your Abstract

Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.

Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract

The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.

The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.

The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).

Sample Abstract 1

From the social sciences.

Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.

“The growing economic resemblance of spouses has contributed to rising inequality by increasing the number of couples in which there are two high- or two low-earning partners. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the topic under study (the “economic resemblance of spouses”). This sentence also implies the question underlying this research study: what are the various causes—and the interrelationships among them—for this trend?] The dominant explanation for this trend is increased assortative mating. Previous research has primarily relied on cross-sectional data and thus has been unable to disentangle changes in assortative mating from changes in the division of spouses’ paid labor—a potentially key mechanism given the dramatic rise in wives’ labor supply. [Annotation for the previous two sentences: These next two sentences explain what previous research has demonstrated. By pointing out the limitations in the methods that were used in previous studies, they also provide a rationale for new research.] We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose the increase in the correlation between spouses’ earnings and its contribution to inequality between 1970 and 2013 into parts due to (a) changes in assortative mating, and (b) changes in the division of paid labor. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The data, research and analytical methods used in this new study.] Contrary to what has often been assumed, the rise of economic homogamy and its contribution to inequality is largely attributable to changes in the division of paid labor rather than changes in sorting on earnings or earnings potential. Our findings indicate that the rise of economic homogamy cannot be explained by hypotheses centered on meeting and matching opportunities, and they show where in this process inequality is generated and where it is not.” (p. 985) [Annotation for the previous two sentences: The major findings from and implications and significance of this study.]

Sample Abstract 2

From the humanities.

Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.

“From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, a network of young urban migrant men created an underground pulp fiction publishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the context for this research and announces the topic under study.] As texts that were produced in the underground economy of a city whose trajectory was increasingly charted outside of formalized planning and investment, these novellas reveal more than their narrative content alone. These texts were active components in the urban social worlds of the young men who produced them. They reveal a mode of urbanism otherwise obscured by narratives of decolonization, in which urban belonging was constituted less by national citizenship than by the construction of social networks, economic connections, and the crafting of reputations. This article argues that pulp fiction novellas of socialist era Dar es Salaam are artifacts of emergent forms of male sociability and mobility. In printing fictional stories about urban life on pilfered paper and ink, and distributing their texts through informal channels, these writers not only described urban communities, reputations, and networks, but also actually created them.” (p. 210) [Annotation for the previous sentences: The remaining sentences in this abstract interweave other essential information for an abstract for this article. The implied research questions: What do these texts mean? What is their historical and cultural significance, produced at this time, in this location, by these authors? The argument and the significance of this analysis in microcosm: these texts “reveal a mode or urbanism otherwise obscured . . .”; and “This article argues that pulp fiction novellas. . . .” This section also implies what previous historical research has obscured. And through the details in its argumentative claims, this section of the abstract implies the kinds of methods the author has used to interpret the novellas and the concepts under study (e.g., male sociability and mobility, urban communities, reputations, network. . . ).]

Sample Abstract/Summary 3

From the sciences.

Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

“Several studies have reported reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes; however, reprogramming into proliferative induced cardiac progenitor cells (iCPCs) remains to be accomplished. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence announces the topic under study, summarizes what’s already known or been accomplished in previous research, and signals the rationale and goals are for the new research and the problem that the new research solves: How can researchers reprogram fibroblasts into iCPCs?] Here we report that a combination of 11 or 5 cardiac factors along with canonical Wnt and JAK/STAT signaling reprogrammed adult mouse cardiac, lung, and tail tip fibroblasts into iCPCs. The iCPCs were cardiac mesoderm-restricted progenitors that could be expanded extensively while maintaining multipo-tency to differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, iCPCs injected into the cardiac crescent of mouse embryos differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iCPCs transplanted into the post-myocardial infarction mouse heart improved survival and differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. [Annotation for the previous four sentences: The methods the researchers developed to achieve their goal and a description of the results.] Lineage reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs provides a scalable cell source for drug discovery, disease modeling, and cardiac regenerative therapy.” (p. 354) [Annotation for the previous sentence: The significance or implications—for drug discovery, disease modeling, and therapy—of this reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs.]

Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract

Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.

“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:

abstract layout for research paper

Academic and Professional Writing

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

  • Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
  • Guided brainstorming exercises
  • Get more help with your essay
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Resume Writing Tips

CV Writing Tips

Cover Letters

Business Letters

Proposals and Dissertations

Resources for Proposal Writers

Resources for Dissertators

Research Papers

Planning and Writing Research Papers

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

Scientific Reports

Scientific Report Format

Sample Lab Assignment

Writing for the Web

Writing an Effective Blog Post

Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics

  • Privacy Policy
  • SignUp/Login

Research Method

Home » Research Paper Abstract – Writing Guide and Examples

Research Paper Abstract – Writing Guide and Examples

Table of Contents

Research Paper Abstract

Research Paper Abstract

Research Paper Abstract is a brief summary of a research pape r that describes the study’s purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions . It is often the first section of the paper that readers encounter, and its purpose is to provide a concise and accurate overview of the paper’s content. The typical length of an abstract is usually around 150-250 words, and it should be written in a concise and clear manner.

Research Paper Abstract Structure

The structure of a research paper abstract usually includes the following elements:

  • Background or Introduction: Briefly describe the problem or research question that the study addresses.
  • Methods : Explain the methodology used to conduct the study, including the participants, materials, and procedures.
  • Results : Summarize the main findings of the study, including statistical analyses and key outcomes.
  • Conclusions : Discuss the implications of the study’s findings and their significance for the field, as well as any limitations or future directions for research.
  • Keywords : List a few keywords that describe the main topics or themes of the research.

How to Write Research Paper Abstract

Here are the steps to follow when writing a research paper abstract:

  • Start by reading your paper: Before you write an abstract, you should have a complete understanding of your paper. Read through the paper carefully, making sure you understand the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Identify the key components : Identify the key components of your paper, such as the research question, methods used, results obtained, and conclusion reached.
  • Write a draft: Write a draft of your abstract, using concise and clear language. Make sure to include all the important information, but keep it short and to the point. A good rule of thumb is to keep your abstract between 150-250 words.
  • Use clear and concise language : Use clear and concise language to explain the purpose of your study, the methods used, the results obtained, and the conclusions drawn.
  • Emphasize your findings: Emphasize your findings in the abstract, highlighting the key results and the significance of your study.
  • Revise and edit: Once you have a draft, revise and edit it to ensure that it is clear, concise, and free from errors.
  • Check the formatting: Finally, check the formatting of your abstract to make sure it meets the requirements of the journal or conference where you plan to submit it.

Research Paper Abstract Examples

Research Paper Abstract Examples could be following:

Title : “The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Treating Anxiety Disorders: A Meta-Analysis”

Abstract : This meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating anxiety disorders. Through the analysis of 20 randomized controlled trials, we found that CBT is a highly effective treatment for anxiety disorders, with large effect sizes across a range of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Our findings support the use of CBT as a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders and highlight the importance of further research to identify the mechanisms underlying its effectiveness.

Title : “Exploring the Role of Parental Involvement in Children’s Education: A Qualitative Study”

Abstract : This qualitative study explores the role of parental involvement in children’s education. Through in-depth interviews with 20 parents of children in elementary school, we found that parental involvement takes many forms, including volunteering in the classroom, helping with homework, and communicating with teachers. We also found that parental involvement is influenced by a range of factors, including parent and child characteristics, school culture, and socio-economic status. Our findings suggest that schools and educators should prioritize building strong partnerships with parents to support children’s academic success.

Title : “The Impact of Exercise on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”

Abstract : This paper presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of the existing literature on the impact of exercise on cognitive function in older adults. Through the analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials, we found that exercise is associated with significant improvements in cognitive function, particularly in the domains of executive function and attention. Our findings highlight the potential of exercise as a non-pharmacological intervention to support cognitive health in older adults.

When to Write Research Paper Abstract

The abstract of a research paper should typically be written after you have completed the main body of the paper. This is because the abstract is intended to provide a brief summary of the key points and findings of the research, and you can’t do that until you have completed the research and written about it in detail.

Once you have completed your research paper, you can begin writing your abstract. It is important to remember that the abstract should be a concise summary of your research paper, and should be written in a way that is easy to understand for readers who may not have expertise in your specific area of research.

Purpose of Research Paper Abstract

The purpose of a research paper abstract is to provide a concise summary of the key points and findings of a research paper. It is typically a brief paragraph or two that appears at the beginning of the paper, before the introduction, and is intended to give readers a quick overview of the paper’s content.

The abstract should include a brief statement of the research problem, the methods used to investigate the problem, the key results and findings, and the main conclusions and implications of the research. It should be written in a clear and concise manner, avoiding jargon and technical language, and should be understandable to a broad audience.

The abstract serves as a way to quickly and easily communicate the main points of a research paper to potential readers, such as academics, researchers, and students, who may be looking for information on a particular topic. It can also help researchers determine whether a paper is relevant to their own research interests and whether they should read the full paper.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Research Paper Conclusion

Research Paper Conclusion – Writing Guide and...

Appendices

Appendices – Writing Guide, Types and Examples

Research Paper Citation

How to Cite Research Paper – All Formats and...

Delimitations

Delimitations in Research – Types, Examples and...

Scope of the Research

Scope of the Research – Writing Guide and...

Research Contribution

Research Contribution – Thesis Guide

  • Resources Home 🏠
  • Try SciSpace Copilot
  • Search research papers
  • Add Copilot Extension
  • Try AI Detector
  • Try Paraphraser
  • Try Citation Generator
  • April Papers
  • June Papers
  • July Papers

SciSpace Resources

Abstract Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips & Examples

Sumalatha G

Table of Contents

step-by-step-guide-to-abstract-writing

Introduction

Abstracts of research papers have always played an essential role in describing your research concisely and clearly to researchers and editors of journals, enticing them to continue reading. However, with the widespread availability of scientific databases, the need to write a convincing abstract is more crucial now than during the time of paper-bound manuscripts.

Abstracts serve to "sell" your research and can be compared with your "executive outline" of a resume or, rather, a formal summary of the critical aspects of your work. Also, it can be the "gist" of your study. Since most educational research is done online, it's a sign that you have a shorter time for impressing your readers, and have more competition from other abstracts that are available to be read.

The APCI (Academic Publishing and Conferences International) articulates 12 issues or points considered during the final approval process for conferences & journals and emphasises the importance of writing an abstract that checks all these boxes (12 points). Since it's the only opportunity you have to captivate your readers, you must invest time and effort in creating an abstract that accurately reflects the critical points of your research.

With that in mind, let’s head over to understand and discover the core concept and guidelines to create a substantial abstract. Also, learn how to organise the ideas or plots into an effective abstract that will be awe-inspiring to the readers you want to reach.

What is Abstract? Definition and Overview

The word "Abstract' is derived from Latin abstractus meaning "drawn off." This etymological meaning also applies to art movements as well as music, like abstract expressionism. In this context, it refers to the revealing of the artist's intention.

Based on this, you can determine the meaning of an abstract: A condensed research summary. It must be self-contained and independent of the body of the research. However, it should outline the subject, the strategies used to study the problem, and the methods implemented to attain the outcomes. The specific elements of the study differ based on the area of study; however, together, it must be a succinct summary of the entire research paper.

Abstracts are typically written at the end of the paper, even though it serves as a prologue. In general, the abstract must be in a position to:

  • Describe the paper.
  • Identify the problem or the issue at hand.
  • Explain to the reader the research process, the results you came up with, and what conclusion you've reached using these results.
  • Include keywords to guide your strategy and the content.

Furthermore, the abstract you submit should not reflect upon any of  the following elements:

  • Examine, analyse or defend the paper or your opinion.
  • What you want to study, achieve or discover.
  • Be redundant or irrelevant.

After reading an abstract, your audience should understand the reason - what the research was about in the first place, what the study has revealed and how it can be utilised or can be used to benefit others. You can understand the importance of abstract by knowing the fact that the abstract is the most frequently read portion of any research paper. In simpler terms, it should contain all the main points of the research paper.

purpose-of-abstract-writing

What is the Purpose of an Abstract?

Abstracts are typically an essential requirement for research papers; however, it's not an obligation to preserve traditional reasons without any purpose. Abstracts allow readers to scan the text to determine whether it is relevant to their research or studies. The abstract allows other researchers to decide if your research paper can provide them with some additional information. A good abstract paves the interest of the audience to pore through your entire paper to find the content or context they're searching for.

Abstract writing is essential for indexing, as well. The Digital Repository of academic papers makes use of abstracts to index the entire content of academic research papers. Like meta descriptions in the regular Google outcomes, abstracts must include keywords that help researchers locate what they seek.

Types of Abstract

Informative and Descriptive are two kinds of abstracts often used in scientific writing.

A descriptive abstract gives readers an outline of the author's main points in their study. The reader can determine if they want to stick to the research work, based on their interest in the topic. An abstract that is descriptive is similar to the contents table of books, however, the format of an abstract depicts complete sentences encapsulated in one paragraph. It is unfortunate that the abstract can't be used as a substitute for reading a piece of writing because it's just an overview, which omits readers from getting an entire view. Also, it cannot be a way to fill in the gaps the reader may have after reading this kind of abstract since it does not contain crucial information needed to evaluate the article.

To conclude, a descriptive abstract is:

  • A simple summary of the task, just summarises the work, but some researchers think it is much more of an outline
  • Typically, the length is approximately 100 words. It is too short when compared to an informative abstract.
  • A brief explanation but doesn't provide the reader with the complete information they need;
  • An overview that omits conclusions and results

An informative abstract is a comprehensive outline of the research. There are times when people rely on the abstract as an information source. And the reason is why it is crucial to provide entire data of particular research. A well-written, informative abstract could be a good substitute for the remainder of the paper on its own.

A well-written abstract typically follows a particular style. The author begins by providing the identifying information, backed by citations and other identifiers of the papers. Then, the major elements are summarised to make the reader aware of the study. It is followed by the methodology and all-important findings from the study. The conclusion then presents study results and ends the abstract with a comprehensive summary.

In a nutshell, an informative abstract:

  • Has a length that can vary, based on the subject, but is not longer than 300 words.
  • Contains all the content-like methods and intentions
  • Offers evidence and possible recommendations.

Informative Abstracts are more frequent than descriptive abstracts because of their extensive content and linkage to the topic specifically. You should select different types of abstracts to papers based on their length: informative abstracts for extended and more complex abstracts and descriptive ones for simpler and shorter research papers.

What are the Characteristics of a Good Abstract?

  • A good abstract clearly defines the goals and purposes of the study.
  • It should clearly describe the research methodology with a primary focus on data gathering, processing, and subsequent analysis.
  • A good abstract should provide specific research findings.
  • It presents the principal conclusions of the systematic study.
  • It should be concise, clear, and relevant to the field of study.
  • A well-designed abstract should be unifying and coherent.
  • It is easy to grasp and free of technical jargon.
  • It is written impartially and objectively.

the-various-sections-of-abstract-writing

What are the various sections of an ideal Abstract?

By now, you must have gained some concrete idea of the essential elements that your abstract needs to convey . Accordingly, the information is broken down into six key sections of the abstract, which include:

An Introduction or Background

Research methodology, objectives and goals, limitations.

Let's go over them in detail.

The introduction, also known as background, is the most concise part of your abstract. Ideally, it comprises a couple of sentences. Some researchers only write one sentence to introduce their abstract. The idea behind this is to guide readers through the key factors that led to your study.

It's understandable that this information might seem difficult to explain in a couple of sentences. For example, think about the following two questions like the background of your study:

  • What is currently available about the subject with respect to the paper being discussed?
  • What isn't understood about this issue? (This is the subject of your research)

While writing the abstract’s introduction, make sure that it is not lengthy. Because if it crosses the word limit, it may eat up the words meant to be used for providing other key information.

Research methodology is where you describe the theories and techniques you used in your research. It is recommended that you describe what you have done and the method you used to get your thorough investigation results. Certainly, it is the second-longest paragraph in the abstract.

In the research methodology section, it is essential to mention the kind of research you conducted; for instance, qualitative research or quantitative research (this will guide your research methodology too) . If you've conducted quantitative research, your abstract should contain information like the sample size, data collection method, sampling techniques, and duration of the study. Likewise, your abstract should reflect observational data, opinions, questionnaires (especially the non-numerical data) if you work on qualitative research.

The research objectives and goals speak about what you intend to accomplish with your research. The majority of research projects focus on the long-term effects of a project, and the goals focus on the immediate, short-term outcomes of the research. It is possible to summarise both in just multiple sentences.

In stating your objectives and goals, you give readers a picture of the scope of the study, its depth and the direction your research ultimately follows. Your readers can evaluate the results of your research against the goals and stated objectives to determine if you have achieved the goal of your research.

In the end, your readers are more attracted by the results you've obtained through your study. Therefore, you must take the time to explain each relevant result and explain how they impact your research. The results section exists as the longest in your abstract, and nothing should diminish its reach or quality.

One of the most important things you should adhere to is to spell out details and figures on the results of your research.

Instead of making a vague assertion such as, "We noticed that response rates varied greatly between respondents with high incomes and those with low incomes", Try these: "The response rate was higher for high-income respondents than those with lower incomes (59 30 percent vs. 30 percent in both cases; P<0.01)."

You're likely to encounter certain obstacles during your research. It could have been during data collection or even during conducting the sample . Whatever the issue, it's essential to inform your readers about them and their effects on the research.

Research limitations offer an opportunity to suggest further and deep research. If, for instance, you were forced to change for convenient sampling and snowball samples because of difficulties in reaching well-suited research participants, then you should mention this reason when you write your research abstract. In addition, a lack of prior studies on the subject could hinder your research.

Your conclusion should include the same number of sentences to wrap the abstract as the introduction. The majority of researchers offer an idea of the consequences of their research in this case.

Your conclusion should include three essential components:

  • A significant take-home message.
  • Corresponding important findings.
  • The Interpretation.

Even though the conclusion of your abstract needs to be brief, it can have an enormous influence on the way that readers view your research. Therefore, make use of this section to reinforce the central message from your research. Be sure that your statements reflect the actual results and the methods you used to conduct your research.

examples-of-good-abstract-writing

Good Abstract Examples

Abstract example #1.

Children’s consumption behavior in response to food product placements in movies.

The abstract:

"Almost all research into the effects of brand placements on children has focused on the brand's attitudes or behavior intentions. Based on the significant differences between attitudes and behavioral intentions on one hand and actual behavior on the other hand, this study examines the impact of placements by brands on children's eating habits. Children aged 6-14 years old were shown an excerpt from the popular film Alvin and the Chipmunks and were shown places for the item Cheese Balls. Three different versions were developed with no placements, one with moderately frequent placements and the third with the highest frequency of placement. The results revealed that exposure to high-frequency places had a profound effect on snack consumption, however, there was no impact on consumer attitudes towards brands or products. The effects were not dependent on the age of the children. These findings are of major importance to researchers studying consumer behavior as well as nutrition experts as well as policy regulators."

Abstract Example #2

Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. The abstract:

"The research conducted in this study investigated the effects of Facebook use on women's moods and body image if the effects are different from an internet-based fashion journal and if the appearance comparison tendencies moderate one or more of these effects. Participants who were female ( N = 112) were randomly allocated to spend 10 minutes exploring their Facebook account or a magazine's website or an appearance neutral control website prior to completing state assessments of body dissatisfaction, mood, and differences in appearance (weight-related and facial hair, face, and skin). Participants also completed a test of the tendency to compare appearances. The participants who used Facebook were reported to be more depressed than those who stayed on the control site. In addition, women who have the tendency to compare appearances reported more facial, hair and skin-related issues following Facebook exposure than when they were exposed to the control site. Due to its popularity it is imperative to conduct more research to understand the effect that Facebook affects the way people view themselves."

Abstract Example #3

The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students

"The cellphone is always present on campuses of colleges and is often utilised in situations in which learning takes place. The study examined the connection between the use of cell phones and the actual grades point average (GPA) after adjusting for predictors that are known to be a factor. In the end 536 students in the undergraduate program from 82 self-reported majors of an enormous, public institution were studied. Hierarchical analysis ( R 2 = .449) showed that use of mobile phones is significantly ( p < .001) and negative (b equal to -.164) connected to the actual college GPA, after taking into account factors such as demographics, self-efficacy in self-regulated learning, self-efficacy to improve academic performance, and the actual high school GPA that were all important predictors ( p < .05). Therefore, after adjusting for other known predictors increasing cell phone usage was associated with lower academic performance. While more research is required to determine the mechanisms behind these results, they suggest the need to educate teachers and students to the possible academic risks that are associated with high-frequency mobile phone usage."

quick-tips-on-writing-a-good-abstract

Quick tips on writing a good abstract

There exists a common dilemma among early age researchers whether to write the abstract at first or last? However, it's recommended to compose your abstract when you've completed the research since you'll have all the information to give to your readers. You can, however, write a draft at the beginning of your research and add in any gaps later.

If you find abstract writing a herculean task, here are the few tips to help you with it:

1. Always develop a framework to support your abstract

Before writing, ensure you create a clear outline for your abstract. Divide it into sections and draw the primary and supporting elements in each one. You can include keywords and a few sentences that convey the essence of your message.

2. Review Other Abstracts

Abstracts are among the most frequently used research documents, and thousands of them were written in the past. Therefore, prior to writing yours, take a look at some examples from other abstracts. There are plenty of examples of abstracts for dissertations in the dissertation and thesis databases.

3. Avoid Jargon To the Maximum

When you write your abstract, focus on simplicity over formality. You should  write in simple language, and avoid excessive filler words or ambiguous sentences. Keep in mind that your abstract must be readable to those who aren't acquainted with your subject.

4. Focus on Your Research

It's a given fact that the abstract you write should be about your research and the findings you've made. It is not the right time to mention secondary and primary data sources unless it's absolutely required.

Conclusion: How to Structure an Interesting Abstract?

Abstracts are a short outline of your essay. However, it's among the most important, if not the most important. The process of writing an abstract is not straightforward. A few early-age researchers tend to begin by writing it, thinking they are doing it to "tease" the next step (the document itself). However, it is better to treat it as a spoiler.

The simple, concise style of the abstract lends itself to a well-written and well-investigated study. If your research paper doesn't provide definitive results, or the goal of your research is questioned, so will the abstract. Thus, only write your abstract after witnessing your findings and put your findings in the context of a larger scenario.

The process of writing an abstract can be daunting, but with these guidelines, you will succeed. The most efficient method of writing an excellent abstract is to centre the primary points of your abstract, including the research question and goals methods, as well as key results.

Interested in learning more about dedicated research solutions? Go to the SciSpace product page to find out how our suite of products can help you simplify your research workflows so you can focus on advancing science.

Literature search in Scispace

The best-in-class solution is equipped with features such as literature search and discovery, profile management, research writing and formatting, and so much more.

But before you go,

You might also like.

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Consensus GPT vs. SciSpace GPT: Choose the Best GPT for Research

Sumalatha G

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework: Understanding the Differences

Nikhil Seethi

Types of Essays in Academic Writing

Join thousands of product people at Insight Out Conf on April 11. Register free.

Insights hub solutions

Analyze data

Uncover deep customer insights with fast, powerful features, store insights, curate and manage insights in one searchable platform, scale research, unlock the potential of customer insights at enterprise scale.

Featured reads

abstract layout for research paper

Tips and tricks

How to affinity map using the canvas

abstract layout for research paper

Product updates

Dovetail in the Details: 21 improvements to influence, transcribe, and store

abstract layout for research paper

Customer stories

Okta securely scales customer insights across 30+ teams

Events and videos

© Dovetail Research Pty. Ltd.

How to craft an APA abstract

Last updated

16 December 2023

Reviewed by

An APA abstract is a brief but thorough summary of a scientific paper. It gives readers a clear overview of what the paper is about and what it intends to prove.

The purpose of an abstract is to allow researchers to quickly understand the paper's topic and purpose so they can decide whether it will be useful to them.

  • What is the APA style?

APA style is a method of formatting and documentation used by the American Psychological Association. This style is used primarily for papers in the field of education and in the social sciences, including:

Anthropology

What is an abstract in APA format?

Writing an abstract in APA format requires you to conform to the writing rules for APA-style papers, including the following guidelines:

The abstract should be 150–250 words

It should be brief but concise, containing all the paper's main points

The abstract is a separate page that comes after the title page and before the paper's main content

  • Key elements of an APA abstract 

While the rules for constructing an APA abstract are straightforward, the process can be challenging. You need to pack a great deal of relevant content into a short piece.

The essential elements of an APA abstract are:

Running header containing the title of the paper and page number

Section label, centered and in bold, containing the word "abstract"

The main content of the abstract, 150–250 words in length and double-spaced

A list of keywords, indented and introduced with the word "keywords" in italics

Essential points to cover in an APA abstract  

When you’re creating your APA abstract, consider the following questions.

What is the main topic the paper is addressing?

People searching for research on your topic will probably be browsing many papers and studies. The way your abstract is crafted will help to determine whether they feel your paper is worth reading.

Are your research methods quantitative or qualitative?

Quantitative research is focused on numbers and statistics, typically gathered from studies and polls where the questions are in yes/no or multiple-choice format.

Qualitative research is based on language and gathered using methods such as interviews and focus groups. It is more detailed and time-consuming to gather than quantitative research but can yield more complex and nuanced results.

Did you use primary or secondary sources?

Another key element is whether your research is based on primary or secondary sources. 

Primary research is data that you or your research team gathered. Secondary research is gathered from existing sources, such as databases or previously published studies.

Is your research descriptive or experimental?

Your research may be descriptive, experimental, or both.

With descriptive research , you’re describing or analyzing existing studies or theories on the topic. You may be using surveys, case studies, or observation to study the topic.

Experimental research studies variables using the scientific method. With an experiment, your objective is to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between two variables (or show the lack of one).

What conclusion did you reach?

Readers will want to know upfront what your paper is claiming or proving. Your APA abstract should give them a condensed version of your conclusions. Summarize your most significant findings.

It's customary to place your findings and conclusion in the final sentence of the abstract. This should be directly related to the main topic of the paper.

What is the relevance of your findings?

Show readers that your paper is a significant contribution to the field. While staying accurate and not overstating your case, boast a bit about why people need to read your paper.

Briefly describe the implications and importance of your findings. You can also point out any further research that is needed concerning this topic.

Did you choose the most appropriate keywords?

Including keywords is useful for indexing if your paper is eventually included in a database. Choose keywords that are relevant to the paper and as specific as possible.

For example, if your paper is about signs of learning disabilities in elementary-age children, your keyword list might include:

Learning disability symptoms

Elementary education

Language-based learning disabilities

Any other terms discussed in the paper

  • How to format an APA abstract

Use standard APA formatting with double spacing, 12pt Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins.

Place a running head at the top left-hand side of the page. This is an abbreviated version of the paper's title. Use all capital letters for the running header. This is not usually required for academic papers but is essential if you are submitting the paper for publication. The page number “2” should follow the running header (Page 1 is the title page).

Just under the running head, in the center, place the word "abstract."

Place your list of keywords at the end. The list should be indented and, according to APA guidelines, contain three to five keywords.

  • What are the 3 types of abstracts?

There are certain variations in different types of APA abstracts. Here are three of the most common ones.

Experimental or lab report abstracts

An abstract for an experimental or lab report needs to communicate the key purpose and findings of the experiment. Include the following:

Purpose and importance of the experiment

Hypothesis of the experiment

Methods used to test the hypothesis

Summary of the results of the experiment, including whether you proved or rejected the hypothesis

Literature review abstracts

A literature review is a survey of published work on a work of literature. It may be part of a thesis, dissertation, or research paper.

The abstract for a literature review should contain:

A description of your purpose for covering the research topic

Your thesis statement

A description of the sources used in the review

Your conclusions based on the findings

Psychology lab reports

Psychology lab reports are part of the experiment report category. Psychology experiments, however, may contain distinctive elements.

Describe the goal or purpose of the experiment

If the experiment includes human subjects, describe them. Mention the number of participants and what demographic they fit

Describe any tools, equipment, or apparatus you used for the experiment. For example, some experiments use electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain waves. You may have also used tools such as questionnaires, case studies, or naturalistic observation. Describe the procedure and parameters of the experiment.

Summarize your conclusions

  • What not to include in an APA abstract

As this section is 250 words maximum, it's important to know what should not be included.

Avoid the following in an APA abstract:

Jargon, acronyms, or abbreviations

Citations. These should appear in the body of the paper.

Lengthy or secondary information. Keep it brief and stick to the main points. Readers should want to read your paper for more detailed information.

Opinions or subjective comments

Anything not covered in the paper

  • Guidelines for writing an APA abstract

While an abstract is the shortest section of your paper, it is nevertheless one of the most important parts. It determines whether or not someone decides that the paper is worth reading or not. What follows are some guidelines to keep in mind when creating your APA abstract. 

Focus on your main point. Don't try to fit in multiple conclusions. The idea is to give readers a clear idea of what your main point or conclusion is. On a similar note, be explicit about the implications and significance of your findings. This is what will motivate people to read your paper.

Write the abstract last. Ensure the abstract accurately conveys the content and conclusions of your paper. You may want to start with a rough draft of the abstract, which you can use as an outline to guide you when writing your paper. If you do this, make sure you edit and update the abstract after the full paper is complete.

Proofread your abstract. As the abstract is short and the first part of the paper people will read, it's especially important to make it clear and free of spelling, grammatical, or factual errors. Ask someone in your field to read through it.

Write the abstract for a general audience. While the paper may be aimed at academics, scientists, or specialists in your field, the abstract should be accessible to a broad audience. Minimize jargon and acronyms. This will make the paper easier to find by people looking for information on the topic.

Choose your keywords with care. The more relevant keywords you include, the more searchable your paper will be. Look up papers on comparable topics for guidance.

Follow any specific guidelines that apply to your paper. Requirements for the abstract may differ slightly depending on the topic or guidelines set by a particular instructor or publication.

APA style is commonly used in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and education.

If you’re writing an abstract in APA style, there are certain conventions to follow. Your readers and people in your industry will expect you to adhere to particular elements of layout, content, and structure.

Follow our advice in this article, and you will be confident that your APA abstract complies with the expected standards and will encourage people to read your full paper.

Get started today

Go from raw data to valuable insights with a flexible research platform

Editor’s picks

Last updated: 21 September 2023

Last updated: 27 January 2024

Last updated: 20 January 2024

Last updated: 23 January 2024

Last updated: 5 February 2024

Last updated: 30 January 2024

Last updated: 17 January 2024

Last updated: 12 October 2023

Last updated: 31 January 2024

Last updated: 10 April 2023

Latest articles

Related topics.

  • Essential points to cover in an APA abstract

Log in or sign up

Get started with a free trial

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Therapy Center
  • When To See a Therapist
  • Types of Therapy
  • Best Online Therapy
  • Best Couples Therapy
  • Best Family Therapy
  • Managing Stress
  • Sleep and Dreaming
  • Understanding Emotions
  • Self-Improvement
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Student Resources
  • Personality Types
  • Verywell Mind Insights
  • 2023 Verywell Mind 25
  • Mental Health in the Classroom
  • Editorial Process
  • Meet Our Review Board
  • Crisis Support

How to Write an APA Abstract

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

abstract layout for research paper

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

abstract layout for research paper

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee 

  • Writing Your Abstract
  • How to Use Keywords

An APA abstract is a concise but comprehensive summary of a scientific paper. It is typically a paragraph long, or about 150 to 250 words. The goal of the abstract is to provide the reader with a brief and accurate idea of what a paper is about.

The APA abstract should appear on a separate page immediately after the title page and before the main content of your paper. While professional papers that appear in scientific journals and other publications require an APA abstract, they may not be required for student papers. However, you should always check with your instructor for specific requirements.

What Is APA Format?

APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association. It is used in writing for psychology and other social sciences. These style guidelines specify different aspects of a document's presentation and layout, including how pages are structured, how references are organized, and how sources are cited.

This article explains how to create an abstract in APA format for your psychology papers or other types of scientific writing. It covers the basic rules you should follow as well as specific guidelines for writing abstracts for experimental reports, literature reviews, and other articles.

What Is an Abstract in APA Format?

In addition to providing guidance for the general style and organization of a paper, APA format also stipulates using an abstract designed to briefly summarize the key details in a paper.

While it is sometimes overlooked or only an afterthought, an abstract is an integral part of any academic or professional paper. The abstract is a critical component of an APA-formatted paper. This brief overview summarizes what your paper contains. It should succinctly and accurately represent what your paper is about and what the reader can expect to find.

Following a few simple guidelines, you can create an abstract following the format. Done well, an abstract generates interest in your work and helps readers learn if the paper will interest them.

APA Format Abstract Basics

The abstract is the second page of a lab report or APA-format paper and should immediately follow the title page . Think of an abstract as a highly condensed summary of your entire paper.

The purpose of your abstract is to provide a brief yet thorough overview of your paper. It should function much like your title page—it should allow the person reading it to quickly determine what your paper is all about. Your abstract is the first thing that most people will read, and it is usually what informs their decision to read the rest of your paper.

The abstract is the single most important paragraph in your entire paper, according to the APA Publication Manual. A good abstract lets the reader know that your paper is worth reading.

According to the official guidelines of the American Psychological Association, an abstract should be brief but packed with information. Each sentence must be written with maximum impact in mind. To keep your abstract short, focus on including just four or five of the essential points, concepts, or findings.

An abstract must also be objective and accurate. The abstract's purpose is to report rather than provide commentary. It should accurately reflect what your paper is about. Only include information that is also included in the body of your paper.

Key Elements of an APA Abstract

Your abstract page should include:

  • A running head , which is a shortened version of your title that appears in all caps at the top left of each page of your paper
  • A section label , which should be the word "Abstract" centered and bolded at the top of the page
  • A page number , which should be the second page of your paper (the title page should be page 1)
  • A double-spaced paragraph of about 150 to 250 words
  • An indented list of keywords related to your paper's content. Include the label "Keywords:" in italics and list three to five keywords that are separated by commas

How to Write an Abstract in APA Format

Before you write your abstract, you first need to write your paper in its entirety. In order to write a good abstract, you need to have a finished draft of your paper so you can summarize it accurately.

While the abstract will be at the beginning of your paper, it should be the last section you write.

Once you have completed the final draft of your psychology paper , use it as a guide for writing your abstract.

  • Begin your abstract on a new page . Place your running head and page number 2 in the top right-hand corner. Center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page.
  • Know your target word count . An abstract should be between 150 and 250 words. Exact word counts vary from journal to journal . If you are writing your paper for a psychology course, your professor may have specific word requirements, so be sure to ask. The abstract should be written as only one paragraph with no indentation.
  • Structure the abstract in the same order as your paper . Begin with a brief summary of the introduction , and then continue on with a summary of the method , results , and discussion sections of your paper.
  • Look at other abstracts in professional journals for examples of how to summarize your paper . Notice the main points that the authors chose to mention in the abstract. Use these examples as a guide when choosing the main ideas in your own paper.
  • Write a rough draft of your abstract . Use the format required for your type of paper (see next sections). While you should aim for brevity, be careful not to make your summary too short. Try to write one to two sentences summarizing each section of your paper. Once you have a rough draft, you can edit for length and clarity.
  • Ask a friend to read over the abstract . Sometimes, having someone look at your abstract with fresh eyes can provide perspective and help you spot possible typos and other errors.

The abstract is vital to your paper, so it should not be overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Spend time writing this section carefully to ensure maximum readability and clarity.

It is important to remember that while the abstract is the last thing you write, it is often the most read part of your paper.

Experimental Report Abstracts

The format of your abstract also depends on the type of paper you are writing. For example, an abstract summarizing an experimental paper will differ from that of a meta-analysis or case study . For an experimental report, your abstract should:

  • Identify the problem . In many cases, you should begin by stating the question you sought to investigate and your hypothesis .
  • Describe the participants in the study . State how many participants took part and how they were selected. For example: "In this study, 215 undergraduate student participants were randomly assigned to [the experimental condition] or [the control condition]."
  • Describe the study method . For example, identify whether you used a within-subjects, between-subjects, or mixed design.
  • Give the basic findings . This is essentially a brief preview of the results of your paper. 
  • Provide any conclusions or implications of the study . What might your results indicate, and what directions does it point to for future research?

Literature Review Abstracts

If your paper is a meta-analysis or literature review, your abstract should:

  • Describe the problem of interest . In other words, what is it that you set out to investigate in your analysis or review?
  • Explain the criteria used to select the studies included in the paper . There may be many different studies devoted to your topic. Your analysis or review probably only looks at a portion of these studies. For what reason did you select these specific studies to include in your research?
  • Identify the participants in the studies . Inform the reader about who the participants were in the studies. Were they college students? Older adults? How were they selected and assigned?
  • Provide the main results . Again, this is essentially a quick peek at what readers will find when they read your results section. Don't try to include everything. Just provide a very brief summary of your main findings. 
  • Describe any conclusions or implications . What might these results mean and what do they reveal about the body of research that exists on this particular topic?

Lab Reports and Articles

Psychology papers such as lab reports and APA format articles also often require an abstract. In these cases as well, the abstract should include all of the major elements of your paper, including an introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, and discussion.

Remember, although the abstract should be placed at the beginning of your paper (right after the title page), you will write the abstract last after you have completed a final draft of your paper.

To ensure that all of your APA formatting is correct, consider consulting a copy of the  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .

Keywords in an APA Abstract

After the paragraph containing the main elements of your abstract, you can also include keywords related to your paper. Such keywords are used when indexing your paper in databases and can help researchers and students locate your paper when searching for information about those topics.

Because keywords help people find your paper, it is essential to choose the right ones. The APA suggests including between three and five keywords.

You can identify keywords by thinking about what your paper is about. For example, if your paper focuses on how social media use is related to depression in teenagers, you might include the keywords: social media, mood, depression, adolescents, social networking sites 

A Word From Verywell

The abstract may be very brief, but it is so important that the official APA style manual identifies it as the most important paragraph in your entire paper. Careful attention to detail can ensure that your abstract does a good job representing the contents of your paper. If possible, take your paper to your school's writing lab for assistance.

Nagda S. How to write a scientific abstract. J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 2013;13(3):382–383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x

Kumar A. Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence .  J Indian Soc Periodontol . 2022;26(1):1-2. doi:10.4103/jisp.jisp_634_21

American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Reporting Standards for Studies With an Experimental Manipulation .

American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Quantitative Meta-Analysis Article Reporting Standards .

Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key .  Saudi J Anaesth . 2019;13(Suppl 1):S12-S17. doi:10.4103/sja.SJA_685_18

American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

How to Write an Abstract APA Format

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

An APA abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article, research paper, dissertation, or report.

It is written in accordance with the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a widely used format in social and behavioral sciences. 

An APA abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of between 150–250 words, the major aspects of a research paper or dissertation in a prescribed sequence that includes:
  • The rationale: the overall purpose of the study, providing a clear context for the research undertaken.
  • Information regarding the method and participants: including materials/instruments, design, procedure, and data analysis.
  • Main findings or trends: effectively highlighting the key outcomes of the hypotheses.
  • Interpretations and conclusion(s): solidify the implications of the research.
  • Keywords related to the study: assist the paper’s discoverability in academic databases.

The abstract should stand alone, be “self-contained,” and make sense to the reader in isolation from the main article.

The purpose of the abstract is to give the reader a quick overview of the essential information before reading the entire article. The abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper.

Although the abstract will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s good practice to write your abstract after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

Note : This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), released in October 2019.

Structure of the Abstract

[NOTE: DO NOT separate the components of the abstract – it should be written as a single paragraph. This section is separated to illustrate the abstract’s structure.]

1) The Rationale

One or two sentences describing the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated. You are basically justifying why this study was conducted.

  • What is the importance of the research?
  • Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
  • For example, are you filling a gap in previous research or applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data?
  • Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer can experience an array of psychosocial difficulties; however, social support, particularly from a spouse, has been shown to have a protective function during this time. This study examined the ways in which a woman’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue, and her spouse’s marital satisfaction predict the woman’s report of partner support in the context of breast cancer.
  • The current nursing shortage, high hospital nurse job dissatisfaction, and reports of uneven quality of hospital care are not uniquely American phenomena.
  • Students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are more likely to exhibit behavioral difficulties than their typically developing peers. The aim of this study was to identify specific risk factors that influence variability in behavior difficulties among individuals with SEND.

2) The Method

Information regarding the participants (number, and population). One or two sentences outlining the method, explaining what was done and how. The method is described in the present tense.

  • Pretest data from a larger intervention study and multilevel modeling were used to examine the effects of women’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue and average levels of mood, pain, and fatigue on women’s report of social support received from her partner, as well as how the effects of mood interacted with partners’ marital satisfaction.
  • This paper presents reports from 43,000 nurses from more than 700 hospitals in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Germany in 1998–1999.
  • The study sample comprised 4,228 students with SEND, aged 5–15, drawn from 305 primary and secondary schools across England. Explanatory variables were measured at the individual and school levels at baseline, along with a teacher-reported measure of behavior difficulties (assessed at baseline and the 18-month follow-up).

3) The Results

One or two sentences indicating the main findings or trends found as a result of your analysis. The results are described in the present or past tense.

  • Results show that on days in which women reported higher levels of negative or positive mood, as well as on days they reported more pain and fatigue, they reported receiving more support. Women who, on average, reported higher levels of positive mood tended to report receiving more support than those who, on average, reported lower positive mood. However, average levels of negative mood were not associated with support. Higher average levels of fatigue but not pain were associated with higher support. Finally, women whose husbands reported higher levels of marital satisfaction reported receiving more partner support, but husbands’ marital satisfaction did not moderate the effect of women’s mood on support.
  • Nurses in countries with distinctly different healthcare systems report similar shortcomings in their work environments and the quality of hospital care. While the competence of and relation between nurses and physicians appear satisfactory, core problems in work design and workforce management threaten the provision of care.
  • Hierarchical linear modeling of data revealed that differences between schools accounted for between 13% (secondary) and 15.4% (primary) of the total variance in the development of students’ behavior difficulties, with the remainder attributable to individual differences. Statistically significant risk markers for these problems across both phases of education were being male, eligibility for free school meals, being identified as a bully, and lower academic achievement. Additional risk markers specific to each phase of education at the individual and school levels are also acknowledged.

4) The Conclusion / Implications

A brief summary of your conclusions and implications of the results, described in the present tense. Explain the results and why the study is important to the reader.

  • For example, what changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work?
  • How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?

Implications of these findings are discussed relative to assisting couples during this difficult time in their lives.

  • Resolving these issues, which are amenable to managerial intervention, is essential to preserving patient safety and care of consistently high quality.
  • Behavior difficulties are affected by risks across multiple ecological levels. Addressing any one of these potential influences is therefore likely to contribute to the reduction in the problems displayed.

The above examples of abstracts are from the following papers:

Aiken, L. H., Clarke, S. P., Sloane, D. M., Sochalski, J. A., Busse, R., Clarke, H., … & Shamian, J. (2001). Nurses’ reports on hospital care in five countries . Health affairs, 20(3) , 43-53.

Boeding, S. E., Pukay-Martin, N. D., Baucom, D. H., Porter, L. S., Kirby, J. S., Gremore, T. M., & Keefe, F. J. (2014). Couples and breast cancer: Women’s mood and partners’ marital satisfaction predicting support perception . Journal of Family Psychology, 28(5) , 675.

Oldfield, J., Humphrey, N., & Hebron, J. (2017). Risk factors in the development of behavior difficulties among students with special educational needs and disabilities: A multilevel analysis . British journal of educational psychology, 87(2) , 146-169.

5) Keywords

APA style suggests including a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. This is particularly common in academic articles and helps other researchers find your work in databases.

Keywords in an abstract should be selected to help other researchers find your work when searching an online database. These keywords should effectively represent the main topics of your study. Here are some tips for choosing keywords:

Core Concepts: Identify the most important ideas or concepts in your paper. These often include your main research topic, the methods you’ve used, or the theories you’re discussing.

Specificity: Your keywords should be specific to your research. For example, suppose your paper is about the effects of climate change on bird migration patterns in a specific region. In that case, your keywords might include “climate change,” “bird migration,” and the region’s name.

Consistency with Paper: Make sure your keywords are consistent with the terms you’ve used in your paper. For example, if you use the term “adolescent” rather than “teen” in your paper, choose “adolescent” as your keyword, not “teen.”

Jargon and Acronyms: Avoid using too much-specialized jargon or acronyms in your keywords, as these might not be understood or used by all researchers in your field.

Synonyms: Consider including synonyms of your keywords to capture as many relevant searches as possible. For example, if your paper discusses “post-traumatic stress disorder,” you might include “PTSD” as a keyword.

Remember, keywords are a tool for others to find your work, so think about what terms other researchers might use when searching for papers on your topic.

The Abstract SHOULD NOT contain:

Lengthy background or contextual information: The abstract should focus on your research and findings, not general topic background.

Undefined jargon, abbreviations,  or acronyms: The abstract should be accessible to a wide audience, so avoid highly specialized terms without defining them.

Citations: Abstracts typically do not include citations, as they summarize original research.

Incomplete sentences or bulleted lists: The abstract should be a single, coherent paragraph written in complete sentences.

New information not covered in the paper: The abstract should only summarize the paper’s content.

Subjective comments or value judgments: Stick to objective descriptions of your research.

Excessive details on methods or procedures: Keep descriptions of methods brief and focused on main steps.

Speculative or inconclusive statements: The abstract should state the research’s clear findings, not hypotheses or possible interpretations.

  • Any illustration, figure, table, or references to them . All visual aids, data, or extensive details should be included in the main body of your paper, not in the abstract. 
  • Elliptical or incomplete sentences should be avoided in an abstract . The use of ellipses (…), which could indicate incomplete thoughts or omitted text, is not appropriate in an abstract.

APA Style for Abstracts

An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:

Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page (professional papers only) and page number. Note, student papers do not require a running head. On the first line, center the heading “Abstract” and bold (do not underlined or italicize). Do not indent the single abstract paragraph (which begins one line below the section title). Double-space the text. Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt. Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins. If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting.

Example APA Abstract Page

Download this example as a PDF

APA Style Abstract Example

Further Information

  • APA 7th Edition Abstract and Keywords Guide
  • Example APA Abstract
  • How to Write a Good Abstract for a Scientific Paper or Conference Presentation
  • How to Write a Lab Report
  • Writing an APA paper

How long should an APA abstract be?

An APA abstract should typically be between 150 to 250 words long. However, the exact length may vary depending on specific publication or assignment guidelines. It is crucial that it succinctly summarizes the essential elements of the work, including purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions.

Where does the abstract go in an APA paper?

In an APA formatted paper, the abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper. It’s typically the second page of the document. It starts with the word “Abstract” (centered and not in bold) at the top of the page, followed by the text of the abstract itself.

What are the 4 C’s of abstract writing?

The 4 C’s of abstract writing are an approach to help you create a well-structured and informative abstract. They are:

Conciseness: An abstract should briefly summarize the key points of your study. Stick to the word limit (typically between 150-250 words for an APA abstract) and avoid unnecessary details.

Clarity: Your abstract should be easy to understand. Avoid jargon and complex sentences. Clearly explain the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of your study.

Completeness: Even though it’s brief, the abstract should provide a complete overview of your study, including the purpose, methods, key findings, and your interpretation of the results.

Cohesion: The abstract should flow logically from one point to the next, maintaining a coherent narrative about your study. It’s not just a list of disjointed elements; it’s a brief story of your research from start to finish.

What is the abstract of a psychology paper?

An abstract in a psychology paper serves as a snapshot of the paper, allowing readers to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, results, and implications of the research without reading the entire paper. It is generally between 150-250 words long.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 3. The Abstract
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.

Writing an Abstract. The Writing Center. Clarion University, 2009; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Importance of a Good Abstract

Sometimes your professor will ask you to include an abstract, or general summary of your work, with your research paper. The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information [e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.] must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.

How do you know when you have enough information in your abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing a similar study. Then ask yourself: if your abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the amount of information presented there? Does it tell the whole story about your study? If the answer is "no" then the abstract likely needs to be revised.

How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Undergraduate Research. University of Kentucky; Staiger, David L. “What Today’s Students Need to Know about Writing Abstracts.” International Journal of Business Communication January 3 (1966): 29-33; Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types of Abstracts

To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.

Critical Abstract A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.

Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less. Informative Abstract The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.

Highlight Abstract A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.

II.  Writing Style

Use the active voice when possible , but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.

Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.

Composing Your Abstract

Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].

Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words. The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:

  • A catchy introductory phrase, provocative quote, or other device to grab the reader's attention,
  • Lengthy background or contextual information,
  • Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
  • Acronyms or abbreviations,
  • References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
  • Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
  • Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
  • Citations to other works, and
  • Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.

Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century . Oxford, UK: 2010; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Writing Tip

Never Cite Just the Abstract!

Citing to just a journal article's abstract does not confirm for the reader that you have conducted a thorough or reliable review of the literature. If the full-text is not available, go to the USC Libraries main page and enter the title of the article [NOT the title of the journal]. If the Libraries have a subscription to the journal, the article should appear with a link to the full-text or to the journal publisher page where you can get the article. If the article does not appear, try searching Google Scholar using the link on the USC Libraries main page. If you still can't find the article after doing this, contact a librarian or you can request it from our free i nterlibrary loan and document delivery service .

  • << Previous: Research Process Video Series
  • Next: Executive Summary >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 8, 2024 1:57 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide

How to Write an Abstract

An abstract of a work, usually of an essay, is a concise summary of its main points. It is meant to concentrate the argument of a work, presenting it as clearly as possible.

The abstract often appears after the title and before the main body of an essay. If you are writing an abstract as part of an assignment, you should check with your instructor about where to place it.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when composing an abstract:

  • In general, avoid too much copying and pasting directly from your essay, especially from the first paragraph. An abstract is often presented directly before an essay, and it will often be the first thing readers consult after your title. You wouldn’t repeat your ideas verbatim in the body of your essay, so why would you do that in an abstract? Consider the abstract part of the work itself. 
  • Start off strong. An abstract should be a mini essay, so it should begin with a clear statement of your argument. This should be the first sentence or two.
  • Abstracts vary in length. But a good rule is to aim for five to seven sentences. The bulk of the abstract will review the evidence for your claim and summarize your findings.
  • Avoid complicated syntax. Long sentences and intricate phrasing have their place in essays, but the abstract should be concise. It is not the place for ambitious grammar.
  • The last sentence or two should point to any conclusions reached and the direction future research might take. Like the first sentence, the last should be provocative and direct. Leave your readers wanting to read your essay.

In what follows, the authors have written an effective abstract that adheres to the basic principles above:

Literary critics have long imagined that T. S. Eliot’s The Sacred Wood (1920) shaped the canon and methods of countless twentieth-century classrooms. This essay turns instead to the classroom that made The Sacred Wood : the Modern English Literature extension school tutorial that Eliot taught to working-class adults between 1916 and 1919. Contextualizing Eliot’s tutorial within the extension school movement shows how the ethos and practices of the Workers’ Educational Association shaped his teaching. Over the course of three years, Eliot and his students reimagined canonical literature as writing by working poets for working people—a model of literary history that fully informed his canon reformation in The Sacred Wood . This example demonstrates how attention to teaching changes the history of English literary study. It further reveals how all kinds of institutions, not just elite universities, have shaped the discipline’s methods and canons. (Buurma and Heffernan)

This abstract uses the first two sentences to establish the essay’s place in its field of study and to suggest how it intervenes in existing scholarship. The syntax is direct and simple. The third sentence begins to outline how the authors will support their argument. They aim to demonstrate the relevance of Eliot’s teaching to his ideas about literature, and so they move next to discuss some of the details of that teaching. Finally, the abstract concludes by telling us about the consequences of this argument. The conclusion both points to new directions for research and tells us why we should read the essay. 

Buurma, Rachel Sagner, and Laura Heffernan. Abstract of “The Classroom in the Canon: T. S. Eliot’s Modern English Literature Extension Course for Working People and  The Sacred Wood. ”  PMLA , vol. 133, no. 2, Mar. 2018, p. 463.

Estate Best 18 July 2021 AT 05:07 AM

Please how will I write an abstract for my own poem collections?

Your e-mail address will not be published

Marc Simoes 01 April 2022 AT 04:04 PM

I am teaching students how to format and write an abstract, but I find no precise guidelines in the MLA Handbook. Should the first word of the abstract body text begin with the word "Abstract" followed by a period or colon and then the abstract content? Should the word "Abstract" be underlined? Over the years, I was taught both of these ways by different instructors, but I haven't found any definitive instructions, and now my students are asking me the correct format. Please help! Thank you!

Joseph Wallace 12 April 2022 AT 01:04 PM

Although publishers like the MLA will use their own house style guidelines for abstracts in published material, there is no one correct way for students to format their abstracts. Instructors should decide what works best for their classes and assignments.

Lorraine Belo 17 April 2022 AT 10:04 PM

Can you write a brief abstract about your MLA writing

Subrata Biswas 13 July 2023 AT 10:07 AM

Generally, the abstract is written in Italics. Is there any rule as such?

Joseph Wallace 31 July 2023 AT 10:07 AM

Thanks for your question. There is no rule saying that abstracts need to be written in italics. Some publications use italics for abstracts and some do not.

Dhan 07 January 2024 AT 12:01 PM

Should I write key words at the end of the abstract of Phd dissertation?

Join the Conversation

We invite you to comment on this post and exchange ideas with other site visitors. Comments are moderated and subject to terms of service.

If you have a question for the MLA's editors, submit it to Ask the MLA!

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.

Why write an abstract?

You may write an abstract for various reasons. The two most important are selection and indexing. Abstracts allow readers who may be interested in a longer work to quickly decide whether it is worth their time to read it. Also, many online databases use abstracts to index larger works. Therefore, abstracts should contain keywords and phrases that allow for easy searching.

Say you are beginning a research project on how Brazilian newspapers helped Brazil’s ultra-liberal president Luiz Ignácio da Silva wrest power from the traditional, conservative power base. A good first place to start your research is to search Dissertation Abstracts International for all dissertations that deal with the interaction between newspapers and politics. “Newspapers and politics” returned 569 hits. A more selective search of “newspapers and Brazil” returned 22 hits. That is still a fair number of dissertations. Titles can sometimes help winnow the field, but many titles are not very descriptive. For example, one dissertation is titled “Rhetoric and Riot in Rio de Janeiro.” It is unclear from the title what this dissertation has to do with newspapers in Brazil. One option would be to download or order the entire dissertation on the chance that it might speak specifically to the topic. A better option is to read the abstract. In this case, the abstract reveals the main focus of the dissertation:

This dissertation examines the role of newspaper editors in the political turmoil and strife that characterized late First Empire Rio de Janeiro (1827-1831). Newspaper editors and their journals helped change the political culture of late First Empire Rio de Janeiro by involving the people in the discussion of state. This change in political culture is apparent in Emperor Pedro I’s gradual loss of control over the mechanisms of power. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. To explore the role of the newspapers in the political events of the late First Empire, this dissertation analyzes all available newspapers published in Rio de Janeiro from 1827 to 1831. Newspapers and their editors were leading forces in the effort to remove power from the hands of the ruling elite and place it under the control of the people. In the process, newspapers helped change how politics operated in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil.

From this abstract you now know that although the dissertation has nothing to do with modern Brazilian politics, it does cover the role of newspapers in changing traditional mechanisms of power. After reading the abstract, you can make an informed judgment about whether the dissertation would be worthwhile to read.

Besides selection, the other main purpose of the abstract is for indexing. Most article databases in the online catalog of the library enable you to search abstracts. This allows for quick retrieval by users and limits the extraneous items recalled by a “full-text” search. However, for an abstract to be useful in an online retrieval system, it must incorporate the key terms that a potential researcher would use to search. For example, if you search Dissertation Abstracts International using the keywords “France” “revolution” and “politics,” the search engine would search through all the abstracts in the database that included those three words. Without an abstract, the search engine would be forced to search titles, which, as we have seen, may not be fruitful, or else search the full text. It’s likely that a lot more than 60 dissertations have been written with those three words somewhere in the body of the entire work. By incorporating keywords into the abstract, the author emphasizes the central topics of the work and gives prospective readers enough information to make an informed judgment about the applicability of the work.

When do people write abstracts?

  • when submitting articles to journals, especially online journals
  • when applying for research grants
  • when writing a book proposal
  • when completing the Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
  • when writing a proposal for a conference paper
  • when writing a proposal for a book chapter

Most often, the author of the entire work (or prospective work) writes the abstract. However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Undergraduates are sometimes asked to draft abstracts of books/articles for classmates who have not read the larger work.

Types of abstracts

There are two types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. They have different aims, so as a consequence they have different components and styles. There is also a third type called critical, but it is rarely used. If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review . If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor (if the abstract is for a class) or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.

Descriptive abstracts

A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short—100 words or less.

Informative abstracts

The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the writer presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the complete article/paper/book. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract (purpose, methods, scope) but also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is rarely more than 10% of the length of the entire work. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less.

Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts . Descriptive abstract:

The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided.

Informative abstract:

Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results. This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one.

Which type should I use?

Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.e., 100-120 words = descriptive; 250+ words = informative.

How do I write an abstract?

The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind:

  • Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
  • Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
  • Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
  • Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
  • Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?

(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.” )

All abstracts include:

  • A full citation of the source, preceding the abstract.
  • The most important information first.
  • The same type and style of language found in the original, including technical language.
  • Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
  • Clear, concise, and powerful language.

Abstracts may include:

  • The thesis of the work, usually in the first sentence.
  • Background information that places the work in the larger body of literature.
  • The same chronological structure as the original work.

How not to write an abstract:

  • Do not refer extensively to other works.
  • Do not add information not contained in the original work.
  • Do not define terms.

If you are abstracting your own writing

When abstracting your own work, it may be difficult to condense a piece of writing that you have agonized over for weeks (or months, or even years) into a 250-word statement. There are some tricks that you could use to make it easier, however.

Reverse outlining:

This technique is commonly used when you are having trouble organizing your own writing. The process involves writing down the main idea of each paragraph on a separate piece of paper– see our short video . For the purposes of writing an abstract, try grouping the main ideas of each section of the paper into a single sentence. Practice grouping ideas using webbing or color coding .

For a scientific paper, you may have sections titled Purpose, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each one of these sections will be longer than one paragraph, but each is grouped around a central idea. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement.

Cut and paste:

To create a first draft of an abstract of your own work, you can read through the entire paper and cut and paste sentences that capture key passages. This technique is useful for social science research with findings that cannot be encapsulated by neat numbers or concrete results. A well-written humanities draft will have a clear and direct thesis statement and informative topic sentences for paragraphs or sections. Isolate these sentences in a separate document and work on revising them into a unified paragraph.

If you are abstracting someone else’s writing

When abstracting something you have not written, you cannot summarize key ideas just by cutting and pasting. Instead, you must determine what a prospective reader would want to know about the work. There are a few techniques that will help you in this process:

Identify key terms:

Search through the entire document for key terms that identify the purpose, scope, and methods of the work. Pay close attention to the Introduction (or Purpose) and the Conclusion (or Discussion). These sections should contain all the main ideas and key terms in the paper. When writing the abstract, be sure to incorporate the key terms.

Highlight key phrases and sentences:

Instead of cutting and pasting the actual words, try highlighting sentences or phrases that appear to be central to the work. Then, in a separate document, rewrite the sentences and phrases in your own words.

Don’t look back:

After reading the entire work, put it aside and write a paragraph about the work without referring to it. In the first draft, you may not remember all the key terms or the results, but you will remember what the main point of the work was. Remember not to include any information you did not get from the work being abstracted.

Revise, revise, revise

No matter what type of abstract you are writing, or whether you are abstracting your own work or someone else’s, the most important step in writing an abstract is to revise early and often. When revising, delete all extraneous words and incorporate meaningful and powerful words. The idea is to be as clear and complete as possible in the shortest possible amount of space. The Word Count feature of Microsoft Word can help you keep track of how long your abstract is and help you hit your target length.

Example 1: Humanities abstract

Kenneth Tait Andrews, “‘Freedom is a constant struggle’: The dynamics and consequences of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1984” Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997 DAI-A 59/02, p. 620, Aug 1998

This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so. The time period studied includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies. Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports. This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Now let’s break down this abstract into its component parts to see how the author has distilled his entire dissertation into a ~200 word abstract.

What the dissertation does This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so.

How the dissertation does it The time period studied in this dissertation includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies.

What materials are used Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports.

Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to movement demands and the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Keywords social movements Civil Rights Movement Mississippi voting rights desegregation

Example 2: Science Abstract

Luis Lehner, “Gravitational radiation from black hole spacetimes” Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1998 DAI-B 59/06, p. 2797, Dec 1998

The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search for and analysis of detected signals. The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm. This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

This science abstract covers much of the same ground as the humanities one, but it asks slightly different questions.

Why do this study The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search and analysis of the detected signals.

What the study does The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm.

Results This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

Keywords gravitational radiation (GR) spacetimes black holes

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.

Koopman, Philip. 1997. “How to Write an Abstract.” Carnegie Mellon University. October 1997. http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html .

Lancaster, F.W. 2003. Indexing And Abstracting in Theory and Practice , 3rd ed. London: Facet Publishing.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Make a Gift

Generate accurate APA citations for free

  • Knowledge Base
  • APA Style 6th edition
  • How to write and format an APA abstract (6th edition)

How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition)

Published on November 6, 2020 by Courtney Gahan .

An APA abstract is a summary of your paper in 150–250 words. It describes the research problem , methods , results and conclusions of your research. For published papers, it also includes a list of keywords.

Write the abstract after you have finished your paper, and place it on a separate page after the title page .

The formatting of the abstract page is the same as the rest of an APA style paper : double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font, one-inch margins, and a running head at the top of the page.

Table of contents

Apa format abstract example, how to write an apa abstract, apa abstract keywords.

SCRIBBR APA ABSTRACT EXAMPLE RUNNING HEAD 1

What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations.

Keywords : example keyword, example keyword, example keyword

An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:

  • Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page
  • On the first line, write the heading “Abstract” (centered and without any formatting)
  • Do not indent any part of the text
  • Double space the text
  • Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt
  • Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins
  • If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting

Scribbr Citation Checker New

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

abstract layout for research paper

Simply answer the following questions and put them together, then voila! You have an abstract for your paper.

  • What is the problem? Outline the objective , research questions and/or  hypotheses .
  • What has been done? Explain your research methods .
  • What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions .
  • What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations .

If you need more guidance writing your abstract, read our detailed instructions on what to include and see an abstract example.

How to write an abstract

At the end of the abstract, you can also include a short list of keywords that will be used for indexing if your paper is published on a database. Listing your keywords will help other researchers find your work.

Make sure that your keywords:

  • Accurately represent the content
  • Are specific to your field

APA abstract keywords example

Here is an example of an APA format paper published as a chapter in a book, where the author has included a set of keywords. The author has chosen the terms listed in the title as keywords as well as several other related keywords that feature in their research.

Book chapter title: Nonparalytic Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome

From: Post-Polio Syndrome: A Guide for Polio Survivors and Their Families (pp. 21-26), Julie K. Silver, Yale University Press (2001)

Keywords: Polio, Paralysis, Symptoms, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome, Medical diagnosis, Legs, Physicians, Strokes, Misdiagnosis

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. (2020, November 06). How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition). Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/6th-edition/archived-abstract/

Is this article helpful?

Courtney Gahan

Courtney Gahan

Scribbr apa citation checker.

An innovative new tool that checks your APA citations with AI software. Say goodbye to inaccurate citations!

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Dissertation
  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on 1 March 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the UK during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

abstract layout for research paper

Correct my document today

You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic, but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialised terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyse,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

Next, summarise the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalisability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarise the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarises the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 150–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis or paper.

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2022, October 10). How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/abstract/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to write a thesis or dissertation introduction, thesis & dissertation acknowledgements | tips & examples, dissertation title page.

abstract layout for research paper

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

abstract layout for research paper

What is an Abstract for a Research Paper?

An abstract is a brief summary of a research paper. Usually, an abstract is about 6-7 sentences long (approx. 150-250 words). There are many purposes that an abstract may serve. First and foremost, it gives readers a glimpse of your paper. This gives your readers an opportunity to make a decision whether or not your study is worth their full attention. Another purpose of an abstract is to prepare your audience for the details from your research, your arguments and your supporting evidence. And lastly, an abstract introduces the key points of your paper so that readers can keep them in mind while reading your research.

Very often, abstracts are found as descriptions for books and scholarly articles. They include the main ideas of a book or an article and give a general understanding of its contents and purpose. Sometimes, professors provide students with very specific guidelines for how to write an abstract. Make sure you follow these instructions, if they are available, in order to satisfy all the requirements. Let's go deeper with custom research papers writing service .

Research Paper Abstract Examples

In the Southwest shrub variety of Juniperus communis (Juniper Berry) has an essential medicinal origin in the Native American culture that has not been found scientifically. One of the favorite uses of Juniper berries aside from its detoxifying effect is its potential to repel insects (purpose and reasons).
The amount of salmon farmed across the US and Canada has led to many different involved companies and strategies either governmental or commercially owned. In the Yukon River, there are both forms of harvesting the fish. The local residence or the Yukip have been traditionally catching the fish for centuries. Declining populations have instigated scientific research into the causes and possible preventions for future conservation (purpose and reasons).

Struggle With Your Paper?

If you still have any questions about an abstract, its types, and purpose or structure, our team of knowledgeable and professional writers will be more than happy to assist you. Whatever writing problem you might stumble upon, EssayPro's team is here to help you. Just leave us your ' help me write my essay ' request.

Be sure to read some examples of research paper topics - you will find a lot of useful information in our article.

Information about the MLA format research paper will also be very useful for you, we recommend that you read our article about it.

Struggling with Your Research Paper Abstract?

Crafting the perfect abstract for your research paper can be challenging. Let our experts help you summarize your work with precision and clarity!

Types of Abstract

There are two main types of abstracts that are commonly used – they are descriptive and informative: A descriptive abstract presents readers with an outline of the points the author made throughout their research. This gives readers an opportunity to decide if they should read on, depending on how much they are interested in the subject. A descriptive abstract is similar to the table of contents in a book, although the format of an abstract uses full sentences combined within a paragraph. Unfortunately, a descriptive abstract cannot be a substitution for reading a paper, as it is merely an overview, which deprives the audience of having a full picture. Nor can it fill in the gaps that a reader might have after reading this type of abstract, as it lacks the important details needed for an evaluation of the paper. To conclude, a descriptive abstract:

  • just summarizes the job, but some researchers consider it to be more of an outline;
  • typically, is around 100 words—very short in comparison to an informative abstract;
  • gives a very brief description and is unable to fully satisfy the reader;
  • and omits results and conclusions.

An informative abstract is a detailed summary of the research itself. There are instances when readers rely on the abstract itself as a source of information. Therefore, it is extremely important to include all the specifics from a certain study. A well-presented, informative abstract can almost substitute the rest of the paper by itself.

An informative abstract usually follows a certain format. First, the author includes identifying information, supported by citations and other identifications of the documents. Next, all the main points are restated to ensure a better understanding of the research. This section is followed by the methodology and all the key findings of the study. Lastly, a conclusion presents the final findings of the research and concludes the informative abstract. Briefly, an informative abstract:

  • has a length that can vary, depending on the topic—but cannot be longer than 300 words;
  • has all the information—like methods and intentions;
  • provides evidence and potentially recommendations.

Informative abstracts are more common than descriptive ones. It is a result of their larger content that relates to the subject specifically. It is also suggested to use different types of abstracts for papers depending on their size: informative abstracts for longer and more complicated ones, and descriptive abstracts for shorter and simpler research papers.

Get professional essay editing help from our professional service. To hire custom essay writer , send us your requests and we'll help you as soon as possible!

The Structure of the Abstract: Step-By-Step Instructions

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

Purpose and Motivation

Identifying purpose and motivation is one of the most difficult, yet important parts of your abstract. Let’s assume that your paper is about the importance of recycling plastic. Your primary job is to explain to readers why they should care about the contamination of plastics on land and in the ocean. You need to provide some solid arguments to keep your reader interested in continuing to read. It is crucial to answer these questions:

  • what is the goal of your study;
  • what is it you are attempting to achieve;
  • and why does your topic matter to you and to the rest of the world?

In order to make it sound more personal and motivational, make sure to include information about your individual interests in the subject of your paper, as well as how it relates to your life and humanity in general. In short, the first section should include the information on the importance of your research and how it might be useful for your readers.

The Problem of a Research

It usually focuses on the importance and significance of the subject of a paper. Going back to our topic regarding the importance of plastic recycling, the importance of the paper is to reduce plastic waste contamination by recycling your own plastic waste. Here, you need to answer the question – what problem does your study help to resolve on a global scale? Is it preventing global warming by reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in oceanic waters? Is it assessing global warming issues? Is it a solution for sea-life conservation? The possibilities are endless, so make sure to take the right direction to appeal to any audience, regardless of their background and interests. In this section, it is important to address the problem itself, indicate whether it covers something broad or specific, and present your argument.

Researching Approach

After you have explained the reasons behind your topic’s importance, your personal interest in the issue, and the problem discussed in your paper to your readers, it is time to showcase the methods you used to conduct all that great research. The description of the processes and methods you have used are as important as the research itself. It shows the readers the extent of your research and the professional approach you took regarding your subject. Describe where you looked for the information, what kind of sources they were, what type of research you did yourself. Did you do an experiment, a survey, an interview, a field study where you explored your local beach for traces of plastic pollution? A detailed description of the approach to your research is a great tool for showing your reader how academically capable you are of conducting serious scientific research. Your section that examines the approach you took for your research should include the details of your research, such as the specific studies and highlights from the most significant works you used.

Research Results

Finally, you get to present readers the results of your research. It is very important to be specific with your results. Using statistical evidence is much more impressive, as opposed to being vague and using abstract words. Instead of saying “a big portion of the ocean is polluted”, you can say something like “80% of the oceans are polluted with plastic”. This helps readers visualize the specific proportion of ocean which is contaminated and adds to the effect it makes on the audience. Some questions that should be answered in this section are: what are the results of your study in numbers and terms (be specific), did your results support your argument, and were the outcomes predicted or did they surprise you?

In the conclusion part of your abstract, you should focus on the argument you started off with and connect it to the results you received. It is crucial to give the reader a complete picture of what insights you've discovered in regards to the subject, but also whether you have found the solution for the problem you addressed. Explain, whether your research is sufficient to convince people to be more responsible in regards to their plastic consumption? Will it alter their behavior and their everyday habits? Your conclusion should tie it all together and not leave any uncertainties. After you’ve got all the structural details down, let’s move on to some helpful tips.

To refine your skills in crafting compelling conclusions, explore our detailed guide on how to write a conclusion for a research paper , where we provide expert advice and examples to help you effectively summarize and conclude your research findings.

Final Tips and Recommendations

Research always comes first. It might seem that the abstract should be the first thing you write, as it is the summary of your whole paper, though, there are many advantages to choosing this sequence of actions when starting to work on your paper:

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

  • First, you can read through the entire article and have all the information fresh in your mind. Then you will be well able to condense the information into the abstract without forgetting important points.
  • Second, you can design the abstract to fit around your results — to demonstrate that you have achieved what you hoped to.

Always use past tense in your paper. As you have already conducted the research, you should refer to it in the past tense. Make sure to use clear and concise sentences. Avoid using jargon. A research paper is a piece of academic writing that should not be subject to any slang. Try not to confuse the reader. If there is anything the reader might not understand, explain it. For example, any abbreviations need to be defined at least once. Leave out lengthy background information ; you need to find the right balance of explaining enough without going into too much detail. Make sure you get straight to the point. Let someone else have a look; don’t be scared of someone else critiquing your work—your paper could get a lot of attention, so be ready! Let a fellow professional in a similar field, yet not related to your study, have a read. Let them summarize the research back to you to see if you have communicated it well enough throughout the paper.

If you need a psychology or political science essay , do not hesitate to contact us, our team of professionals is always ready to help you.

Make Your Research Stand Out with a Stellar Abstract

Enhance your research's first impression with our professional assistance; consider the option to buy a research paper online , ensuring your abstract and the entire paper are crafted to perfection by skilled writers.

Related Articles

How to Write a Concept Paper: Easy Guide for Students

Logo for M Libraries Publishing

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings
  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • Indian J Psychiatry
  • v.53(2); Apr-Jun 2011

How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation

Chittaranjan andrade.

Department of Psychopharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Abstracts of scientific papers are sometimes poorly written, often lack important information, and occasionally convey a biased picture. This paper provides detailed suggestions, with examples, for writing the background, methods, results, and conclusions sections of a good abstract. The primary target of this paper is the young researcher; however, authors with all levels of experience may find useful ideas in the paper.

INTRODUCTION

This paper is the third in a series on manuscript writing skills, published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry . Earlier articles offered suggestions on how to write a good case report,[ 1 ] and how to read, write, or review a paper on randomized controlled trials.[ 2 , 3 ] The present paper examines how authors may write a good abstract when preparing their manuscript for a scientific journal or conference presentation. Although the primary target of this paper is the young researcher, it is likely that authors with all levels of experience will find at least a few ideas that may be useful in their future efforts.

The abstract of a paper is the only part of the paper that is published in conference proceedings. The abstract is the only part of the paper that a potential referee sees when he is invited by an editor to review a manuscript. The abstract is the only part of the paper that readers see when they search through electronic databases such as PubMed. Finally, most readers will acknowledge, with a chuckle, that when they leaf through the hard copy of a journal, they look at only the titles of the contained papers. If a title interests them, they glance through the abstract of that paper. Only a dedicated reader will peruse the contents of the paper, and then, most often only the introduction and discussion sections. Only a reader with a very specific interest in the subject of the paper, and a need to understand it thoroughly, will read the entire paper.

Thus, for the vast majority of readers, the paper does not exist beyond its abstract. For the referees, and the few readers who wish to read beyond the abstract, the abstract sets the tone for the rest of the paper. It is therefore the duty of the author to ensure that the abstract is properly representative of the entire paper. For this, the abstract must have some general qualities. These are listed in Table 1 .

General qualities of a good abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g001.jpg

SECTIONS OF AN ABSTRACT

Although some journals still publish abstracts that are written as free-flowing paragraphs, most journals require abstracts to conform to a formal structure within a word count of, usually, 200–250 words. The usual sections defined in a structured abstract are the Background, Methods, Results, and Conclusions; other headings with similar meanings may be used (eg, Introduction in place of Background or Findings in place of Results). Some journals include additional sections, such as Objectives (between Background and Methods) and Limitations (at the end of the abstract). In the rest of this paper, issues related to the contents of each section will be examined in turn.

This section should be the shortest part of the abstract and should very briefly outline the following information:

  • What is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question
  • What is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present)

In most cases, the background can be framed in just 2–3 sentences, with each sentence describing a different aspect of the information referred to above; sometimes, even a single sentence may suffice. The purpose of the background, as the word itself indicates, is to provide the reader with a background to the study, and hence to smoothly lead into a description of the methods employed in the investigation.

Some authors publish papers the abstracts of which contain a lengthy background section. There are some situations, perhaps, where this may be justified. In most cases, however, a longer background section means that less space remains for the presentation of the results. This is unfortunate because the reader is interested in the paper because of its findings, and not because of its background.

A wide variety of acceptably composed backgrounds is provided in Table 2 ; most of these have been adapted from actual papers.[ 4 – 9 ] Readers may wish to compare the content in Table 2 with the original abstracts to see how the adaptations possibly improve on the originals. Note that, in the interest of brevity, unnecessary content is avoided. For instance, in Example 1 there is no need to state “The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV), a dual-acting antidepressant drug , has been established…” (the unnecessary content is italicized).

Examples of the background section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g002.jpg

The methods section is usually the second-longest section in the abstract. It should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. Table 3 lists important questions to which the methods section should provide brief answers.

Questions regarding which information should ideally be available in the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g003.jpg

Carelessly written methods sections lack information about important issues such as sample size, numbers of patients in different groups, doses of medications, and duration of the study. Readers have only to flip through the pages of a randomly selected journal to realize how common such carelessness is.

Table 4 presents examples of the contents of accept-ably written methods sections, modified from actual publications.[ 10 , 11 ] Readers are invited to take special note of the first sentence of each example in Table 4 ; each is packed with detail, illustrating how to convey the maximum quantity of information with maximum economy of word count.

Examples of the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g004.jpg

The results section is the most important part of the abstract and nothing should compromise its range and quality. This is because readers who peruse an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should therefore be the longest part of the abstract and should contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits. For example, it is bad writing to state “Response rates differed significantly between diabetic and nondiabetic patients.” A better sentence is “The response rate was higher in nondiabetic than in diabetic patients (49% vs 30%, respectively; P <0.01).”

Important information that the results should present is indicated in Table 5 . Examples of acceptably written abstracts are presented in Table 6 ; one of these has been modified from an actual publication.[ 11 ] Note that the first example is rather narrative in style, whereas the second example is packed with data.

Information that the results section of the abstract should ideally present

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g005.jpg

Examples of the results section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g006.jpg

CONCLUSIONS

This section should contain the most important take-home message of the study, expressed in a few precisely worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcome measure; however, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary, but not essential, for the authors to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. Thus, the conclusions may contain three elements:

  • The primary take-home message
  • The additional findings of importance
  • The perspective

Despite its necessary brevity, this section has the most impact on the average reader because readers generally trust authors and take their assertions at face value. For this reason, the conclusions should also be scrupulously honest; and authors should not claim more than their data demonstrate. Hypothetical examples of the conclusions section of an abstract are presented in Table 7 .

Examples of the conclusions section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g007.jpg

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS

Citation of references anywhere within an abstract is almost invariably inappropriate. Other examples of unnecessary content in an abstract are listed in Table 8 .

Examples of unnecessary content in a abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g008.jpg

It goes without saying that whatever is present in the abstract must also be present in the text. Likewise, whatever errors should not be made in the text should not appear in the abstract (eg, mistaking association for causality).

As already mentioned, the abstract is the only part of the paper that the vast majority of readers see. Therefore, it is critically important for authors to ensure that their enthusiasm or bias does not deceive the reader; unjustified speculations could be even more harmful. Misleading readers could harm the cause of science and have an adverse impact on patient care.[ 12 ] A recent study,[ 13 ] for example, concluded that venlafaxine use during the second trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of neonates born small for gestational age. However, nowhere in the abstract did the authors mention that these conclusions were based on just 5 cases and 12 controls out of the total sample of 126 cases and 806 controls. There were several other serious limitations that rendered the authors’ conclusions tentative, at best; yet, nowhere in the abstract were these other limitations expressed.

As a parting note: Most journals provide clear instructions to authors on the formatting and contents of different parts of the manuscript. These instructions often include details on what the sections of an abstract should contain. Authors should tailor their abstracts to the specific requirements of the journal to which they plan to submit their manuscript. It could also be an excellent idea to model the abstract of the paper, sentence for sentence, on the abstract of an important paper on a similar subject and with similar methodology, published in the same journal for which the manuscript is slated.

Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

APA Sample Paper

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper  ,  APA Sample Professional Paper

This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader

Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student  and  professional  papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication). These differences mostly extend to the title page and running head. Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper.

However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in  student style and one in  professional  style.

Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions for writing and citing in APA 7. 

APA 7 Student Paper:

Apa 7 professional paper:.

Grad Coach (R)

What’s Included: Research Paper Template

If you’re preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The research paper template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Literature review 
  • Section 3: Methodology
  • Section 4: Findings /results
  • Section 5: Discussion
  • Section 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included links to free resources to help you understand how to write each section.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Research Paper Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The research paper template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of research papers can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research papers, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level research paper?

This template can be used for a research paper at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my research paper be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. We include generic word count ranges for each section within the template, but these are purely indicative. 

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this research paper template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my research paper?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our private coaching services .

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • View all journals
  • My Account Login
  • Explore content
  • About the journal
  • Publish with us
  • Sign up for alerts
  • Open access
  • Published: 07 February 2024

Psychedelics and sexual functioning: a mixed-methods study

  • Tommaso Barba   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2565-4628 1   na1 ,
  • Hannes Kettner 1 , 2   na1 ,
  • Caterina Radu 1 ,
  • Joseph M. Peill 1 ,
  • Leor Roseman 1 ,
  • David J. Nutt 1 ,
  • David Erritzoe   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7022-6211 1 ,
  • Robin Carhart-Harris 1 , 2   na2 &
  • Bruna Giribaldi 1   na2  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  2181 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

5301 Accesses

312 Altmetric

Metrics details

  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Human behaviour

Do psychedelics affect sexual functioning postacutely? Anecdotal and qualitative evidence suggests they do, but this has never been formally tested. While sexual functioning and satisfaction are generally regarded as an important aspect of human wellbeing, sexual dysfunction is a common symptom of mental health disorders. It is also a common side effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a first line treatment for depression. The aim of the present paper was to investigate the post-acute effects of psychedelics on self-reported sexual functioning, combining data from two independent studies, one large and naturalistic and the other a smaller but controlled clinical trial. Naturalistic use of psychedelics was associated with improvements in several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction, including improved pleasure and communication during sex, satisfaction with one’s partner and physical appearance. Convergent results were found in a controlled trial of psilocybin therapy versus an SSRI, escitalopram, for depression. In this trial, patients treated with psilocybin reported positive changes in sexual functioning after treatment, while patients treated with escitalopram did not. Despite focusing on different populations and settings, this is the first research study to quantitively investigate the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning. Results imply a potential positive effect on post-acute sexual functioning and highlight the need for more research on this.

Introduction

Between the 1950s and the 70 s, psychedelic substances such as LSD were studied in clinical settings for the treatment of mood disorders and alcohol dependence in particular 1 . In the 1960s, psychedelics became associated with the ‘hippy’ subculture, whose anti-war and sexually liberal values were encapsulated by the playful slogan “Make Love Not War” 2 . Scientific research with psychedelics was abruptly stunted by the 1971 United Nations Controlled Substances Act 1 , but it has been revived in recent decades, with several trials supporting the promise of psychedelic-therapy as a mental health intervention 3 . Psychedelics and therapeutic support are believed to act synergistically on the patient, leading to therapeutic experiences like emotional catharsis, ego dissolution, and psychological insights 4 . One area of particular promise has been psilocybin-therapy for anxiety and depressive symptoms 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 . In one notable study, psilocybin-therapy was found to be at least as effective as a 6-week course of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), escitalopram, at reducing depressive symptoms in major depressive disorder (MDD). Moreover, the psychedelic intervention performed significantly better than the SSRI on secondary outcomes measuring well-being, general functioning and anhedonia 7 .

Major depressive disorder is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. It is characterised by episodes of extreme low mood, motivation, ability to feel pleasure (anhedonia), and cognitive ability 9 . Despite sexual dysfunction (SD) not being classified as a core symptom of MDD in the DSM-5 criteria, it frequently presents itself in MDD cases, reported most frequently as decreased libido, arousal difficulties and absent or delayed orgasms in both women and men 10 . SD is also a common side effect of SSRIs, reported by 40% to 65% of individuals treated with those drugs 11 , 12 . Highly selective SSRIs like fluoxetine, escitalopram, and citalopram are especially associated with SD 13 , impairing sexual function in both depressed subjects 13 and healthy individuals dosed with these drugs 14 , 15 , 16 —likely due to downstream effects on serotoninergic and dopaminergic functioning 17 . SD is therefore a risk factor for treatment adherence and resulting relapse or recurrence of a depressive episode 10 , 11 .

Sexual dysfunction has also been found to be associated with lower well-being in healthy populations from both cross-sectional and longitudinal research 18 , 19 , 20 , which is unsurprising considering that SD is known to considerably affect quality of life, self-esteem and relationship quality 21 . Converging research indeed shows that sexual satisfaction is an important part of psychological well-being, linked to subjectively related happiness 20 , 22 , 23 , meaning in life 24 and relationship satisfaction 19 , 25 , 26 , 27 . Consequently, lower rates of depression are reported among men and women who report to be sexually satisfied 28 . Finally, several studies have cited numerous physical health benefits of sexual activity, including, but not limited to, stronger immune system function, lower blood pressure and decreased risk of prostate cancer 29 . Sexual satisfaction thus appears to be important for a satisfying and meaningful life, both in healthy subjects, and individuals with depression.

To date, some qualitative evidence indicates that psychedelic-use may have beneficial effects on the expression and acceptance of sexual feelings and behaviours 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 . However, to our knowledge, no contemporary quantitative studies have assessed the impact of psychedelic-use on sexual functioning and wellbeing. Nevertheless. previous research suggests that psychedelics are capable of fostering mindfulness capacities 36 , 37 , enduring feelings of emotional empathy and connectedness towards others 38 , 39 , 40 , positive attitudes towards one’s body and lifestyle 41 , 42 , as well as increased curiosity and openness towards new experiences 43 , 44 , all of which might impact on experiences of and attitudes towards sex.

By drawing on data collected from subjects consuming psychedelic substance in naturalistic settings like attending psychedelic ceremonies, we sought to assess the impact of psychedelic-use on several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction. We further tested the same research question in a trial of psilocybin versus 6 weeks of the SSRI escitalopram in MDD patients. The term “sexual functioning” is widely used in the sexuality literature 45 and here is defined according to the domains of experienced pleasure, sexual satisfaction, arousal, communication of sexual desires, importance of sex, and body image. We further included two self-constructed questions conceived with the aim of investigating whether psychedelic use could change people’s perceptions of sexual intercourse beyond functioning, within the domains of increased interest in sexual exploration (below defined as "sexual openness") and spirituality. Finally, we explored possible differences in these effects between male and females in Supplementary Materials. This research question is worthwhile investigating for both clinical and basic-science implications. Clinically speaking, the propensity of SSRIs to induce sexual dysfunction can affect treatment adherence and potentially lead to a relapse or recurrence of depressive episodes. With Psilocybin-assisted therapy emerging as a promising alternative, having shown favourable results in phase 1, 2a, and 2b trials, it’s important to thoroughly assess its side effects. This can provide valuable data for patients when choosing treatment options. From a basic science viewpoint, this paper strengthens the foundation built upon qualitative findings that suggest a beneficial influence of psychedelics on sexual wellbeing. Previous research has unveiled a positive correlation between mindfulness skills, intimacy/connectedness, and sexual satisfaction 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 . Considering the demonstrated capacity of psychedelics to enhance mindfulness and connectedness, it becomes particularly compelling to explore their potential impact on sexual functioning.

Participants

Across the combined survey samples, a total of N = 261 participants were included in the analyses who completed baseline, 4-week and 6-month endpoint assessments. A total of 1463 participants completed baseline, 718 completed key endpoint at 4-weeks and 322 completed FU at 6 months. 61 participants completed FU but did not complete either BL or Key endpoint, therefore obtaining 322–61 = 261 participants in the present analysis. 43% of those were females and 55.6% were males sex-wise. Participants were mostly from the United States (43.8%), working full-time (63.4%) and white (90.7%). A more detailed picture of participants’ demographics can be found in Table 1 .

We used an intention-to-treat analysis for coherence with the main publication from this clinical trial 7 . 30 patients were randomised to the psilocybin group and 29 to the escitalopram group; constituting the entire sample from Ref. 7 . Of the 59 patients enrolled, 23 (39%) were on psychiatric medication, which they stopped at least 2 weeks before starting the trial; four (7%) had to discontinue psychotherapy (see 7 for stopping criteria). In the escitalopram group, four participants stopped taking their escitalopram capsules before the end of the trial because of adverse effects attributed to the drug. In the psilocybin group, one participant smoked cannabis regularly during the trial and three participants missed the second psilocybin dosing day because of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions (2 in the psilocybin arm and 1 in the escitalopram arm). The mean age was 41 years, 20 (34%) participants were women, and 52 (85%) participants were White. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients. Sixteen patients reported having no partner either at baseline of follow-up on questions on pleasure, communication and satisfaction and thus were not included in the analyses of these questions. The remaining items and retrospective changes in sexual functioning were assessed in all 59 patients. For more information on participant recruitment and demographics, see 7 .

Changes in sexual functioning and perceptions

Friedman rank tests (Table 2 ) showed statistically significant differences in the survey samples across time for all variables apart from “importance of sex” (χ 2 (2) = 1.9, p = 0.40), with the most significant changes seen for the following items: seeing sex as spiritual or sacred experience (χ 2 (2) = 35.6, p < 0.0001), satisfaction with one’s own appearance (χ 2 (2) = 30.5, p < 0.0001), satisfaction with one’s own partner (χ 2 (2) = 22.2, p < 0.0001) and experience of pleasure (χ 2 (2) = 20.9, p < 0.0001). Follow-up pairwise Wilcoxon signed-rank tests between baseline, 4-week, and 6-month endpoints showed that both 4-week and 6-month scores were elevated when compared with baseline, which was again the case for each item other than importance (Fig.  1 ). A detailed summary of the results can be found in Table 2 .

figure 1

Single item analyses assessing changes in sexual functioning and satisfaction after naturalistic psychedelic use in a sample of N = 261 completers at 4 weeks and 6-month follow-up. ‘n.s’ indicates that the difference between baseline and follow-up scores is non-significant (P > 0.05). ***The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.0001. **The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.001. *The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.01. Error bars represent SE(M). Y-axis dimensions are scaled flexibly for better visibility of results.

Correlations with changes in well-being (study 1)

Significant Bonferroni-corrected spearman rank correlations between items of the BISF-W and the Flourishing Scale were detected for the following items: sexual communication with partner (rho = 0.25, p = 0.001), satisfaction with one’s own appearance (rho = 0.24, p = 0.0001), openness to try new things in one’s sex life (“sexual openness”) (rho = 0.22, p < 0.001), and sex as spiritual (rho = 0.17, p < 0.01), but not satisfaction with one’s partner (rho = 0.11, p = 0.16), or pleasure (rho = 0.15, p = 0.06).

Across all items, except for perceived importance of sex, subjects in the psilocybin condition were more likely to experience a greater extent of positive change, indicated by the positive beta estimates (Table 3 ). Results of within-group post-hoc tests based on estimated marginal means derived from cumulative link models are reported in Table 3 . Among the items that showed a significant interaction, post-hoc contrasts revealed psilocybin-specific improvements for the items ‘Partner satisfaction’, ‘Communication’, and ‘Sex as spiritual’. ‘Appearance satisfaction’ improved significantly in both the psilocybin and escitalopram condition, while there was a non-significant trend for perceived importance of sexuality increasing following escitalopram treatment (Fig.  2 ). Additionally, a significant pre-post test contrast was found in the psilocybin group for the experience of pleasure during sexual activity, despite absence of an interaction, with a change on the latent construct of 1.3 points (ΔEMM = 1.30, z = 3.10, p = 0.0019), equivalent to patients feeling pleasure 1.3 × 25% = 32.5% more frequently during sexual experiences than before treatment with psilocybin.

figure 2

Single item analyses assessing changes in sexual functioning and satisfaction before (BL) and after (FFU) treatment with psilocybin or escitalopram in Study 2. P values indicate univariate significance in each study arm. Error bars represent SE(M). Y-axis dimensions are scaled flexibly for better visibility of results.

Significant differences between Escitalopram and Psilocybin’s effects on sexual functioning were identified using retrospective BISF-W item 13, which was divided into changes in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety. Mann Whitney-U tests showed that patients receiving psilocybin were significantly more likely than those who received escitalopram to report higher, rather than lower levels of interest (p = 0.0002), arousal (p = 0.0004), activity (p = 0.0007), and satisfaction (p = 0.0006). In each case, mean values reported by patients receiving psilocybin reflected a ‘higher level’ at 4 weeks compared with baseline, while those in the escitalopram group on average reported a ‘lower level’ compared with baseline (Fig.  3 ). This pattern was reversed for sexual anxiety, which was increased in those receiving escitalopram, and reduced in those receiving psilocybin, although this difference only reached significance before correction for multiple comparisons (p = 0.028; Table 4 ).

figure 3

Percentage of participants who retrospectively rated decreases or increases in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety (reversed) after treatment with psilocybin or escitalopram at the 6 weeks follow-up of Study 2. “Increase” indicates that participants retrospectively reported an increase in the associated dimension at the end of the study compared to the beginning of it. “Decrease” indicates that participants retrospectively reported a decrease in the associated dimension at the end of the study compared to the beginning of it.

Regarding sexual dysfunction (PRSexDQ-SALSEX), at the 6-week post-treatment endpoint, in the escitalopram condition 8 patients were classified as “severe”, 6 as “moderate”, 3 as “mild” and 12 as “none”. At the same endpoint, in the psilocybin condition, 1 patient classified as “severe”, 3 as “moderate” and 26 as “none” (Fig.  4 ). A Mann Whitney U test (U = 255.5, p = 0.001, MD = 0.98) showed that patients in the escitalopram condition were significantly more likely to have higher levels of SD severity (M = 1.3, SD = 1.3) than patients in the psilocybin condition (M = 0.3, SD = 0.8). A previous study report on this trial only reported median values when calculating PRSexDQ-SALSEX scores, but the present paper has reported the number cases pertaining to each category, which exposed the robustly significant difference between the two conditions.

figure 4

Percentage of participants who reported different degrees of sexual dysfunction after treatment with escitalopram or psilocybin at the primary endpoint of Study 2. Sexual dysfunction includes loss of libido, delayed or lack of orgasm or ejaculation, erectile dysfunction in men/vaginal lubrication dysfunction in women and patient’s tolerance of it.

Correlation with changes in depressive symptoms (study 2)

Collapsing the psilocybin and escitalopram groups into one, retrospectively rated changes in several aspects of sexual functioning were correlated with before-vs-after changes in depressive symptoms. Spearman rank correlations identified the strongest correlations for changes in depression and changes in both sexual arousal (Spearman’s rho = 0.38, p < 0.01) and sexual interest (Spearman’s rho = 0.36, p < 0.01), such that bigger changes in depression resulted in higher improvements in sexual arousal/interest. Correlations between changes in depressive symptoms and sexual satisfaction did not survive multiple comparison correction (Spearman’s rho = 0.31, p = 0.03) and correlations with changes in sexual activity (Spearman’s rho = 0.23, p = 0.09) and sexual anxiety change (Spearman’s rho = 0.22, p = 0.13) also did not reach significance.

The current study sought to examine the impact of psychedelic use on sexual functioning and satisfaction across two distinct studies and populations: one group used psychedelics for recreational and well-being purposes, while the other consisted of depressed patients. One study adopted a naturalistic observational survey approach, while the other was a controlled clinical trial. Notably, both studies and populations reported enhanced sexual functioning and satisfaction following psychedelic use.

Participants in the former study showed significant improvements in their communication with their partners, increased frequency of experiencing pleasure during sex, as well as increased satisfaction with their partners and their own physical appearance following the psychedelic experience. They also appeared to be more open to trying new things in their sex life and were more likely to perceive sex as a spiritual or sacred experience post-use. These changes were significant both 4 weeks and 6 months after the experience. However, this cohort did not report experiencing changes in the overall importance attributed to sex. Exploratory analyses aimed at investigating possible differences in these effects between males and females found no evidence of such differences, except for partner satisfaction at 6-months where we found a return of partner satisfaction levels back to baseline in female but not male participants (Supplementary Materials). Several of these changes significantly correlated with post-psychedelic changes in well-being, consistent with previous research indicating a positive association between sexual functioning and general psychological well-being 20 , 22 , 23 . Given the inherent limitations of survey studies, such as the lack of a control condition, the inclusion of individuals already particularly interested in psychedelics and the lack of control of the circumstances of psychedelic exposure, we aimed to replicate these results in controlled settings, despite focusing on a different population. Consistent with the effects reported in the naturalistic study, individuals with depression treated with psilocybin-therapy in a controlled trial setting showed improvements from baseline to post-treatment in communicating with their partners, experiencing greater sexual pleasure during sex, being more satisfied with their partner and their own appearance, and being more likely to perceive sex as a spiritual experience. Conversely, in the same trial, patients treated with a 6-week course of the SSRI escitalopram, and the same amount of therapy, only reported increased satisfaction with their appearance and no positive changes in any other domain. Furthermore, patients treated with psilocybin were more likely to report increased sexual interest, activity, arousal, and satisfaction at the 6-week endpoint than patients treated with escitalopram, who on average, reported a worsening in the same domains. Similarly, anxiety linked to sexual activity decreased for patients in the psilocybin condition and increased for those treated with escitalopram. Across both groups, changes in sexual arousal and interest were moderately correlated with changes in depressive symptoms, while changes in the other domains appeared to be somewhat independent from changes in depression. With regard to sexual dysfunction, patients treated with escitalopram were more likely to retrospectively report higher levels of sexual dysfunction after treatment compared with the individuals treated with psilocybin. These observations are consistent with recent findings from the same trial that explicit symptoms of depression related to SD (i.e., Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression-17 Libido 50 , Beck Depression Inventory-Reduced Sexual Interest 51 ), as well as amotivation, anhedonia and energy levels were among the most differentially responsive to psilocybin versus escitalopram 52 . The results constitute the first empirical evidence that psychedelics might exert beneficial effects on sexual functioning and sexual wellbeing after acute use of the drug itself, consistent with previous qualitative reports indicating such an effect 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 . Future research to replicate and further investigate these findings is thus highly encouraged.

While we previously found that both escitalopram and psilocybin were equally effective in reducing depressive symptoms when assessed with the primary outcome of the study 7 , differences in their impact on sexual functioning and dysfunction could be explained by their differing mechanism of action in treating MDD (see 7 , 53 for full discussion). It is generally thought that the pharmacological mechanisms for SSRIs-induced sexual dysfunction are intrinsically linked with their hypothesised antidepressant mechanism. By selectively inhibiting serotonin reuptake in the central nervous system (CNS), SSRIs elevate synaptic serotonin concentrations consequently increasing post-synaptic serotonin activity 11 . Generally, an increase in serotoninergic functioning appears to negatively impact on sexual functioning—perhaps as a consequence of a negative downstream effect on the production of dopamine, testosterone, acetylcholine and nitric oxide which are crucial for libido, sexual arousal and achieving orgasm in both men and women 10 . Additionally, it is also plausible that the emotional blunting sometimes induced by SSRIs might also be linked with diminished sexual functioning 54 , 55 . Accordingly, as previously reported in the main publication from this trial, the percentage of patients reporting emotional blunting (assessed with the Laukes Emotional Intensity Scale) and a self-constructed “Post-Treatment Changes Scale” (PTCS) at the 6-week endpoint was higher in individuals treated with escitalopram compared with psilocybin 7 . While some research suggest that the prevalence of SSRI sexual side effects may be overestimated due to a priori deterioration of sexual functioning in MDD 10 several RCTs indicate that escitalopram 14 and other SSRIs 15 , 16 do indeed induce SD—including in healthy individuals. Such results support the view that SSRIs have a detrimental effect on sexual function beyond their impact on depression. This is clinically concerning as sexual functioning bears relevance to two core facets of depression, namely anhedonia and amotivation 56 . The occurrence of SD as a side effect of SSRIs can lead to a dilemma for both patients and clinicians. On one hand, these treatments are necessary for managing depressive symptoms, but on the other hand, they can exacerbate SD, thereby further impacting the patient’s quality of life and potentially affecting treatment adherence. Moreover, SD can contribute to the persistence or worsening of depressive symptoms, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break 10 . Despite the high prevalence and significant impact of SD, it is often underassessed and undertreated in mental health care settings. This oversight may be due to a variety of factors, including lack of awareness among clinicians, discomfort discussing sexual issues, or the assumption that SD is an inevitable consequence of depression or its treatment 57 . While most cases of SD associated with SSRI use tend to resolve shortly after discontinuing the medication, a minority of patients may experience enduring dysfunction, referred to as post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD 58 ). PSSD is characterized by persistent symptoms such as genital anesthesia, erectile dysfunction, and pleasureless orgasm. The underlying causes of PSSD remain largely unknown, however it is acknowledged as a rare side effect associated with SSRI use 58 . Psilocybin also exerts its acute effects by acting on the serotoninergic system, but via direct agonism at serotonin 2A receptors (5-HT2AR 3 ). Despite limited research on the effects of 5-HT2AR agonists on sexual activity, animal studies have indicated that 5-HT2AR agonism contributes to the inhibition of sexual activity in male rats 59 , 60 while having a positive effect in females 61 . Antidepressant drugs that possess 5-HT2AR antagonist activity, such as mirtazapine and nefazodone, generally have a positive effect on SD 62 . Therefore, some have proposed that activity at 5-HT2A receptors has suppressing effects on sexual functioning in humans 10 . Nevertheless, anecdotal reports of increased sexual pleasure and intense sexual feelings under psychedelics 32 , 33 , 63 contradict this. Clearly, more research is needed to understand the acute effects of psilocybin and other psychedelics on sexual functioning. However, it is important to note that our present study assess post-acute effects of psychedelic-use or psychedelic-therapy on sexual functioning and not acute effects; thus, our results should not be confused with ‘drug-sex’ or ‘chem-sex’. As such, the acute (e.g., pharmacological) effects of psilocybin on sexual functioning is not be centrally relevant here; rather, our focus has been on longer-term changes post psychedelic-use or psilocybin-therapy.

Despite not being able to directly test these hypotheses, we speculate that the results obtained from both studies might be explained by the capacity of classic psychedelics (and relatedly psilocybin-assisted therapy) to foster long-term improvements in mindfulness capacities and connectedness with significant others 37 , 64 , consequently impacting sexual satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative research shows that psychedelic-use can foster non-judgement and non-reactivity 37 , 64 , an ability to articulate momentary experience 36 , 65 and an openness to new experiences 43 , 44 , 66 . Furthermore, psychedelics appear to promote durable feelings of connection towards self and others 63 , 67 , increased willingness to accept and let go of one’s emotions, and decreased ruminative thinking 68 . In tandem, work by Keinplatz et al. 69 identified eight major components that contribute to an optimal sexual experience: being present, connection, deep sexual and erotic intimacy, extraordinary communication, interpersonal risk-taking and exploration, authenticity, vulnerability, and transcendence. Subsequent research evidenced the importance of maintaining a mindful 70 , 71 and open 72 state of mind for attaining a satisfactory sexual performance. Moreover, it has been shown that increasing trait mindfulness in both women and men improved SD, including arousal/interest disorders 46 , 47 , 73 , 74 , 75 . Cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental studies also indicate that experiencing emotional connection and intimacy with one’s partner can maintain sexual desire and activity in relationships of longer duration 48 , 49 , 76 and that a type of sexual activity understood as shared and mutual by both partners can be conductive of a better couple’s mental health 28 . Additionally, evidence from neuroimaging research 77 previously found that female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder’ (HSDD) was linked with higher levels of activity in brain regions involved in self-referential functions, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. It was suggested that HSDD might be the result of excessive cognitive activity directed toward oneself—i.e., self-consciousness, rather than naturally attending to sensory aspects of the sexual experience. Disruption of cortical activity in brain regions involved in self-referential processing has been found to be a somewhat consistent marker of the action of psychedelics 78 . By combining the results from these fields of research, it thus appears plausible that psychedelic-use, or more cautiously, psychedelic-therapy, could have a positive effect on traits associated with more embodied and satisfactory sexual experiences, freer from cognitive interferences, aversions, anxieties and demands. Additionally, we speculate that an effect of psilocybin therapy on attachment styles might have also contributed to the observed results, despite this was not directly investigated. Depression has been previously demonstrated to be linked with attachment insecurity 79 and anxious and avoidant attachment styles have been both shown to be linked with decreased sexual satisfaction in the general population 80 , 81 . Psilocybin-therapy has been shown to improve attachment insecurity 3 months post-intervention 82 . Thus, the formation of a more secure attachment could have also contributed to improving sexual satisfaction. Future research should investigate this matter.

Interestingly, it was also found that participants reported perceiving sex as a more spiritual or sacred experience after psychedelic use. The rationale behind investigating this research question stems from our prior discovery that psychedelic use can amplify spiritual beliefs and attitudes towards life 83 . We are thus wanted to explore whether this increased spirituality translates into the domain of sexual experiences. While an allegiance to a religious belief system has been found to be associated with fewer life partners and lower rates of premarital and extramarital sex 84 , the link with spirituality, typically involves a ‘self-transcendent’ perspective, is less clear. Previous research indicates that ascribing spiritual or transcendent qualities to sexual intercourse is linked with increased sexual satisfaction 69 , 85 . However, conflicting research indicated that perceiving sex as more spiritual is not inherently positive, as spirituality has been found to be positively associated with a higher frequency of sex without a condom in women, suggesting that it might be a factor for risky sexual behaviour 84 . Additionally, participants from the survey sample appeared to be more willing to try new things in their sexual life, an effect that might be explained by increased openness to experience after psychedelic use 43 , 44 , 66 . More research investigating the links between sexual attitudes and behaviours, spirituality and psychedelic use is needed to better understand the complex relationships between these factors.

Limitations

The findings of the present study should be considered in the context of its limitations.

Analyses in this study were conducted based on individual items of the BISF-W 86 , a previously validated measure. Given our mixed-gender sample, we chose items relevant to both sexes, focusing on domains like pleasure, communication, partner satisfaction, sex importance, and body image satisfaction. To reduce participant burden amidst multiple measures, we didn’t use the full scale. While we employed suitable statistical methods for ordinal data, future studies should use comprehensive, validated scales. We also introduced unvalidated items on viewing sex as a spiritual experience and sexual openness, without defining terms like “spiritual” and “new things”. For these reasons, caution is advised before interpreting these specific results.

Additionally, there are several distinct features and limitations to the observational study design employed in our investigation. Study 1 lacks of experimental control, potential biases towards psychedelic drugs due to opportunity sampling, demographic and other biases related to sampling and attrition issues, and reliance on subjective reporting of drug dosages. Importantly, without experimental control, we cannot establish causality or control for potential confounding factors. On the other hand, Study 2, based on RCT data, provides evidence with the experimental control that Study 1 lacks. RCTs, including ours, offer controlled settings to evaluate specific interventions, often seen as valuable in the research community for treatment evaluation. However, it is important to note that Study 1 and Study 2 cater to different contexts and realities. Study 1 assesses community-dwelling individuals, most of whom are presumably healthy and use psychedelics for recreational and wellbeing related purposes. In contrast, Study 2 evaluates the effects of psilocybin on depressed patients in a clinical setting. While the studies address different questions and settings, by presenting both observational and RCT data, our intention was to provide a broader perspective on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning and wellbeing. These two distinct study designs offer complementary insights into the topic, each from a different vantage point. While this approach possesses inherent limitations, our aim was to provide readers with a richer understanding by juxtaposing these two different perspectives, despite focusing on different populations and settings. Being this the first quantitative investigation on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning/wellbeing, we strongly encourage further research on the topic in order to overcome the current limitations.

Furthermore, future research on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning should consider including dyadic assessments, i.e., where the partner of the primary participant is involved, and questions that pertain to the social and cultural context of use, e.g., whether the substance was taken together with one’s partner. Relatedly, we do not know if participants engaged in sexual activities in while using psychedelics in Study 1, which could have implications for how they perceive its impact on their sexuality. However, it’s important to note that most participants in Study 1 consumed psychedelics in ceremonial settings, where sexual intercourse is strongly discouraged or even prohibited, even between romantic partners 87 . Partners are typically asked to maintain distance during these ceremonies. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility that some participants from Ref. 88 , consuming psychedelics in personal settings, engaged in such activities.

Study participants from the survey study sample and the RCT were predominantly white, sexually straight, employed and well-educated, limiting generalizability. Similar demographic data have been found in other psychedelic research studies 89 . Such consistency may imply that these demographics are reflective of the broader psychedelic-using population; however, they are not necessarily reflective of broader populations per se. Recent research has indicated that ethnoracial background moderates the health impact of psychedelic-use 90 . It is important therefore that future studies test the replicability of the present findings in more sociodemographically diverse samples. Moreover, both treatment groups benefited from extensive psychological support, with an approach inspired by the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model 91 . Given that this model emphasizes enhancing acceptance and minimizing the suppression of challenging emotions, it might be possible that the therapeutic support acted synergistically with psilocybin to promote positive effects on sexual wellbeing. Future research should better investigate this matter, especially considering the link between sexual shame and sexual dysfunction.

The present results pertaining to escitalopram’s effects on sexual functioning cannot be generalised to other existing antidepressants, as existing research indicates that there are approved antidepressant medications on the market that do not induce SD at such high rates as SSRIs 14 . These medications have been previously advised for patients suffering from SSRI-induced SD. A further limitation of study 2 might be related to the confounding factor of antidepressant withdrawal, as the observed improvements in sexual function in the psilocybin arm could be attributed to the suspension of all antidepressants in the weeks preceding the administration of psilocybin. While only 11 out of 30 patients from the psilocybin group discontinued antidepressant medications before starting the study 7 , this could have impacted the results.

Lastly, there have been reports of sexually abusive behaviour in the context of psychedelic ceremonies and therapy 87 , 92 . While these dynamics are not unique to psychedelic therapies 93 , the addition of powerful mind-altering compounds in the equation requires the employment of additional caution, prevention and mitigation strategies. Relatedly, the use of psychedelic or empathogenic compounds in romantic contexts might also create complex relationship dynamics such as promoting feelings of attachment to an ordinarily undesired or abusive partner, sexual activities done under drug influence that are later regretted, or wrongly perceiving another individual as romantically or sexually interested or engaged—an issue that extends to other psychoactive drugs such as alcohol. As policies around psychedelic use evolve, it’s imperative to define clear ethical standards and professional guidelines to prevent abuse and ensure accountability. Educating individuals about potential risks and encouraging vigilance can further reduce harm and foster a safer environment for all involved.

Conclusions

The present study contributes some first preliminary evidence that both the naturalistic and controlled therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs might foster an improvement in several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction, including experienced pleasure, sexual satisfaction, communication of sexual desires and body image. Moreover, the present study specifically highlights that psilocybin therapy for MDD might be linked with improvements in sexual functioning. On the other hand, escitalopram—a commonly used SSRI—seemed to negatively impact sexual functioning, despite both treatments inducing similar reductions in depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the need for further research utilizing more comprehensive and validated measures to fully understand the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning. However, the preliminary results do suggest that psychedelics may be a useful tool for disorders that impact sexual functioning.

The present study combined datasets from two large prospective online survey studies investigating the impact of psychedelics consumed in personal and ceremonial settings in the real world. All studies collected data using the bespoke online software platform www.psychedelicsurvey.com and the online platform Alchemer. The first cohort survey study 88 recruited participants who were already planning to consume psychedelics in the near future, outside of a research or organised ceremonial setting. The second dataset comes from a survey study targeted towards individuals planning to attend an organised ‘ceremony’ entailing the consumption of a classic psychedelic substance (psilocybin/magic mushrooms/truffles, ayahuasca, DMT, San Pedro, LSD/1P‐LSD), e.g., in a psychedelic retreat or other form of guided psychedelic experience 38 . Both studies received a favourable opinion from the Imperial College Research Ethics Committee and were sponsored by the Imperial Joint Research and Compliance Office, and all participants were 18+ years old, recruited online and provided informed consent. In all three survey studies, participants were prompted to select the date of their future psychedelic experience, and questionnaires were automatically sent to them 1 week before the experience (baseline), and 4 weeks and 6 months after the experience. All methods were carried out by respecting/adhering to relevant guidelines and regulations. An overview of study 1 timepoints can be found in Fig.  5 . Extensive information about the design of these two prospective online surveys can be found in Refs. 38 , 88 . CONSORT diagram for Study 1 can be found in Supplementary Materials.

figure 5

Overview of Study 1 with the included items assessing sexual functioning and perceptions of sex at the relevant timepoints.

It comprises data derived from a phase II double-blind randomised controlled clinical trial (RCT) comparing psilocybin-therapy versus escitalopram treatment for major depression 7 . Participants had a diagnosis of moderate-severe MDD (> 17 on Hamilton-Depression [HAM-D-17 50 ] scale at screening), were between 18 to 65 years old and were recruited through trial networks, social media, and other sources (see 7 for demographic information). Participants were randomised to one of two arms: either receiving two doses of an active dose of psilocybin (25 mg) alongside 6 weeks of daily placebo (“psilocybin arm”), or two doses of a ‘control’ dose of psilocybin (1 mg) and daily escitalopram (10 mg for 3 weeks, then 20 mg for 3 weeks, “escitalopram arm”). During the active treatment period, each participant worked with two experienced therapists or psychiatrists administering an adapted form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 91 . On dosing days, the therapists accompanied them from the moment they ingested the drug until the day’s end. Before and after dosing days, participants underwent psychological preparation and integration, respectively. Taking into account screening, preparation, dosing, and integration, participants in each condition received approximately 20 h of in-person therapeutic support during the trial, as well as up to six further integration calls over Skype or by telephone. Licenses and approvals were obtained from the Home Office (Schedule 1), UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Brent Research Ethics Committee (REC), the Health Research Authority (HRA) and Imperial College London (ICL) GDPR and the sponsors ICL Joint Research Compliance Office. Proprietary psilocybin was provided by COMPASS Pathways as ‘COMP360’ (Compass Pathways’ investigational, proprietary, synthetic, psilocybin formulation) and escitalopram by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Pharmacy. An overview of study 2 timepoints can be found in Fig.  6 , see 7 for further details on the study protocol and the main results of the trial. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03429075, registered on February 12, 2018; EudraCT: 2017-000219-18. CONSORT diagram for Study 2 can be found in Supplementary Materials.

figure 6

Overview of the DB-RCT trial procedure (Study 2). Numbers indicate days from baseline (day 0) to the 6-week trial primary end-point (day 42). The listed measures are only the ones included in the present study.

Sexual functioning and satisfaction

Consistent measures were used in Study 1 and 2. In Study 1, measures were employed at baseline (one week prior to the experience), 4 weeks, and 6 months after naturalistic psychedelic-use. In Study 2, measures were administered at baseline (1 week before dosing day 1) and at the 6-weeks follow-up, the RCT’s primary endpoint. Outcome measures were items extracted from the Brief Index of Sexual Functioning for Women (BISF-W), a standardized self-report measure of overall sexual function in women 86 . As the questionnaire was designed to be specifically used with women and our sample constituted of both men and women, we only used items that could be generalised to both sexes and we focused on the domains of experienced pleasure, communication, satisfaction of one’s partner, importance of sex, and satisfaction with one’s body image. We also did not use the full scale to limit the burden on participants, as a variety of other measures were also included. The questions and the response options were as follows: During the past month, have you felt pleasure from any forms of sexual experience? (0) I have not had a partner, (1) Have not felt any pleasure, (2) Seldom, less than 25% of the time, (3) Sometimes, about 50% of the time, (4) Usually, about 75% of the time, (5) Always felt pleasure. During the past month, how frequently have you been able to communicate your sexual desires or preferences to your partner/s?: (0) I have not had a partner/s, (1) I have been unable to communicate my desires or preferences, (2) Seldom, less than 25% of the time, (3) Sometimes, about 50% of the time, (4) usually, about 75% of the time, (5) I was always able to communicate my desires or my preferences. Overall, how satisfied have you been with your sexual relationship with your partner/s? (0) I have not had a partner/s, (1) Very satisfied, (2) Somewhat satisfied, (3) Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, (4) Somewhat dissatisfied, (5) Very dissatisfied. Overall, how important is sexual activity in your life? (0) Not at all important, (1) Somewhat unimportant, (2) Neither important nor unimportant, (3) Somewhat important, (4) Very important. How satisfied you are with the overall appearance of your body? (0) Very satisfied, (1) Somewhat satisfied, (2) Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, (3) Somewhat dissatisfied, (4) Very dissatisfied. If participants responded they did not have a partner in a question (response option 0), the answer was not included in the analysis for that specific item.

Additionally, we constructed two items to investigate whether psychedelics would be associated with a change in people’s (1) openness to sexual exploration and (2) perception of sex as a ‘spiritual experience’, where the latter term was not explicitly defined for the respondent. We conceived these 2 items after a review of the existing anecdotal reports of the effects of psychedelics on one’s sexual life 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 and the cultural association between psychedelic-use, liberal sexual attitudes and behaviours and spiritual ideologies 2 . The items read as follows: “I am very open to trying out new things in my sex life” and “I see sex as a spiritual or sacred experience” and could be answered on a 7-point Likert scale.

Finally, exclusively in the 6 weeks follow-up of Study 2, we added item 13 from the BISF-W. This asks participants to retrospectively rate the level of change in any of the following areas of sexual functioning in the previous 6 weeks: (1) sexual interest, (2) sexual arousal, (3) sexual activity, (4) sexual satisfaction, (5) sexual anxiety. The response options were: (1) not applicable, (2) no change, (3) increase, (4) decrease.

Sexual dysfunction

To assess the appearance of sexual dysfunction after drug treatment in Study 2 we used the Psychotropic-Related Sexual Dysfunction Questionnaire (PRSexDQ-SALSEX 94 ). The scales include 7 items assessing SD. The first is a screening item that assesses if the patient experienced any sort of SD during treatment. The second item assesses whether the patient has spontaneously reported any SD to his or her physician. The next items (items 3–7) assess five dimensions of SD according to severity or frequency: loss of libido (0 = nil, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe), delayed orgasm or ejaculation (0 = nil, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe), lack of orgasm or ejaculation (0 = never, 1 = occasionally, 2 = often, 3 = always), erectile dysfunction in men/vaginal lubrication dysfunction in women (0 = never, 1 = occasionally, 2 = often, 3 = always), and patient's tolerance of the SD (0 = no sexual dysfunction, 1 = good, 2 = fair, 3 = poor). Only items 3 through 7 account for the total score of the PRSexDQ-SALSEX. Sexual dysfunction is scored as mild = 1–5 (with no item > 1); moderate = 6–10 (OR any item = 2, with no item = 3) or severe = 11–15 (OR any item = 3). As the scale is designed for retrospective use, it was only collected at the 6-weeks follow-up of the trial.

The Flourishing Scale 95 is a brief 8-item summary measure of the respondent’s self-perceived success in important areas such as relationships, self-esteem, purpose, and optimism. The scale provides a single psychological well-being score. The scores range from 8 to 56. A high score represents a person with many psychological resources and strengths.

Depressive symptoms were assessed with the 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report 96 . The total score establishes the severity of depression, ranging from ‘absent’ (0–5) to ‘mild’ (6–10), ‘moderate’ (11–15), ‘severe’ (16–20) and ‘very severe’ (21–27).

Statistical analyses

Changes on the individual items of the adapted BISF-W from baseline to 4 weeks and 6 months after the psychedelic experience were assessed via non-parametric Friedman rank sum tests due to the ordinal nature of the response items. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests between baseline, 4-week, and 6-month endpoints were used as follow-up tests. Additionally, spearman correlations between changes on individual items of the BISF-W and changes in flourishing (FS) from baseline to the 4-week endpoint are reported in order to investigate if changes in sexual functioning correlated with changes in wellbeing. Finally, cumulative links models were fitted in order to investigate differences between male and female participants on any of the sexuality-related items (Supplementary Material 1 ).

Due to the limited sample size and structure of the Likert-item based data, cumulative link models for ordinal regression were performed to compare changes in BISF-W items between the psilocybin and escitalopram arms of the RCT 97 . Cumulative link models are structurally related to mixed linear models, in that they allow fitting random intercepts and slopes on ordinal, instead of continuous data. For the present sample, models with random intercept only were found to produce the best fit indices, based on Bayesian Information Criteria (BIC). Symmetric threshold parameters were chosen for items rated from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree, while equidistant thresholds were used for items rated using equally spaced numerically defined proportions (e.g., None of the time, 25% of the time, 50% of the time, etc.). Post-hoc within-group contrasts were calculated based on estimated marginal means for all items. Rosenthal correlation coefficients (R) were added as effect size (EF) estimates in Table 3 . They are calculated by dividing the z value by the sqrt of the sample size 98 . These coefficients are commonly used in the case of ordinal variables and a value of 0.00 < 0.20 indicates a very low ES, 0.20 < 0.40 low ES, 0.40 < 0.60 moderate ES, 0.60 < 0.80 strong ES, 0.80 < 1.00 very strong ES. Scores on the BISF-W item 13, which was only included at the endpoint, were compared between the groups via Mann Whitney U tests, where rank-biserial correlation coefficients (r) ≥ 0.3 was defined as a small, r ≤ 0.5 medium and r > 0.5 as a large effect. Ordinal scores from the PRSexDQ-SALSEX, which was also only included at the endpoint, were also compared using a Mann Whitney U test in order to investigate differences in the severity of sexual dysfunction between the two groups.

Due to the small sample size, Bonferroni-corrected spearman correlations between longitudinal changes in depressive symptoms (QIDS-SR-16) and SF were calculated based only on the retrospective BISF-W item 13 investigating retrospective changes in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety in order avoid inflation of the number of tests. These correlations investigated if changes in depression correlated with changes in sexual functioning.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, [TB], upon reasonable request.

Nichols, D. E. & Walter, H. The history of psychedelics in psychiatry. Pharmacopsychiatry 54 (04), 151–166 (2021).

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Lee, M. A. & Shlain, B. Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond (Grove Press, 1992).

Google Scholar  

Nutt, D., Erritzoe, D. & Carhart-Harris, R. Psychedelic psychiatry’s brave new world. Cell 181 (1), 24–28 (2020).

Article   CAS   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Carhart-Harris, R. L. & Friston, K. J. REBUS and the anarchic brain: Toward a unified model of the brain action of psychedelics. Pharmacol. Rev. 71 (3), 316 (2019).

Article   CAS   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Davis, A. K. et al. Effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy on major depressive disorder: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry 78 (5), 481–489 (2021).

Carhart-Harris, R. L. et al. Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: An open-label feasibility study. Lancet Psychiatry 3 (7), 619–627 (2016).

Carhart-Harris, R. et al. Trial of psilocybin versus escitalopram for depression. N. Engl. J. Med. 384 (15), 1402–1411 (2021).

Goodwin, G. M. et al. Single-dose psilocybin for a treatment-resistant episode of major depression. N. Engl. J. Med. 387 (18), 1637–1648 (2022).

Otte, C. et al. Major depressive disorder. Nat. Rev. Dis. Primers 2 , 16065 (2016).

Kennedy, S. H. & Rizvi, S. Sexual dysfunction, depression, and the impact of antidepressants. J. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 29 (2), 157–164 (2009).

Jing, E. & Straw-Wilson, K. Sexual dysfunction in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and potential solutions: A narrative literature review. Mental Health Clin. 6 (4), 191–196 (2016).

Article   Google Scholar  

Montejo-González, A. L. et al. SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction: Fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and fluvoxamine in a prospective, multicenter, and descriptive clinical study of 344 patients. J. Sex Marital Ther. 23 (3), 176–194 (1997).

Alhuwaydi, A. Development of erectile dysfunction in men treated for major depressive disorder with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: A systematic review. Arch. Med. Sci. 16 , 1 (2020).

Montejo, A. L. et al. Better sexual acceptability of agomelatine (25 and 50 mg) compared to escitalopram (20 mg) in healthy volunteers. A 9-week, placebo-controlled study using the PRSexDQ scale. J. Psychopharmacol. 29 (10), 1119–1128 (2015).

Abler, B. et al. Neural correlates of antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction: A placebo-controlled fMRI study on healthy males under subchronic paroxetine and bupropion. Neuropsychopharmacology 36 (9), 1837–1847 (2011).

Nafziger, A. N. et al. Incidence of sexual dysfunction in healthy volunteers on fluvoxamine therapy. J. Clin. Psychiatry 60 (3), 187–190 (1999).

Stahl, S. M. The psychopharmacology of sex, part 2: Effects of drugs and disease on the 3 phases of human sexual response. J. Clin. Psychiatry 62 (3), 147–148 (2001).

Laumann, E. O., Paik, A. & Rosen, R. C. Sexual dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and predictors. JAMA 281 (6), 537–544 (1999).

Fallis, E. E. et al. The longitudinal association of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships. J. Fam. Psychol. 30 (7), 822–831 (2016).

Buczak-Stec, E., König, H.-H. & Hajek, A. The link between sexual satisfaction and subjective well-being: A longitudinal perspective based on the German ageing survey. Qual. Life Res. 28 (11), 3025–3035 (2019).

Balon, R. Burden of sexual dysfunction. J. Sex Marital Ther. 43 (1), 49–55 (2017).

Davison, S. L. et al. Psychology: The relationship between self-reported sexual satisfaction and general well-being in women. J. Sex. Med. 6 (10), 2690–2697 (2009).

Rosen, R. C. & Bachmann, G. A. Sexual well-being, happiness, and satisfaction, in women: The case for a new conceptual paradigm. J. Sex Marital Ther. 34 (4), 291–297 (2008).

Stephenson, K. R. & Meston, C. M. The conditional importance of sex: Exploring the association between sexual well-being and life satisfaction. J. Sex Marital Ther. 41 (1), 25–38 (2015).

Henderson-King, D. H. & Veroff, J. Sexual satisfaction and marital well-being in the first years of marriage. J. Soc. Person. Relationsh. 11 (4), 509–534 (1994).

Yoo, H. et al. Couple communication, emotional and sexual intimacy, and relationship satisfaction. J. Sex Marital Ther. 40 (4), 275–293 (2014).

Witting, K. et al. Female sexual function and its associations with number of children, pregnancy, and relationship satisfaction. J. Sex Marital Ther. 34 (2), 89–106 (2008).

Ganong, K. & Larson, E. Intimacy and belonging: The association between sexual activity and depression among older adults. Soc. Mental Health 1 (3), 153–172 (2011).

Gupta, K. “Screw health”: Representations of sex as a health-promoting activity in medical and popular literature. J. Med. Hum. 32 (2), 127–140 (2011).

Article   CAS   Google Scholar  

Newland, C. A. My Self and I: The Intimate and Completely Frank Record of One Woman’s Courageous Experiment with Psychiatry’s Newest Drug LSD-25 (Coward-McCann, 1962).

Book   Google Scholar  

Hoffman, A., Dass, R. & Shulgin, S. Manifesting Minds: A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality (2014).

Sprinkle, A. I-Iow psychedelics informed my sex life and sex work. In Manifesting Minds: A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality 155 (2014).

Grof, S. LSD Psychotherapy (Hunter House, 1980).

Jacobs, L., Banbury, S. & Lusher, J. Micro-dosing psychedelics as a plausible adjunct to psychosexual and couple’s therapy: A qualitative insight. Sex. Relationsh. Ther. 5 , 1–14 (2022).

Alpert, R. Drugs and sexual behavior. J. Sex Res. 5 (1), 50–56 (1969).

Payne, J. E., Chambers, R. & Liknaitzky, P. Combining psychedelic and mindfulness interventions: Synergies to inform clinical practice. ACS Pharmacol. Transl. Sci. 4 (2), 416–423 (2021).

Madsen, M. K. et al. A single psilocybin dose is associated with long-term increased mindfulness, preceded by a proportional change in neocortical 5-HT2A receptor binding. Eur. Neuropsychopharmacol. 33 , 71–80 (2020).

Kettner, H. et al. Psychedelic communitas: Intersubjective experience during psychedelic group sessions predicts enduring changes in psychological wellbeing and social connectedness. Front. Pharmacol. 12 , 234 (2021).

Dolder, P. C. et al. LSD acutely impairs fear recognition and enhances emotional empathy and sociality. Neuropsychopharmacology 41 (11), 2638–2646 (2016).

Pokorny, T. et al. Effect of psilocybin on empathy and moral decision-making. Int. J. Neuropsychopharmacol. 20 (9), 747–757 (2017).

Article   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Ona, G. et al. Ayahuasca and public health: Health status, psychosocial well-being, lifestyle, and coping strategies in a large sample of ritual ayahuasca users. J. Psychoact. Drugs 51 (2), 135–145 (2019).

Teixeira, P. J. et al. Psychedelics and health behaviour change. J. Psychopharmacol. 36 (1), 12–19 (2022).

Knudsen, G. M. Sustained effects of single doses of classical psychedelics in humans. Neuropsychopharmacology 48 , 1–6 (2022).

Erritzoe, D. et al. Recreational use of psychedelics is associated with elevated personality trait openness: Exploration of associations with brain serotonin markers. J. Psychopharmacol. 33 (9), 1068–1075 (2019).

Fielder, R. Sexual functioning. In Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (eds Gellman, M. D. & Turner, J. R.) 1774–1777 (Springer, 2013).

Chapter   Google Scholar  

Mize, S. J. A review of mindfulness-based sex therapy interventions for sexual desire and arousal difficulties: From research to practice. Curr. Sex. Health Rep. 7 (2), 89–97 (2015).

Bossio, J. A. et al. Mindfulness-based group therapy for men with situational erectile dysfunction: A mixed-methods feasibility analysis and pilot study. J. Sex. Med. 15 (10), 1478–1490 (2018).

Rubin, H. & Campbell, L. Day-to-day changes in intimacy predict heightened relationship passion, sexual occurrence, and sexual satisfaction: A dyadic diary analysis. Soc. Psychol. Person. Sci. 3 (2), 224–231 (2012).

Štulhofer, A., Ferreira, L. C. & Landripet, I. Emotional intimacy, sexual desire, and sexual satisfaction among partnered heterosexual men. Sex. Relationsh. Ther. 29 (2), 229–244 (2014).

Hamilton, M. A rating scale for depression. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 23 (1), 56–62 (1960).

Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A. & Brown, G. K. Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II (Psychological Corporation, 1996).

Weiss, B. E. et al. A critical evaluation of QIDS-SR-16 using data from a trial of psilocybin vs escitalopram therapy for depression. J. Psychopharmacol. 37 , 717 (2023).

Carhart-Harris, R. L. & Nutt, D. J. Serotonin and brain function: A tale of two receptors. J. Psychopharmacol. 31 (9), 1091–1120 (2017).

McCabe, C. et al. Diminished neural processing of aversive and rewarding stimuli during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment. Biol. Psychiatry 67 (5), 439–445 (2010).

Opbroek, A. et al. Emotional blunting associated with SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Do SSRIs inhibit emotional responses? Int. J. Neuropsychopharmacol. 5 (2), 147–151 (2002).

Fried, E. I. & Nesse, R. M. The impact of individual depressive symptoms on impairment of psychosocial functioning. PLoS ONE 9 (2), e90311 (2014).

Article   ADS   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Harshitha, H. A. et al. Perceived barriers in the assessment and management of female sexual dysfunction: A survey among resident trainees in psychiatry. Acad. Psychiatry 1 , 1–5 (2022).

Healy, D. Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction and other enduring sexual dysfunctions. Epidemiol. Psychiatr. Sci. 29 , e55 (2020).

Foreman, M. M., Hall, J. L. & Love, R. L. The role of the 5-HT2 receptor in the regulation of sexual performance of male rats. Life Sci. 45 (14), 1263–1270 (1989).

Klint, T. & Larsson, K. Clozapine acts as a 5-HT2 antagonist by attenuating DOI-induced inhibition of male rat sexual behaviour. Psychopharmacology 119 (3), 291–294 (1995).

Gorzalka, B. B., Hanson, L. A. & Brotto, L. A. Chronic stress effects on sexual behavior in male and female rats: Mediation by 5-HT2A receptors. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 61 (4), 405–412 (1998).

Osis, L. & Bishop, J. R. Pharmacogenetics of SSRIs and sexual dysfunction. Pharmaceuticals 3 (12), 3614–3628 (2010).

Article   CAS   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Watts, R. et al. Patients’ accounts of increased “connectedness” and “acceptance” after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. J. Hum. Psychol. 57 (5), 520–564 (2017).

Soler, J. et al. Exploring the therapeutic potential of Ayahuasca: Acute intake increases mindfulness-related capacities. Psychopharmacology 233 (5), 823–829 (2016).

Murphy-Beiner, A. & Soar, K. Ayahuasca’s ‘afterglow’: Improved mindfulness and cognitive flexibility in ayahuasca drinkers. Psychopharmacology 237 (4), 1161–1169 (2020).

Nour, M. M., Evans, L. & Carhart-Harris, R. L. Psychedelics, personality and political perspectives. J. Psychoact. Drugs 49 (3), 182–191 (2017).

Watts, R. et al. The Watts connectedness scale: A new scale for measuring a sense of connectedness to self, others, and world. Psychopharmacology 239 (11), 3461–3483 (2022).

Barba, T. et al. Effects of psilocybin versus escitalopram on rumination and thought suppression in depression. BJPsych Open 8 (5), e163 (2022).

Kleinplatz, P. J. et al. The components of optimal sexuality: A portrait of “great sex”. Can. J. Hum. Sex. 18 (1–2), 1–13 (2009).

Sánchez-Sánchez, L. C. et al. Mindfulness in sexual activity, sexual satisfaction and erotic fantasies in a non-clinical sample. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18 (3), 1161 (2021).

Leavitt, C. E., Lefkowitz, E. S. & Waterman, E. A. The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, relational wellbeing, and self-esteem. J. Sex Marital Ther. 45 (6), 497–509 (2019).

Jamea, E. The role of sensuality, imagination, and curiosity in high and optimal sexual satisfaction. Sex. Relationsh. Ther. 37 , 1–20 (2020).

Brotto, L. A. et al. A brief mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral intervention improves sexual functioning versus wait-list control in women treated for gynecologic cancer. Gynecol. Oncol. 125 (2), 320–325 (2012).

Stephenson, K. R. & Kerth, J. Effects of mindfulness-based therapies for female sexual dysfunction: A meta-analytic review. J. Sex Res. 54 (7), 832–849 (2017).

Paterson, L. Q., Handy, A. B. & Brotto, L. A. A pilot study of eight-session mindfulness-based cognitive therapy adapted for women’s sexual interest/arousal disorder. J. Sex Res. 54 (7), 850–861 (2017).

Birnbaum, G. E., Cohen, O. & Wertheimer, V. Is it all about intimacy? Age, menopausal status, and women’s sexuality. Person. Relationsh. 14 (1), 167–185 (2007).

Cacioppo, S. Neuroimaging of female sexual desire and hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Sex. Med. Rev. 5 (4), 434–444 (2017).

Carhart-Harris, R. L. et al. The entropic brain: A theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8 , 20 (2014).

Whiffen, V. E., Kallos-Lilly, A. V. & MacDonald, B. J. Depression and attachment in couples. Cogn. Ther. Res. 25 (5), 577–590 (2001).

Davis, D. et al. “I can’t get no satisfaction”: Insecure attachment, inhibited sexual communication, and sexual dissatisfaction. Person. Relationsh. 13 (4), 465–483 (2006).

Butzer, B. & Campbell, L. Adult attachment, sexual satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction: A study of married couples. Person. Relationsh. 15 (1), 141–154 (2008).

Stauffer, C. S. et al. Psilocybin-assisted group therapy and attachment: Observed reduction in attachment anxiety and influences of attachment insecurity on the psilocybin experience. ACS Pharmacol. Transl. Sci. 4 (2), 526–532 (2020).

Timmermann, C. et al. Psychedelics alter metaphysical beliefs. Sci. Rep. 11 (1), 22166 (2021).

Article   ADS   CAS   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Burris, J. L., Smith, G. T. & Carlson, C. R. Relations among religiousness, spirituality, and sexual practices. J. Sex Res. 46 (4), 282–289 (2009).

Murray-Swank, N. A., Pargament, K. I. & Mahoney, A. At the crossroads of sexuality and spirituality: The sanctification of sex by college students. Int. J. Psychol. Relig. 15 (3), 199–219 (2005).

Taylor, J. F., Rosen, R. C. & Leiblum, S. R. Self-report assessment of female sexual function: Psychometric evaluation of the Brief Index of sexual functioning for women. Arch. Sex. Behav. 23 (6), 627–643 (1994).

Peluso, D. et al. Reflections on crafting an ayahuasca community guide for the awareness of sexual abuse. J. Psychedelic Stud. 4 (1), 24–33 (2020).

Haijen, E. C. et al. Predicting responses to psychedelics: A prospective study. Front. Pharmacol. 9 , 897 (2018).

George, J. R. et al. The psychedelic renaissance and the limitations of a White-dominant medical framework: A call for indigenous and ethnic minority inclusion. J. Psychedelic Stud. 4 (1), 4–15 (2020).

Jones, G. M. & Nock, M. K. Race and ethnicity moderate the associations between lifetime psychedelic use (MDMA and psilocybin) and psychological distress and suicidality. Sci. Rep. 12 (1), 16976 (2022).

Watts, R. Psilocybin for Depression: The ACE Model Manual (Psyarxiv, 2021).

Villeneuve, N. & Prescott, D. Examining the dark sides of psychedelic therapy. Assoc. Treat. Sex. Abusers 34 (3), 1–12 (2022).

Nutt, D. J. & Sharpe, M. Uncritical Positive Regard? Issues in the Efficacy and Safety of Psychotherapy 3–6 (Sage Publications, 2008).

Montejo, A. et al. Psychometric characteristics of the psychotropic-related sexual dysfunction questionnaire. Spanish work group for the study of psychotropic-related sexual dysfunctions. Actas Esp. Psiquiatr. 28 (3), 141–150 (2000).

CAS   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Diener, E., Wirtz, D. & Tov, W. New measures of well-being: Flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Soc. Indic. Res. 39 , 247–266 (2010).

Rush, A. J. et al. The 16-item quick inventory of depressive symptomatology (QIDS), clinician rating (QIDS-C), and self-report (QIDS-SR): A psychometric evaluation in patients with chronic major depression. Biol. Psychiatry 54 (5), 573–583 (2003).

Christensen, R. H. B. Cumulative link models for ordinal regression with the R package ordinal. J. Stat. Softw. 35 , 1 (2018).

Bartz, A. E. Basic Statistical Concepts 4th edn. (Merrill, 1999).

Download references

Acknowledgements

TB would like to thank Dr Zhana Vrangalova for the intellectual input and useful feedback on this work.

We would like to thank the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust for funding the psilocybin vs escitalopram clinical trial. We would also like to acknowledge the funders of the Center for Psychedelic Research for providing supplementary funding for staff involved in the trial.

Author information

These authors contributed equally: Tommaso Barba and Hannes Kettner.

These authors jointly supervised this work: Robin Carhart-Harris and Bruna Giribaldi.

Authors and Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London, London, UK

Tommaso Barba, Hannes Kettner, Caterina Radu, Joseph M. Peill, Leor Roseman, David J. Nutt, David Erritzoe, Robin Carhart-Harris & Bruna Giribaldi

Psychedelics Division, Neuroscape, Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, United States

Hannes Kettner & Robin Carhart-Harris

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Contributions

B.T.—formulating the research questions, conducting the data analysis, visualizing the results, interpreting the results, reviewing the literature, writing the paper. H.K.—formulating the research questions, planning and conducting the data analysis, visualizing the results, interpreting the results, reviewing the literature, writing the paper. C.R.—Writing the paper, help with literature search and figure design. J.M.P.—Providing valuable feedback and responsible of data administration of both studies. L.R.—designing and data collection in study 1 and providing feedback. D.N.—Principal Investigator of study 2 and providing feedback. D.E.—designing study 1 and 2 and providing feedback. R.C.-H.—Designing study 1 and 2, supervision of research questions, data analysis, interpretation, and writing. B.G.—Formulating the research questions, supervision of data analysis, interpretation, writing and trial coordination of study 2.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tommaso Barba .

Ethics declarations

Competing interests.

Dr. Carhart-Harris reports receiving consulting fees from Mindstate and Beckley Psytech. Dr. Erritzoe reports receiving consulting fees from Field Trip and Mydecine. Dr. Nutt, reports receiving consulting fees from Awakn, H. Lundbeck, and Psyched Wellness, advisory board fees from COMPASS Pathways, and lecture fees from Takeda Medical Research Foundation and owning stock in Alcarelle.Tommaso Barba reports receiving consulting fees from LivingAdamo. None of the aforementioned organizations were involved in the design, execution, interpretation, or communication of findings from present study. The other authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Supplementary information., rights and permissions.

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Barba, T., Kettner, H., Radu, C. et al. Psychedelics and sexual functioning: a mixed-methods study. Sci Rep 14 , 2181 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-49817-4

Download citation

Received : 16 May 2023

Accepted : 12 December 2023

Published : 07 February 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-49817-4

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines . If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Quick links

  • Explore articles by subject
  • Guide to authors
  • Editorial policies

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

abstract layout for research paper

Stochastic differential reinsurance game for two competitive insurers with ambiguity-aversion under mean-variance premium principle

  • Original Research
  • Published: 16 February 2024

Cite this article

  • Yu Yuan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5004-910X 1 ,
  • Kexin Wang 2 &
  • Caibin Zhang   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3080-6158 3  

Explore all metrics

In this paper, we design a competition framework for two insurers with ambiguity aversion under the utility framework and investigate the resulting stochastic reinsurance game problem. Each insurer does not have perfect confidence in the drift terms of the insurance risk and chooses to purchase per-loss reinsurance to reduce her claim risk, and the reinsurance premium is determined via the mean-variance premium principle. The objective of each insurer is to find the optimal reinsurance strategy so as to maximize the ratio of expected utility of her terminal payoff to her competitor’s under the worst-case scenario. By the dynamic programming principle and corresponding Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman–Isaacs equation, we derive the solutions for both the equilibrium reinsurance strategy and value function under the exponential utility function. In particular, we examine the existence and uniqueness of equilibrium strategy. Finally, several numerical examples are presented to illustrate the effects of competitive relationship, ambiguity aversion and some important model parameters on the equilibrium strategy, which provide useful insights for reinsurance in reality.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price includes VAT (Russian Federation)

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Rent this article via DeepDyve

Institutional subscriptions

abstract layout for research paper

In some insurance optimization problems, researchers impose the condition that retained and transferred claims are non-decreasing functions of the underlying claim. However, in this paper, we can obtain the same monotonicity of \({\mathcal {H}}_i(t,Z_i)\) and \(Z_i- {\mathcal {H}}_i(t,Z_i)\) without requiring that condition a priori.

\(a\wedge b\) denotes the \(\min \{a, b\}\) and \(a\vee b\) means the \(\max \{a, b\}\) .

Anderson, E. W., Hansen, L. P., & Sargent, T. J. (2003). A quartet of semigroups for model specification, robustness, prices of risk, and model detection. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1 (1), 68–123.

Article   Google Scholar  

Bai, L., Cai, J., & Zhou, M. (2013). Optimal reinsurance policies for an insurer with a bivariate reserve risk process in a dynamic setting. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 53 , 664–670.

MathSciNet   Google Scholar  

Bai, L., Guo, J., & Zhang, H. (2010). Optimal excess-of-loss reinsurance and dividend payments with both transaction costs and taxes. Quantitative Finance, 10 (10), 1163–1172.

Article   MathSciNet   Google Scholar  

Bai, Y., Zhou, Z., Xiao, H., Gao, R., & Zhong, F. (2022). A hybrid stochastic differential reinsurance and investment game with bounded memory. European Journal of Operational Research, 296 (2), 717–737.

Baltas, I., Dopierala, L., Kolodziejczyk, K., Szczepański, M., Weber, G. W., & Yannacopoulos, A. N. (2022). Optimal management of defined contribution pension funds under the effect of inflation, mortality and uncertainty. European Journal of Operational Research, 298 (3), 1162–1174.

Basak, S., & Makarov, D. (2014). Strategic asset allocation in money management. The Journal of finance, 69 (1), 179–217.

Bensoussan, A., Siu, C. C., Yam, S. C. P., & Yang, H. (2014). A class of non-zero-sum stochastic differential investment and reinsurance games. Automatica, 50 (8), 2025–2037.

Bi, J., Cai, J., & Zeng, Y. (2021). Equilibrium reinsurance-investment strategies with partial information and common shock dependence. Annals of Operations Research, 307 , 1–24.

Borch, K. (1960). Reciprocal reinsurance treaties. ASTIN Bulletin, 1 , 171–191.

Brachetta, M., & Ceci, C. (2020). A BSDE-based approach for the optimal reinsurance problem under partial information. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 95 , 1–16.

Chen, L., Qian, L., Shen, Y., & Wang, W. (2016). Constrained investment-reinsurance optimization with regime switching under variance premium principle. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 71 , 253–267.

Chen, Z., & Yang, P. (2020). Robust optimal reinsurance-investment strategy with price jumps and correlated claims. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 92 , 27–46.

Galindo, H., Gallardo, J. M., & Jiménez-Losada, A. (2021). A real Shapley value for cooperative games with fuzzy characteristic function. Fuzzy Sets and Systems, 409 , 1–14.

Gallardo, J. M., & Jiménez-Losada, A. (2020). A characterization of the Shapley value for cooperative games with fuzzy characteristic function. Fuzzy Sets and Systems, 398 , 98–111.

Grandell, J. (1991). Aspects of risk theory . New York: Springer.

Book   Google Scholar  

Guan, G., & Liang, Z. (2019). Robust optimal reinsurance and investment strategies for an AAI with multiple risks. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 89 , 63–78.

Han, X., Liang, Z., & Young, V. R. (2020). Optimal reinsurance strategy to minimize the probability of drawdown under a mean-variance premium principle. Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, 2 , 1–25.

Google Scholar  

Han, X., Liang, Z., Yuen, K. C., & Yuan, Y. (2021). Minimizing the probability of absolute ruin under ambiguity aversion. Applied Mathematics and Optimization, 84 (3), 2495–2525.

Hata, H., & Sheu, S. J. (2017). An optimal consumption and investment problem with partial information. Advances in Applied probability, 50 (1), 131–153.

Huang, Y., Yao, O., Tang, L., & Zhou, J. (2018). Robust optimal investment and reinsurance problem for the product of the insurer’s and the reinsurer’s utilities. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 344 (5), 532–552.

Jeanblanc, M., Mastrolia, T., Possamai, D., & Reveillac, A. (2015). Utility maximization with random horizon: A BSDE approach. International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance, 18 (7), 1550045.

Kalayci, B., Özmen, A., & Weber, G. W. (2020). Mutual relevance of investor sentiment and finance by modeling coupled stochastic systems with MARS. Annals of Operations Research, 295 , 183–206.

Kara, G., Özmen, A., & Weber, G. W. (2019). Stability advances in robust portfolio optimization under parallelepiped uncertainty. Central European Journal of Operations Research, 27 , 241–261.

Kropat, E., Weber, G. W., & Tirkolaee, E. B. (2020). Foundations of semialgebraic gene-environment networks. Journal of Dynamics and Games, 7 (4), 253–268.

Li, D., Rong, X., & Zhao, H. (2014). Optimal reinsurance-investment problem for maximizing the product of the insurer’s and the reinsurer’s utilities under a CEV model. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 255 , 671–683.

Li, D., Zeng, Y., & Yang, H. (2018). Robust optimal excess-of-loss reinsurance and investment strategy for an insurer in a model with jumps. Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, 2 , 145–171.

Luo, S., Wang, M., & Zhu, W. (2019). Maximizing a robust goal-reaching probability with penalization on ambiguity. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 348 , 261–281.

Morlais, M. A. (2009). Utility maximization in a jump market model. Stochastics, 81 (1), 1–27.

Palanci, O., Alparslan Gök, S. Z., & Weber, G. W. (2014). Cooperative games under bubbly uncertainty. Mathematical Methods of Operations Research, 80 , 129–137.

Promislow, S. D., & Young, V. (2005). Minimizing the probability of ruin when claims follow Brownian motion with drift. North American Actuarial Journal, 9 (3), 110–128.

Pun, C. S., Siu, C. C., & Wong, H. Y. (2016). Non-zero-sum reinsurance games subject to ambiguous correlations. Operations Research Letters, 44 (5), 578–586.

Savku, E., & Weber, G. W. (2022). Stochastic differential games for optimal investment problems in a Markov regime-switching jump-diffusion market. Annals of Operations Research, 312 (2), 1171–1196.

Siu, C. C., Yam, S. C. P., Yang, H., & Zhao, H. (2017). A class of nonzero-sum investment and reinsurance games subject to systematic risks. Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, 8 , 670–707.

Yan, M., Peng, F., & Zhang, S. (2017). A reinsurance and investment game between two insurance companies with the different opinions about some extra information. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 75 , 58–70.

Yang, H., & Zhang, L. (2005). Optimal investment for insurer with jump-diffusion risk process. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 37 (3), 615–634.

Yang, P., Chen, Z., & Xu, Y. (2020). Time-consistent equilibrium reinsurance-investment strategy for n competitive insurers under a new interaction mechanism and a general investment framework. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 374 , 112769.

Yuan, Y., Han, X., Liang, Z., & Yuen, K. C. (2023). Optimal reinsurance-investment strategy with thinning dependence and delay factors under mean-variance framework. European Journal of Operational Research, 311 , 581–595.

Yuan, Y., Liang, Z., & Han, X. (2022). Robust reinsurance contract with asymmetric information in a stochastic Stackelberg differential game. Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, 4 , 328–355.

Yuan, Y., Liang, Z., & Han, X. (2023). Robust optimal reinsurance in minimizing the penalized expected time to reach a goal. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 420 , 114816.

Yuen, K. C., Liang, Z., & Zhou, M. (2015). Optimal proportional reinsurance with common shock dependence. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 64 , 1–13.

Yuen, K. C., & Wang, G. (2002). Comparing two models with dependent classes of business. In Proceedings of the 36th actuarial research conference, ARCH (Society of Actuaries) . Columbus, Ohio, 22p.

Zeng, Y., Li, D., & Gu, A. (2016). Robust equilibrium reinsurance-investment strategy for a mean-variance insurer in a model with jumps. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 66 , 138–152.

Zhang, X., Meng, H., & Zeng, Y. (2016). Optimal investment and reinsurance strategies for insurers with generalized mean-variance premium principle and no-short selling. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 67 , 125–132.

Zhao, H., Rong, X., & Zhao, Y. (2013). Optimal excess-of-loss reinsurance and investment problem for an insurer with jump–diffusion risk process under the heston model. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 53 , 504–514.

Zheng, X., Zhou, J., & Sun, Z. (2016). Robust optimal portfolio and proportional reinsurance for an insurer under a CEV model. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 67 , 77–87.

Zhu, J., Guan, G., & Li, S. (2020). Time-consistent non-zero-sum stochastic differential reinsurance and investment game under default and volatility risks. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 374 , 112737.

Download references

Acknowledgements

The research of Yu Yuan was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 12201311), the Natural Science Founding of the Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions of China (Grant No. 22KJB110021), and the Research Institute for Risk Governance and Emergency Decision-Making. The research of Caibin Zhang was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 12101299), Natural Science Foundation in Jiangsu (Grant No. BK20210668)

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

The Research Institute for Risk Governance and Emergency Decision-Making, School of Management Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China

School of Management Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China

School of Finance, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, Nanjing, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China

Caibin Zhang

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Caibin Zhang .

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest.

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Yuan, Y., Wang, K. & Zhang, C. Stochastic differential reinsurance game for two competitive insurers with ambiguity-aversion under mean-variance premium principle. Ann Oper Res (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10479-024-05844-6

Download citation

Received : 17 July 2023

Accepted : 15 January 2024

Published : 16 February 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10479-024-05844-6

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Optimal per-loss reinsurance
  • Competition framework
  • Dependent risk model
  • Mean-variance premium principle
  • Ambiguity aversion
  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research

IMAGES

  1. How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

    abstract layout for research paper

  2. ⚡ How to write an abstract for an academic paper. How to write an

    abstract layout for research paper

  3. ⚡ How to write a good abstract for a paper. Writing an effective

    abstract layout for research paper

  4. How To Write An Effective Research Paper Abstract For College: 4 Types

    abstract layout for research paper

  5. 💄 How to write a good abstract for a paper. How to Write an Abstract

    abstract layout for research paper

  6. Abstract Page in APA Format: Easily Created Using Microsoft Word

    abstract layout for research paper

VIDEO

  1. ADVANCED ABSTRACT ALGEBRA PAPER 1St #M.Sc.1St# SEMESTER

  2. Writing Abstract of Research Proposal

  3. How To Write An Abstract

  4. Paper-Vi Abstract Algebra

  5. Abstract

  6. Congrats

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Abstract

    Introduction Methods Results Discussion Abstracts are usually around 100-300 words, but there's often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements. In a dissertation or thesis, include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents.

  2. Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

    An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes: an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;

  3. PDF Abstract and Keywords Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    The abstract addresses the following (usually 1-2 sentences per topic): key aspects of the literature review problem under investigation or research question(s) clearly stated hypothesis or hypotheses methods used (including brief descriptions of the study design, sample, and sample size) study results

  4. Research Paper Abstract

    The structure of a research paper abstract usually includes the following elements: Background or Introduction: Briefly describe the problem or research question that the study addresses. Methods: Explain the methodology used to conduct the study, including the participants, materials, and procedures.

  5. Abstract Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips & Examples

    Mar 23, 2022 Photo by Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash Introduction Abstracts of research papers have always played an essential role in describing your research concisely and clearly to researchers and editors of journals, enticing them to continue reading.

  6. How to Create an APA Abstract: Structure, Formatting, and Length

    Sociology Anthropology Economics What is an abstract in APA format? Writing an abstract in APA format requires you to conform to the writing rules for APA-style papers, including the following guidelines: The abstract should be 150-250 words It should be brief but concise, containing all the paper's main points

  7. How to Write a Research Paper Abstract in 2024: Guide With Examples

    Writing Style Types and Examples 1. Abstract Definition and Overview Before we define what is abstract in research paper, let us trace the term's roots. An abstract is derived from the Latin abstractus, which means "drawn away."

  8. The Writing Center

    The abstract should begin with a brief but precise statement of the problem or issue, followed by a description of the research method and design, the major findings, and the conclusions reached.

  9. 15 Abstract Examples: A Comprehensive Guide

    An abstract represents a concise, well-articulated summary of an academic piece or research. But writing an abstract goes beyond merely creating a summary. In this piece, we'll delve into examples of abstracts to illuminate what they truly are, along with the necessary tone, style, and word counts.

  10. How to Write an Abstract in APA Format

    The Basics Writing Your Abstract How to Use Keywords An APA abstract is a concise but comprehensive summary of a scientific paper. It is typically a paragraph long, or about 150 to 250 words. The goal of the abstract is to provide the reader with a brief and accurate idea of what a paper is about.

  11. How to Write an Abstract in APA Format with Examples

    An APA abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article, research paper, dissertation, or report. It is written in accordance with the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a widely used format in social and behavioral sciences.

  12. How to Write an Abstract for Your Paper

    Set page margins at 1 inch (2.54 cm). Write the word "Abstract" at the top of the page, centered and in a bold font. Don't indent the first line. Keep your abstract under 250 words. Include a running header and page numbers on all pages, including the abstract.

  13. 3. The Abstract

    An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem (s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief s...

  14. How to Write an Abstract

    An abstract of a work, usually of an essay, is a concise summary of its main points. It is meant to concentrate the argument of a work, presenting it as clearly as possible. The abstract often appears after the title and before the main body of an essay.

  15. Abstracts

    An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work.

  16. How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition)

    An APA abstract is a summary of your paper in 150-250 words. It describes the research problem, methods, results and conclusions of your research. For published papers, it also includes a list of keywords. Write the abstract after you have finished your paper, and place it on a separate page after the title page.

  17. How to Write an Abstract

    An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a dissertation or research paper). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about. ... For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format. Checklist: Abstract 0 / 8. The word count is within the ...

  18. How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

    February 5, 2022 8 min read Share the article What is an Abstract for a Research Paper? An abstract is a brief summary of a research paper. Usually, an abstract is about 6-7 sentences long (approx. 150-250 words). There are many purposes that an abstract may serve. First and foremost, it gives readers a glimpse of your paper.

  19. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point). Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section.

  20. How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference

    Abstract Abstracts of scientific papers are sometimes poorly written, often lack important information, and occasionally convey a biased picture. This paper provides detailed suggestions, with examples, for writing the background, methods, results, and conclusions sections of a good abstract.

  21. How To Write an Abstract in 7 Steps (With an Example)

    Key takeaways: An abstract is a concise summary of a longer work, such as a dissertation or research paper, and allows readers to decide whether to read the full paper. Abstracts should be written after the full paper is written, and are usually about 150-250 words and one to two paragraphs long.

  22. APA Sample Paper

    Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here. Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper , APA Sample Professional Paper This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader

  23. Free Research Paper Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    The template's structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter. ... The title page/cover page; Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary ...

  24. Psychedelics and sexual functioning: a mixed-methods study

    B.T.—formulating the research questions, conducting the data analysis, visualizing the results, interpreting the results, reviewing the literature, writing the paper. H.K.—formulating the ...

  25. Fatigue Stability Design of Elliptical Corner Flaws

    Abstract. Preventing the degradation of system bearing capacities due to environment-induced defects is an important task in the aviation world. Thus, this research work discusses a sustainable strategy for analyzing harmful fatigue scenarios caused by quarter-elliptical corner flaws.

  26. Stochastic differential reinsurance game for two competitive ...

    In this paper, we design a competition framework for two insurers with ambiguity aversion under the utility framework and investigate the resulting stochastic reinsurance game problem. Each insurer does not have perfect confidence in the drift terms of the insurance risk and chooses to purchase per-loss reinsurance to reduce her claim risk, and the reinsurance premium is determined via the ...

  27. Polymers

    Conductive polymer composites (CPCs) filled with carbon-based materials are widely used in the fields of antistatic, electromagnetic interference shielding, and wearable electronic devices. The conductivity of CPCs with a carbon-based filling is reflected by their electrical percolation behavior and is the focus of research in this field. Compared to experimental methods, Monte Carlo ...