How long should an abstract be?

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An abstract is a short and brief summary of a research article or thesis. The fact that it is short and brief is important because it provides only the main information of a study or experiment. In an APA-style research paper, an abstract usually is no less than 100 words and no more than 120 words (Heiman, 2002, 493). The abstract must include enough information about the experiment so that it can stand by itself.

Example / Application

Example: Surviving the Holocaust

Application: In this article, the abstract is about how long it should be for this type of report. The purpose of an abstract is not to include descriptive details of the study. Rather, it is a convenient way to sum up and grasp the facts of what the study is about without having to read the entire article. Being that there are many articles that relay research to readers, it is not important to have the longest abstract in hopes someone would be interested. If this abstract was twice as long as it is now, readers would not invest a long time in reading it. Articles that are within 120 words are more appealing because while they are short, they are to the point of the study. The purpose of a short abstract is also to limit the author to only including the basic details of the study.


Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Barel, E., Sagi-Schwartz, A., & Van-IJzendoorn, M. H. (2010). Surviving the Holocaust: A Meta-Analysis of the Long-Term Sequelae of a Genocide Psychological Bulletin Vol. 136, No. 5, 677–698

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