You are probably wondering where the abstract should be placed in your research paper: at the beginning or towards the end?
It is common to include the abstract right at the beginning (cf.
Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 89; Samac, Prenner, & Schwetz 2009: 56).
As we have established, it is a helpful tool for the reader to get an overview of the whole paper as early as possible. So, it would not be logical to put it at the end, right?
You write an abstract to give a brief account of the most important information relating to the research background, structure, method, data analysis, and results of your research paper.
The abstract should not create suspense: Making it very clear early on what your results are will help the reader evaluate the relevance of your paper.
Indeed, many papers are still written in the native language of the country.
But your research paper not being written in English does not mean that this also holds true for the abstract.
However, an analysis of abstracts across a range of fields show that few follow this advice, nor do they take the opportunity to summarize previous work in their second sentence.
A central issue is the lack of structure in standard advice on abstract writing, so most authors don’t realize the third sentence should point out the deficiencies of this existing research.