Exercise 6 – Writing 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”

In the following activity we will walk through the process of writing an abstract. You will first need to read:
TITLE: “Let People Speak for Themselves: Interracial Unions and the General Social Survey”
AUTHOR: Yanick St. Jean
JOURNAL: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jan., 1998), pp. 398-414
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.

Go to http://www.jstor.org/stable/2784741 to find a copy of the article.


Go to the UNC web page on Abstracts (http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/abstracts.html). Read “Types of Abstracts” Descriptive vs. Informative and “How to write an abstract.” We will be following the key process elements.

You will be writing an informative abstract for the article on Interracial Unions and the General Social Survey.
Begin your summary, abstract, or annotation with the citation  Some people in the past have missed what the study was really about. This happens when you don’t read the articles.

 The conclusion of the article really does a good job of telling you what the study was about: “The purpose of this study was to ….”
Note the article does not use statistical analysis of the GSS as a method of data collection.
Spell check & proof read!
Be clear in your word choice… don’t use vocabulary just to try and sound smart…
1. Please type the bibliographic reference to this article using the American Psychological Association Style… (do not cut and paste this one, use the controls above to get your formatting correct).
Now Read How to Write an Abstract
3. What problem does this work attempt to solve?  What is the scope of the project?  What is the main argument/thesis/claim? (again about 1-2 sentences)
4. Describe the types of evidence used in the research. What kind of data collection was used? Was the data primary or secondary? What kind of analysis was conducted? (yup 1-2 sentences)
5. What were the findings? What did the research conclude? (this time a bit more, 2-3 sentences)
6.  What are the implications of this research? According to the researcher, what should happen as a result of the findings? What does this change about our understanding of intermarriage, but more importantly about our understanding of the questions on the GSS? (again…. 2-3 sentences)
7. Ok… here’s the easy part. Cut and paste all of your answers here… tie them together into one coherent paragraph. The entire abstract should be no more than about 250 words.
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