Summary & Abstract: Are These the Same Thing?

Summary & Abstract: Are These the Same Thing?

Writing & Publishing

“This article aims to answer one of the questions that many students ask but still cannot find the answer. This piece of writing is an attempt to unify all data we have on writing abstracts and summaries and eradicate ambiguities in the perception of these two terms.

The study of the said phenomena is based on the information provided by different educational resources. The explanations and examples provided in this work will be of value for both freshmen and holders of master’s degrees as they all do scientific research and lack comprehensive data on differences between an abstract and a summary.”

Abstract and summary seem to be synonyms. Yet, in the scientific literature, an abstract is usually a summary of the article that precedes the article itself or serves as a preview in the conference program, for instance. A summary is often the last chapter of the article, where the author sums up the results and briefly repeats the main conclusions.

Scientific discourse makes these two elements essential parts of extensive research papers and essays. Yet, their places and roles differ with the shift of context.

If you do not have spare time for studying the specifics of writing abstracts and summaries, just buy college essay or a research paper online and go on with the things that you value the most. Professional writers will do all the work and write both an abstract and a summary that will get you good grades.

And if you still want to delve into the peculiarities of each item, keep reading.


Discourse Is Key

Table of Contents

Those who stick with the idea of writing research works using their own resources should understand the role of discourse.

As mentioned above, both words can be used in different contexts. For example, one may stumble upon a movie plot summary or use the words abstract in the meaning “a cut from a book or any piece of writing.”

When we use the word summary to discuss a movie or a book, it will be a short description of the plot with few details and no spoilers. For instance, a summary for the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” mind may look like this:

“A man ages backward.”

Or it may be a full-fledged exposition:

“It is a story of a special man who lived a bright life but did it in a curious way. He was born in the body of an ugly little man and lived his life backward, slowly turning into a young man, and then died as an infant. The plot revolves around the fate of Benjamin, the people, and events that await him, love, joys of life and sadness, and the things that do not change with time.”

Both descriptions convey the same idea, but the emotional coloring is different. In this context, the two phenomena discussed here turn into synonyms. Read further to find out what features these two notions share.


The problem of emotional coloring and other similar things take a backseat when it comes to thesis papers and reports.

This phenomenon has the following features (regardless of whether it is an article or a research paper):

  • it maintains the brevity of presentation;
  • it incorporates all essential details mentioned in the body part;
  • it includes elements of evaluation;
  • it marks a closure and always rests at the end of the paper;
  • it may sound a bit informal.


Have you noticed the first part of this article? If so, congrats – you have read the abstract to the entire text. It may seem a bit out of style here, but the academic voice is a must for this piece of text.

Writing this piece deals with compiling a brief description of a book, article, report, research, etc. Its main goal is to give a concise insight into the text and help judge the advisability of its detailed study. While reading an abstract, a skilled researcher understands whether the work presented here is thorough and informative. A high-quality abstract should incorporate the following aspects:

  • a brief description of the topic (two to four sentences);
  • the aim of the research (or whatever piece of writing it may be);
  • the relevance of the text to the related field or topic.

Its distinctive features are

  • the academic tone of voice;
  • brevity;
  • the absence of contemplative sentences, quotes, or evaluations;
  • being placed above the text.


Common Features and Distinctions

Since we speak of similarities and differences of the two discussed terms, a summary for this article could look as follows.

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The abstract (due to its extreme brevity) does not allow citation, nor does it prompt using semantic pieces of the original. Thus, the content of the source should be conveyed using the author’s own words. This piece lists the questions covered in the source without revealing the content but with answering the question: “What is the source text talking about?”

A key feature of the summary, in turn, is the use of language evaluative clichés, which are not appropriate for the abstract. A summary is heftier in volume. In some cases, it may even be made out of sentences taken from the text and placed on the last page under a suitable heading.

The essence of writing any of these elements is to minimize the volume of the source while maintaining its content.

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Author: Simon RobertEasyInfoBlog is a multi-author blog. We have experts and professionals in various fields who share their ideas and expert knowledge to help you with your daily information needs. Thanks for reading!

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