EXAMPLES OF ABSTRACTS: GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY
Two examples of abstracts are provided here to provide some guidance for writing abstracts
which are to be included in the CE 3020 laboratory reports. Both abstracts are from
published journals, but one is poorly written and the other is well written. Critiques are
made for both to emphasize the writing style and type of information expected in a well
written abstract. Details about technical writing style and the information to be included in
an abstract can be found in the course handout, “Style Requirements for Laboratory
Reports”, also available online at http://www.ce.gatech.edu/~kkurtis/labstyle.pdf
A Poorly Written Abstract
Article Title: Elements of an Optimal Experience
Authors: Shall remain unnamed
This paper presents and assesses a framework for an engineering capstone design
program. We explain how student preparation, project selection, and instructor
mentorship are the three key elements that must be addressed before the capstone
experience is ready for the students. Next, we describe a way to administer and execute
the capstone design experience including design workshops and lead engineers. We
describe the importance in assessing the capstone design experience and report recent
assessment results of our framework. We comment specifically on what students thought
were the most important aspects of their experience in engineering capstone design and
provide quantitative insight into what parts of the framework are most important.
(1) This abstract begins well with a concise statement of the objectives of the paper, but
then wanders from good technical writing style from there.
(2) The abstract is written in the first person (e.g. “We explain…”, “We discuss…”, “We
(3) No results are presented. This poorly written abstract describes only the organization
of the paper.
“Next, we describe… We comment specifically on what students thought were the
most important aspects of their experience in engineering capstone design…”
Instead, the abstract should summarize the actual results and how they were obtained.
“A statistical analysis was performed on answers to survey questions posed to
students enrolled in a capstone design course at Georgia Tech. The analysis
showed that students thought the most important aspects of their experience in
engineering capstone design were quality of the instructor and quantity of
student/instructor interaction time.”