V. Abstracts and Annotations


An abstract (also called a précis, a summary, a synopsis) is a summary of a journal article or a report (business or technical). It condenses the main points of the original and must make sense independently of the work being summarized (i.e., the reader unfamiliar with the whole work should be able to understand the abstract of it).

An abstract is usually written by the author of the original document (i.e., the writer of a journal article writes his/her own abstract of it, the report writer writes his/her own abstract of it). But you may be asked to do an abstract of someone else's document by a professor as a course assignment. Be sure to find out which kind of abstract--descriptive or informative--the professor is assigning.


Informative (Used most often)

To write an abstract:

Examples (both abstract this article):
Krotz, Joanna L. “Getting Even.” Working Woman Aug. 1999: 42-50.

A Descriptive Abstract

The article discusses the current wage gap between men and women. It covers the legal and regulatory situation, the role women play in salary negotiations, and the conventional attitudes that prevent women from achieving higher positions and salaries. It ends with speculation from various experts on when the gap will be closed.

An Informative Abstract

Krotz examines the salary gap between men and women. Despite the 1963 Equal Pay Act which outlawed “wage discrimination based on sex,” the gap has narrowed by only 15 cents since then. Women made 59 cents to every man's dollar in 1963; now they earn about 74 cents to every dollar. This discrepancy remains even though women make up nearly 50% of “all managers and professionals and own nearly 40% of all U.S. businesses.” It remains even though corporate giants like Texaco, Kodak, and Home Depot have capitulated to lawsuits and grievances. Part of the wage gap exists because of the complexities of proving discrimination, which is very difficult.

But women also seldom research and negotiate salary: they are far too inclined to take what is offered. In addition, employers too often still regard women as mothers who will miss work for childcare and as people who “choose” to work rather than “have” to work (as, presumably, men do, to support families). Moreover, the men's network of “country clubs and golf courses” where important business deals are negotiated still exists and there women are still unwelcome.

How soon will the wage gap end? Some experts say maybe never, but a more optimistic outlook says that, if the gap has closed by 15 cents in 35 years, it may close the rest of the way by 2050.

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, magazine articles, etc.) accompanied by a brief summary of the contents of each source. The bibliography is arranged in alphabetical order by the author, or, if no author, the title of the source. Placed below each bibliographic entry, the annotation does the following: explains the purpose of the work.

Example of Annotation:

Zohar, Danah. The Quantum Self: Human Nature and Consciousness Defined by the New Physics. New York: Quill/William Morrow, 1990.

This book takes the reader through the fascinating workings of the subatomic realm to create a new model of human consciousness. It presents a hypothesis for the possibility that our consciousness continues beyond death. Zohar shows how the material world impinges on our sense of self. She proposes the subatomic realm may be our source of creativity and connections with others. The book shows how the vitality of the new physics combats the alienation and fragmentation of contemporary life and replaces it with a model of reality in which the universe itself may possess consciousness, of which human consciousness is one expression. It is clearly written and accessible to general audiences useful for research in quantum physics, philosophy, psychology, anthropology and spirituality.

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MCC Guide to Writing Research Papers.
Developed by: M. DiSano, A. Penwarden, S. Callan.
Revised version August 2006. Copyright Monroe Community College.