Difference Between Abstract and Summary

Abstract vs Summary

 

Between the Abstract and Summary, there exists a clear difference even though some students consider an Abstract and Summary as the same. These are used differently in relation to a thesis or research paper and an essay or a chapter. When paying attention to the words, specifically you might notice that Summary is something that we are quite familiar with. It is to present a short version of some event, situation, book, etc. Even in our day today life we summarize certain things. Imagine an instance where you are telling a story to a friend. You tend to summarize and present the facts, maybe ignore what you consider as irrelevant. Even in language education students are taught, to summarize, certain essays and papers. An Abstract, however, is quite different from a Summary. This does not come in essays or books, but in research papers and thesis writing. This is one of the differences between an Abstract and a Summary. Through this article let us attempt to identify other differences between these two while broadening our understanding of the terms.

 What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a short form of a research paper, in a nutshell. An Abstract is usually written with the intention of conveying the research findings of a particular research to the reader. It provides the reader with the necessary information to understand the crux of the research. An abstract is requested to be submitted prior to the long research paper to be presented at a seminar or a conference. This is normally requested by the authorities of the seminar or the conference to publish the proceedings of the seminar well in advance in the form of a book. At the same time, the purpose of reading an abstract is to get a clear idea about the subject matter of the research paper and the angle in which the study is made in the paper. An abstract is said to reflect the mind of the author of the research paper. If you browse through you will find Abstracts in research papers, Research Conference booklets and also in thesis. These usually are very well structured and provide a clear understanding of the research to the reader.

Difference Between and Abstract and a Summary

What is a Summary?

A summary is a short form of an essay or a chapter in a book or an act in a play. You can write a summary of the 2nd scene of the 1st act of the play ‘Macbeth’ of Shakespeare. You should not use the word ‘abstract’ to mean summary. In other words, it is wrong to say ‘write an abstract of the 2nd scene of the 1st act of the play Macbeth.’ It is right to say ‘write a summary of the 2nd scene of the 1st act of the play Macbeth.’ This is the main difference between the two words abstract and summary and should not be confused. Also, a summary is said to reflect the events of the particular act of a play in a nutshell and does not involve the writer’s voice. It is a mere narration of events in an objective manner. This is the difference between an abstract and a summary. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.

Abstract vs Summary

What is the Difference Between and Abstract and a Summary?

  • An abstract is a short form of a research paper, in a nutshell. On the other hand, a summary is a short form of an essay or a chapter in a book or an act in a play.
  • An abstract is requested to be submitted prior to the long research paper to be presented at a seminar or a conference, whereas Summary is usually presented at the end of an essay or paper.
  • An abstract is said to reflect the mind of the author of the research paper. A summary, on the other hand, is said to reflect the events of the particular act of a play, in a nutshell.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Abstract of the Study by Welayatee [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Timeless Books by Lin Kristensen from New Jersey, USA  [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons