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Honors Writing Seminar

HONRH 2023


Spoiler Alert

There are no spoilers in academic writing.

An abstract is a detailed summary of an article/essay/paper, usually 150-250 words. It hits on the premise of the article, whatever methodology might have been undertaken, and finally -- and importantly! -- the conclusion reached in the end. Yes: they will spoil the ending of the article.

Abstracts in the Wild

When you're doing research, the abstract is the next thing you should read (after the article title, of course), because, obviously, a summary is going to help you decide whether to spend more time on that particular article.

For example, this article's abstract provides [1] an overview; [2] an existing argument; [3] the author's case study; [4] the author's conclusion.

This article focuses on the circulation and consumption of Japanese commodities invested with an informal, domestic form of spirituality, translated as ‘luck’.[1] Tambiah has argued that the dissemination of spiritual power objectified in Thai Buddhist amulets reflects the ‘differential power distribution’ and ‘social control’ vested in an hierarchically ordered lay society.[2] My Japanese case study suggests that commodification of religious forms enables a more democratic diffusion of spirituality.[3] Good luck charms are neither sacred nor secular; they challenge the supposed divide between the aesthetic value and utility of objects. They are part of extended networks of human and non-human agents, but through their various trajectories they also retain an independent agency rooted in their material properties.[4]



Your Abstract

Remember, abstracts are a preview for the article they're associated with...which  means that when you have to write an abstract, you're summarizing your own work (and not your sources).

Save writing it for last. It's easier to summarize what your paper is about after you've written it!