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Executive Summaries and Abstracts


Not all documents require an abstract, and most of your class papers won’t. However, all NPS theses must have an abstract, and abstracts are often required for conference papers and articles submitted for publication. Understanding how an abstract is structured can also help you as a researcher. When conducting research, get in the habit of reading abstracts carefully to determine which documents closely fit your research needs. Abstracts are limited in length (often about 200 words), and thus must be very concise, clear statement that convey a few key things:

  • The topic and significance of the research
  • The research question driving the inquiry
  • The methods used to answer the question
  • The findings and implications of the research

In order to make your research easier to find by other researchers, it is a good idea to think about what searchable keywords are associated with your project. Make sure to include them in your abstract!

Executive summaries are longer than abstracts, often running 3–7 pages. Not all theses require them, so check with your advisor or department for guidance. The following links contain further guidance on the difference between the two and on their contents.

 

Executive Summaries and Abstracts Links

NPS-specific short handout from the GWC and Thesis Processing Office: "Abstracts vs. Executive Summaries

Handout (printable): "Abstracts," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center

Handout (printable): "How to Write an Abstract," Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

Writing Guide: "Executive Summaries," Colorado State University

Video (6:35): "Layering Reports - The Executive Summary 1," Zachery Koppleman, Purdue OWL

Video (5:53): "Layering Reports - The Executive Summary A Closer Look Part 1," Zachery Koppleman, Purdue OWL

Chapter from a book: "Technical Reports, Executive Summaries, and Abstracts" Robert Shenk, The Naval Institute Guide to Naval Writing

 

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All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

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A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

 

B

body paragraphs

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

 

C

citations

citation styles

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

 

D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent marker words

double submission of coursework

drafting

 

E

edit your own work

editing – outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

 

F

FANBOYS

FAQs

footnotes

free-writing

 

G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

 

H

hyphens

 

I

ibid.

introductions

 

J

Joining the Academic Conversation

 

L

LaTeX

library liaisons 

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

 

M

memos

methodologies

 

N

note-taking

numbers

 

O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

 

P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases and clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

punctuation

purpose of research

 

Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

 

R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reverse outlining 

revising passive voice into active voice

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

 

S

self-citing

semi-colons

subjects, grammatical

significance

so-what?

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM/technical writing 

style

subject/verb agreement

 

T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

 

U

United States or U.S.?

 

V

verbs and verb tense

 

W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process