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Library Services for Undergraduate Research

This research guide is a portal to library services for students participating in projects sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and other undergraduate research.

What is an Abstract ?

  • A summary of your research as a whole
  • Highlights major points of your research
  • Explains why your research is important
  • States your research conclusions 
  • One paragraph (usually about 250 words)
  • Must be understandable to an interdisciplinary audience
  • Does not include charts, tables, spreadsheets, figures or additional supporting information
  • Scroll down for examples

Abstract Examples


"The polymorphic inversion on 17q21, sometimes called the microtubular associated protein tau (MAPT) inversion, is an ~900 kb inversion found primarily in Europeans and Southwest Asians.We have identified 21 SNPs that act as markers of the inverted, i.e., H2, haplotype.The inversion is found at the highest frequencies in Southwest Asia and Southern Europe (frequencies of ~30%); elsewhere in Europe, frequencies vary from < 5%, in Finns, to 28%, in Orcadians. The H2 inversion haplotype also occurs at low frequencies in Africa, Central Asia, East Asia, and the Americas, though the East Asian and Amerindian alleles may be due to recent gene flow from Europe. Molecular evolution analyses indicate that the H2 haplotype originally arose in Africa or Southwest Asia. Though the H2 inversion has many fixed differences across the ~900 kb, short tandem repeat polymorphism data indicate a very recent date for the most recent common ancestor, with dates ranging from 13,600 to 108,400 years, depending on assumptions and estimation methods. This estimate range is much more recent than the 3 million year age estimated by Stefansson et al. in 2005."
-from Donnelly, et al. "The Distribution and Most Recent Common Ancestor of the 17q21 Inversion in Humans". American Journal of Human Genetics. Volume 86, Issue 2, Pages 103-296 (12 February 2010). [requires WashU affiliation to access]


Social Sciences 

"The complexities associated with interactions of various components of environment have not been examined in historical narratives of pre-colonial India. An important consideration for any agrarian society has been the availability of water for irrigation, and in arid and semi-arid regions—with unequal annual distribution of rains and low water table—often saline water is used even for the potable purposes. This article elucidates various systems of water management developed and maintained by the local/individual initiatives as well as those developed by the state at a larger scale for irrigation and potable purposes. It is argued here that the pre-colonial states in Rajasthan had to ensure continuity of habitation by offering concessions and support to protect the revenue base. It was a difficult act of balance in a society where political and social orders were integrated into a single complex web. The article argues that the same complex web endowed the state with an all-pervasive administrative apparatus. It questions the dominant assumption(s)centring on the relative apathy of the state towards agricultural production and resultant immunity enjoyed by the local magnates of socio-political power and even cultivators. The article also examines the nature of intricate interventions of the above-mentioned socio-political web to underline the prominent considerations enjoyed by the environment-related uncertainties."

-from  Maynak Kumar. "Situating the Environment". Studies in HistoryVol. 24, No. 2, 211-233 (2008). 
[requires WashU affiliation to access]


"Outdoor adventure and other recreational practices can express, evoke, and reinforce religious perceptions and orientations to natural and social worlds. Some participants in them understand nature itself to be sacred in some way and believe that facilitating human connections to nature is the most important aspect of their chosen practice. Such activities can be construed by scholars as "nature religion," and profitably analyzed by comparing characteristics commonly associated with religion to the beliefs and practices of participants engaged in these activities. Here I introduce as "Aquatic Nature Religion" three case studies that explore the religious, or religion-resembling aspects, of surfing, fly fishing, and whitewater kayaking. These studies provocatively challenge conventional understandings of religion and pose anew the boundary question: Where does religion end and phenomena that are not religious begin?"
-from Taylor, Bron Raymond. "Focus Introduction: Aquatic Nature Religion". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Volume 75, Number 4, December 2007. [requires WashU affiliation to access]