This series of posts presents ten simple suggestions to help you change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies that you can adapt to suit your particular context.

10 easy ways

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

7.   Get students to write an abstract

Students frequently write essays or reports and they are often involved in reading academic papers. But they often don’t make the connections. To teach students to write coherent, cogent essays and articles, one way to start is to encourage them to write good abstracts. Abstract writing is an important skill for academics to learn but the ability to precis an argument is essential in whatever profession students undertake.

You could preface the activity with a class session where students brainstorm what they think are the qualities of a good abstract.


“Students are given a paper which the tutor has written, but from which all references to it (journal name, volume, page numbers, author name) have been deleted. The students then write an abstract for the paper. The exercise is used in tutorials to develop the skills of writing, critical analysis, summarising information and research design and planning” (Plymouth University, UK)

“In a development of this approach the teacher collects the abstracts and puts them in a common format and chooses the best four or five which are then put with the original abstract. Students vote for ‘best abstract’. Then the teacher reveals which is the author’s abstract often to the surprise of the students!” (Brigham Young University, USA).

Posted by Lilia Mantai

Lilia's PhD was on the role of social support in the development of researcher identities in the PhD. She is a Higher Ed professional, passionate about education, research, and providing support to staff and students.

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