How can I write an abstract for a research paper on non-traditional roles for women in law enforcement using P.J. Hughes's "A New Sheriff in Town: The Barriers of Structural Discrimination Facing Women Leaders" for a graduate class?
An abstract is the academic equivalent of an executive summary. There are several functions abstracts serve in the academic community:
1) Abstracts of conference papers are published in conference programs to help attendees decide which papers to attend.
2) Abstracts accompany most published academic articles, also functioning to help people decide whether to read the entire article.
3) Abstracts function as proposals for essay collections and conferences, allowing committees to select papers for inclusion or presentation effectively.
4) Professors ask for short abstracts or summaries to see if students are on the right track with their papers. It is also a way to ensure that students get started on research for their papers well before the final paper deadline. Also, a good abstract for a graduate paper can serve as a proposal if you want to present the paper at an academic conference.
Your abstract needs to summarize the main points you intend to cover in your paper. First, you start out with a thesis statement, explaining what your main point will be. Next, you summarize how you will go about proving your thesis and what sort of supporting evidence you will use.
In this assignment, your main focus will be developing a thesis. In other words, your task is not just to summarize the paper, but to add something new, either disagreeing with the paper or agreeing with it using factual evidence.
One possible topic would be a case study of one individual female sheriff. You would research her career and show how it supports or weakens Hughes' argument.
Another possibility would be updating Hughes' research. The paper you cite was published in 2011. What has changed since then? Are there more women sheriffs now? Have any of the barriers come down or is the situation unchanged?