What is an abstract?
An abstract is a short summary of a written work. Most scholarly articles include an abstract on the first page. This abstract should give a concise summation of the content of the articles; most abstracts focus on summarizing the introduction section of an article, but some will include details about the methods, results and conclusions sections.
When conducting research, abstracts can be very helpful. They give a better indication about the content of an article than the title. They also can save you time by showing you whether an article is likely to be relevant BEFORE you read the entire thing.