The author guidelines for the Journal of Computational Physics do not specify a word limit for the abstract, saying only that it should be 'brief'. But should I impose a word limit myself? I have heard that some indexing services can truncate overly-long abstracts, though I've not come across evidence that this is this case.

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    If they're not imposing a specific limit, why should you? That being said, the goal of an abstract is to be a brief snippet that gets potential readers interested in your work. If someone can't figure out in 30 seconds to a minute what you're trying to do, your abstract is probably too long.
    – tonysdg
    Jan 16 '17 at 17:06
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    Besides the potential truncation, the closest answer might be a recent (correlative) study, which found that - in contrast to common advice - a larger abstract coincides with a higher amount of citations: journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/…
    – tsttst
    Jan 16 '17 at 22:29

Yes, you should limit yourself because the goal of the abstract is to be short. Now, where to put the limit?

A good idea would be to look at recently published articles in this journal and note their length.

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    Good answer. Could be strengthened by looking at some abstracts and providing a suggested maximum. Hertz: Additionally: try reading some abstracts on a small netbook. If it doesn't stay "above the fold" it's too long. Jan 16 '17 at 19:32

An abstract should sell your paper, introduce the family of constructs/theies used and may indicate the key narrative/outcomes. It should end after that so that one needs to read the paper. The better journals usually ask for stricter limits. (Journals of ) Pure sciences probably have editors wanting to allow you to use complete sentences and sensible sentences even in the abstract so skipped the abstract word limit out of politeness..

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    Are you saying that one should write the abstract as click bait? Jan 17 '17 at 19:31

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