Writing Tips #23



  1. — An abstract, or summary, is published together with a research article, giving the reader a “preview” of what’s to come. . Such abstracts may also be published separately in bibliographical sources. They allow other scientists to quickly scan the large scientific literature, and decide which articles they want to read in depth. The abstract should be a little less technical than the article itself; you don’t want to dissuade your potential audience from reading your paper.
  2. — Your abstract should be one paragraph, of 100-250 words, which summarizes the purpose, methods, results and conclusions of the paper.
  3. It is not easy to include all this information in just a few words. Start by writing a summary that includes whatever you think is important, and then gradually prune it down to size by removing unnecessary words, while still retaining the necessary concepts.
  4. — Don’t use abbreviations or citations in the abstract. It should be able to stand alone without any footnotes.
—  What should be in an abstract?
  1. The Question(s) you investigated (from Introduction)
—  State the purpose clearly in 1-2 sentences
  1. Design and Methods used (from Methods)
—  Briefly describe the basic methodology used
—  Data, design and technique
  1. Major findings (from Results)
—  Report the results which answer your questions
—  Identify any trends or changes
  1. Summary of analysis (from Discussion)
—  Clearly state the implications of the findings
—  What should  NOT  be in an abstract?
  1. Lengthy background information
  2. References to other literature
  3. Incomplete sentences
  4. Abbreviations or confusing terms
  5. Any sort of illustration or figures

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