How to Write an Abstract for a Scientific Paper

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS

2

Editorial

Journal of Patan Academy of Health Sciences. 2017 Jun;4(1):1-2.

Abstract is written in different formats and author must

comply with specific style of the journal they have chosen.

More and more scientific journals use structured abstract,

the ‘AIMRAD’ format i.e. abstract in IMRAD stylethe

‘Introductions, Methods, Results and Conclusion (instead

of discussion section of the main article). Abstract do not

have ‘discussion’ section. In ‘unstructured’ abstract there

is no subheadings, and is written in a paragraph with the

same flow as in the structured abstract.1-4

Example of structured abstract5

Summary

Background:Laparoscopic cholecystectomy uses smaller

incision and trocars that lessen the contamination and

exposure of wound, resulting in less infection. However,

the antibiotic prophylaxis is still widely practiced, like in

our institute, a continuation of the era of open surgery.

Recent studies reveal no advantage of routine use of

antibiotic, and there is growing consensus against it.

Besides cost, antibiotic increases emergence of multidrug

resistance. Because of the controversies, we conducted

this clinical trial.

Methods:This randomized clinical trial, conducted from

October 1, 2009 to September 31, 2010 at Patan Hospital,

included 154 patients in prophylactic antibiotic group

(GrAP) with cefazolin 1 g IV as per existing practice and

156 in no antibiotic group (GrAPn). Symptomatic

laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients of American

Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) 1 and 2 (without

diabetes) were included. Patients with complicated gall

stones (cholangitis, choledocholithiasis, and pancreatitis)

and who required conversion were excluded. Wound was

observed during follow-up within 1 week. Data on patient

characteristics, use of antibiotic, bile spillage, and

postoperative wound infection were entered in

predesigned proforma. Microsoft Excel was used to

analyze the data.

Results:In total, 310 patients were eligible for analysis,

154 in GrAP and 156 in GrAPn. Both groups were

comparable in patient demographic and clinical

characteristics such as average age (40.3 vs. 41.6 years)

and sex (female 77.6% vs. 78.6%). Overall wound

infection occurred in 4.8% (15/310). There was no

significant difference in wound infections among the two

groups (p Z 0.442): GrAP 3.9% and GrAPn 5.8%. There was

no mortality in this series.

Conclusion:Routine preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis is

not necessary in low-risk symptomatic gallstone patients

undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

KEYWORDS:antibiotic prophylaxis; laparoscopic

cholecystectomy; surgical site infection; wound infection

Example of unstructured abstract6

ABSTRACT

In laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC), cystic duct and

artery are normally secured with titanium clips.

Intracorporeal ligation is normally superior to extra

corporeal knotting. Most studies report of separate and

multiple ligations of cystic duct and artery, which are

viewed as technically demanding and time consuming.

Similarly the harmonic scalpel and ‘LigaSure’ are

prohibitory expensive for resource limited country like

Nepal. After several modifications, we observed the

success of intracorporeal “single ligation of cystic artery

and duct” with free silk tie. From Jul to Oct 2009, after a

pilot study and several modifications of intracorporeal

ligation, we successfully used single ligation of cystic

artery and duct (SLAD) with free silk 2/0 in symptomatic

cholelithiasis patients.80 cases undergoing elective

laparoscopic cholecystectomy. There were 80 patients,

females 71.0% (n=57). Average age of patients was 39 yr

(1465). We had no bile leak or other complications

related to ligature. The time taken for tie varied from 2 to

7 minutes (average 3 min). In 3 cases, a 5th port was

made to grasp and ligate the bleeding vessels. There were

19 (25.0%) acute calculus cholecystitis, including

mucocele, empyema, gangrenous cholecystitis. Two

patients (2.0%) had inflammation of umbilical port which

healed spontaneously. This technique of intracorporeal

single ligation of cystic artery and duct (SLAD) in LC is

simple, safe and economical. SLAD do not increase

operative time as only single tie is used. This no clip

laparoscopic cholecystectomy (NCLC) eliminates the clip

related complications.

Keywords: Clips, cystic duct, laparoscopic

cholecystectomy, ligation.

REFERENCES

1.Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper:

3. The Abstract

http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/abstract

2.Preparing for Submission, 3. Manuscript

section, b. Abstract

http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/bro

wse/manuscript-preparation/preparing-for

submission.html#b

3.Cerejo C. A 10step guide to make your research

paper abstract more effective. Editage Insights

(16-10-2013). 2013 Oct 16.

https://www.editage.com/insights/a-10-step

guide-to-make-yourresearchpaper-abstract

moreeffective

4.Chittaranjan Andrade. How to write a good

abstract for a scientific paper or conference

presentation. Indian J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr-Jun;

53(2): 172–175. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.82558

5.Shah JN, Maharjan SB, Paudyal S. Routine use of

antibiotic prophylaxis in low-risk laparoscopic

cholecystectomy is unnecessary: a randomized

clinical trial. Asian journal of surgery. 2012 Oct

31;35(4):136-9.

6.Shah JN, Maharjan SB. Clipless laparoscopic

cholecystectomya prospective observational

study. Nepal Med Coll J. 2010 Jun;12(2):69-71.

I.  Types of Abstracts

To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.

Critical Abstract
A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.

Descriptive Abstract
A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.

Informative Abstract
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.

Highlight Abstract
A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.


II.  Writing Style

Use the active voice when possible, but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.

Formatting

Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word «Abstract» at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.

Composing Your Abstract

Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].

Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words.

The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:

  • Lengthy background or contextual information,
  • Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
  • Acronyms or abbreviations,
  • References to other literature [say something like, «current research shows that…» or «studies have indicated…»],
  • Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with «…»] or incomplete sentences,
  • Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
  • Citations to other works, and
  • Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.

Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. «Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters’ Instructions.» American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. «Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences.» Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century. Oxford, UK: 2010

One of the most important parts of a scientific article is the abstract. Successful authors put substantial effort into crafting their abstracts, which act like advertisements for their papers.

Unfortunately, some authors fail to understand how important a good abstract is to the success of their scientific article. That was one of my problems when I first began writing technical papers. Like many novices, I treated the abstract as an afterthought. I left the abstract until the last minute and then dashed off a mediocre summary composed of sentences copied from the narrative. Only much later did I understand that the abstract is one of the most important components of a scientific paper.

Writing an abstract_edit.jpg

Why is the abstract so important? Well, because it is often the only section of a paper that is read and usually determines whether a reader downloads and reads the rest of the paper. Or, in the case of a conference paper, the abstract will determine whether it is accepted or not for presentation to colleagues. Conference organizers and journal editors and reviewers pay close attention to the abstract because it is a good predictor of the quality of the paper or talk. A poorly written abstract says the author is inexperienced or doesn’t care about quality.

Writing a decent abstract is not difficult—if you know what information needs to be included and how to structure it. If you’ve never written an abstract before, you may be uncertain about what exactly goes into one. Essentially, an abstract should reflect all the parts of your paper, but in shortened form. In other words, a person reading only your abstract should be able to understand why you conducted the study, how you conducted it, what you found, and why your work is important. In general, avoid the novice’s cut-and-paste approach when crafting your abstract and instead write a unique, standalone summary. Although inclusion of data is acceptable, report only those numbers that represent the most important information. Some authors include citations or URLs in their abstracts, but many journals discourage or prohibit such additions. Be sure to stay within the word limit, which most journals and conferences set for abstracts.

Let’s now consider how to structure your abstract. Some journals or conferences provide a template that specifies four or five sections, e.g., Background or Aim, Question, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. If so, then follow those instructions. If not, then the four-part structure provided below will serve as a basic guideline. If you follow this formula, your abstract will be well organized and will contain all the essential elements. There are four main parts in which you need to answer the following questions:

1. What problem did you study and why is it important? Here, you want to provide some background to the study, the motivation behind the study, and/or the specific question or hypothesis you addressed. You may be able to set the stage with only one or two sentences, but sometimes it takes a longer description. You’ll have to use your best judgment here as to how much to say in this first section.

2. What methods did you use to study the problem? Next, you want to give an overview of your methods. Was it a field study or a laboratory experiment? What experimental treatments were applied? Generally, you want to keep the methods section brief unless it is the focus of the paper.

3. What were your key findings? When describing your results, strive to focus on the main finding(s) and list no more than two or three points. Also, avoid ambiguous or imprecise wording, which is a common mistake found in conference abstracts written before the data have been completely collected or analyzed. If your data are incomplete or still being analyzed, you are not ready to present your paper.

4. What did you conclude based on these findings and what are the broader implications? The conclusions section is where you want to drive home the broader implications of your study. What is new or innovative about the findings? How do your findings affect the field of study? Are there any applications? In writing this section, however, don’t state sweeping generalizations unsupported by the data or say that insights “will be discussed”.

Another important consideration in preparing an abstract is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which means including search terms people are likely to use when looking for papers on your topic. In addition to including such terms in the title and keyword field of your paper, you want to repeat those terms contextually throughout the abstract. Such repetition is used by search engines to rank an online document. By optimizing your abstract for discovery by search engines, you can raise the ranking of your paper in a search and make it easier for colleagues to find.

A final point is that some journals are now encouraging or requiring “enhanced abstracts” such as graphical abstracts or video abstracts. Although such abstracts include additional visual components, the same basic guidelines I’ve covered in this post still apply. All good abstracts recapitulate the paper and contain the four key parts listed above.

Writing good abstracts is not an art, but a learned skill. Developing such a skill takes practice. Here is an exercise to help you develop this skill. Pick a scientific article in your field. Read the paper with the abstract covered. Then try to write an abstract based on your reading. Compare your abstract to the author’s. Repeat until you feel confident. If you’ve not yet published a paper, this exercise will help you hone the skills necessary to write a concise and informative abstract.

If you would like to view a presentation that summarizes the points in this post and uses a published abstract to illustrate, see this link.

Image credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/Getty Images

Karen McKee

Scientist // Dr. Karen L. McKee is a Scientist Emeritus (retired) with the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. She received both a master’s degree and doctorate in botany and has conducted research in the field of wetland plant ecology for forty years. While working for the U.S. Geological Survey, she studied the effects of climate change, sea-level rise, and hurricanes on wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta (Louisiana, USA) as well as in other wetlands around the world. Her work has been published in over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports. A strong proponent of science communication, Karen has also produced several peer-reviewed videos that describe her research and why it’s important to society (USGS Multimedia Gallery). She authored the book, The Scientist Videographer, which promotes science communication by teaching scientists and students how to use video to tell their science stories. Karen continues to share her insights and offers tutorials in video-making for scientists on her website and YouTube channel.
Website: thescientistvideographer.com/wordpress

Twitter: @scivideographer


More Content by Karen McKee

Abstracts of scientific papers are sometimes poorly written, often lack important information, and occasionally convey a biased picture. This paper provides detailed suggestions, with examples, for writing the background, methods, results, and conclusions sections of a good abstract.

Keywords: Abstract, preparing a manuscript, writing skills

Although some journals still publish abstracts that are written as free-flowing paragraphs, most journals require abstracts to conform to a formal structure within a word count of, usually, 200–250 words.

The usual sections defined in a structured abstract are the Background, Methods, Results, and Conclusions; other headings with similar meanings may be used (eg, Introduction in place of Background or Findings in place of Results).

Some journals include additional sections, such as Objectives (between Background and Methods) and Limitations (at the end of the abstract). In the rest of this paper, issues related to the contents of each section will be examined in turn.

Background

This section should be the shortest part of the abstract and should very briefly outline the following information:

  1. What is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question

  2. What is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present)

In most cases, the background can be framed in just 2–3 sentences, with each sentence describing a different aspect of the information referred to above; sometimes, even a single sentence may suffice. The purpose of the background, as the word itself indicates, is to provide the reader with a background to the study, and hence to smoothly lead into a description of the methods employed in the investigation.

Some authors publish papers the abstracts of which contain a lengthy background section. There are some situations, perhaps, where this may be justified. In most cases, however, a longer background section means that less space remains for the presentation of the results. This is unfortunate because the reader is interested in the paper because of its findings, and not because of its background.

A wide variety of acceptably composed backgrounds is provided in Table 2; most of these have been adapted from actual papers.[49] Readers may wish to compare the content in Table 2 with the original abstracts to see how the adaptations possibly improve on the originals. Note that, in the interest of brevity, unnecessary content is avoided. For instance, in Example 1 there is no need to state “The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV), a dual-acting antidepressant drug, has been established…” (the unnecessary content is italicized).

Table 2

Examples of the background section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g002.jpg

Methods

The methods section is usually the second-longest section in the abstract. It should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. Table 3 lists important questions to which the methods section should provide brief answers.

Table 3

Questions regarding which information should ideally be available in the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g003.jpg

Carelessly written methods sections lack information about important issues such as sample size, numbers of patients in different groups, doses of medications, and duration of the study. Readers have only to flip through the pages of a randomly selected journal to realize how common such carelessness is.

Table 4 presents examples of the contents of accept-ably written methods sections, modified from actual publications.[10,11] Readers are invited to take special note of the first sentence of each example in Table 4; each is packed with detail, illustrating how to convey the maximum quantity of information with maximum economy of word count.

Table 4

Examples of the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g004.jpg

Results

The results section is the most important part of the abstract and nothing should compromise its range and quality. This is because readers who peruse an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should therefore be the longest part of the abstract and should contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits. For example, it is bad writing to state “Response rates differed significantly between diabetic and nondiabetic patients.” A better sentence is “The response rate was higher in nondiabetic than in diabetic patients (49% vs 30%, respectively; P{amp}lt;0.01).”

Important information that the results should present is indicated in Table 5. Examples of acceptably written abstracts are presented in Table 6; one of these has been modified from an actual publication.[11] Note that the first example is rather narrative in style, whereas the second example is packed with data.

Table 5

Information that the results section of the abstract should ideally present

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g005.jpg

Table 6

Examples of the results section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g006.jpg

Citation of references anywhere within an abstract is almost invariably inappropriate. Other examples of unnecessary content in an abstract are listed in Table 8.

Table 8

Examples of unnecessary content in a abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g008.jpg

It goes without saying that whatever is present in the abstract must also be present in the text. Likewise, whatever errors should not be made in the text should not appear in the abstract (eg, mistaking association for causality).

As already mentioned, the abstract is the only part of the paper that the vast majority of readers see. Therefore, it is critically important for authors to ensure that their enthusiasm or bias does not deceive the reader;

unjustified speculations could be even more harmful. Misleading readers could harm the cause of science and have an adverse impact on patient care.[12] A recent study,[13] for example, concluded that venlafaxine use during the second trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of neonates born small for gestational age.

However, nowhere in the abstract did the authors mention that these conclusions were based on just 5 cases and 12 controls out of the total sample of 126 cases and 806 controls. There were several other serious limitations that rendered the authors’ conclusions tentative, at best; yet, nowhere in the abstract were these other limitations expressed.

As a parting note: Most journals provide clear instructions to authors on the formatting and contents of different parts of the manuscript. These instructions often include details on what the sections of an abstract should contain.

Authors should tailor their abstracts to the specific requirements of the journal to which they plan to submit their manuscript. It could also be an excellent idea to model the abstract of the paper, sentence for sentence, on the abstract of an important paper on a similar subject and with similar methodology, published in the same journal for which the manuscript is slated.

An abstract is a concise summary of an experiment or research project. It should be brief — typically under 200 words. The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the research paper by stating the purpose of the research, the experimental method, the findings, and the conclusions.

Background

This section should be the shortest part of the abstract and should very briefly outline the following information:

  1. What is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question

  2. What is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present)

In most cases, the background can be framed in just 2–3 sentences, with each sentence describing a different aspect of the information referred to above; sometimes, even a single sentence may suffice.

The purpose of the background, as the word itself indicates, is to provide the reader with a background to the study, and hence to smoothly lead into a description of the methods employed in the investigation.

Some authors publish papers the abstracts of which contain a lengthy background section. There are some situations, perhaps, where this may be justified. In most cases, however, a longer background section means that less space remains for the presentation of the results.

A wide variety of acceptably composed backgrounds is provided in Table 2; most of these have been adapted from actual papers.[49] Readers may wish to compare the content in Table 2 with the original abstracts to see how the adaptations possibly improve on the originals.

Note that, in the interest of brevity, unnecessary content is avoided. For instance, in Example 1 there is no need to state “The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV), a dual-acting antidepressant drug, has been established…” (the unnecessary content is italicized).

Table 2

Examples of the background section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g002.jpg

CONCLUSIONS

This section should contain the most important take-home message of the study, expressed in a few precisely worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcome measure;

however, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary, but not essential, for the authors to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. Thus, the conclusions may contain three elements:

  1. The primary take-home message

  2. The additional findings of importance

  3. The perspective

Despite its necessary brevity, this section has the most impact on the average reader because readers generally trust authors and take their assertions at face value. For this reason, the conclusions should also be scrupulously honest;

Table 7

Examples of the conclusions section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g007.jpg

Descriptive Abstracts

A descriptive abstract is an extremely brief description of the contents of a report. Its purpose is to tell the reader what to expect from the full paper.

  • A descriptive abstract is very short, typically less than 100 words.
  • Tells the reader what the report contains, but doesn’t go into detail.
  • It briefly summarizes the purpose and experimental method, but not the results or conclusions. Basically, say why and how the study was made, but don’t go into findings. 

Footnotes

Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

How to Write an Abstract

The format you’ll use for the abstract depends on its purpose. If you’re writing for a specific publication or a class assignment, you’ll probably need to follow specific guidelines. If there isn’t a required format, you’ll need to choose from one of two possible types of abstracts.

Informational Abstracts

An informational abstract is a type of abstract used to communicate an experiment or lab report.

  • An informational abstract is like a mini-paper. Its length ranges from a paragraph to 1 to 2 pages, depending on the scope of the report. Aim for less than 10% the length of the full report.
  • Summarize all aspects of the report, including purpose, method, results, conclusions, and recommendations. There are no graphs, charts, tables, or images in an abstract. Similarly, an abstract does not include a bibliography or references.
  • Highlight important discoveries or anomalies. It’s okay if the experiment did not go as planned and necessary to state the outcome in the abstract.

Here is a good format to follow, in order, when writing an informational abstract. Each section is a sentence or two long:

  1. Motivation or Purpose: State why the subject is important or why anyone should care about the experiment and its results.
  2. Problem: State the hypothesis of the experiment or describe the problem you are trying to solve.
  3. Method: How did you test the hypothesis or try to solve the problem?
  4. Results: What was the outcome of the study? Did you support or reject a hypothesis? Did you solve a problem? How close were the results to what you expected? State-specific numbers.
  5. Conclusions: What is the significance of your findings? Do the results lead to an increase in knowledge, a solution that may be applied to other problems, etc.?

Need examples? The abstracts at PubMed.gov (National Institutes of Health database) are informational abstracts. A random example is this abstract on the effect of coffee consumption on Acute Coronary Syndrome.

INTRODUCTION

This paper is the third in a series on manuscript writing skills, published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Earlier articles offered suggestions on how to write a good case report,[1] and how to read, write, or review a paper on randomized controlled trials.

[2,3] The present paper examines how authors may write a good abstract when preparing their manuscript for a scientific journal or conference presentation. Although the primary target of this paper is the young researcher, it is likely that authors with all levels of experience will find at least a few ideas that may be useful in their future efforts.

The abstract of a paper is the only part of the paper that is published in conference proceedings. The abstract is the only part of the paper that a potential referee sees when he is invited by an editor to review a manuscript.

The abstract is the only part of the paper that readers see when they search through electronic databases such as PubMed. Finally, most readers will acknowledge, with a chuckle, that when they leaf through the hard copy of a journal, they look at only the titles of the contained papers.

If a title interests them, they glance through the abstract of that paper. Only a dedicated reader will peruse the contents of the paper, and then, most often only the introduction and discussion sections.

Thus, for the vast majority of readers, the paper does not exist beyond its abstract. For the referees, and the few readers who wish to read beyond the abstract, the abstract sets the tone for the rest of the paper.

It is therefore the duty of the author to ensure that the abstract is properly representative of the entire paper. For this, the abstract must have some general qualities. These are listed in Table 1.

Table 1

General qualities of a good abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g001.jpg

Methods

The methods section is usually the second-longest section in the abstract. It should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. Table 3 lists important questions to which the methods section should provide brief answers.

Table 3

Questions regarding which information should ideally be available in the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g003.jpg

Carelessly written methods sections lack information about important issues such as sample size, numbers of patients in different groups, doses of medications, and duration of the study. Readers have only to flip through the pages of a randomly selected journal to realize how common such carelessness is.

Table 4 presents examples of the contents of accept-ably written methods sections, modified from actual publications.[10,11] Readers are invited to take special note of the first sentence of each example in Table 4;

Table 4

Examples of the methods section of an abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.{amp}#xA;Object name is IJPsy-53-172-g004.jpg
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Essay's Help