HOME

TheInfoList




An abstract is a brief summary of a research article,
thesis A thesis, or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher ed ...
, review,
conference A conference is a meeting of people who "confer" about a topic. Conference types include: * Academic conference, in science and academic, a formal event where researchers present results, workshops, and other activities. * Athletic conference, a ...
proceeding In academia and librarianship, conference proceeding is a collection of academic papers published in the context of an academic conference or workshop. Conference proceedings typically contain the contributions made by researchers at the conference ...

proceeding
, or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript or typescript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given academic paper or
patent application A patent application is a request pending at a patent office for the grant of a patent for an invention described in the patent specification and a set of one or more claim (patent), claims stated in a formal document, including necessary official ...

patent application
. Abstracting and indexing services for various academic disciplines are aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject. The terms précis or synopsis are used in some publications to refer to the same thing that other publications might call an "abstract". In
management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spok ...

management
reports, an
executive summary An executive summary (or management summary) is a short document or section of a document produced for business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and ser ...
usually contains more information (and often more sensitive information) than the abstract does.


Purpose and limitations

Academic literature uses the abstract to succinctly communicate complex research. An abstract may act as a stand-alone entity instead of a full paper. As such, an abstract is used by many organizations as the basis for selecting research that is proposed for presentation in the form of a poster, platform/oral presentation or workshop presentation at an
academic conference An academic conference or scientific conference (also symposium, workshop, or meeting) is an event Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestu ...
. Most
bibliographic database A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literature, including academic journal, journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government and lega ...
s only index abstracts rather than providing the entire text of the paper. Full texts of scientific papers must often be purchased because of copyright and/or publisher fees and therefore the abstract is a significant selling point for the reprint or electronic form of the full text. The abstract can convey the main results and conclusions of a scientific article but the full text article must be consulted for details of the methodology, the full experimental results, and a critical discussion of the interpretations and conclusions. An abstract allows one to sift through copious numbers of papers for ones in which the researcher can have more confidence that they will be relevant to his or her research. Once papers are chosen based on the abstract, they must be read carefully to be evaluated for relevance. It is generally agreed that one must not base reference citations on the abstract alone, but the content of an entire paper. According to the results of a study published in ''
PLOS Medicine ''PLOS Medicine'' (formerly styled ''PLoS Medicine'') is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by ...
'', the "exaggerated and inappropriate coverage of research findings in the news media" is ultimately related to inaccurately reporting or over-interpreting research results in many abstract conclusions. A study published in ''
JAMA ''JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulat ...
'' concluded that "inconsistencies in data between abstract and body and reporting of data and other information solely in the abstract are relatively common and that a simple educational intervention directed to the author is ineffective in reducing that frequency." Other "studies comparing the accuracy of information reported in a journal abstract with that reported in the text of the full publication have found claims that are inconsistent with, or missing from, the body of the full article."


History

The history of abstracting dates back to the point when it was felt necessary to summarise the content of documents in order to make the information contained in them more accessible. In
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
during the early second millennium BCE, clay envelopes designed to protect enclosed
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
documents from tampering were inscribed either with the full text of the document or a summary. In the
Greco-Roman world The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to geographical regions and countries that culturally—and so historically—were ...
, many texts were abstracted: summaries of non-fiction works were known as
epitome An epitome (; gr, ἐπιτομή, from ἐπιτέμνειν ''epitemnein'' meaning "to cut short") is a summary or miniature form, or an instance that represents a larger reality, also used as a synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A m ...
s, and in many cases the only information about works which have not survived to modernity comes from their epitomes which have survived. Similarly, the text of many ancient Greek and Roman plays commenced with a
hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer to: * Context (language use), the rel ...
which summed up the play's plot. Non-literary documents were also abstracted: the Tebtunis papyri found in the
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
ian town of
Tebtunis Tebtunis was a city and later town in Lower Egypt. The settlement was founded in approximately 1800 BCE by the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, Twelfth Dynasty king Amenemhat III. It was located in what is now the village of Tell Umm el-Baragat in the Fai ...
contain abstracts of legal documents. During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, the pages of scholarly texts contained summaries of their contents as
marginalia Marginalia (or apostils) are marks made in the margin (typography), margins of a book or other document. They may be scribbles, comments, gloss (annotation), glosses (annotations), critiques, doodles, or illuminated manuscript, illumination ...

marginalia
, as did some manuscripts of the
Code of Justinian The Code of Justinian ( la, Codex Justinianus, or ) is one part of the ''Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, i ...
. Perhaps the earliest use of abstracts to communicate science were from the early 1800s, where the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
would publish 'abstracts' summarizing the presented papers during meetings.https://www.insidescience.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-so-abstract-about-scientific-abstracts Three decades later, the Royal Society compiled abstracts of previous papers published from 1800 - 1837, in the society's journal ''
Philosophical Transactions ''Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society'' is a scientific journal In academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and o ...
'', titled ''Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London''. This practice took hold and later other journals followed suite. Perhaps the earliest example of an abstract bound to the same article dates to the 1919 paper ''On the Irregularities of Motion of the Foucault Pendulum'' published in the ''
Physical Review ''Physical Review'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a professio ...
'', the oldest journal published by the
American Physical Society The American Physical Society (APS) is a not-for-profit membership organization of professionals in physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , ...
, and the journal often published abstracts in its volumes thereafter.


Copyright

Abstracts are protected under
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
law just as any other form of written
speech Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''c ...
is protected. However, publishers of scientific articles invariably make abstracts freely available, even when the article itself is not. For example, articles in the biomedical literature are available publicly from
MEDLINE MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, or MEDLARS Online) is a bibliographic database A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literatu ...

MEDLINE
which is accessible through
PubMed PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE bibliographic database, database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. The United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes ...

PubMed
.


Structure

Abstract is often expected to tell a complete story of the paper, as for most readers, abstract is the only part of the paper that will be read. It should allow the reader to give an
Elevator pitch An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short description of an idea, product, or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in a short period of time. This description typically expl ...
of the full paper. An academic abstract typically outlines four elements relevant to the completed work: * The research focus (statement of the problem(s)/specific gap in existing research/research issue(s) addressed); * The
research methods Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. A research project ma ...
(experimental research, case studies,
questionnaire A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions (or other types of prompts) for the purpose of gathering information from respondents through survey or statistical study. The questionnaire was invented by the Statistic ...

questionnaire
s, etc) used to solve the problem; * The major results/findings of the research; and * The main conclusions and recommendations (i.e., how the work answers the proposed research problem). It may also contain brief references, although some publications' standard style omits references from the abstract, reserving them for the article body (which, by definition, treats the same topics but in more depth). Abstract length varies by discipline and publisher requirements. Typical length ranges from 100 to 500 words, but very rarely more than a page and occasionally just a few words. An abstract may or may not have the section title of "abstract" explicitly listed as an antecedent to content. Abstracts are typically sectioned logically as an overview of what appears in the paper, with any of the following subheadings: Background,
Introduction Introduction, The Introduction, Intro, or The Intro may refer to: General use * Introduction (music), an opening section of a piece of music * Introduction (writing), a beginning section to a book, article or essay which states its purpose and g ...
,
Objective Objective may refer to: * Objective (optics), an element in a camera or microscope * ''The Objective'', a 2008 science fiction horror film * Objective pronoun, a personal pronoun that is used as a grammatical object * Objective Productions, a Briti ...

Objective
s,
Method Method ( grc, μέθοδος, methodos) literally means a pursuit of knowledge, investigation, mode of prosecuting such inquiry, or system. In recent centuries it more often means a prescribed process for completing a task. It may refer to: *Scien ...

Method
s, Results, Conclusions. Abstracts in which these subheadings are explicitly given are often called structured abstracts. Abstracts that comprise one paragraph (no explicit subheadings) are often called unstructured abstracts.


Example

Example taken from the '' Journal of Biology, Volume 3, Issue 2''.:
The hydrodynamics of dolphin drafting
by Daniel Weihs, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel. Abstract: Background Drafting in cetaceans is defined as the transfer of forces between individuals without actual physical contact between them. This behavior has long been surmised to explain how young dolphin calves keep up with their rapidly moving mothers. It has recently been observed that a significant number of calves become permanently separated from their mothers during chases by tuna vessels. A study of the hydrodynamics of drafting, initiated inmechanisms causing the separation of mothers and calves during fishing-related activities, is reported here. Results Quantitative results are shown for the forces and moments around a pair of unequally sized dolphin-like slender bodies. These include two major effects. First, the so-called Bernoulli suction, which stems from the fact that the local pressure drops in areas of high speed, results in an attractive force between mother and calf. Second is the displacement effect, in which the motion of the mother causes the water in front to move forwards and radially outwards, and water behind the body to move forwards to replace the animal's mass. Thus, the calf can gain a 'free ride' in the forward-moving areas. Utilizing these effects, the neonate can gain up to 90% of the thrust needed to move alongside the mother at speeds of up to 2.4 m/s. A comparison with observations of eastern spinner dolphins (''Stenella longirostris'') is presented, showing savings of up to 60% in the thrust that calves require if they are to keep up with their mothers. Conclusions A theoretical analysis, backed by observations of free-swimming dolphin schools, indicates that hydrodynamic interactions with mothers play an important role in enabling dolphin calves to keep up with rapidly moving adult school members. © 2004 Weihs; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL


Abstract types


Informative

The informative abstract, also known as the complete abstract, is a compendious summary of a paper's substance and its background, purpose, methodology, results, and conclusion. Usually between 100 and 200 words, the informative abstract summarizes the paper's structure, its major topics and key points. A format for scientific short reports that is similar to an informative abstract has been proposed in recent years. Informative abstracts may be viewed as standalone documents.


Descriptive

The descriptive abstract, also known as the limited abstract or the indicative abstract, provides a description of what the paper covers without delving into its substance. A descriptive abstract is akin to a
table of contents Table may refer to: * Table (information), a data arrangement with rows and columns * Table (furniture), a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs * Table (database) * Calligra Tables, a spreadsheet application * Mathematical tab ...
in paragraph form.


Graphical abstracts

During the late 2000s, due to the influence of
computer storage Computer data storage is a technology consisting of computer components and Data storage device, recording media that are used to retain digital data (computing), data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers. The cent ...
and retrieval systems such as the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
, some scientific publications, primarily those published by
Elsevier Elsevier () is a Netherlands-based publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and ...

Elsevier
, started including
graphical Graphics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 millio ...

graphical
abstracts alongside the text abstracts. The graphic is intended to summarize or be an exemplar for the main thrust of the article. It is not intended to be as exhaustive a summary as the text abstract, rather it is supposed to indicate the type, scope, and technical coverage of the article at a glance. The use of graphical abstracts has been generally well received by the
scientific community The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterize ...
. Moreover, some journals also include video abstracts and animated abstracts made by the authors to easily explain their papers. Many scientific publishers currently encourage authors to supplement their articles with graphical abstracts, in the hope that such a convenient visual summary will facilitate readers with a clearer outline of papers that are of interest and will result in improved overall visibility of the respective publication. However, the validity of this assumption has not been thoroughly studied, and a recent study statistically comparing publications with or without graphical abstracts with regard to several output parameters reflecting visibility failed to demonstrate an effectiveness of graphical abstracts for attracting attention to scientific publications.


Abstract quality assessment

Various methods can be used to evaluate abstract quality, e.g. rating by readers, checklists (not necessary in structured abstracts), and readability measures (such as Flesch Reading Ease).


See also

*
Abstract (law) In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its ...
* Abstract management *
Academic conference An academic conference or scientific conference (also symposium, workshop, or meeting) is an event Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestu ...
*
Annotation An annotation is extra information associated with a particular point in a document A document is a written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of develop ...

Annotation
*
Executive summary An executive summary (or management summary) is a short document or section of a document produced for business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and ser ...
* Fast abstract *
IMRAD In scientific writing, IMRAD or IMRaD () (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) is a common organizational structure (a document format). IMRaD is the most prominent norm for the structure of a scientific journal article of the original r ...
- commonly used structure for academic journal articles and their abstracts *
List of academic databases and search engines This article contains a representative list of notable databases and search engines useful in an academic setting for finding and accessing articles in academic journals, institutional repository, institutional repositories, archives, or other coll ...
*
Preface __NOTOC__ A preface () or proem () is an introduction to a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus define ...

Preface
* TL;DR


References

;Books * ;Notes {{DEFAULTSORT:Abstract (Summary) Academic publishing Publishing Academic terminology