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Abstract | Abstract (Summary) | Publishing

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Abstract An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, 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, acting as the point-of-entry for any given scientific paper or patent application. Abstraction and indexing services are available for a number of academic disciplines, aimed at compiling
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  Abstract An abstract is a brief summary of a research article,thesis, review,conference proceedingor any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain thepaper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at thebeginning of a manuscript, acting as the point-of-entry for any givenscientific paper orpatent application. Abstraction and indexingservices are available for a number of academic disciplines, aimed atcompiling a body of literature for that particular subject. The primary purpose of an abstract is to guide readers. An abstract is a summary of a body of information in a paragraph—100-350 words for a descriptive abstract, 100-250 words aninformative abstract. An abstract expresses the main claim andargument of a paper. In most disciplines, it never includesbibliographic citations. An abstract concisely highlights or reviews themajor points covered along with the content and scope of the writing.An abstract can also be a useful tool for writers to check that theyhave a clear grasp of their thesis and argument. If the writer can statethe thesis and argument clearly in a few sentences—and in such a waythat someone who doesn't know the subject will still be able tounderstand the main idea—then the writer knows she has a good graspof the ideas she is trying to express. An abstract says everything of central importance in a way that gives the reader a clear overview of what is contained in the essay. Purpose and limitations Academic literature uses the abstract to succinctly communicatecomplex research. An abstract may act as a stand-alone entity insteadof a full paper. As such, an abstract is used by many organizations asthe basis for selecting research that is proposed for presentation in theform of a poster, platform/oral presentation or workshop presentationat anacademic conference. Most literature database search enginesindex only 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 asignificant selling point for the reprint or electronic form of the full text . An abstract allows one to sift through copious amounts of papers forones in which the researcher can have more confidence that they willbe relevant to his research. Once papers are chosen based on the  abstract, they must be read carefully to be evaluated for relevance. Itis commonly surmised that one must not base reference citations onthe abstract alone, but the entire merits of a paper. Structure An academic abstract typically outlines four elements germane to thecompleted work: ã  The research focus (i.e. statement of the problem(s)/researchissue(s) addressed); ã  Theresearch methodsused (experimental research, casestudies, questionnaires, etc.); ã  The results/findings of the research; and ã  The main conclusions and recommendationsIt may also contain brief references.Abstract length varies by discipline and publisher requirements. Typical length ranges from 100 to 500 words, but very rarely morethan a page. An abstract may or may not have the section title of  abstract explicitly listed as an antecedent to content, however, theyare typically sectioned logically as an overview of what appears in thepaper (e.g. any one of the following: Background, Introduction,Objectives,Methods, Results, Conclusions). In journal articles,research papers, published patent applications andpatents, an abstract is a short summary placed prior to theintroduction, often set apart from the body of the text, sometimes withdifferent line justification (as a block or pull quote) from the rest of thearticle. When are abstracts used? ã Ordinarily part of a research article in a journal ã For chapters in a book, especially if each chapter has a differentauthor ã Library reference tools, such as Biological Abstracts ã For presentations at scientific meetings (often the publishedabstract is the only written record of such a presentation) ã Dissertations, some papers in the sciences and social sciencesrequire abstracts  Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract outlines the topics covered in a piece of writingso the reader can decide whether to read the entire document. Inmany ways, the descriptive abstract is like a table of contents inparagraph form. Unlike reading an informative abstract, reading adescriptive abstract cannot substitute for reading the documentbecause it does not capture the content of the piece. Nor does adescriptive abstract fulfill the other main goals of abstracts as well asinformative abstracts do. For all these reasons, descriptive abstractsare less and less common. Check with your instructor or the editor of the journal to which you are submitting a paper for details on theappropriate type of abstract for your audience. Descriptive Abstracts ã  Tell readers what information the report, article, or papercontains ã Include the purpose, methods, and scope of the report, article, orpaper ã Do not provide results, conclusions, or recommendations. ã Are always very short, usually under 100 words. ã Introduce the subject to readers, who must then read the report,article, or paper to find out the author's results, conclusions, orrecommendationsDescriptive Abstracts are very short—usually a brief one- or two-sentence paragraph (sometimes appear on the title page of a journalarticle). The descriptive abstract does not say something like this-- Problem:Based on an exhaustive review of currently available products, thisreport concludes that none of the available grammar-checkingsoftware products provides any useful function to writers. (This is thestyle of summarizing you find in the informative abstract.)Instead, the descriptive abstract says something like this-- Revision: This report provides conclusions and recommendations on thegrammar-checking software that is currently available.
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