Abstracts, Literature Reviews, and Annotated Bibliographies: Home

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What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a summary of points (as of a writing) usually presented in skeletal form ; also : something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or several things. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)  

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 a body of literature for that particular subject. (Wikipedia)

An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article. It allows readers to survey the contents of an article quickly. Readers often decide on the basis of the abstract whether to read the entire article. A good abstract should be: ACCURATE --it should reflect the purpose and content of the manuscript. COHERENT --write in clear and concise language. Use the active rather than the passive voice (e.g., investigated instead of investigation of). CONCISE --be brief but make each sentence maximally informative, especially the lead sentence. Begin the abstract with the most important points. The abstract should be dense with information. ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association)

Abstract Guidelines

An abstract of a report of an empirical study should describe: (1) the problem under investigation (2) the participants with specific characteristics such as age, sex, ethnic group (3) essential features of the study method (4) basic findings (5) conclusions and implications or applications. An abstract for a literature review or meta-analysis should describe: (1) the problem or relations under investigation (2) study eligibility criteria (3) types of participants (4) main results, including the most important effect sizes, and any important moderators of these effect sizes (5) conclusions, including limitations (6) implications for theory, policy, and practice. An abstract for a theory-oriented paper should describe (1) how the theory or model works and the principles on which it is based and (2) what phenomena the theory or model accounts for and linkages to empirical results. An abstract for a methodological paper should describe (1) the general class of methods being discussed (2) the essential features of the proposed method (3) the range of application of the proposed method (4) in the case of statistical procedures, some of its essential features such as robustness or power efficiency. An abstract for a case study should describe (1) the subject and relevant characteristics of the individual, group, community, or organization presented (2) the nature of or solution to a problem illustrated by the case example (3) questions raised for additional research or theory.

A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. Literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such as a thesis, a literature review usually precedes a research proposal and results section. Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as future research that may be needed in the area.A well-structured literature review is characterized by a logical flow of ideas; current and relevant references with consistent, appropriate referencing style; proper use of terminology; and an unbiased and comprehensive view of the previous research on the topic. (Wikipedia)

Literature Review: An extensive search of the information available on a topic which results in a list of references to books, periodicals, and other materials on the topic. ( Online Library Learning Center Glossary )

"... a literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarship, and does not report new primary scholarship itself. The primary reports used in the literature may be verbal, but in the vast majority of cases reports are written documents. The types of scholarship may be empirical, theoretical, critical/analytic, or methodological in nature. Second a literature review seeks to describe, summarize, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports."

Cooper, H. M. (1988), "The structure of knowledge synthesis", Knowledge in Society , Vol. 1, pp. 104-126

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How do I Write a Literature Review?: #5 Writing the Review


You've done the research and now you're ready to put your findings down on paper. When preparing to write your review, first consider how will you organize your review.

The actual review generally has 5 components:

Abstract  -  An abstract is a summary of your literature review. It is made up of the following parts:

Introduction :   Like a typical research paper introduction, provide the reader with a quick idea of the topic of the literature review:

Body :  The body of a literature review contains your discussion of sources and can be organized in 3 ways-

You may also want to include a section on "questions for further research" and discuss what questions the review has sparked about the topic/field or offer suggestions for future studies/examinations that build on your current findings.

Conclusion :  In the conclusion, you should:

Conclude your paper by providing your reader with some perspective on the relationship between your literature review's specific topic and how it's related to it's parent discipline, scientific endeavor, or profession.

Bibliography :   Since a literature review is composed of pieces of research, it is very important that your correctly cite the literature you are reviewing, both in the reviews body as well as in a bibliography/works cited. To learn more about different citation styles, visit the " Citing Your Sources " tab.

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Clarifying the abstracts of systematic literature reviews *

James hartley.

1 Department of Psychology Keele University Staffordshire United Kingdom

2 † Author's address for correspondence: James Hartley, B.A., Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, United Kingdom; email, [email protected]

Background: There is a small body of research on improving the clarity of abstracts in general that is relevant to improving the clarity of abstracts of systematic reviews.

Objectives: To summarize this earlier research and indicate its implications for writing the abstracts of systematic reviews.

Method: Literature review with commentary on three main features affecting the clarity of abstracts: their language, structure, and typographical presentation.

Conclusions: The abstracts of systematic reviews should be easier to read than the abstracts of medical research articles, as they are targeted at a wider audience. The aims, methods, results, and conclusions of systematic reviews need to be presented in a consistent way to help search and retrieval. The typographic detailing of the abstracts (type-sizes, spacing, and weights) should be planned to help, rather than confuse, the reader.

Several books and review papers have been published over the last twenty-five years about improving the clarity of the abstracts of articles in scientific journals, including several recent studies [ 1–5 ]. Three main areas of importance have been discussed:

This paper considers the implications of the findings from research in each of these overlapping areas to the more specific area of writing abstracts for what are called “systematic reviews.” Such reviews in medical journals typically use standard procedures for assessing the evidence obtained from separate studies for and against the effectiveness of a particular treatment. The term “systematic” implies that the authors have used a standard approach to minimizing biases and random errors and that the methods chosen for the approach will be documented in the materials and methods sections of the review. Examples of such reviews may be found in Chalmers's and Altman's text [ 6 ] and in papers published in medical journals, particularly Evidence-Based Medicine. Figure 1 provides a fictitious example of an abstract for such a paper.

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“Before” and “after” examples designed to show how differences in typography and wording can enhance the clarity of an abstract. Abstract courtesy of Philippa Middleton.


Research on the readability of conventional journal abstracts suggests that they are not easy to read. Studies in this area typically use the Flesch Reading Ease (R.E.) scores as their measure of text difficulty [ 7 ]. This measure, developed in the 1940s, is based upon the somewhat over simple idea that the difficulty of text is a function of the length of the sentences in the text and the length of the words within these sentences. The original Flesch formula is that R.E. = 206.835 − 0.846w − 1.015s (where w = the average number of syllables in 100 words and s = the average number of words per sentence). The scores normally range from 0 to 100, and the lower the score the more difficult the text is to read; Table 1 gives typical examples. Today, Flesch R.E. scores accompany most computerized spell checkers, and this removes the difficulties of hand calculation; although different programs give slightly different results [ 8, 9 ].

Table 1 The interpretation of Flesch scores

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Table 2 summarizes the Flesch scores obtained for numerous journal abstracts in seven studies. The low scores shown here support the notion that journal abstracts are difficult to read. With medical journals, in particular, this difficulty may stem partly from complex medical terminology. Readability scores such as these are widely quoted, even though there is considerable debate about their validity, largely because they ignore the readers' prior knowledge and motivation [ 10, 11 ].

Table 2 Flesch Reading Ease scores reported in previous research on abstracts in journal articles

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A second cause of difficulty in understanding text is that, although the wording may be simple and the sentences short, the concepts being described may not be understood by the reader. Thus, for example, although the sentence “God is grace” is extremely readable (in terms of the Flesch), it is not easy to explain what it actually means! In systematic reviews, to be more specific, the statistical concepts of the confidence interval and the adjusted odds ratio ( Figure 1 ) may be well understood by medical researchers, but they will not be understood by all readers.

A third cause of difficulty in prose lies in the scientific nature of the text that emphasizes the use of the third person, together with the passive rather than the active tense. Graetz writes of journal abstracts:

The abstract is characterized by the use of the past tense, the third person, passive, and the non-use of negatives…. It is written in tightly worded sentences, which avoid repetition, meaningless expressions, superlatives, adjectives, illustrations, preliminaries, descriptive details, examples, footnotes. In short it eliminates the redundancy which the skilled reader counts on finding in written language and which usually facilitates comprehension. [ 12 ]

In systematic reviews, it is easy to find sentences like “Trial eligibility and quality were assessed” that would be more readable if they were written as “We assessed the eligibility and the quality of the trials.” Furthermore, there are often short telegrammatic communications, some of which contain no verbs. Figure 1 provides an example (under the subheading “Selection criteria”).

There are, of course, numerous guidelines on how to write clear abstracts and more readable medical text [ 13–16 ] but, at present, there are few such guidelines for writing the abstracts of systematic reviews. Mulrow, Thacker, and Pugh [ 17 ] provide an excellent early example, and there are now regularly updated guidelines in the Cochrane Handbook [ 18 ].

Nonetheless, even when such guidelines are followed, evaluating the clarity of medical text is not easy. But some methods of doing so may be adapted from the more traditional literature on text evaluation. Schriver, for example, describes three different methods of text evaluation—text-based, expert-based, and reader-based methods [ 19 ]:

Although all three methods of evaluation are useful, especially in combination, this writer particularly recommends reader-based methods for evaluating the readability of abstracts in systematic reviews. This recommendation is because the readers of such systematic reviews are likely to be quite disparate in their aims, needs, and even in the languages that they speak. As the 1999 Cochrane Handbook put it:

Abstracts should be made as readable as possible without compromising scientific integrity. They should primarily be targeted to health care decision makers (clinicians, consumers, and policy makers) rather than just researchers. Terminology should be reasonably comprehensible to a general rather than a specialist medical audience [emphasis added]. [ 20 ]

Expert-based measures on their own may be misleading. For instance, there is evidence to suggest that the concerns of professionals are different from those of other personnel [ 21 ]. Wilson et al. [ 22 ], for instance, report wide differences between the responses of general practitioners (GPs) and patients in the United Kingdom in responses to questions concerning the content and usefulness of several patient information leaflets. Table 3 shows some of their replies.

Table 3 Differences between general practitioners (GPs) and patients in their views about particular patient information leaflets

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In recent times, particularly in the medical field, there has been great interest in the use of so-called “structured abstracts”—abstracts that typically contain subheadings, such as “background,” “aims,” “methods,” “results,” and “conclusions.” Indeed, the early rise in the use of such abstracts was phenomenal [ 23 ], and it has no doubt continued to be so up to the present day. Evaluation studies have shown that structured abstracts are more effective than traditional ones, particularly in the sense that they contain more information [ 24–31 ]. However, a caveat here is that some authors still omit important information, and some still include information in the abstract that does not match exactly what is said in the article [ 32–35 ].

Additional research has shown that structured abstracts are sometimes easier to read and to search than are traditional ones [ 36, 37 ], but others have questioned this conclusion [ 38, 39 ]. Nonetheless, in general, both authors and readers apparently prefer structured to traditional abstracts [ 40–42 ]. The main features of structured abstracts that lead to these findings are that:

Nonetheless, there are some difficulties—and these difficulties become more apparent after considering the structured abstracts of systematic reviews. First of all, the typographic practice of denoting the subheadings varies from journal to journal [ 43, 44 ]. Second, and of more relevance here, there is a range of subheadings used both within and among journals [ 45, 46 ], which militates against rapid retrieval. Table 4 shows an example of these variations by listing the subheadings used in the abstracts in just one volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Finally, it appears that some authors omit important subheadings or present them in a different order (e.g., reporting the conclusions before the results) [ 47 ].

Table 4 Different numbers of subheadings used in abstracts in the same volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association

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The implications of these difficulties are that a decision needs to be made, based upon appropriate evaluation studies, about what are the key subheadings that can be used consistently in systematic reviews. The journal Evidence-Based Medicine, for example, uses the following six subheadings: “Question(s),” “Data sources,” “Study selection,” “Data extraction,” “Main results,” and “Conclusions,” but the Cochrane Handbook [ 48 ] recommends another seven: “Background,” “Objectives,” “Search strategy,” “Selection criteria,” “Data collection and analysis,” “Main results,” and “Reviewers' conclusions.” Presumably, these different sets of subheadings have developed over time with experience. For example, “Objective(s)” initially preceded “Question(s)” in Evidence-Based Medicine. In the future, refining these subheadings further may be possible by using appropriate typographic cueing, to separate important from minor subheadings, such as those headings used in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It will be essential, however, to use consistent terminology throughout the literature to aid both the creation of and retrieval from the abstracts of systematic reviews. Editors may consult their readers and their authors for possible solutions to this problem.


Early research on the typographic setting of structured abstracts in scientific articles suggests that the subheadings should be printed in bold capital letters with a line space above each subheading [ 49 ]. But this research has been done with structured abstracts that only have four subheadings. However, the abstracts of systematic reviews are likely to have more than four-subheadings—indeed, as noted above, six or seven seem typical. Also, some of these subheadings may be more important than others.

Generally speaking, there are two ways of clarifying the structure in typography. One is to vary the typography, the other to vary the spacing [ 50, 51 ]. In terms of typography, not overdoing is best; there is no need to use two cues when one will do. Thus, it may be appropriate to use bold lettering for the main subheadings and italic lettering for the less important ones, without adding the additional cues of capital letters or underlining. Also, as the subheadings appear as the first word on a line, placing a line space above them enhances their effectiveness, so there is no need to indent the subheadings as well. The abstracts published in the Cochrane Library follow this procedure.

Finally in this section, it should be noted that it is easier to read an abstract:


The research reviewed above suggests that, in presenting the abstracts to systematic reviews, attention needs to be paid to their language, their structure, and their typographic design. Figure 1 shows a “before and after” example for a fictitious abstract for a systematic review. The purpose of this example is to encapsulate the argument of this paper and to show how changes in wording and typography can enhance the clarity of an abstract for a systematic review.


The author is indebted to Iain Chalmers, Philippa Middleton, Mark Starr, and anonymous referees for assistance in the preparation of this paper.

* Based on invited presentation at the VIIth Cochrane Colloquium, Rome, Italy, October 1999.

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Definition and Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.

Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.

When to Write Your Abstract

Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.

Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract

The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.

The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.

The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).

Sample Abstract 1

From the social sciences.

Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.

“The growing economic resemblance of spouses has contributed to rising inequality by increasing the number of couples in which there are two high- or two low-earning partners. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the topic under study (the “economic resemblance of spouses”). This sentence also implies the question underlying this research study: what are the various causes—and the interrelationships among them—for this trend?] The dominant explanation for this trend is increased assortative mating. Previous research has primarily relied on cross-sectional data and thus has been unable to disentangle changes in assortative mating from changes in the division of spouses’ paid labor—a potentially key mechanism given the dramatic rise in wives’ labor supply. [Annotation for the previous two sentences: These next two sentences explain what previous research has demonstrated. By pointing out the limitations in the methods that were used in previous studies, they also provide a rationale for new research.] We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose the increase in the correlation between spouses’ earnings and its contribution to inequality between 1970 and 2013 into parts due to (a) changes in assortative mating, and (b) changes in the division of paid labor. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The data, research and analytical methods used in this new study.] Contrary to what has often been assumed, the rise of economic homogamy and its contribution to inequality is largely attributable to changes in the division of paid labor rather than changes in sorting on earnings or earnings potential. Our findings indicate that the rise of economic homogamy cannot be explained by hypotheses centered on meeting and matching opportunities, and they show where in this process inequality is generated and where it is not.” (p. 985) [Annotation for the previous two sentences: The major findings from and implications and significance of this study.]

Sample Abstract 2

From the humanities.

Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.

“From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, a network of young urban migrant men created an underground pulp fiction publishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the context for this research and announces the topic under study.] As texts that were produced in the underground economy of a city whose trajectory was increasingly charted outside of formalized planning and investment, these novellas reveal more than their narrative content alone. These texts were active components in the urban social worlds of the young men who produced them. They reveal a mode of urbanism otherwise obscured by narratives of decolonization, in which urban belonging was constituted less by national citizenship than by the construction of social networks, economic connections, and the crafting of reputations. This article argues that pulp fiction novellas of socialist era Dar es Salaam are artifacts of emergent forms of male sociability and mobility. In printing fictional stories about urban life on pilfered paper and ink, and distributing their texts through informal channels, these writers not only described urban communities, reputations, and networks, but also actually created them.” (p. 210) [Annotation for the previous sentences: The remaining sentences in this abstract interweave other essential information for an abstract for this article. The implied research questions: What do these texts mean? What is their historical and cultural significance, produced at this time, in this location, by these authors? The argument and the significance of this analysis in microcosm: these texts “reveal a mode or urbanism otherwise obscured . . .”; and “This article argues that pulp fiction novellas. . . .” This section also implies what previous historical research has obscured. And through the details in its argumentative claims, this section of the abstract implies the kinds of methods the author has used to interpret the novellas and the concepts under study (e.g., male sociability and mobility, urban communities, reputations, network. . . ).]

Sample Abstract/Summary 3

From the sciences.

Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

“Several studies have reported reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes; however, reprogramming into proliferative induced cardiac progenitor cells (iCPCs) remains to be accomplished. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence announces the topic under study, summarizes what’s already known or been accomplished in previous research, and signals the rationale and goals are for the new research and the problem that the new research solves: How can researchers reprogram fibroblasts into iCPCs?] Here we report that a combination of 11 or 5 cardiac factors along with canonical Wnt and JAK/STAT signaling reprogrammed adult mouse cardiac, lung, and tail tip fibroblasts into iCPCs. The iCPCs were cardiac mesoderm-restricted progenitors that could be expanded extensively while maintaining multipo-tency to differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, iCPCs injected into the cardiac crescent of mouse embryos differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iCPCs transplanted into the post-myocardial infarction mouse heart improved survival and differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. [Annotation for the previous four sentences: The methods the researchers developed to achieve their goal and a description of the results.] Lineage reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs provides a scalable cell source for drug discovery, disease modeling, and cardiac regenerative therapy.” (p. 354) [Annotation for the previous sentence: The significance or implications—for drug discovery, disease modeling, and therapy—of this reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs.]

Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract

Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.

“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:

literature review of abstracts

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11.8  Writing an abstract

All full reviews must include an abstract of not more than 400 words. The abstract should be kept as brief as possible without sacrificing important content. Abstracts to Cochrane reviews are published in MEDLINE and the Science Citation Index, and are made freely available on the internet. It is therefore important that they can be read as stand-alone documents.

The abstract should summarize the key methods, results and conclusions of the review and should not contain any information that is not in the review. Links to other parts of the review (such as references, studies, tables and figures) may not be included in the abstract. A hypothetical example of an abstract is included in Box 11.8.a .

Abstracts should be targeted primarily at healthcare decision makers (clinicians, informed consumers and policy makers) rather than just to researchers. Terminology should be reasonably comprehensible to a general rather than a specialist healthcare audience. Abbreviations should be avoided, except where they are widely understood (for example, HIV). Where essential, other abbreviations should be spelt out (with the abbreviations in brackets) on first use. Names of drugs and interventions that can be understood internationally should be used wherever possible. Trade names should not be used.

The content under each heading in the abstract should be as follows:

Background: This should be one or two sentences to explain the context or elaborate on the purpose and rationale of the review. If this version of the review is an update of an earlier one, it is helpful to include a sentence such as “This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in YEAR, and previously updated in YEAR”.

Objectives:  This should be a precise statement of the primary objective of the review, ideally in a single sentence, matching the Objectives in the main text of the review. Where possible the style should be of the form “To assess the effects of   [intervention or comparison] for [health problem] for/in [types of people, disease or problem and setting if specified]”.

Search methods: This should list the sources and the dates of the last search, for each source, using the active form ‘We searched….’ or, if there is only one author, the passive form can be used, for example, ‘Database X, Y, Z were searched’. Search terms should not be listed here. If the CRG’s Specialized Register was used, this should be listed first in the form ‘Cochrane X Group Specialized Register’. The order for listing other databases should be the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, other databases. The date range of the search for each database should be given. For the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials this should be in the form ‘Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials ( The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 1)’. For most other databases, such as MEDLINE, it should be in the form ‘MEDLINE (January 1966 to December 2006)’. Searching of bibliographies for relevant citations can be covered in a generic phrase ‘reference lists of articles’. If there were any constraints based on language or publication status, these should be listed. If individuals or organizations were contacted to locate studies this should be noted and it is preferable to use ‘We contacted pharmaceutical companies’ rather than a listing of all the pharmaceutical companies contacted. If journals were specifically handsearched for the review, this should be noted but handsearching to help build the Specialized Register of the CRG should not be listed.

Selection criteria: These should be given as ‘ [type of study] of [type of intervention or comparison] in [disease, problem or type of people]‘ . Outcomes should only be listed here if the review was restricted to specific outcomes.

Data collection and analysis: This should be restricted to how data were extracted and assessed, and not include details of what data were extracted. This section should cover whether data extraction and assessments of risk of bias were done by more than one person. If the authors contacted investigators to obtain missing information, this should be noted here. What steps, if any, were taken to identify adverse effects should be noted.

Main results: This section should begin with the total number of studies and participants included in the review, and brief details pertinent to the interpretation of the results (for example, the risk of bias in the studies overall or a comment on the comparability of the studies, if appropriate). It should address the primary objective and be restricted to the main qualitative and quantitative results (generally including not more than six key results). The outcomes included should be selected on the basis of which are most likely to help someone making a decision about whether or not to use a particular intervention. Adverse effects should be included if these are covered in the review. If necessary, the number of studies and participants contributing to the separate outcomes should be noted, along with concerns over quality of evidence specific to these outcomes. The results should be expressed narratively as well as quantitatively if the numerical results are not clear or intuitive (such as those from a standardized mean differences analysis). The summary statistics in the abstract should be the same as those selected as the defaults for the review, and should be presented in a standard way, such as ‘odds ratio 2.31 (95% confidence interval 1.13 to 3.45)’. Ideally, risks of events (percentage) or averages (for continuous data) should be reported for both comparison groups. If overall results are not calculated in the review, a qualitative assessment or a description of the range and pattern of the results can be given. However, ‘vote counts’ in which the numbers of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ studies are reported should be avoided.

Authors’ conclusions: The primary purpose of the review should be to present information, rather than to offer advice or recommendations. The Authors’ conclusions should be succinct and drawn directly from the findings of the review so that they directly and obviously reflect the main results. Assumptions should generally not be made about practice circumstances, values, preferences, tradeoffs; and the giving of advice or recommendations should generally be avoided. Any important limitations of data and analyses should be noted. Important conclusions about the implications for research should be included if these are not obvious.

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African Studies Review

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A well-composed abstract is key to the effective dissemination of your research. Many articles are only ever read in abstract form. Anonymous peer-reviewers of your scholarship will read the abstract first. The  African Studies Review  (ASR) provides abstracts in English, French, and Portuguese, in order to reach the widest possible global audience. You need to provide one 100-word version in at least one language.

The abstract is  not  the first paragraph of an article. An abstract is a complete version or form of your article. It is the entire article epitomized, covering the major points, content and scope of your argument, the theoretical framework or scholarly point of departure, as well as the methodology, and type of evidentiary basis. It should be able to stand alone.

The abstract can be described as the “elevator pitch” for a possible publication: imagine you’re stuck in the elevator at the ASA Annual Meeting with one of the editors of the  ASR . You need to provide an overview that hits the high points in about one minute and convinces the editor that it’s worthy of further consideration. It should very concisely summarize the topic, how it fits into the broader literature, the contribution, the research strategy, the key findings, and the broader implications.

All  ASR  articles are available via multiple digital platforms, so your abstract must be searchable online. We suggest you engage the follow two prevailing ways to optimize your abstracts for search engines. This will greatly increase the chance it will viewed widely and shared.

First , construct a descriptive title for your article. In search engine terms, the title of each article abstract is crucial. The search engine assumes that the title contains the words most relevant to the article. This is why it is important to choose a descriptive, unambiguous, and accurate title. While it may be tempting to use a quote from an informant or sources, think about how search terms draw in a potential reader who may be looking for your article or your subject area, community, or country of study, and help them by constructing a title to include those terms. Remember that people search for key phrases, not just single words.  

  Second , reiterate key title phrases in the abstract. You should reiterate the key phrases in the article title within the abstract itself. Although search engines use proprietary algorithms, the number of times that certain words and phrases appear on a webpage has a significant impact in how they are ranked in searches.

  Things You Should Do:

Things You Should Not Do: 

Example of a strong abstract:

 “States at War: Confronting Conflict in Africa”

Catharine Newbury

 In the early 1990s, democratization dominated discourse on African politics. However fraught with contradictions, processes of political liberalization held out hope for more responsive, accountable government—and some African countries achieved impressive gains. But in many parts of the continent the outlook at the beginning of the twenty-first century is decidedly more somber. An increase in violence and war has had devastating consequences for people and their communities. Newbury examines several approaches to confronting these conflicts and highlights three lessons that emerge. In some situations, international involvement is essential to end a war, and doing this successfully requires enormous resources. But external assistance cannot follow a single template; it must be adapted to different local dynamics and coordinated with efforts of peace-builders within. Newbury argues that greater support is needed for efforts to alleviate the conditions that spawn wars and violence.

Example of a weak abstract:

“Conflict and Chaos: Understanding War, Rethinking Violence”

This article argues that in the early 1990s democratization dominated African political discourse. I explore the processes of political liberalization and how they were fraught with contradictions, although they held out hope for more responsive, accountable government. I identify some African countries that achieved impressive gains. But it has been argued by other scholars (Schmidt 2007; Jones 2005; Asante 1996) that the outlook at the beginning of the twenty-first century will be decidedly more somber. An increase in violence and war has had overdetermining ramifications broadly. I will examine several approaches to confronting these conflicts and I will highlight three lessons that emerge. In some situations, international involvement may be essential to end a war, and doing this successfully may require enormous resources. But external assistance cannot follow a single template; it must be adapted to different local dynamics and coordinated with efforts of peace-builders within. The author cites various data to argue that greater support is needed for efforts to alleviate the conditions that spawn wars and violence.

How should systematic reviewers handle conference abstracts? A view from the trenches

Systematic Reviews volume  8 , Article number:  264 ( 2019 ) Cite this article

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While identifying and cataloging unpublished studies from conference proceedings is generally recognized as a good practice during systematic reviews, controversy remains whether to include study results that are reported in conference abstracts. Existing guidelines provide conflicting recommendations.

The main argument for including conference abstracts in systematic reviews is that abstracts with positive results are preferentially published, and published sooner, as full-length articles compared with other abstracts. Arguments against including conference abstracts are that (1) searching for abstracts is resource-intensive, (2) abstracts may not contain adequate information, and (3) the information in abstracts may not be dependable. However, studies comparing conference abstracts and fully published articles of the same study find only minor differences, usually with conference abstracts presenting preliminary results. Other studies that have examined differences in treatment estimates of meta-analyses with and without conference abstracts report changes in precision, but usually not in the treatment effect estimate. However, in some cases, including conference abstracts has made a difference in the estimate of the treatment effect, not just its precision. Instead of arbitrarily deciding to include or exclude conference abstracts in systematic reviews, we suggest that systematic reviewers should consider the availability of evidence informing the review. If available evidence is sparse or conflicting, it may be worthwhile to search for conference abstracts. Further, attempts to contact authors of abstracts or search for protocols or trial registers to supplement the information presented in conference abstracts is prudent. If unique information from conference abstracts is included in a meta-analysis, a sensitivity analysis with and without the unique results should be conducted.


Under given circumstances, it is worthwhile to search for and include results from conference abstracts in systematic reviews.

Peer Review reports

Systematic reviewers aim to be comprehensive in summarizing the existing literature addressing specific research questions. This generally involves a thorough search for published studies as well as for ongoing or recently completed studies that are not yet published. Ongoing and recently completed studies are often identified through searches of registries, such as ClinicalTrials.gov, and of conference proceedings. While identifying and cataloging unpublished studies from conference proceedings is generally recognized as a good practice during systematic reviews, controversy remains whether to include study results that are reported in conference abstracts. Current guidelines are conflicting. The United States Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), through its Effective Healthcare Program, recommends that searches for conference abstracts be considered , but Cochrane and the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS) both recommend always searching for and including conference abstracts in systematic reviews [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Our objectives in this commentary are to summarize the existing evidence both for and against the inclusion of conference abstracts in systematic reviews and provide suggestions for systematic reviewers when deciding whether and how to include conference abstracts in systematic reviews.

Arguments for including conference abstracts in systematic reviews

The main argument for including conference abstracts in systematic reviews is that, by doing so, systematic reviewers can be more comprehensive. In our recent Cochrane methodology review, we reported that the proportion of subsequent full publication of studies presented at conferences is low [ 4 ]. We examined 425 biomedical research reports that followed the publication status of 307,028 studies presented as conference abstracts addressing a wide range of medical, allied health, and health policy fields. A meta-analysis of these 425 reports indicated that the overall full publication proportion was only 37% (95% confidence interval [CI], 35 to 39%) for abstracts of all types of studies and only 60% (95% CI, 52 to 67%) for abstracts of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Through a survival analysis, we found that, among the 181 reports that evaluated time to publication, only 46% of abstracts of all types of studies and 69% of abstracts of RCTs were published, even after 10 years. Thus, at best, approximately 3 in 10 abstracts describing RCTs have never been published in full, implying that the voluntary participation and risk-taking by multitudes of patients have not led to fully realized contributions to science. We and others argue that the failure of trialists to honor their commitment to patients (that patient participation would contribute to science) represents an ethical problem [ 5 , 6 ].

From a systematic reviewer’s perspective, even if the unpublished abstracts were a random 3 in 10 abstracts, restricting a systematic review search to only the published literature would amount to the loss of an immense amount of information and a corresponding loss of precision in meta-analytic estimates of treatment effect. However, publication is not a matter of random chance. Those conducting systematic reviews have long grappled with this problem, known as “publication bias.” Publication bias occurs when either the likelihood of, or the time to, publication of a study is impacted by the direction of the study’s results [ 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ]. The most frequent scenario for publication bias is when studies with “positive” (or “significant”) results are selectively published, or are published sooner, than studies with either null or negative results.

Publication bias can be conceptualized as occurring in two stages: (I) from a study’s end to presentation of its results at a conference (and publication of an accompanying conference abstract) and (II) from publication of a conference abstract to subsequent “full publication” of the study results, typically in a peer-reviewed journal article [ 13 ]. In the context of publication bias arising during stage II (i.e., if abstracts with positive or significant results are selectively published in full), systematic reviews relying solely on fully published studies can be biased because positive results would be overrepresented. This would lead to a falsely inflated (or biased) estimate of the treatment effect of the intervention being evaluated in the systematic review. Indeed, in our Cochrane methodology review, we found evidence of publication bias in the studies reported in the abstracts [ 4 ]. “Positive” results were associated with full publication, whether “positive” was defined as statistically significant results (risk ratio [RR] = 1.31, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.40) or as results whose direction favored the intervention (RR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.28). Furthermore, abstracts with statistically significant results were published in full sooner than abstracts with non-significant results [ 14 , 15 , 16 ], unearthing another aspect of bias that can arise when a systematic review is performed relatively soon after the completion of a trial(s) testing a new intervention.

Arguments against including conference abstracts in systematic reviews

There are various arguments against including abstracts in systematic reviews. First, identifying relevant conferences, locating their abstracts, and sifting through the often thousands of abstracts can be challenging and resource-intensive. However, EMBASE, a commonly searched database during systematic reviews, now includes conference abstracts from important medical conferences, dating back to 2009 [ 17 ]. Inclusion of conference abstracts in this searchable database means searching for conference abstracts is less resource-intensive than in the past. Second, largely driven by their brevity, abstracts may not contain adequate information for systematic reviewers to appraise the design, methods, risk of bias, outcomes, and results of studies reported in the abstracts [ 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 ]. Third, the dependability of results presented in abstracts also is questionable [ 22 , 23 , 24 ], which occurs at least in part because (1) most abstracts are not peer-reviewed and (2) results reported in abstracts are often preliminary and/or based on limited analyses conducted in a rush to meet conference deadlines. The most frequent types of conflicting information between abstract and full-length journal article have pertained to authors or authorship order, sample size, and estimates of treatment effects (their magnitude or, less frequently, direction) [ 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 ]. Mayo-Wilson and colleagues examined the agreement in reported data across a range of unpublished sources related to the same studies in bipolar depression and neuropathic pain [ 21 , 32 ]. As part of this effort, they compared abstracts with full-length journal articles and clinical study reports and reported that the information presented in abstracts was not dependable either in terms of methods or results.

What are we missing if we do not include conference abstracts in a systematic review?

Various studies have questioned whether the inclusion of “gray” literature or unpublished study results in a systematic review would change the estimates of treatment effect obtained during meta-analyses. Through “meta-epidemiologic” studies, investigators have examined the results of meta-analyses with and without conference abstracts and have reported conflicting, but generally small differences in results [ 21 , 24 , 33 ]. Evidence from a recent systematic review indicates that the inclusion of gray literature (defined more broadly than just conference abstracts) in meta-analyses may change the results from significant to non-significant or from non-significant to significant, or may not change the results [ 24 , 33 ]. We conducted a similar analysis in our Cochrane methodology review [ 4 ]. We were able to do this because some of our included reports that examined full publication of conference abstracts were themselves only available as conference abstracts. Our analysis found that inclusion of reports that were conference abstracts did not change the strength or precision of our meta-analytic results. In our review, it would have been possible to exclude conference abstracts and retain accurate and precise results.

Implications of reasons for non-publication of conference abstracts

The most common reason provided by authors of abstracts for not publishing their study results in full has been reported to simply be “lack of time,” and not because the results were considered unreliable or negative [ 34 ]. This finding suggests that the identification of an abstract without a corresponding full-length journal article should prompt systematic reviewers to search for additional evidence, such as gray literature sources and/or contacting the authors. However, a reasonable argument could be made that, when the same information is available in both a published peer-reviewed article and an abstract for a given study, including the abstract in a systematic review would be superfluous and/or ill-advised because a likely more comprehensive and dependable source of the information, i.e., the peer-reviewed article, is available. Therefore, the presence of a journal article might obviate the need for including a corresponding conference abstract in a systematic review, unless unique outcomes are reported in the abstract.

Considerations when including conference abstracts in systematic reviews

Taken together, the evidence reviewed in this paper (summarized in Table  1 ) suggests that systematic reviewers should take a more nuanced approach to inclusion of conference abstracts. A simple yes or no to the question “Should we include conference abstracts in our systematic review?” is neither sufficient nor appropriate. One aspect to consider is the scope of the review. For example, will the conference abstracts be used to inform policy based on a cadre of systematic reviews or only used within a single review? Benzie and colleagues evaluated the usefulness of including conference abstracts in a “state-of-the-evidence” review and concluded that including conference abstracts validated the results of a search that included only the published literature [ 35 ]. These authors discussed four considerations for basing the decision to include conference abstracts: (1) complexity of the intervention, (2) consensus in the existing literature, (3) importance of context in evaluating the effect of the intervention, and (4) presence of other evidence [ 35 ]. Others who have incorporated conference abstracts for decision-making have noted that the lack of, or conflicting results in, published evidence often requires inclusion of conference abstracts [ 36 ]. In some instances, results in abstracts can confirm the evidence found in fully published studies, but in other instances, abstracts can provide useful additions to the evidence [ 37 ].

When considering the use of conference abstracts in systematic reviews, we largely agree with the recommendations presented in the AHRQ Methods Guide for Comparative Effectiveness Reviews [ 1 ]. Although these recommendations generally do not espouse including conference abstracts in systematic reviews, they provide excellent guidance on when including abstracts should be considered:

• Reviewers should routinely consider conducting a search of conference abstracts and proceedings to identify unpublished or unidentified studies. • Consult the TEP [Technical Expert Panel] for suggestions on particular conferences to search and search those conferences specifically. • Search for conference abstracts of any conference identified by reading the references of key articles. • We do not recommend using conference abstracts for assessing selective outcome reporting and selective analysis reporting, given the variable evidence of concordance between conference abstracts and their subsequent full-text publications [ 1 ].

Our suggestions

Based on the empirical findings summarized in this review and on our experience, we believe that generally relying on conference abstracts is problematic for the various reasons discussed. While meta-epidemiologic studies have shown that inclusion of abstracts does not greatly impact meta-analytic results, it can sometimes make a difference. The dilemma facing a systematic reviewer is to determine when it might. We suggest the following approach (summarized in Fig.  1 ). If the evidence suggests a sizeable effect, or the absence of one (i.e., with the estimate of effect centered at or near the null), with reasonable precision, searching for conference abstracts may be unnecessary. On the other hand, if the evidence does not show a sizeable effect, is imprecise, or is conflicting, then the resources spent finding and including conference abstracts may be worth it. In other words, if only a single study in full-length form is identified, or if the studies identified are few and small, then conference abstracts should probably be searched and included. We refrain from making specific suggestions for what should be construed as a “sizeable” effect. Magnitudes of effect sizes and thresholds for what is considered relevant can vary considerably across outcomes and across fields and disciplines. We also refrain from making specific suggestions for what should be construed as “reasonable precision” because of the various problems inherent in the use of statistical significance (e.g., arbitrariness, dependence on sample size) and the arbitrary thresholds for precision that use of statistical significance can engender [ 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 ].

figure 1

Flow chart showing our suggestions for how to approach the use of conference abstracts in systematic review

If abstracts are indeed included in a systematic review, the consistent use of CONSORT reporting guidelines for abstracts [ 14 ] would facilitate extraction of information from abstracts. In many cases, however, these reporting guidelines are not followed [ 42 ], so we suggest that diligent attempts be made to contact authors of the abstracts and examine study registers, such as ClinicalTrials.gov, and published protocols to obtain all necessary unreported or unclear information on study methods and results. In addition, to examine the impact of including the abstracts, a sensitivity analysis should always be completed with and without conference abstracts.

Based on the available evidence and on our experience, we suggest that instead of arbitrarily deciding to include conference abstracts or not in a systematic review, systematic reviewers should consider the availability of evidence. If available evidence is sparse or conflicting, it may be worthwhile to include conference abstracts. If results from conference abstracts are included, then it is necessary to make diligent attempts to contact the authors of the abstract and examine study registers and published protocols to obtain further and confirmatory information on methods and results.

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.


Agency for Health Care Research and Quality

Confidence interval

United States National Academy of Sciences

Randomized controlled trial

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Center for Clinical Trials and Evidence Synthesis, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Room E6138, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA

Roberta W. Scherer

Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health, Department of Health Services, Policy, and Practice (Primary), Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA

Ian J. Saldanha

Department of Epidemiology (Joint), Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA

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RWS conceived the idea for the commentary. IJS developed Fig.  1 , and both authors were involved in contributing to and critically reading the commentary. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Roberta W. Scherer .

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Scherer, R.W., Saldanha, I.J. How should systematic reviewers handle conference abstracts? A view from the trenches. Syst Rev 8 , 264 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-1188-0

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Received : 03 April 2019

Accepted : 05 October 2019

Published : 07 November 2019

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-1188-0

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Systematic Reviews

ISSN: 2046-4053

literature review of abstracts

Writing Center Home Page

Writing for Publication: Abstracts

An abstract is "a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the paper" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 38). This summary is intended to share the topic, argument, and conclusions of a research study or course paper, similar to the text on the back cover of a book. When submitting your work for publication, an abstract is often the first piece of your writing a reviewer will encounter. An abstract may not be required for course papers.

Read on for more tips on making a good first impression with a successful abstract.

An abstract is a single paragraph preceded by the heading " Abstract ," centered and in bold font. The abstract does not begin with an indented line. APA (2020) recommends that abstracts should generally be less than 250 words, though many journals have their own word limits; it is always a good idea to check journal-specific requirements before submitting. The Writing Center's APA templates are great resources for visual examples of abstracts.

Abstracts use the present tense to describe currently applicable results (e.g., "Results indicate...") and the past tense to describe research steps (e.g., "The survey measured..."), and they do not typically include citations.

Key terms are sometimes included at the end of the abstract and should be chosen by considering the words or phrases that a reader might use to search for your article.

An abstract should include information such as

It is also appropriate, depending on the type of article you are writing, to include information such as:

Your abstract should avoid unnecessary wordiness and focus on quickly and concisely summarizing the major points of your work. An abstract is not an introduction; you are not trying to capture the reader's attention with timeliness or to orient the reader to the entire background of your study. When readers finish reading your abstract, they should have a strong sense of your article's purpose, approach, and conclusions. The Walden Office of Research and Doctoral Services has additional  tutorial material on abstracts .

Clinical or Empirical Study Abstract Exemplar

In the following abstract, the article's problem is stated in red , the approach and design are in blue , and the results are in green .

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients have a high cardiovascular mortality rate. Precise estimates of the prevalence, risk factors and prognosis of different manifestations of cardiac disease are unavailable. In this study a prospective cohort of 433 ESRD patients was followed from the start of ESRD therapy for a mean of 41 months. Baseline clinical assessment and echocardiography were performed on all patients.  The major outcome measure was death while on dialysis therapy. Clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease were highly prevalent at the start of ESRD therapy: 14% had coronary artery disease, 19% angina pectoris, 31% cardiac failure, 7% dysrhythmia and 8% peripheral vascular disease. On echocardiography 15% had systolic dysfunction, 32% left ventricular dilatation and 74% left ventricular hypertrophy. The overall median survival time was 50 months. Age, diabetes mellitus, cardiac failure, peripheral vascular disease and systolic dysfunction independently predicted death in all time frames. Coronary artery disease was associated with a worse prognosis in patients with cardiac failure at baseline. High left ventricular cavity volume and mass index were independently associated with death after two years. The independent associations of the different echocardiographic abnormalities were: systolic dysfunction--older age and coronary artery disease; left ventricular dilatation--male gender, anemia, hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia; left ventricular hypertrophy--older age, female gender, wide arterial pulse pressure, low blood urea and hypoalbuminemia. We conclude that clinical and echocardiographic cardiovascular disease are already present in a very high proportion of patients starting ESRD therapy and are independent mortality factors.

Foley, R. N., Parfrey, P. S., Harnett, J. D., Kent, G. M., Martin, C. J., Murray, D. C., & Barre, P. E. (1995). Clinical and echocardiographic disease in patients starting end-stage renal disease therapy. Kidney International , 47 , 186–192. https://doi.org/10.1038/ki.1995.22

Literature Review Abstract Exemplar

In the following abstract, the purpose and scope of the literature review are in red , the specific span of topics is in blue , and the implications for further research are in green .

This paper provides a review of research into the relationships between psychological types, as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and managerial attributes, behaviors and effectiveness. The literature review includes an examination of the psychometric properties of the MBTI and the contributions and limitations of research on psychological types. Next, key findings are discussed and used to advance propositions that relate psychological type to diverse topics such as risk tolerance, problem solving, information systems design, conflict management and leadership. We conclude with a research agenda that advocates: (a) the exploration of potential psychometric refinements of the MBTI, (b) more rigorous research designs, and (c) a broadening of the scope of managerial research into type.

Gardner, W. L., & Martinko, M. J. (1996). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to study managers: A literature review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 22 (1), 45–83. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639602200103

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