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Abstract Writing

abstract

An abstract is a concise description of the research article. It is typically one paragraph length (about 6-7 sentences, 150–250 words). An effective abstract accomplishes several things:

  • In order to determine whether to read the complete work, an abstract enables readers to quickly understand the substance or essential of your paper or article.
  • An abstract gets readers ready to follow the extensive facts, analysis, and arguments in your entire work.
  • Later, an abstract can assist readers recall important aspects from your paper.

Remember that search engines and bibliographic databases employ abstracts, in addition to the title, to find relevant phrases for indexing your published article. So what you mention in your abstract and title is critical for assisting other scholars in finding your paper or article.

Abstracts in academic publications are frequently subject to strict guidelines. In addition to the recommendations on this page, be sure to search for and follow any rules from the course or journal for which you’re writing.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain the majority of the following types of information in simplified form. Of course, the body of your work will explore and clarify the concepts in greater depth. The percentage of your abstract that you give to each type of information—and the sequencing of that information—will vary based on the nature and genre of the work that you are describing in your abstract.  

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

  1. the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
  2. the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
  3. what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
  4. the main reason(s), the exigency, the rationale, the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? 
  5. your research and/or analytical methods
  6. your main findings, results, or arguments
  7. the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader 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.

Graphical abstracts

Journals are increasingly asking for a “graphical” or “visual abstract” in addition to the text of the paper. This is a single, succinct, graphical, and visual overview of the article’s primary results. It might be the article’s final figure or, better yet, a figure created just for the purpose that conveys the substance of the article for readers at a look.

A graphical abstract should allow readers to quickly gain an understanding of the take-home message of the paper and is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship, and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.

Research has shown that articles which have graphical abstracts are beneficial both in terms of views of the article as well as increased activity on social media. In particular, the average annual use of an article is doubled when compared with those without a visual abstract.

What’s the purpose of a Graphical Abstract?

It tells a clear and concise story, and how it works in your favor depends on who is reading. If your peers are reading: A GA becomes a promotional tool that positions your paper to stand out in places like social media. As the name suggests, a GA has the same purpose as a traditional abstract. But with 7,000+ peer-reviewed articles being published daily, nobody has the time to read a 250-word abstract. GAs work like movie posters: to grab attention and drive traffic to your paper (the equivalent of the movie).

If a non-academic is reading: They don’t speak the scientific jargon, and the blocks of text and the boring black-and-white figures just don’t do it for them (can you blame them?). Instead with a well-designed GA, these people can finally become acquainted with, understand and appreciate your research. A GA extends the reach of your research beyond your peers.

How to make a graphical abstract?

There are three types of graphical abstracts that are most effective for communicating research:

  • Flow diagrams
  • Visual systems models
  • Visual representations  of the proposed model (such as a cartoon)

The basic process of creating a graphical abstract are:

  • Conceptualize
  • Sketch
  • Design

The graphical abstract concept is the very first thing.

You need to decide what is the MAIN MESSAGE of your graphical abstract and who is your audience. It’s like thinking about what story you want to tell and to whom. You did the research and have a lot of results to communicate, but remember, don’t overcomplicate. Try to think like the reader and summarize your paper to the most important thing you discovered.

The first two steps are based on paperwork and the third step requires graphic design software. A logical concept is very important to carry out any research. So, one should decide what is the important message to be delivered through graphical abstract and to whom it is to be conveyed. Therefore, the picture abstract is defined by the concept and the readers.

The second step is to sketch the appropriate visual elements (chemical structure, biological components, mechanical parts etc.) which portray the research outcome directly and precisely.

Arrange the elements of the sketch in a right sequence either from left to right or top to down to get a meaningful abstract. Ensure that all the elements are connected to each other, arranged into groups that have something in common.

The final step is to design the sketch using graphic design software (Photoshop) or simple PowerPoint. Ensure that all the elements are illustrated with uniform art-style, otherwise, it may look bizarre.

Journals Guidelines

Your target journal’s guidelines will give you information about the font type and size, line widths, colors, and dimensions of the graphical abstract. It will also mention whether you are to provide it as a PDF, TIFF, or PNG file format.

Video Abstract

With the advent of the digital era, technological advances have taken over almost all conventional methods of information transfer. Owing to which, the scientific research community has also come closer to adapting these revolutionary changes. One such example is the inception and growth in the usage of video abstract for research papers.

What is a Video Abstract?

A video abstract is a short multimedia video that aims to highlight the important aspects and findings of a published research study. Researchers can emphasize various parts of their scientific findings in the form of a video that may include graphics, recorded video footage, or even a PowerPoint presentation. Unlike a formal written or printed abstract presented in an attractive manner, this abstract is an excellent way to explain your research in a unique manner.

How to Create a Powerful Video Abstract?

Once you have selected the type of video abstract you must stick to the following tips to create the abstract.

1.Duration of the Video

Make the abstract concise and crisp so that it does not seem too long and irrelevant to the topic of your study. An appealing abstract must not be longer than 5 minutes. Anything beyond 5 minutes would increase the chances of the researcher deviating from the topic and overwhelm the audience with unnecessary information.

2. Flow of the Abstract

Create a framework and layout the flow of the abstract as you do for a written one. Important elements that the abstract must include are the research topic, aim of the study, author affiliations, introduction to the topic, brief description of the methods applied, results, and conclusion.

3. Technical Specifications

The video and audio quality is a crucial factor for making an effective abstract. Compromising on either of them will hamper the purpose behind creating an abstract in a multimedia format.

4. Inserting “Call to Action” Phrases

You can insert some “Call to Action” phrases at the end of your abstract to gather more traction to your research paper. For instance, inviting suggestions regarding the methodology used in your work, sending you a feedback email, sharing your social media and scholarly media credentials, etc. This will subsequently increase your reach as a researcher and bring in more chances of collaborative research.

5. Accessibility

It is important to upload your video in a format that can be easily accessible by researchers across the globe. Ideally, video formats in MP4, MOV, WMV, and MKV are widely used and are compatible with most operating systems. Maintain a suitable aspect ratio to fit all screen sizes.

References

https://www.elsevier.com/authors/tools-and-resources/visual-abstract

https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/writing-an-abstract-for-your-research-paper/

https://mindthegraph.com/blog/create-effective-graphical-abstract/

https://www.enago.com/academy/top-6-tips-video-abstract-for-research-paper/

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