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The Art of Writing A Scientific Abstract

THE ART OF WRITING A SCIENTIFIC ABSTRACT
Introduction

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 and its quality. Most of the studies are indexed according to the abstracts, keywords and authors. Abstract writing is a challenge and is the first impression of the work being published, reviewed or which has been published. “First Impression is the last Impression” implies to abstract writing. One can be sensitized in few minutes about the quality and nature of work done. A good abstract is concise and informative piece of words presented in a scientific manner. Often conference organizers, publishers and reviewers ask for the abstract first before proceeding to the full article. The abstract should provide the context or background for the study and should state the study’s purpose, basic procedures (selection of study subjects or laboratory animals, observational and analytical methods), main findings (giving specific effect sizes and their statistical significance, if possible), principal conclusions, and funding source(s). It should emphasize new and important aspects of the study or observations. While writing an abstract, more timeshould be spent on presenting the main idea of the work done rather than criticizing the ideas and methods adopted by others for the same work. Always keep in mind that the abstract should be written in such a way that it grasps the attention of the reader.

Qualities of a good abstract

· Clear and concise, explain abbreviations at their first occurrence explain abbreviations at their first occurrence

· Make short sentences

· Brevity shows that it contains essential information

· Word limit of 150 – 200 commonly used (not to exceed 250 in some journals)

· Justified according to the nature of work done

· Self-contained

· Stands on its own and follow the IMRAD pattern (explained later in the text)

· A good abstract is written for the work which has been done. It should not be written for ongoing work for ongoing work

· Adheres strictly to abstract guidelines and deadlines

Types of abstract

Descriptive: A descriptive abstract outlines the topics covered in a piece of writing. It is like a table of contents in paragraph form. paragraph form.Example of descriptive abstract:



HOMOEOPATHIC PERSPECTIVE OF THYROID DISORDERS


R. K. Manchanda1, Archana Narang2,


Saurav Arora3, Latika Nagpal3



Abstract


Homoeopathy is a unique system of medicine based on individualization and symptom
similarity of the patient. It treats every sickness of a man as a whole and individualized
entity. The homoeopathic literature is loaded with vast examples of thyroid
diseases and their cure with homoeopathy. There are numerous examples of
clinical and therapeutic studies done on thyroid disorders but there are few
peer reviewed controlled design studies in Homoeopathy. Homoeopathic medicines
play an important role in immuno modulation at the cellular level and can cure
cases of sub clinical & mild hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Homoeopathic Medicines due to their infinitesimal light isotopic forms are
capable of penetrating the Hypothalamus-Pituitary Axis. The need of the hour is
to carry out scientific, evidence based studies and case documentation to prove
the potential role of homeopathy in reversing the functional & immune
disturbances of thyroid gland.


Keywords: Homoeopathy and thyroid disorders, research in homoeopathy, autoimmune thyroiditis, goiter,
immuno-modulation



Informative: An informative abstract provides detail about the substance of a piece of writing because readers will sometimes rely on the abstract alone for information. Informative abstracts typically follow this format:

1. Introduction (to identifying problem or the subject undertaken for the writing with bibliographic citation or other identification of the document). Background of the statement can also be added in one or two lines (I)

2. Material and methods (M)

3. Results in a concise and brief manner (R)

4. Analysis (A)

5. Discussion and Conclusion(s) (main points only) (D)

One can remember the simple pneumonic for this “IMRAD”

Example of informative abstract:



PREVALENCE OF THYROID DISORDERS IN SCHOOL CHILDREN IN DELHI – POST IODIZATION SCENARIO


An epidemiological survey conducted by SHMC & Hospital and Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences, Delhi,
India, under the first phase of EMR project on “
Effects of Homoeopathic
treatment on natural history of autoimmune thyroiditis
by AYUSH


V. K. Chauhan1, R. K. Manchanda2, Archana Narang1*, Saurav Arora3,


Latika Nagpal3 , R. K. Marwaha4


Abstract


Introduction: Optimal thyroid function is essential for normal growth and development in young
population. Autoimmune thyroiditis is becoming increasingly prevalent in
children as evident from goiter surveys.


Material & Methods: Screening of 4543 children between 6-18 years of age from different schools of
Delhi was done during the first phase of research study under EMR project by
AYUSH for thyroid function status - clinically, serologically & Ultrasonographically.


Result: Data of 4506 children has been analyzed & it has been found that goiter is prevalent at mild endemic level in children (17%) even after two decades of iodization. Significant increase in anti TPO ab positivity (6.39%) and thyroid dysfunction (11.92%) was found in school children.


Conclusion: Significant
increase in overall anti TPO ab positivity and thyroid dysfunction
raises suspicion about the role of prolonged iodine supplementation.


Keywords: anti thyro-peroxidase antibody (anti TPO ab), free T3 (FT3), free T4 (FT4), goiter, Iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs), subclinical hypothyroidism, thyroid autoimmunity, universal salt iodization (USI).


Decreased Intensity of Japanese Encephalitis Virus Infection in Chick


Chorioallantoic Membrane Under Influence of Ultradiluted Belladonna Extract


1Bhaswati Bandyopadhyay, 2Satadal Das, 1Milan Sengupta, 3Chandan Saha,


4Kartick Chandra Das, 4Debabrata Sarkar and 5Chaturbhuj Nayak


1Department of Microbiology, Virology Unit, School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata-700073, India


2Department of Pathology and Microbiology, D.N. De H. Medical College,


West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata-700046, India


3Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology,


School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata-700073, India


4Drug Proving Research Centre, CCRH, Government of India,


Kolkata-700 046, India


5Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health, CCRH, Government of India, JLN Anudandhan Bhawan,


61-65 Intitutional Area, Janakpuri, New Delhi 110058



Abstract


Problem statement:

No specific antiviral therapy is currently available despite an emergence and
resurgence of Japanese encephalitis in South-East Asian Countries. There are
only few recent studies, which were aimed to treat Japanese encephalitis with
newer drugs. There is thus a real need for study on antiviral agents that can
reduce the toll of death and neurological sequelae resulting from infection
with this virus. Approach: Optimum dilution of the JE virus was determined
which could produce significant number of pocks on Chorioallantoic Membrane
(CAM). Then Ultradiluted belladonna preparations were used to see their
inhibitory action on JE virus infection in CAM. Results: Ultradiluted
belladonna showed significantly decreased pock count in CAM in comparison to JE
virus control. Conclusion: Ultradiluted belladonna could inhibit JE
virus infection in CAM, which may be mediated through glycosidase inhibitory
role of calystegines present in belladonna.


Key words: Japanese Encephalitis
(JE), Chorioallantoic Membrane (CAM), pock, belladonna



Requisites of an abstract:
· Motivation: The first thing which is needed to carry out a work is motivation. It defines the area and effort one wants to put or search for a quality and purposeful work and writing. Poorly motivated works usually are of low quality and are rejected for most of the time. This portion also emphasize upon the importance of work carried. area and effort one wants to put or search for a quality and purposeful work and writing. Poorly motivated works usually are of low quality and are rejected for most of the time. This portion also emphasize upon the importance of work carried.

Problem statement: The next step after motivation is defining the problem statement we are undertaking, this includes the scope of problem we are trying to solve. The importance of problem must also be defined, as the outcome of the study will largely depend upon the problem(s) we have defined. The problem statement is defined using the tool, “Literature review” aggressively and exhaustively. Previous research and work done also help us to define problem statement in a finer and more descriptive way.

Undertaking, this includes the scope of problem we are trying to solve. The importance of problem must also be defined, as the outcome of the study will largely depend upon the problem(s) we have defined. The problem statement is defined using the tool, “Literature review” aggressively and exhaustively. Previous research and work done also help us to define problem statement in a finer and more descriptive way.

· Approach: It is also known as material and methods. This portion is vital to a research as it tells us how the work was carried over and tools used. Material and methods simply implies to the “entire set of things” which were used during the research and “how” they were used. It can range from screening, inclusion of subjects, medicines used, frequency of repetition and follow ups, change of
remedy, investigations and procedures followed etc. tells us how the work was carried over and tools used. Material and methods simply implies to the “entire set of things” which were used during the research and “how” they were used. It can range from screening, inclusion of subjects, medicines used, frequency of repetition and follow ups, change of remedy, investigations and procedures followed etc.

· Results: Results obtained in the work should be presented and compiled in an easy comprehensible manner. Results can both be presented in running manner and tabulate form. Results must not be confusing and complex. The stress should be given to authentic and obtained result. Results obtained doesn’t mean only the positive outcomes, it is an array of the observations and facts obtained and should be presented in the same way they have appeared, observed or made. can both be presented in running manner and tabulate form. Results must not be confusing and complex. The stress should be given to authentic and obtained result. Results obtained doesn’t mean only the positive outcomes, it is an array of the observations and facts obtained and should be presented in the same way they have appeared, observed or made.

· Conclusion: conclusions are the inferences drawn after obtaining the results. Conclusion must be written in an informative and successive manner so that it becomes easy for the reader to make a hierarchy of thoughts regarding the outcomes of the study. written in an informative and successive manner so that it becomes easy for the reader to make a hierarchy of thoughts regarding the outcomes of the study.

· Formatting: One should not complain about the fact that single page is too short to write the whole idea. One should take advantage of the number of word limit given for abstract writing as too short abstract looks as bad as too long. The title should be put in header outside the text. One should use paragraphs and indents to separate blocks of texts with spacing slightly larger than line spacing. The space between lines should be 1.5 – 2.0. Short titles to the paragraphs may be given in informative abstracts which set them apart. whole idea. One should take advantage of the number of word limit given for abstract writing as too short abstract looks as bad as too long. The title should be put in header outside the text. One should use paragraphs and indents to separate blocks of texts with spacing slightly larger than line spacing. The space between lines should be 1.5 – 2.0. Short titles to the paragraphs may be given in informative abstracts which set them apart.

· Other considerations: Some journals request that following the abstract 3-10 keywords or short phrases that capture the main topics of the article may be provided and identified by the author. These keywords will assist indexers in cross indexing the article. that capture the main topics of the article may be provided and identified by the author. These keywords will assist indexers in cross indexing the article.

“Don’t’s” in an abstract

· Avoid using long article like introductory sentences. Introduction must not exceed
one or two lines one or two lines

· Details of material and methods adopted (highlight only the details of material and
methods adopted). Methods should be provided in generic terms and not much
detail which can be explained in final presentation methods adopted). Methods should be provided in generic terms and not much detail which can be explained in final presentation

· Descriptive names of institutions, registration numbers, and identification marks, etc.

· References, tables and figures are not to be given in abstract

· Future tense must not be used in abstract and it should look as if the paper is already written

· Avoid using adverbs and adjectives

· Avoid identifying yourself all too obviously, like “I have done this”

Conclusion: An abstract is a piece of hard work which makes an article or a research paper easy to comprehend, interesting to read upon and shorter to be indexed in database. Abstract writing is not an easy job. Take time to write the abstract, once you have written it go through it and let others read it. Reread it and go through it after one or two weeks. This will make you learn a lot about your own ideas. The positive criticism from your fellow researchers or colleagues will help in refining your ideas and misunderstanding and ambiguities will get clarified. Abstract should be simple, easy to comprehend, short and concise.

References:


1. Koopman, Phil. "How to Write an Abstract" http://www.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html, April 2004.


2. Seminar on Scientific and Technical Writing, CCRH headquarters, March 2008


3. Dr Rajni Kant, Assembling and organizing data, Indian Council for Medical Research, March 2008


4. Johan Roorvck, Vincent Van Heuven, Guidelines for writing abstracts,
http://www.leidenuiv.nl/hil/abstr.htm , Apr 1999


Authors:


1. Dr. Archana Narang, M.D., Medical officer
(Teaching), currently working as Co-Investigator in EMR project of CCRH on
Autoimmune thyroiditis in collaboration with Institute of Nuclear Medicine and
Allied Sciences (INMAS). She has many credentials being author and co-author in
several national and international publications. You can contact her at -
drarchana72@yahoo.co.in


2. Dr. Saurav Arora, B.H.M.S. (Gold Medalist), is currently working as Senior Research
Fellow at SHMCH in a project on autoimmune thyroiditis. You can contact him
at:-
dr.saurav.arora@gmail.com, http://cinchonabark.wordpress.com



The art of abstract writing presented here is an endeavor to share the scientific culture amongst research minded fraternity. This copy can be circulated to anyone you want to share it with.


Views: 196

Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on November 13, 2010 at 6:38am
Thanks for the information.
Comment by Dr.M.K.Sahani on November 15, 2010 at 5:05am
Good and helpful
Comment by Saurav Arora on November 15, 2010 at 6:48am
Thank you so much sir.
Comment by Dr. Navneet Bidani on November 20, 2010 at 7:46am
Good going Saurav, had read this in Vital Informer as well. Keep it up.
Comment by Saurav Arora on November 20, 2010 at 12:27pm
@Dr Navneet Bidani: Thank you so much sir:) Your comments and additions are welcome.
Comment by ravindra naidu yedla on December 24, 2010 at 2:04am
thanks for good information   saurav..
Comment by Saurav Arora on December 24, 2010 at 2:07am
@Dr Ravindra Naidu: Thank you so much Sir:)

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