Reading Scientific Research: Title & Abstract

Reading Scientific Research: Title & Abstract

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Reading Scientific Research: Title & Abstract

Reading scientific research article or original research paper is puzzling if you don't know the structure. Articles published under specific journals follows the publication guidelines of these journals. Despite the diversity in the content presented and criteria required by these journals, articles often written in a very similar way. If you are exposed to a scientific research paper in your assignments and you feel dazzled by just looking at the paper in front of you, set back and relax. This series is a guide meant for the absolute novice reader to map research papers.

Scientific research papers usually follows a classical structure which is commonly followed by journals. This makes extracting information much easier and allow the author to present the content clearly. The classical structure of a scientific research usually comes in the following order:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • methods
  • results
  • discussion
  • conclusion

Title:

it is the most important factor that determines if the reader will or will not read the article. It should be written in professional and clear way. It should be precise, complete, having no unnecessary words and without abbreviations. However, this is easier said than done and usually writing a title for a paper is a challenging task. Annesley (2010) describe it best “Crafting a good title is like bending a straight line into a seamless connected circle”. Nonetheless, I am not  concerned here about how to write a good title rather I am looking from the reader perspective into what defines a good title. According to Fathalla (2004) “A Good title should adequately describe the contents of the paper in the fewest possible words". Based on that whenever you see a title just ask your self these questions:

 

Abstract:

The abstract is usually found under the title. It is a short summary that aims to highlight the paper's content using 250-300 words (Varies depending on the journal). It should guide the reader accurately about the content of the paper. The way the abstract written in biomedical research is similar. However, there is always variations in terms of the way of presenting it. Some journal stipulates headings while others allow it without headings. Regardless, the content will fall under these headings:

  • Introduction/Background
  • Purpose/ aim of the study
  • Methods (design, setting, procedure and statistical analysis)
  • Results
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    Conclusion

For authors the abstract is something hard to write as it aim to summarize the whole words using 300 words only. The title share similar attributes in terms of difficulty as it aims to advertise and send the right message to the potential reader. Thus both of these sections are usually the last parts to be written.Underneath the abstract you will find some keywords. These indicates what keywords to be used in case someone needs to find the article. Again depending on the journal these keywords might or might not be included.

Now you know the basic structure of titles and abstracts written in scientific research. Please share your ideas with us using the comment box below.

 

 

 

Reading Scientific Research: Introduction

Reading Scientific Research: Introduction

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