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ABSTRACT WRITING

 

However, we always provide, or we should provide, an additional mechanism for telling people whether to go ahead, and that is the abstract. Now, an abstract, as you know, is something that's about anywhere, between, say fifty and two or three hundred words long, a description of the work, really to supplement the title in telling people whether this is something that they ought to be pursuing further. One mistake that people often make is they don't give the results. They'll tell what was done - an experiment was carried out to measure this, that and the other, and to test some theory - but they'll never mention whether in fact the theory was true or not. So always make sure that your abstract does include the results that you've actually achieved. Don't give afterthoughts. The nature of things is such that abstracts are usually written right at the end of the paper, and often people who've written the paper and then a couple of days later they think of something they should have said but didn't, will stick it in the abstract. Now that's not appropriate, rewrite the paper but the abstract should correspond to the paper and not be a further extension of it.

Abstracts are frequently published by themselves in Abstracting journals, so that a person who doesn't have the paper before him may read the abstract. Hence, you can't use undefined symbols like this Greek thing - I don't know, zeta, I don't even know what it is. But often you'll see somebody stick in "a zeta value of 3.8 was obtained". Well, if you don't define what this zeta is - I'm assuming it is a zeta by the way - this doesn't help the reader at all who doesn't have the paper before him. And similarly, often people use some very pompous terms which I'm sure are perfectly well defined in the paper but if you don't have the paper it doesn't help. "A compound beneficent quotient of 3.7 was established in category A". Well, you know, if this isn't the stan­dard term and if the reader doesn't know it, it doesn't help. And the final comment I might make is that often abstracts are read by very simple people - laymen, controllers, lawyers, directors - so try and keep the technical level of the abstract just a notch below that of the paper. I don't mean to say that, you know, make it such that a seven-year-old can read it. But don't make it as fiercely technical as you know how. I don't think that's appropriate in an abstract.

Well, these are the shorting mechanisms - by these means we reduce the readers down to the number who ought to be reading the paper. It does no good to have a man read your paper who shouldn't be reading it. It just makes him angry and it retards the progress of science. So try and don't use it as a come on so much but make it a device to deter people who've no interest in what follows. However, those who ought to be reading it then are going to be with us and we're going to have to take them further.

 

 


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 340


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