Abstract (summary)

An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding, or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose.[1] When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript or typescript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given academic paper or patent application. Abstracting and indexing services for various academic disciplines are aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject.

The terms précis or synopsis are used in some publications to refer to the same thing that other publications might call an "abstract". In management reports, an executive summary usually contains more information (and often more sensitive information) than the abstract does.

Purpose and limitations

Academic literature uses the abstract to succinctly communicate complex research. An abstract may act as a stand-alone entity instead of a full paper. As such, an abstract is used by many organizations as the basis for selecting research that is proposed for presentation in the form of a poster, platform/oral presentation or workshop presentation at an academic conference. Most literature database search engines index only abstracts rather than providing the entire text of the paper. Full texts of scientific papers must often be purchased because of copyright and/or publisher fees and therefore the abstract is a significant selling point for the reprint or electronic form of the full text.[2]

The abstract can convey the main results and conclusions of a scientific article but the full text article must be consulted for details of the methodology, the full experimental results, and a critical discussion of the interpretations and conclusions.

An abstract allows one to sift through copious numbers of papers for ones in which the researcher can have more confidence that they will be relevant to his or her research. Once papers are chosen based on the abstract, they must be read carefully to be evaluated for relevance. It is generally agreed that one must not base reference citations on the abstract alone, but the content of an entire paper.

According to the results of a study published in PLOS Medicine, the "exaggerated and inappropriate coverage of research findings in the news media" is ultimately related to inaccurately reporting or over-interpreting research results in many abstract conclusions.[3] A study published in JAMA concluded that "inconsistencies in data between abstract and body and reporting of data and other information solely in the abstract are relatively common and that a simple educational intervention directed to the author is ineffective in reducing that frequency."[4] Other "studies comparing the accuracy of information reported in a journal abstract with that reported in the text of the full publication have found claims that are inconsistent with, or missing from, the body of the full article."[5]


Abstracts are protected under copyright law just as any other form of written speech is protected. However, publishers of scientific articles invariably make abstracts freely available, even when the article itself is not. For example, articles in the biomedical literature are available publicly from MEDLINE which is accessible through PubMed.


An academic abstract typically outlines four elements relevant to the completed work:

  • The research focus (i.e. statement of the problem(s)/research issue(s) addressed);
  • The research methods used (experimental research, case studies, questionnaires, etc.);
  • The results/findings of the research; and
  • The main conclusions and recommendations

It may also contain brief references,[6] although some publications' standard style omits references from the abstract, reserving them for the article body (which, by definition, treats the same topics but in more depth).

Abstract length varies by discipline and publisher requirements. Typical length ranges from 100 to 500 words, but very rarely more than a page and occasionally just a few words.[7] An abstract may or may not have the section title of "abstract" explicitly listed as an antecedent to content. Abstracts are typically sectioned logically as an overview of what appears in the paper, with any of the following subheadings: Background, Introduction, Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusions. Abstracts in which these subheadings are explicitly given are often called structured abstracts by publishers. In articles that follow the IMRAD pattern (especially original research, but sometimes other article types), structured abstract style is the norm. (The "A" of abstract may be added to "IMRAD" yielding "AIMRAD".) Abstracts that comprise one paragraph (no explicit subheadings) are often called unstructured abstracts by publishers. They are often appropriate for review articles that don't follow the IMRAD pattern within their bodies.


Example taken from the Journal of Biology, Volume 3, Issue 2.:[8]

The hydrodynamics of dolphin drafting

by Daniel Weihs, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.


Background Drafting in cetaceans is defined as the transfer of forces between individuals without actual physical contact between them. This behavior has long been surmised to explain how young dolphin calves keep up with their rapidly moving mothers. It has recently been observed that a significant number of calves become permanently separated from their mothers during chases by tuna vessels. A study of the hydrodynamics of drafting, initiated inmechanisms causing the separation of mothers and calves during fishing-related activities, is reported here.

Results Quantitative results are shown for the forces and moments around a pair of unequally sized dolphin-like slender bodies. These include two major effects. First, the so-called Bernoulli suction, which stems from the fact that the local pressure drops in areas of high speed, results in an attractive force between mother and calf. Second is the displacement effect, in which the motion of the mother causes the water in front to move forwards and radially outwards, and water behind the body to move forwards to replace the animal's mass. Thus, the calf can gain a 'free ride' in the forward-moving areas. Utilizing these effects, the neonate can gain up to 90% of the thrust needed to move alongside the mother at speeds of up to 2.4 m/s. A comparison with observations of eastern spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) is presented, showing savings of up to 60% in the thrust that calves require if they are to keep up with their mothers.

Conclusions A theoretical analysis, backed by observations of free-swimming dolphin schools, indicates that hydrodynamic interactions with mothers play an important role in enabling dolphin calves to keep up with rapidly moving adult school members.

© 2004 Weihs; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL

Abstract types


The informative abstract, also known as the complete abstract, is a compendious summary of a paper's substance including its background, purpose, methodology, results, and conclusion.[9][10] Usually between 100 and 200 words, the informative abstract summarizes the paper's structure, its major topics and key points.[9] A format for scientific short reports that is similar to an informative abstract has been proposed in recent years.[11] Informative abstracts may be viewed as standalone documents.[9]


The descriptive abstract, also known as the limited abstract or the indicative abstract, provides a description of what the paper covers without delving into its substance.[12] A descriptive abstract is akin to a table of contents in paragraph form.[12]

Graphical abstracts

During the late 2000s, due to the influence of computer storage and retrieval systems such as the Internet, some scientific publications, primarily those published by Elsevier, started including graphical abstracts alongside the text abstracts.[13] The graphic is intended to summarize or be an exemplar for the main thrust of the article. It is not intended to be as exhaustive a summary as the text abstract, rather it is supposed to indicate the type, scope, and technical coverage of the article at a glance. The use of graphical abstracts has been generally well received by the scientific community.[14][15] Moreover, some journals also include video abstracts and animated abstracts made by the authors to easily explain their papers.[16] Many scientific publishers currently encourage authors to supplement their articles with graphical abstracts, in the hope that such a convenient visual summary will facilitate readers with a clearer outline of papers that are of interest and will result in improved overall visibility of the respective publication. However, the validity of this assumption has not been thoroughly studied, and a recent study statistically comparing publications with or without graphical abstracts with regard to several output parameters reflecting visibility failed to demonstrate an effectiveness of graphical abstracts for attracting attention to scientific publications.[17]

Abstract quality assessment

Various methods can be used to evaluate abstract quality, e.g. rating by readers, checklists (not necessary in structured abstracts), and readability measures (such as Flesch Reading Ease).[14][18]

See also


  • Finkelstein Jr, Leo (2004). Pocket Book of Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists (2. ed.). London: McGraw-Hill Education - Europe. ISBN 978-0072468496.
  1. ^ Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly, The Elements of Technical Writing, pg. 117. New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0020130856
  2. ^ Gliner, Jeffrey A.; Morgan, George A. (2000). Research Methods in Applied Settings: An Integrated Approach to Design and Analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-8058-2992-1.
  3. ^ Yavchitz, Amélie; Boutron, Isabelle; Bafeta, Aida; Marroun, Ibrahim; Charles, Pierre; Mantz, Jean; Ravaud, Philippe; Bero, Lisa A. (11 September 2012). "Misrepresentation of randomized controlled trials in press releases and news coverage: a cohort study". PLOS Medicine. 9 (9): e1001308. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001308. PMC 3439420. PMID 22984354.
  4. ^ Pitkin, Roy M.; Branagan, Mary Ann (15 July 1998). "Can the accuracy of abstracts be improved by providing specific instructions? A randomized controlled trial". JAMA. 280 (3): 267–9. doi:10.1001/jama.280.3.267. PMID 9676677.open access
  5. ^ Hopewell, Sally; Clarke, Mike; Moher, David; Wager, Elizabeth; Middleton, Philippa; Altman, Douglas G; Schulz, Kenneth F; von Elm, Erik (22 January 2008). "CONSORT for reporting randomized controlled trials in journal and conference abstracts: explanation and elaboration". PLOS Medicine. 5 (1): e20. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050020. PMC 2211558. PMID 18215107.open access
  6. ^ "Journal Paper Submission Guidelines". Docstoc.com. 2008-11-15. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  7. ^ Berry; Brunner, N; Popescu, S; Shukla, P (2011). "Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?". J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 44 (49): 2001. arXiv:1110.2832. Bibcode:2011JPhA...44W2001B. doi:10.1088/1751-8113/44/49/492001.
  8. ^ Mann, J; Smuts, B (2004). "The hydrodynamics of dolphin drafting". Journal of Biology. 3 (2): 8. doi:10.1186/jbiol2. PMC 416558. PMID 15132740.
  9. ^ a b c Finkelstein, Leo, Jr (2007). Pocket Book of Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists. McGraw Hill. pp. 212–214. ISBN 978-0071259255.
  10. ^ "Types of Abstracts". Colorado State University.
  11. ^ Hortolà, Policarp (2008). "An ergonomic format for short reporting in scientific journals using nested tables and the Deming's cycle". Journal of Information Science. 34 (2): 207–212. doi:10.1177/0165551507082590.
  12. ^ a b Finkelstein Jr, pp. 211-212.
  13. ^ "Graphical Abstracts". Elsevier. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Bui, Lily (March 3, 2015). "A Glance at Graphical Abstracts". Comparative Media Studies: Writing. MIT. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  15. ^ Romans, Brian (February 16, 2011). "Are graphical abstracts a good idea?". Wired. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  16. ^ "Video Abstracts". Journal of the American Chemical Society. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  17. ^ Pferschy-Wenzig, EM; Pferschy, U; Wang, D; Mocan, A; Atanasov, AG (Sep 2016). "Does a Graphical Abstract Bring More Visibility to Your Paper?". Molecules. 21 (9): 1247. doi:10.3390/molecules21091247. PMC 5283664. PMID 27649137.
  18. ^ Ufnalska, Sylwia B.; Hartley, James (August 2009). "How can we evaluate the quality of abstracts?" (PDF). European Science Editing. 35 (3): 69–71. ISSN 0258-3127.
20th Airlift Squadron

The 20th Airlift Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was to the 60th Operations Group of Air Mobility Command at Travis Air Force Base, California, where it was inactivated on 31 December 1997.

The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 20th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron and ferried various aircraft on the North Atlantic ferrying route until 1943, when it was replaced by Station 3, North Atlantic Wing, Air Transport Command in a reorganization of Air Transport Command units.

The squadron was activated again in 1952 as the 20th Air Transport Squadron when Military Air Transport Service (MATS) replaced its Major Command controlled (four digit) airlift squadrons with Air Force controlled squadrons. When MATS turned Westover Air Force Base over to Strategic Air Command, the squadron moved to Dover Air Force Base. It upgraded to jet-propelled Lockheed C-141 Starlifters in 1965, and flew them until it was inactivated in 1997.


Abstract may refer to:

Abstract (album), 1962 album by Joe Harriott

Abstract (law), a summary of a legal document

Abstract (summary), in academic publishing

Abstract art, artistic works that do not attempt to represent reality or concrete subjects

Abstract: The Art of Design, 2017 documentary series

Abstract music, music that is non-representational

Abstract object in philosophy

Abstract structure in mathematics

Abstract type in computer science

The property of an abstraction

Q-Tip (musician), also known as "The Abstract"

Academic conference

An academic conference or scientific conference (also: symposium, workshop, meeting, etc.) is a event for researchers (not necessarily academics) to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers.


An annotation is a metadatum (e.g. a post, explanation, markup) attached to location or other data.

Assassination (2015 film)

Assassination (Hangul: 암살; Hanja: 暗殺; RR: Amsal) is a 2015 South Korean espionage action film co-written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon.The film is currently the eighth-highest-grossing movie in Korean film history with over 12.7 million admissions.

Critical précis

A critical précis is an expository style of writing, analogous in structure to an essay but which contains a summary of another piece of text. In essence, the entire content summarizes all the main ideas, arguments and abstractions within the text into a shorter passage a fraction of its original length, in order to provide insight into the original author's thesis. The writer of the précis is careful to avoid copying any direct wording from the original text in order to avoid academic plagiarism, except in short passage quotations where necessary.

The précis is a common assignment in the humanities and liberal arts streams in higher education. Typical lengths are less than 500 to 1500 words.

The majority of higher education students find the précis to be a useful analytical format and tool. Its use also extends to interdisciplinary formats, and is sometimes also identified as a rhetorical précis.


An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal. Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.

In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.

The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.

Exemplar theory

Exemplar theory is a proposal concerning the way humans categorize objects and ideas in psychology. It argues that individuals make category judgments by comparing new stimuli with instances already stored in memory. The instance stored in memory is the "exemplar". The new stimulus is assigned to a category based on the greatest number of similarities it holds with exemplars in that category. For example, the model proposes that people create the "bird" category by maintaining in their memory a collection of all the birds they have experienced: sparrows, robins, ostriches, penguins, etc. If a new stimulus is similar enough to some of these stored bird examples, the person categorizes the stimulus in the "bird" category. Various versions of the exemplar theory have led to a simplification of thought concerning concept learning, because they suggest that people use already-encountered memories to determine categorization, rather than creating an additional abstract summary of representations.

Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992

The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (or FHEFSSA, Pub.L. 102–550, title XIII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, H.R. 5334, Oct. 28, 1992, 106 Stat. 3941, 12 U.S.C. § 4501 et seq.). The Act established the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) within the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It also mandated that HUD set specific goals for the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with regard to low income and underserved housing areas.

Glacial period

A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate between glacial periods. The last glacial period ended about 15,000 years ago. The Holocene epoch is the current interglacial. A time with no glaciers on Earth is considered a greenhouse climate state.

Graphical abstract

A graphical abstract is a graphical or visual equivalent of a written abstract. Graphical abstracts are a single image, designed to help the reader to quickly gain an overview on a scholarly paper, research article, thesis or review: and to quickly ascertain the purpose and results of a given research, as well as the salient details of authors and journal. Graphical abstracts are intended to help facilitate online browsing, as well as help readers quickly identify which papers are relevant to their research interests. Like a video abstract, they are not intended to replace the original research paper, rather to help draw attention to it, increasing its readership.

Lead paragraph

A lead paragraph (sometimes shortened to lead; also spelled lede) is the opening paragraph of an article, essay, book chapter, or other written work that summarizes its main ideas.

Live Search Academic

Live Search Academic was a Web search engine for scholarly literature that existed from April 2006 to May 2008; it was part of Microsoft's Live Search group of services. It was similar to Google Scholar, but rather than crawling the Internet for academic content, search results came directly from trusted sources, such as publishers of academic journals. Users were required to log in to access the service.

Live Search Academic was known as Windows Live Academic Search when the beta version was officially launched on April 11, 2006. The name had changed to Live Search Academic by December 6, 2006, when Microsoft announced the addition of millions of new articles, mainly in biomedicine.On May 23, 2008, Microsoft announced the end of Live Search Academic and Live Search Books, both sites to be closed, with their results integrated into regular Search. The project scanned 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles.

Outline (list)

An outline, also called a hierarchical outline, is a list arranged to show hierarchical relationships and is a type of tree structure. An outline is used to present the main points (in sentences) or topics (terms) of a given subject. Each item in an outline may be divided into additional sub-items. If an organizational level in an outline is to be sub-divided, it shall have at least two subcategories, as advised by major style manuals in current use. An outline may be used as a drafting tool of a document, or as a summary of the content of a document or of the knowledge in an entire field. It is not to be confused with the general context of the term "outline", which a summary or overview of a subject, presented verbally or written in prose (for example, The Outline of History is not an outline of the type presented below). The outlines described in this article are lists, and come in several varieties.

A sentence outline is a tool for composing a document, such as an essay, a paper, a book, or even an encyclopedia. It is a list used to organize the facts or points to be covered, and their order of presentation, by section. Topic outlines list the subtopics of a subject, arranged in levels, and while they can be used to plan a composition, they are most often used as a summary, such as in the form of a table of contents or the topic list in a college course's syllabus.

Outlines are further differentiated by the index prefixing used, or lack thereof. Many outlines include a numerical or alphanumerical prefix preceding each entry in the outline, to provide a specific path for each item, to aid in referring to and discussing the entries listed. An alphanumerical outline uses alternating letters and numbers to identify entries. A decimal outline uses only numbers as prefixes. An outline without prefixes is called a "bare outline".

Specialized applications of outlines also exist. A reverse outline is a list of sentences or topics that is created from an existing work, as a revision tool; it may show the gaps in the document's coverage so that they may be filled, and may help in rearranging sentences or topics to improve the structure and flow of the work. An integrated outline is a composition tool for writing scholastic works, in which the sources, and the writer's notes from the sources, are integrated into the outline for ease of reference during the writing process.

A software program designed for processing outlines is called an outliner.

Phenomena (film)

Phenomena is a 1985 Italian horror giallo film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, and Donald Pleasence. Its plot focuses on a girl at a remote Swiss boarding school who discovers she has psychic powers that allow her to communicate with insects and uses them to pursue a serial killer who is butchering young women at and around the school.

After its release in Italy, Phenomena was purchased for distribution in the United States by New Line Cinema, who cut over twenty minutes and released it under the title Creepers.

Subject indexing

Subject indexing is the act of describing or classifying a document by index terms or other symbols in order to indicate what the document is about, to summarize its content or to increase its findability. In other words, it is about identifying and describing the subject of documents. Indexes are constructed, separately, on three distinct levels: terms in a document such as a book; objects in a collection such as a library; and documents (such as books and articles) within a field of knowledge.

Subject indexing is used in information retrieval especially to create bibliographic indexes to retrieve documents on a particular subject. Examples of academic indexing services are Zentralblatt MATH, Chemical Abstracts and PubMed. The index terms were mostly assigned by experts but author keywords are also common.

The process of indexing begins with any analysis of the subject of the document. The indexer must then identify terms which appropriately identify the subject either by extracting words directly from the document or assigning words from a controlled vocabulary. The terms in the index are then presented in a systematic order.

Indexers must decide how many terms to include and how specific the terms should be. Together this gives a depth of indexing.


Summary may refer to:

Abstract (summary), shortening a passage or a write-up without changing its meaning but by using different words and sentences

Epitome, a summary or miniature form

Abridgement, the act of reducing a written work into a shorter form

Executive summary, a short document or section of a document that summarizes a longer report or proposal or a group of related reports

Introduction (writing)

Summary (law), which has several meanings in law

Automatic summarization, the use of a computer program to produce an abstract or abridgement

Unidentified flying object

An unidentified flying object (UFO) is an object observed in the sky that is not readily identified. Most UFOs are later identified as conventional objects or phenomena. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Viktor Axmann

Viktor Axmann (given name: Vladoje Aksmanović; 29 August 1878, Osijek, Croatia – 3 March 1946, Valpovo, Croatia) was a Croatian architect . He spent most of his life in Osijek, but he died in 1946 in a communist labor camp in Valpovo.

He finished the Technical College in Munich, Germany. Afterwards he specialized in Vienna, Austria, where he got in touch with contemporary ideas of urban architecture of Josef Hoffman, Otto Wagner and Camillo Sitte.

In 1905, he became a construction entrepreneur in Osijek, where he built numerous secession-style buildings. His most important work of that period is the Urania Cinema (built in 1912), for which he received a prestigious award at the 1st International Cinema Exhibition in Vienna. After World War I he gradually abandoned the secession in favor of modernism. In that period, he built numerous architecturally important buildings in Osijek, such as the Apprentices' Dormitory (Croatian: Naučnički dom, built in 1923), Workers' Insurance Office (Ispostava ureda za osiguranje radnika, also 1923), two pavilions of the Osijek Hospital (Osječka bolnica, 1925), House of Falcons (Sokolski dom, 1928), Boarding School (Đački dom, 1929), the palace of the County Office of Workers' Insurance (Okružni ured za osiguranje radnika, 1936, co-projected with D. Špiller and J. Kastl) and Office of the Matches' Factory "Drava" Pension Fund (Dom mirovinske zaklade tvornice žigica "Drava", 1940).

Axmann was also involved in urban planning. He tried to add modern ideas of spatial planning to organize Osijek metropolitan area. In that spirit, he created a series of plans. In 1906, he projected new streets in the heart of Osijek. Under Wagner's influence, in 1908, he projected Osijek main square and farmers' market. The same year he attended the 8th International Congress of Architects in Vienna. Aside from Axmann, the Club of Croatian Architects sent his representatives to the congress. However, Axmann's application to join the club had been denied two years before. In 1910, he projected the Sakuntala Park. Aside from urban planning and architecture, Axmann also wrote about urban problems of Osijek in the Gazette of the Croatia Society of Engineers and Architects.

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