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How to Write an Abstract CURO 2009 The Abstract is a general synopsis of the entire paper . Characteristics of an Abstract: 1. Around 150-250 words. 2. Begins with 1-2 sentences of Introduction , usually specific information.

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the abstract is a general synopsis of the entire paper
The Abstract is a general synopsis of the entire paper.

Characteristics of an Abstract:

  • 1. Around 150-250 words.
  • 2. Begins with 1-2 sentences of Introduction, usually specific information.
  • 3. The bulk of the Abstract is the data. This is told by a combination of the Methods and Results. The summation of the data is given along with the technique used to obtain the data.
  • 4. At the end are 1-2 sentences of Discussion, explaining what the data mean and summarizing the work.
  • 5. Somewhere in the abstract (either at the very beginning or very end) is usually a phrase/sentence talking about the importance of work being done, or how it affects the your field and the world.
example of a scientific abstract
Example of a Scientific Abstract

Mori et al. Circadian clock protein KaiC forms ATP-dependent hexameric rings and binds DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99:17203-8.

KaiC from Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (KaiC) is an essential circadian clock protein in cyanobacteria. Previous sequence analyses suggested its inclusion in the RecA/DnaB superfamily. A characteristic of the proteins of this superfamily is that they form homohexameric complexes that bind DNA. We show here that KaiC also forms ring complexes with a central pore that can be visualized by electron microscopy. A combination of analytical ultracentrifuation and chromatographic analyses demonstrates that these complexes are hexameric. The association of KaiC molecules into hexamers depends on the presence of ATP. The KaiC sequence does not include the obvious DNA-binding motifs found in RecA or DnaB. Nevertheless, KaiC binds forked DNA substrates. These data support the inclusion of KaiC into the RecA/DnaB superfamily and have important implications for enzymatic activity of KaiC in the circadian clock mechanism that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns.

Let’s break this abstract down into the characteristics mentioned above.

1 length
1. Length

This abstract is 143 words long. This is short of the 250 word limit, but in an abstract it is better to be shorter than longer (within reason). This is about the absolute shortest an abstract should be.

2 introduction
2. Introduction
  • The abstract begins with 3 sentences of introduction
    • KaiC from Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (KaiC) is an essential circadian clock protein in cyanobacteria.
    • Previous sequence analyses suggested its inclusion in the RecA/DnaB superfamily.
    • A characteristic of the proteins of this superfamily is that they form homohexameric complexes that bind DNA.

Notice that the information is specific to the work being done. General information about the organism or overall field of research is in the Introduction section of the paper. The purpose of the abstract is the give the maximum amount of pertinent information in the minimum amount of space.

3 methods results
3. Methods/Results
  • The Results are presented with accompanying Methods.
    • We show here that KaiC also forms ring complexes with a central pore that can be visualized by electron microscopy.
    • A combination of analytical ultracentrifuation and chromatographic analyses demonstrates that these complexes are hexameric.
    • The association of KaiC molecules into hexamers depends on the presence of ATP.
    • The KaiC sequence does not include the obvious DNA-binding motifs found in RecA or DnaB. Nevertheless, KaiC binds forked DNA substrates.
  • Specific experimental details are omitted (i.e. the concentration of ATP)
4 discussion
4. Discussion
  • Discussion - The meaning of the results in relation to the hypothesis/topic is given.
    • These data support the inclusion of KaiC into the RecA/DnaB superfamily and have important implications for enzymatic activity of KaiC in the circadian clock mechanism that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns.
  • The end result of the data is summarized and explained in regards to the hypothesis
5 importance
5. Importance
  • Importance. Why the work was done.
    • These data support the inclusion of KaiC into the RecA/DnaB superfamily and have important implications for enzymatic activity of KaiC in the circadian clock mechanism that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns.
  • The last sentence leaves the impression that this work has “important implications” on the clock model “that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns”.
  • Though a statement of purpose, it is a fairly weak one. A stronger one would have stated why the study of the circadian clock mechanism is important to the world.
example of a scientific abstract9
Example of a Scientific Abstract

Mori et al. Circadian clock protein KaiC forms ATP-dependent hexameric rings and binds DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99:17203-8.

KaiC from Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (KaiC) is an essential circadian clock protein in cyanobacteria. Previous sequence analyses suggested its inclusion in the RecA/DnaB superfamily. A characteristic of the proteins of this superfamily is that they form homohexameric complexes that bind DNA.We show here that KaiC also forms ring complexes with a central porethat can be visualized by electron microscopy.Acombination of analytical ultracentrifuation and chromatographic analyses demonstratesthat these complexes are hexameric.The association of KaiC molecules into hexamers depends on the presence of ATP.The KaiC sequence does not include the obvious DNA-binding motifs found in RecA or DnaB. Nevertheless, KaiC binds forked DNA substrates.These data support the inclusion of KaiC into the RecA/DnaB superfamilyand have important implications for enzymatic activity of KaiC in the circadian clock mechanism that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns.

example of a social science abstract spiritual education for hospice nurses a case study
Example of a Social Science AbstractSpiritual Education for Hospice Nurses: A Case Study

Hospice care helps those faced with terminal illness to die with dignity and without pain.Spiritual care for patients is an important part of quality hospice care. Because of the nature of their work, hospice nurses are in a key position to provide spiritual care to patients. However, several barriers exist that limit nurses’ ability to provide optimal spiritual care. Spiritual education for nurses has been shown to improve the quality of care they provide to their patients and to improve the well-being of the nurses themselves.The purpose of this case study was to understand the roles of spirituality and spiritual care in the provision of hospice care within a private, religiously affiliated healthcare system in a small city in the southeastern U.S. and to understand the nature of spiritual education provided to hospice nurses there.Data included qualitative interviews of five staff members and educational materials provided to nurses. Data were content-analyzed for emergent themes.Confirming previous research,all participants saw connections among nursing, hospice care, and spiritual care. Reported barriers to nurses’ provision of spiritual care included lack of understanding of patients’ spiritual needs, feeling unprepared to address spiritual needs, lack of communication skills, lack of confidence in discussingspiritual issues, conflicting personal values, and lack of spiritual self-care.Results supported previous findings that learning ways to overcome barriers improved nurses’ ability to perform their jobs and increased their personal well-being and job satisfaction. Recommendations for improving education for hospice nurses within this healthcare system are provided.

how to write an abstract for a work in progress
How to Write an Abstract for a Work in Progress
  • Report what data you have. The more actual data the better.
  • For work that hasn’t been done, write about how the work will be done and what importance it has.
    • Perhaps talk about the technique a little. But don’t overdo it. An abstract is never a place to discuss technique in depth. If you do, people can tell that it hasn’t been done.
  • Spend more time on background, and more time on importance.
  • State clearly what and how experiments will be performed as if it has been done, BUT NEVER, NEVER WRITE RESULTS AND/OR DISCUSSION FOR WORK THAT HASN’T BEEN DONE. This is unethical.
    • In other words, you can say that X was analyzed by Y method even if the work hasn’t been done YET so long as it will be before your talk, but you can’t say X was analyzed to give you Z.
  • Be conservative in your estimates of how much work will be done. Never overstate your case.
slide12

Here is an example of an abstract that was written for a work-in-progress

Curtis et al. An Endogenous Lipid Chemoattractant During Development of Myxococcus xanthus

The mechanism of cellular aggregation during fruiting body development has not been fully elucidated. One model of aggregation involves chemotaxis towards a chemical attractant. It has been previously shown that the phospholipid dihexadecanoyl phosphotidylethanolamine (di 16:1w5c PE) serves as a chemoattractant during development, and that the fatty acid 16:1w5c is present in the phospholipid profile of M. xanthus at physiological relevant concentrations, yet the exact lipid species containing this fatty acid is not known. Of further interest is the complexity of the organism's phospholipid profile. M. xanthus has at least seven different phosphatidylethanolamine species and ten unique fatty acid chains. This remarkable variety of phospholipids has an equally remarkable biochemical synthesis system. Whereas Escherichia coli has only one enzyme (plsB) to transfer an acyl group to the sn-1 position of glycerol-3-phosphate, and one enzyme (plsC) for the sn-2 position, M. xanthus has two putative enzymes for the sn-1 position and five putative enzymes for the sn-2. To investigate the relationship between these acyl transferases and the phospholipid profile, knockout mutations were made for some of the genes and the phospholipid profiles of the mutants were analyzed by fast-atom bombardment mass spectrometry to elucidate the fatty acid subset of each acyl transferase. The purpose of this experiment is to generate a mutant defective in producing this lipid chemoattractant and determine if it is the aggregation signal. If this lipid serves as the aggregation signal, then removing the signal should arrest fruiting body development at the aggregation stage.

slide13

Here is an example of an abstract that was written for a work-in-progress

Curtis et al. An Endogenous Lipid Chemoattractant During Development of Myxococcus xanthus

The mechanism of cellular aggregation during fruiting body development has not been fully elucidated. One model of aggregation involves chemotaxis towards a chemical attractant. It has been previously shown that the phospholipid dihexadecanoyl phosphotidylethanolamine (di 16:1w5c PE) serves as a chemoattractant during development, and that the fatty acid 16:1w5c is present in the phospholipid profile of M. xanthus at physiological relevant concentrations, yet the exact lipid species containing this fatty acid is not known. Of further interest is the complexity of the organism's phospholipid profile. M. xanthus has at least seven different phosphatidylethanolamine species and ten unique fatty acid chains. This remarkable variety of phospholipids has an equally remarkable biochemical synthesis system.Whereas Escherichia coli has only one enzyme (plsB) to transfer an acyl group to the sn-1 position of glycerol-3-phosphate, and one enzyme (plsC) for the sn-2 position, M. xanthus has two putative enzymes for the sn-1 position and five putative enzymes for the sn-2.To investigate the relationship between these acyl transferases and the phospholipid profile, knockout mutations were made for some of the genes and the phospholipid profiles of the mutants were analyzed by fast-atom bombardment mass spectrometry to elucidate the fatty acid subset of each acyl transferase. The purpose of this experiment is to generate a mutant defective in producing this lipid chemoattractant and determine if it is the aggregation signal.If this lipid serves as the aggregation signal, then removing the signal should arrest fruiting body development at the aggregation stage.

slide14
Notice the bulk of the abstract is introduction.
  • Also notice that work was stated without results:
    • To investigate the relationship between these acyl transferases and the phospholipid profile, knockout mutations were made for some of the genes and the phospholipid profiles of the mutants were analyzed by fast-atom bombardment mass spectrometry to elucidate the fatty acid subset of each acyl transferase.
  • Then the purpose of the work was stated and concluded with the importance and a little bit of speculation:
    • The purpose of this experiment is to generate a mutant defective in producing this lipid chemoattractant and determine if it is the aggregation signal. If this lipid serves as the aggregation signal, then removing the signal should arrest fruiting body development at the aggregation stage.
  • Eventually this work was completed, but in the time between abstract submission and the talk given. It is important that the work stated be completed before the talk. Otherwise, you promise on something and don’t deliver. This is also unethical.
example of humanities work in progress abstract
Example of Humanities Work-in-Progress Abstract

The Dawning of a (Somewhat) New Devil:

The All-too-human Dialogical and Diabolical Malefactor

This paper will examine the text "Dyalogue, et ung merveilleux parlement," a quarto pamphlet first printed in French in 1522.It is an attack on certain Lutheran and papist ideas that, on its first page, actually contains a printed image of the devil along with two traveling companions. The text is somewhat of a puzzle in that it is anonymous. Aside from this basic mystery, my paper will attempt to gauge the ideology not only behind the anti-clerical sentiments but, more importantly, behind the representation of the devil - his darkness, his clothing, his manners and his wittiness. One can almost certainly point to a direct relation between the appearance and personality of this devil and the medieval stage. The academic dialogue, mentioned in the title, certainly also has its place in this characterization.This pamphlet has never received any critical study or attention even though it stands in the gap between medieval and Reformation portrayals of the devil.I want to know whether or not this devil is a character that the audience would have recognized as such. Exactly what, if anything, is new about this devil?This paper will examine the textual descriptions of the devil, his own words within the text, and the image at the beginning in order to arrive at the answers to these questions.

some final notes on style
Some Final Notes on Style
  • Abstract should be ONE well-developed paragraph.
  • Remember you are writing for a general audience.
  • Give your abstract a title! When submitting to the CURO Symposium, make sure the first letter of every word is capitalized.

ex) Violence, Subalternity, and El Corrido Along the US/Mexican Border

  • ONE space between sentences.
  • Avoid long-winded, complex sentences.
  • Avoid excessive use of jargon. Define abbreviations and acronyms.
  • Avoid judgmental language – just state the facts.
  • Use correct spelling and grammar with no typos.
  • Stick to the 250-word limit.