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LEO Writing Abstracts
Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Tue, 22-Mar-2005
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Article Size: 5.69 KB

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LEO Writing Abstracts. Article by by Judith Kilborn

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a condensed version of a longer piece of writing that highlights the major points covered, concisely describes the content and scope of the writing, and reviews the writing's contents in abbreviated form.

What types of abstracts are typically used?

Two types of abstracts are typically used:
1. Descriptive Abstracts
o tell readers what information the report, article, or paper contains.
o include the purpose, methods, and scope of the report, article, or paper.
o do not provide results, conclusions, or recommendations.
o are always very short, usually under 100 words.
o introduce the subject to readers, who must then read the report, article, or paper to find out the author's results, conclusions, or recommendations.
2. Informative Abstracts
o communicate specific information from the report, article, or paper.
o include the purpose, methods, and scope of the report, article, or paper.
o provide the report, article, or paper's results, conclusions, and recommendations.
o are short -- from a paragraph to a page or two, depending upon the length of the original work being abstracted. Usually informative abstracts are 10% or less of the length of the original piece.
o allow readers to decide whether they want to read the report, article, or paper.

Why are abstracts so important?

The practice of using key words in an abstract is vital because of today's electronic information retrieval systems. Titles and abstracts are filed electronically, and key words are put in electronic storage. When people search for information, they enter key words related to the subject, and the computer prints out the titles of articles, papers, and reports containing those key words. Thus, an abstract must contain key words about what is essential in an article, paper, or report so that someone else can retrieve information from it.

Qualities of a Good Abstract

An effective abstract has the following qualities:
uses one or more well developed paragraphs: these are unified, coherent, concise, and able to stand alone.
uses an introduction/body/conclusion structure which presents the article, paper, or report's purpose, results, conclusions, and recommendations in that order.
follows strictly the chronology of the article, paper, or report.
provides logical connections (or transitions) between the information included.
adds no new information, but simply summarizes the report.
is understandable to a wide audience.
oftentimes uses passive verbs to downplay the author and emphasize the information. Check with your teacher if you're unsure whether or not to use passive voice.

Steps for Writing Effective Abstracts

To write an effective abstract, follow these steps:
Reread the article, paper, or report with the goal of abstracting in mind.
o Look specifically for these main parts of the article, paper, or report: purpose, methods, scope, results, conclusions, and recommendation.
o Use the headings, outline heads, and table of contents as a guide to writing your abstract.
o If you're writing an abstract about another person's article, paper, or report, the introduction and the summary are good places to begin. These areas generally cover what the article emphasizes.
After you've finished rereading the article, paper, or report, write a rough draft without looking back at what you're abstracting.
o Don't merely copy key sentences from the article, paper, or report: you'll put in too much or too little information.
o Don't rely on the way material was phrased in the article, paper, or report: summarize information in a new way.
Revise your rough draft to
o correct weaknesses in organization.
o improve transitions from point to point.
o drop unnecessary information.
o add important information you left out.
o eliminate wordiness.
o fix errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Print your final copy and read it again to catch any glitches that you find.

A Sample Abstract

PASM: A partitionable SIMD/MIMD System for Image Processing and Pattern Recognition
PASM, a large-scale multimicroprocessor system being designed at Purdue University for image processing and pattern recognition, is described. This system can be dynamically reconfigured to operate as one or more independent SIMD and/or MIMD machines. PASM consists of a parallel computation unit, which contains N processor, N memories, and an interconnection network; Q microcontrollers, each of which controls N/Q parallel secondary storage devices; a distributed memory management system; and a system control unit, to coordinate the other system components. Possible values for N and Q are 1024 and 16, respectively. The control schemes and memory management on PASM are explored. Examples of how PASM can be used to perform image processing tasks are given.

Copyright for this article belongs to Judy Kilborn

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Judy Kilborn on behalf of LEO. Original Source of the article is located here: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/bizwrite/abstracts.html

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