TIPS FOR WRITING AN ABSTRACT
What is an abstract? An abstract is a concise and accurate summary of a larger work which may include a thesis or research document, a journal publication, or a report about the impact of a program or project. Reading an abstract is like reading a mini-essay in structure with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Why should I submit an abstract? An abstract can assist others who may not be familiar with your subject area to understand the purpose and value of your project or program. Your experiences, methods and cautions may enable others to achieve similar successes. How do I write good objectives? Learning objectives should describe, in measurable terms using a behavioral verb, what participants will be able to do, or what they will learn, from the session or presentation. The learning objectives should provide a clear focus for your session. Objectives should be concise and specific, and should adequately define the level of your presentation. • • • Level one (recall) focuses on knowledge and comprehension. Level two is directed on interpreting the material presented. Level three centers on problem solving. Generally speaking, knowledge and comprehension encompass the cognitive processes of remembering and explaining. Application and analysis involve using knowledge to find solutions or breaking a whole into component parts. Synthesis and evaluation involve the creation of a new concept or judgment ability.
WORDS NOT TO USE: Understand, Know, Assess, Include, Specify Some verbs may be applicable within more than one category. An example of a measurable behavioral objective is: “Attendees will be able to: describe the process used in developing this new nutrition education resource and one aspect of the development process that contributed to meeting the expressed needs of the target audience.”
Level 1: Recall Cite Choose Define Label List Locate Match Name Recall Recognize Record Repeat Select State Write
Level 1: Recall Arrange Associate Clarify Classify Convert Describe Diagram Draw Discuss Estimate Explain Express Identify Locate Outline Paraphrase Report Restate Review Sort Summarize Transfer Translate
Level 2: Level 2: Interpretation Interpretation Adapt Apply Catalogue Chart Compute Consolidate Demonstrate Develop Employ Extend Extrapolate Generalize Illustrate Infer Interpolate Modify Manipulate Order Predict Prepare Relate Sketch Submit Tabulate Transcribe Use Utilize Analyze Appraise Audit Break down Calculate Categorize Certify Compare Contrast Correlate Criticize Deduce Defend Diagram Differentiate Distinguish Discriminate Examine Infer Inspect Investigate Question Reason Separate Solve Survey Test Uncover Verify
Level 3: Problem Solving Arrange Assemble Build Combine Compile Compose Conceive Construct Create Design Devise Discover Draft Formulate Generate Make Integrate Manage Organize Plan Predict Prepare Propose Reorder Reorganize Set-up Structure Synthesize
Level 3: Problem Solving Appraise Approve Choose Conclude Confirm Criticize Critique Diagnose Evaluate Judge Justify Prioritize Prove Rank Rate Recommend Research Resolve Revise Rule on Select Support Validate
(Adapted from the PACE® guidelines for writing objectives; permission granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS) What are the characteristics of a good abstract? Include a background sentence, the purpose, methods, results, conclusions, and significance/application of your study or program by responding to these questions:
• • • • • •
Why was the study or program conducted; what was the purpose of addressing this topic? What did you do? How did you do it? Who participated? How many participated? What materials were used? What evaluation methods were used? What happened? What did you find? What did you conclude through analyzing the study results or the process of the program? What difference did your study or program make? How is this relevant to your field? How can your findings be applied? Is there anything you would you have done differently? How might this have changed your outcome?
Present your information in a logical sequence with transition between the purpose, methods, results, conclusions; and significance/application. Insure that the information can be comprehended by a non-expert; it is easy to read. • Sentences should be short and complete (but the abstract should not appear choppy). • Give information only once and eliminate unnecessary information. • Don’t repeat the title in the first sentence of your abstract. • Use simple words: define abbreviations and acronyms, avoid terms only used in your organization or field (jargon). • Describe what was done in past tense (was, were, etc.). Present tense (is) should be used if results/conclusion remains applicable. A good abstract never adds new information from what is covered in the study/project nor provides editorial comments. Proof your abstract several times. • Check for accuracy of any figures used (it is easy to enter numbers incorrectly). • Check spelling. Do not rely completely on computer spell check. For example, you may have “form” and wanted “from” but because “form” is correctly spelled, spell check will not catch this error! • Check for grammar and flow. • Have several people read the abstract who are unfamiliar with your work. Read the abstract “out loud”. It is easy to mentally change and fill in words that may not be present in the written format.