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Writing the Abstract for BI490/492 Emmy Misser Manager, Writing Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing the Abstract for BI490/492 Emmy Misser Manager, Writing Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing the Abstract for BI490/492 Emmy Misser Manager, Writing Centre

2 Points we will cover Definition Examples Strategies for writing a successful abstract Resources on writing the abstract

3 Abstracts An abstract is an academic summary It literally “abstracts” or siphons off the key points Abstracts frequently introduce an academic journal article or a comprehensive research report Abstracts act as overviews or previews for a reader to determine if the entire text merits reading Mulvaney and Jolliffe, 2005, p 124

4 Abstracts Abstracts are brief summaries written to give readers the gist of an article or a presentation Here we are concerned with two kinds: –Informative abstracts—to be written for your thesis –Proposal abstracts—to be written for your oral presentations in January Bullock, 2005

5 Their Purpose Informative abstracts –Summarize and introduce a project/ article –Show the reader what to look for in the text Proposal abstracts –Persuade someone to let you write on a topic –Do a project –Conduct an experiment –Present a scholarly paper at a conference Bullock, 2005

6 Informative Abstracts In about words an informative abstract answers the following questions 1.Why did you do this study or project? 2.What did you do, and how? 3.What did you find? 4.What do your findings mean? These questions represent the component parts of the abstract They reflect the reasoning that structures the text U of T’s Handout

7 Proposal Abstracts Contain the same basic information as the informative abstract but they are not written to introduce a project They are written to stand alone Often they are written before the project is done

8 In your case Although your abstract is a written before your research project is done You should follow the guidelines for an informative abstract

9 An informative abstract Should present as much as possible of the quantitative and qualitative information of the text and also reflect its reasoning This means that you include your major findings and interpret them You structure the abstract so that all the reader’s main questions will be answered Here is an example

10 This study was undertaken to determine the wavelengths of light that are most effective in promoting photosynthesis in the aquatic plant Elodea canadensis since some wavelengths are generally more effective than others. Rate of photosynthesis was determined at 25° C, using wavelengths of 400, 450, 550, 600, 650, and 700nm and measuring the rate of oxygen production for 1-h periods at each wavelength. Oxygen production was estimated from the rate of bubble production by the submerged plant. We tested 4 plants at each wavelength. The rate of oxygen production at 450 nm (approximately 2.5 ml O 2 /mg wet weight of plant/h) was nearly 1.5 greater than that of any other wavelength tested, suggesting that light of this wavelength (blue) is not readily absorbed by the chlorophyll pigments. In contrast, light of 550 nm (green) produced no detectable photosynthesis, suggesting that light of this wavelength is reflected rather than absorbed by the chlorophyll. Pechenik, 2004, p Can you identify purpose, methods, results, discussion?

11 This study was undertaken to determine the wavelengths of light that are most effective in promoting photosynthesis in the aquatic plant Elodea canadensis since some wavelengths are generally more effective than others (1). Rate of photosynthesis was determined at 25° C, using wavelengths of 400, 450, 550, 600, 650, and 700nm and measuring the rate of oxygen production for 1-h periods at each wavelength (2). Oxygen production was estimated from the rate of bubble production by the submerged plant (2). We tested 4 plants at each wavelength (2). The rate of oxygen production at 450 nm (approximately 2.5 ml O2?/mg wet weight of plant/(h) was nearly 1.5 greater than that of any other wavelength tested (3), suggesting that light of this wavelength (blue) is not readily absorbed by the chlorophyll pigments (4). In contrast, light of 550 nm (green) produced no detectable photosynthesis (3), suggesting that light of this wavelength is reflected rather than absorbed by the chlorophyll (4). 1. Purpose, 2. Method, 3. Results, 4. Discussion

12 Writing for the audience with a purpose The Writer: selects the most relevant findings and interpretations anticipates the questions the reader or audience will ask answers all four questions and the reader knows which one is being answered through the writer’s choice of words and sentence structure structures the answers to reflect the reasoning behind the project

13 Good writing strategies 1.Why did you do this study or project? –This study was undertaken to determine the wavelengths of … 2. What did you do, and how? –Rate of photosynthesis was determined at 25° C, using wavelengths… –Oxygen production was estimated from the rate… 3. What did you find? –The rate of oxygen production at 450 nm… was nearly 1.5 greater than that of any other wavelength tested, 4. What do your findings mean? –suggesting that light of this wavelength (blue) is not readily absorbed by the chlorophyll pigments.

14 Title: Survey of the metazoan parasites of bluegill (Lepomis gibbosus Linaeus) and pumpkinseed (L. machromirus Rafinesque) of Lake Opinicon, Ontario. Forty-one pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus Linaeus) and twenty-four bluegill (L. machromirus Rafinesque) were collected by seining from shallow water in Lake Opinicon, Ontario, in September Fish were categorized into two age classes: ≤2-years-old and ≥3-years-old. Fish were necropsied and metazoan parasites were collected and identified. Posthodiplostomum minimum (Platyhelminthes; Trematoda) metacercariae occurred on the liver, heart and kidneys of bluegill and pumpkinseed. Clinostomum complanatum (Platyhelminthes; Trematoda) metacercariae were encysted in the gill cavities of pumpkinseed. Proteocephalus ambloplitis (Platyhelminthes; Cestoidea) pleurocercoids were found in the liver tissue of both bluegill and pumpkinseed. Camallanus oxycephalus (Nematoda) was collected from bluegill and Cucullanellus cotylophora (Nematoda) and Eustrongylides sp. (Nematoda) were collected from pumpkinseed. Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli (Acanthocephala) occurred in the intestinal tracts of both bluegill and pumpkinseed. P. Bulbocolli in bluegill is a new host record in Canadian waters. Leptorhynchoides thecatus (Acanthocephala) was collected from the mesenteries of pumpkinseed. All species of Platyhelminthes and Nematoda have been previously recorded from these host species in Canada. Does this writer answer the four questions?

15 What can be improved in this abstract ? 2. What did you do, and how? Forty-one pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus Linaeus) and twenty-four bluegill (L. machromirus Rafinesque) were collected by seining from shallow water in Lake Opinicon, Ontario, in September Fish were categorized into two age classes: ≤2-years-old and ≥3-years-old. Fish were necropsied and metazoan parasites were collected and identified. 3. What did you find? Posthodiplostomum minimum (Platyhelminthes; Trematoda) metacercariae occurred on the liver, heart and kidneys of bluegill and pumpkinseed. Clinostomum complanatum (Platyhelminthes; Trematoda) metacercariae were encysted in the gill cavities of pumpkinseed. Proteocephalus ambloplitis (Platyhelminthes; Cestoidea) pleurocercoids were found in the liver tissue of both bluegill and pumpkinseed. Camallanus oxycephalus (Nematoda) was collected from bluegill and Cucullanellus cotylophora (Nematoda) and Eustrongylides sp. (Nematoda) were collected from pumpkinseed. Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli (Acanthocephala) occurred in the intestinal tracts of both bluegill and pumpkinseed. P. Bulbocolli in bluegill is a new host record in Canadian waters. Leptorhynchoides thecatus (Acanthocephala) was collected from the mesenteries of pumpkinseed. 4. What do your findings mean? All species of Platyhelminthes and Nematoda have been previously recorded from these host species in Canada.

16 The writing process Writer-centered writers Write for themselves Put ideas down loosely Do not revise for audience and purpose Are not aware of the rhetorical situation Reader-centered writers Write for the reader Structure ideas carefully Revise to establish a readable text that has a clear purpose Are highly aware of the rhetorical situation

17 The rhetorical situation Purpose: why are you writing –Personal, informative, persuasive Audience: for whom are you writing? –Education, expectations, interests, life experiences etc. Genre: types of writing with particular conventions for presenting information –Letters, reports, web pages, instructions, abstracts, theses, etc. Stance: your attitude, how you come across as a writer –Tone: angry, flippant, analytical, reasonable, composed, reflective etc. Media: print, spoken, electronic A writer addresses a specific audience on a specific topic for a specific purpose

18 Writing strategies that convey purpose 1.Purpose –This study was undertaken to determine the wavelengths of … –Subject + effective passive construction 2. Methods –Rate of photosynthesis was determined at 25° C, using wavelengths… –Subject + effective passive construction 3. Results –The rate of oxygen production at 450 nm… was nearly 1.5 greater –Subject + active verb 4. Discussion –suggesting that light of this wavelength (blue) is not readily… –Present participle which modifies the previous main clause

19 Writing strategies that create purpose Good use of grammatical sentence slots to convey purpose –Subject + verb Use of correct verb tense to emphasize purpose –was undertaken (purpose), –was determined (method), –was nearly (results), –is not readily (discussion) Appropriate use of the passive voice Brevity

20 Why are abstracts important? 90% of the time no one is going to read further than the abstract (in the world of work) It has to be to the point It has to be clear to many types of people It can’t be loaded with too many specifics

21 Why are abstracts important? Abstracts are important because: They give a first impression of the document that follows Readers decide whether to continue reading based on the abstract If they do, the abstract will show them what to look for -Based on U of T’s Handout If they don’t, the abstract is either outside their area of interest or written in a way that discourages further reading

22 Before handing in your abstract Proofread it several times Give it to two readers for feedback –One outside your field –One in your field Check the word count

23 An abstract summarizes the essence of your work It is –Complete –Accurate –Self-contained It must make perfect sense to someone who has not read your report/thesis Pechenik, 2004, p 208

24 Goal Submit abstract for publication in Book of Abstracts Due date?

25 Resources Bullock, R The Norton field guide to writing. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Mulvaney, M. K. and D. A. Jolliffe Academic writing: genres, samples and resources. Toronto: Pearson Longman. Pechenik, J. A A short guide to writing about biology. 5 th ed. Toronto: Pearson Longman. Procter, M The abstract. Writing at the University of Toronto. Accessed October 27.http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/abstract.html


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