Presentation on theme: "Today’s Game: What’s Wrong with This Sentence? Some evidence indicates that it is possible to provide better access to preventive health care services."— Presentation transcript:
Today’s Game: What’s Wrong with This Sentence? Some evidence indicates that it is possible to provide better access to preventive health care services at a reasonable cost and that some preventive services may even lower costs.
Writing an Abstract June 4, 2012 Sources: assignments/abstracts
What is an abstract?
Definition of an Abstract Is a short, powerful statement that covers the main points about a larger work (scholarly paper, proposal). It can be – The first paragraph of a scholarly paper – Separate from a proposal (used as general lay description of your proposal, e.g., on a funding agency website) Encourages your reader to want to obtain a copy of your full paper to learn more about the research Is likely to live in online search databases – Should contain relevant keywords and phrases that will be indexed to allow people most interested in your work to find it!
When do you need to write an abstract?
You Write an Abstract When… Submitting articles to journals, especially online journals Applying for research grants – An abstract is one of the items submitted in the proposal process) Writing a book proposal – Publishers typically want an abstract of the entire work and first few chapters Writing a proposal for a conference paper Writing a proposal for a book chapter Completing a Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
Qualities of a Good Abstract Uses one or more well-developed paragraphs, which are unified, coherent, concise Follows the chronology of the document Summarizes the contents of the document Introduces no new information Is intelligible to a wide audience
Basic Components of an Abstract Motivation Problem statement Approach or methodology Results Conclusions or implications
Motivation Why should we care about the problem and the results? – If the problem isn't obviously "interesting," put motivation first. – If your work is incremental progress on a problem that is widely recognized as important, put the problem statement (next slide) first to indicate which piece of the larger problem you are working on. Include the importance of your work, the difficulty of the area, and the impact it might have if successful.
Problem Statement What problem are you trying to solve? What is the scope of your work – A generalized approach or for a specific situation? Be careful not to use inappropriate jargon.
Approach or Methodology How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem? What methods or experiments did you use? What was the extent of your work? – For example, did you look at one application program or a hundred programs in 20 different programming languages? What constraints did you have? – For example, what important variables did you control, ignore, or measure?
Results What answer did you get? What did your data show? Quantify the results if you can. – Avoid vague results such as “very,” “small,” or “significant.” – Example: Most good computer architecture papers conclude that something is so many percent faster, cheaper, smaller, or otherwise better than something else.
Conclusions or Implications What are the implications of your answer? – Is it going to change the world (unlikely), be a significant "win,” or serve as a road sign indicating that this path is a waste of time? – Are your results general, potentially generalizable, or specific to a particular case?
All Abstracts Include… The most important information first. The same type and style of language found in the larger paper, including technical language. Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work. Clear, concise, and powerful language!
Other Considerations An abstract must be a fully self-contained, capsule description of the paper. It must make sense all by itself. Some publishers have a required style and may supply a “Guidelines for Authors” type document. – Meet their word count limitation ( words). – If your abstract runs too long, it will be rejected or someone will cut it down to size, which may end up misrepresenting your content and intent!
More Considerations Think of a half-dozen search phrases and keywords that people looking for your work might use to find it. – Be sure that those exact phrases appear in your abstract, so that they will turn up at the top of a search result listing. Some publications request "keywords” in addition to – Facilitate such keyword index searches. – Assign papers to peer-review committees or editors. Usually the context of a paper is set by the publication it appears in. – If your paper appears in an untraditional venue, be sure to include the domain or topic area to which it is applicable.
One Approach: Write the Paper First, Then the Abstract 1.Write your paper. 2.Cull topic sentences into an abstract paragraph. 3.Edit the paragraph and add transitional words between sentences to make it flow.
Alternative Approach: Start with the Abstract, Then Generate the Paper from It 1.Write the abstract to make sure you cover all the important points. 2.Take each point in turn and flesh it out into 1+ paragraphs with the necessary detail and logical flow. 3.Reorder the paragraphs and points in the abstract as necessary as you iteratively make changes to one or the other.
A Third Way: Purdue’s Method 1.Read your paper/proposal with the purpose of abstracting in mind. – Look specifically for the five main parts discussed above. 2.Write a rough draft without referring to your paper. 3.Revise your rough draft to – Correct weaknesses in organization and clarity. – Drop superfluous information or too much detail. – Add important information originally left out. – Eliminate wordiness. – Correct errors in grammar and mechanics. 4.Proofread your final copy.
Sample Real-world Abstract (Background/context) The field of Engineering historically has focused on closing the gap between innovation and practice. But this gap is still dramatically evident in the field of Biomedical Engineering (BE) in which the growth of funding from federal sources has focused on innovation without a corresponding focus on how to apply it in the field. Graduates of BE educational programs typically are trained as scientists to create knowledge rather than how to apply that knowledge to concrete health care needs. (What this paper is about) This paper reports on the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design at The Johns Hopkins University, a new innovator-centric program that seeks to close this gap. (Basic statement about what the program does) It teaches students to design, produce, and commercialize innovations in medical technology. (More detail) It trains students to develop real-world solutions particularly against the extreme resource constraints of less developed countries, and empowers clinicians and research faculty to translate their insights into medical products. 147 words
Review of Final Exam: 1500-word Proposal - Remember, You’re Telling a Story Cover page with proposal title, your name, department, and university – Pick a title that describes project, makes sense, creates excitement, is easy to understand, and not too long Executive summary suitable for public dissemination – No proprietary/confidential information Description of proposed project – Goals and objectives – Context/background – where your proposed project fits, why it’s important, why it can be done now – Detailed project plan – how you will go about the work – Literature review with references cited (see next slide) – Expected impact of your project Experience and capabilities of the proposed principal investigator (you!) Evaluation plan – how you plan to evaluate your results Dissemination of results – how you plan to communicate results of the project to other professionals in engineering Review criteria (see last slide)
Sample Literature Review The role of government in health care has expanded over the years and remains a contested issue that influences political discourse and policy incentives. Still, the government, with its extensive programs and market influence, can be a major factor in achieving better quality and value in health care in the future and the success or failure of lasting health care reform. Some researchers believe that, because neither the public nor private sector has controlled growth in costs, what is needed are changes in health care financing, new stakeholder partnerships, and development of solutions that address the problem system-wide. Others point to the potential importance of electronic medical records in controlling costs. Still others argue … For example, Chernew 1 argues that the gap between public spending and income growth is likely to lead to substantially higher taxes or debt. … Similarly, Baicker 2 and colleagues conclude …
Review Criteria What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?