how to write an article : abstract and title prof. nikos siafakas university of crete

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  • How to write an article: Abstract and Title Prof. Nikos Siafakas MD.PhD.University of Crete

  • Definition An abstract is a synopsis of a longer piece of work which is published in isolation from the main text and should therefore stand on its own

    How to Write an Abstract. [Online] [cited 2010 Apr 20]; Available from: URL:

  • Why do we have to write an abstract?Most people will read only the abstract including the EDITORS

    Due to electronic database information processing, the abstract represents the selling part of an article

    Abstract will be often the only part of an article that is accessible in the electronic libraries (US National Library of Medicine Pubmed)

    Abstract helps readers to decide whether to read the full paper and EDITORS to send it for review.

  • Title of a scientific paper

    The title represents the first point of contact between the authors and the READERS and the EDITOR, REVIEWERS

    The title and the abstract are often the only available components within electronic journal databases

    It represents the last thing to be finalized before submission

    Rosenfeldt FL, Dowling JT, Pepe S, Fullerton MJ. How to write a Paper. Heart Lung Circ. 2000; 9(2):82-7 Gilbert Welch H. Preparing Manuscripts for Submission to Medical Journals: The paper trail. Effective Clinical Practice [Online] 1999 [cited 2010 Apr 20]; Available from: URL:

  • Simple rules for creating a titleReadability: by reading the title, the subject of the research should became immediately apparent

    Avoid too many information in a sentence

    Avoid conclusions

    A question as a title is usually accepted when authors deal with controversial topics

    Lilleyman JS. How to write a scientific paper a rough guide to getting published. Arch Dis Child. 1995; 72(3):268-70

  • What do we have to report?An abstract must give an answer to the following questions:Why it was the study carried out?How was done?What was found?What was concluded?

    Driscoll P. How to write a paper. J Accid Emerg Med. 1997; 14(2):65-9

  • Style of an abstractBrevity (brief, clear prose is easy to read but very hard to write)Avoid vague and vogue wordsUse short, concrete, Anglo-Saxon wordingModesty is a main element of somebodys written work

    Paton A. Writing and Speaking in Medicine. How I write a paper. BMJ. 1976; 2(6044): 1115-6David A. Write a Classic Paper. BMJ. 1990; 300(6716): 30-1

  • Necessary quality elementsLimited text (around 250 words)Easy to readProvides the most important informationContains 4 sectionsIntroductionMethodsResultsConclusion

  • IntroductionConsists of 1-2 sentences that: Introduces the topic of a research and why it is importantDescribes the aim by reflecting the research questionIt should not repeat the already available information in the title

  • MethodsType of studyPlaceSampleCriteriaTechniquesStatistical analysis

  • Results & ConclusionResults should describe shortly the main findings

    Include ONLY data or numbers to support/validate the Conclusions

    In the Conclusion micro/macro implications can be included

  • All parts of the AbstractAdditionally :Use short and succinct phrasesAvoid overuse of technical terms & abbreviationsAdopt a laconic language style

  • CONSORT for abstracts (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) A structured summary of trial design, methods, results, and conclusions

    Trial designMethods Results Conclusions Participants Numbers randomisedInterventions RecruitmentObjective Numbers analysedOutcome Outcome (estimated effect size) Randomisation HarmsBlinding (masking)

    Trial RegistrationFunding

    Schultz KF, Altman DG, Moher D. CONSORT 2010 Statement: Updated Guidelines for Reporting Parallel Group Randomized Trials. Ann Inter Med. 2010; 152(11): 1-8

  • Journals have developed their own structure and word count for abstracts :NEJM


  • Case report abstractsOften there is no structureLower limit of words (around 150 words)It should include what is the most important information to gain after reading this case report

    Stephen N. Palmer. How to Write an Abstract. [Online] 2008 [cited 2010 Apr 20]; Available from: URL:

  • Common mistakes(1)Too much (or too little) background with not clear aimLimited methods informationUnfocused presentation of the findings Conclusion not consistent with the results

    Journal of Young Investigators. JYI's Guide to Writing Scientific Manuscripts. [Online] 2008 [cited 2010 Apr 20] Available from: URL:

  • Common mistakes (2)Referencing Lack of originality Inclusion of details not directly relevant to the studyNo effort spent to revise

  • KeywordsIdentify keywords/search terms

    Useful for electronic taxonomy

    Authors reflection on the essential terms of their research work

  • ConclusionsWrite concisely and clearlyInclude only essential informationEmphasize the research question and the type of interventionSummarize your main findings and highlight the new contribution in the field