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literature review abstract

Mar 15,  · Although a literature review may summarize research on a given topic, it generally synthesizes and summarizes a subject. The purpose of a literature review therefore is to present summaries and analysis of current research not contribute new ideas on the topic (making it different from a research paper). An abstract is a short, self-contained statement that describes a longer work. The abstract is used, in general, for indexing and selection. An abstract is not a review, but an objective statement about what the work is about in order for a reader. Abstract and Literature Review ABSTRACT Though it can vary by discipline, an abstract is a short summary of a larger work for the purpose of condensing the argument, conclusions, and/or results into a paragraph. An abstract in the social sciences may contain the scope, purpose, results.


Abstracts - The Writing Center


Background: There is a small body of research on improving the clarity of abstracts in general that is relevant to improving the clarity of abstracts of systematic reviews. Objectives: To summarize this earlier research and indicate its implications for writing the abstracts of systematic reviews.

Method: Literature review with commentary on three main features affecting the clarity of abstracts: their language, structure, and typographical presentation. Conclusions: The abstracts of systematic reviews should be easier to read than the abstracts of medical research articles, as they are targeted at a wider audience. The aims, methods, results, and conclusions of systematic reviews need to be presented in a consistent way to help search and retrieval, literature review abstract.

The typographic detailing of the abstracts type-sizes, spacing, and weights should be planned to help, rather than confuse, the reader. Several books and review papers have been published over the last literature review abstract years about improving the clarity of the abstracts of articles in scientific journals, including several recent studies [ 1—5 ].

Three main areas of importance have been discussed:. Examples of such reviews literature review abstract be found in Literature review abstract and Altman's text [ 6 ] and in literature review abstract published in medical journals, particularly Evidence-Based Medicine. Figure 1 provides a fictitious example of an abstract for such a paper. Abstract courtesy of Philippa Middleton. Research on the readability of conventional journal abstracts suggests that they are not easy to read.

Studies in this area typically use the Flesch Reading Ease R, literature review abstract. This measure, developed in the s, is based upon the somewhat over simple idea that the literature review abstract of text is a function of the length of the sentences in the text and the length of the words within these sentences.

The original Flesch formula is that R, literature review abstract. The scores normally range from 0 toliterature review abstract, and the lower the score the more difficult the text is to read; Table 1 gives typical examples. Today, Flesch R. Table 2 summarizes the Flesch scores obtained for numerous journal abstracts in seven studies.

The low scores shown here support the notion that journal abstracts are difficult to read. With medical journals, literature review abstract, in particular, this difficulty may stem partly from complex medical terminology. Readability scores such as these are widely quoted, even though there is considerable debate about their validity, largely literature review abstract they ignore the readers' prior knowledge and motivation [ 10, 11 ]. Table 2 Flesch Reading Ease scores reported in previous research on abstracts in journal articles.

A second cause of difficulty in understanding text is that, although the wording may be simple and the sentences short, the concepts being described may not be understood by the reader. In systematic reviews, to be more specific, the statistical concepts of the confidence interval and the adjusted odds ratio Figure 1 may be well understood by medical researchers, but they will not be understood by all readers.

A third cause of difficulty in prose lies in the scientific nature of the text that emphasizes the use of the third person, together with the passive rather than the active tense. Graetz writes of journal abstracts:. The abstract is characterized by the use of the past tense, the third person, passive, and the non-use of negatives….

It is written in tightly worded sentences, which avoid repetition, meaningless expressions, superlatives, adjectives, illustrations, preliminaries, literature review abstract, descriptive details, examples, footnotes.

In short it eliminates the redundancy which the skilled reader counts on finding in written language and which usually facilitates comprehension.

There are, literature review abstract, of course, numerous guidelines on how to write clear abstracts and more readable medical text [ 13—16 ] but, at present, there are few such guidelines for writing the abstracts literature review abstract systematic reviews.

Mulrow, Thacker, and Pugh [ 17 ] provide an excellent early example, and there are now regularly updated guidelines in the Cochrane Handbook [ 18 ]. Nonetheless, even when such guidelines are followed, evaluating the clarity of medical text is not easy.

But some methods of doing so may be adapted from the more traditional literature on text evaluation. Schriver, for example, describes three different methods of text evaluation—text-based, expert-based, and reader-based methods [ 19 ]:.

Text-based methods are ones that can be used without recourse to experts or to readers. Such methods include computer-based readability formulae such as the Flesch measure described above and computer-based measures of style and grammar.

Expert-based methods are ones that use experts to make assessments of the effectiveness of a piece of text. Medical experts may be asked, for example, to judge the suitability of the information contained in a patient information leaflet. Reader-based methods are ones that involve actual readers in making assessments of the suitability of the text, for themselves and for others.

Patients, for example, may be asked to comment on medical leaflets or be tested on how much they can recall from them. Although all three methods of evaluation are useful, especially in combination, this writer particularly recommends reader-based methods for evaluating the readability of abstracts in systematic reviews. This recommendation is because the readers of such systematic reviews are likely to be quite disparate in their aims, needs, and even in the languages that they speak.

As the Cochrane Handbook put it:, literature review abstract. Abstracts should be made as readable as possible without compromising scientific integrity. They should primarily be targeted to health care decision makers clinicians, consumers, and policy makers rather than just researchers.

Terminology should be reasonably comprehensible to a general rather than a specialist medical audience [emphasis added]. Expert-based measures on their own may be misleading. For instance, there is evidence to suggest that the concerns of professionals are different from those of other personnel [ 21 ]. Wilson et al. Table 3 shows some of their replies.

Table 3 Differences between general practitioners GPs and patients in their views about particular patient information leaflets. Evaluation studies have shown that structured abstracts are more effective than traditional literature review abstract, particularly in the sense that they contain more information [ 24—31 ]. However, a caveat here is that some authors still omit important information, and some still include information in the abstract that does not match exactly what is said in the article [ 32—35 ].

Additional research has shown that literature review abstract abstracts are sometimes easier to read and to search than are traditional ones [ 36, 37 ], but others have questioned this conclusion [ 38, 39 ].

Nonetheless, in general, both authors and readers apparently prefer structured to traditional abstracts [ 40—42 ]. The main features of structured abstracts that lead to these findings are that:.

Nonetheless, there are some difficulties—and these difficulties become more apparent after considering the structured abstracts of systematic reviews. First of all, the typographic practice of denoting the subheadings varies from journal to journal [ 43, 44 ]. Second, and of more relevance here, there is a range of subheadings used both within and among literature review abstract [ 45, 46 ], which militates against rapid retrieval.

Table 4 shows an example of these variations by listing the subheadings used in the abstracts in just one volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Finally, it appears that some authors omit important subheadings or literature review abstract them in a different order e.

Table 4 Different numbers of subheadings used in abstracts in the same volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association, literature review abstract. The implications of these difficulties are that a decision needs to be made, based upon appropriate evaluation studies, about what are the key subheadings that can be used consistently in systematic reviews. In the future, refining these subheadings further may be possible by using appropriate typographic cueing, to separate important from minor subheadings, such as those headings used in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It will be essential, however, to use consistent terminology throughout the literature to aid both the creation of and retrieval from the abstracts of systematic reviews. Editors may consult their readers and their authors for possible solutions to this problem.

Early research on the typographic setting of structured abstracts in scientific articles suggests literature review abstract the subheadings should be printed in bold capital letters with a line space above each subheading [ 49 ]. But this research has been done with structured abstracts that only have four subheadings.

However, the abstracts of systematic reviews are likely to have more than four-subheadings—indeed, as noted above, six or seven seem typical. Also, some of these subheadings may be more important than others. Generally speaking, there are two ways of clarifying the structure in typography.

One is to vary the typography, the other literature review abstract vary the spacing [ 50, 51 ], literature review abstract.

In terms of typography, not overdoing is best; there is no need to use two cues when one will do. Thus, literature review abstract, it may be appropriate to use bold lettering for the main subheadings and italic lettering for the less important ones, without adding the additional cues of capital letters or underlining.

Also, as the subheadings appear as the first word on a line, placing a line space above them enhances their effectiveness, so there is no need to indent the subheadings as well.

The abstracts published in the Cochrane Library follow this procedure. Finally in this section, it should be noted that it is easier to read an abstract:. This is particularly the case if the abstract is being read on screen [ 54 ]. The research reviewed above suggests that, in presenting the abstracts to systematic reviews, attention needs to be paid to their language, literature review abstract, their structure, and their typographic design.

The purpose of this example is to encapsulate the argument literature review abstract this paper and to show how changes in wording and typography can enhance the clarity of an abstract for a systematic review, literature review abstract.

The author is indebted to Iain Chalmers, Philippa Middleton, Mark Starr, and anonymous referees for assistance in the preparation of this paper. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Bull Med Libr Assoc. James HartleyPh. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Feb; Accepted May, literature review abstract. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background: There is a small body of research on improving the clarity of abstracts in general that is relevant to improving the clarity of abstracts of systematic reviews, literature review abstract.

Literature review abstract main areas of importance have been discussed: the language, or the readability, of an abstract; the sequence of information, or the structure, of an abstract; and the typography, or the presentation, of an abstract, literature review abstract. Open in a separate window. Figure 1.

Table 1 The interpretation of Flesch scores. The main features of structured abstracts that lead to these findings are that: the texts are opened-up and clearly subdivided into their component parts, which helps the reader perceive their structure; the abstracts sequence their information in a consistent order under consistent subheadings, which facilitates search and retrieval; and the writing under these subheadings ensures that authors do not miss out anything important.

Acknowledgments The author is indebted to Iain Chalmers, Philippa Middleton, Mark Starr, and anonymous referees for assistance in the preparation of this paper. Genre knowledge in disciplinary communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Three ways to improve the clarity of journal abstracts. Brit J Educ Psychol. Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings.

 

Clarifying the abstracts of systematic literature reviews

 

literature review abstract

 

Literature Review Abstract SAMPLE. This template should be used as a guide for formatting the abstract submission for the Clinic and Research Day. It should not be used as a guide for content. Please note the following: 1. If there are multiple author affiliations included, use superscript numbers (as shown below) to indicate each. Mar 15,  · An abstract for a literature review or meta-analysis should describe: (1) the problem or relations under investigation (2) study eligibility criteria (3) types of participants (4) main results, including the most important effect sizes, and any important moderators of these effect sizes (5) conclusions, including limitations (6) implications for theory, policy, and practice. Mar 15,  · Although a literature review may summarize research on a given topic, it generally synthesizes and summarizes a subject. The purpose of a literature review therefore is to present summaries and analysis of current research not contribute new ideas on the topic (making it different from a research paper).