Structured abstract

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Last Update

This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017


See also Critical appraisal | Research Portal for Academic Librarians | Research methods | Scholarship 2.0 | Scientific journal

A structured abstract is a commonly-used form of scientific communication used to report research findings to the scientific community. The structured abstract can be used in librarianship. The format is widely-used in biomedicine, allied health and health librarianship to present research quickly and concisely. Structured abstracts typically follow a standard boilerplate design where the goals and objectives of the research are listed, the methods that were used to carry out the investigation and brief sections on discussing the findings of the research (and, in a conclusion, their implications). Structured abstracts help authors to organize their ideas, and to present them with clarity and in an organized manner.

Parts of a structured abstract

Here are nine (9) possible sections of a structured abstract which can be adapted for your purposes and research:

  • Abstract - a short summary of the article
  • Keywords - words that describe key aspects of the article
  • Introduction and statement of problem - identifies the need for the research question. In rigorous research, may include a hypothesis which is supported or refuted accordingly
  • Review of the literature - places the work in context
  • Methods - explains the methods so others can replicate the study
  • Data collection - describes the process and points out potential omissions
  • Analysis & results - examines data by qualitative or quantitative means, states whether research question or hypothesis was proven or disproven
  • Conclusions and recommendations for further research - accounts for results, suggests explanations, points out things that may have been overlooked, and suggests areas for futher research
  • References - a list of research consulted.

Health librarians' research

A summary of the advantages of structured abstracts appeared in a Summer 2001 issue of Hypothesis, and by Bayley and Eldredge in 2003. The evidence to demonstrate the value of structured abstracts clearly points to advantages for searching and quickly extracting needed information from summaries, regardless of the exact headings used by a abstracting and indexing service. A 2003 MLA Annual Meeting strongly recommended the use of structured abstracts for members wishing to present papers or posters at MLA Annual Meetings. At their most basic form, structured abstracts organize and summarize a paper; here are some of the more commonly-used sections:




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