How to write a scientific abstract
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How to write a scientific abstract

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  • 1. How to Write
    a Scientific Abstract
  • 2. The Abstract Sells your work
    An abstract is a short summary of your research.
    If done well, it makes the reader want to learn more about your work.
    An Abstract must make sense all by itself
  • 3. Your Abstract is a Marketing Strategy
    What is your competitive advantage?
    What makes your paper unique ?
    Catch people attention: Motivation!
    Key element: Your results!
    Implementation: Your conclusions!
  • 4. HOW TO START?
    1) Motivation
    Why do we care about the problem and the results?
    2) Problem statementWhat problem are you trying to solve?
    3) Methods/procedure/approach
    What did you actually do to get your results?
    4) Results/findings/productWhat's the answer? 
    5) Conclusion/implicationsWhat are the implications of your answer?
  • 5. Abstract III
    Selective harvesting of timber can lead to population declines in some primate species. As frugivorous primates are important seed dispersers in tropical forests, the reduction of their populations may affect the ecological sustainability of selectively logged forests. This paper is the first to quantify the importance of timber tree species in the diet and nutritional ecology of a primate species. We studied spider monkeys (Ateleschamek) inhabiting a certified forestry concession in Bolivia where post-logging population declines of this species have been recorded. We show that spider monkeys occupying unlogged areas obtained approximately 50% of their total intake of macro-nutrients from timber tree species and exhibited a distinct preference for foraging within trees that were of harvestable size. Timber tree species dominated the spider monkeys’ diet both during peak fruiting periods and during periods of fruit scarcity. We estimate that under current timber extraction intensities spider monkeys lose significant proportions of their food sources. Our results indicate that further extraction limits could be considered for Ficusboliviana, Spondiasmombin and Pouterianemorosa. We suggest that to ensure long-term ecological sustainability of certified forestry concessions, the importance of timber tree species in the ecology of seed dispersers needs to be taken into account.
    Problem statement
    Felton, A.M., Felton, A., Foley, W.J. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2010). The role of timber tree species in the nutritional ecology of spider monkeys in a certified logging concession, Bolivia. Forest Ecology and Management. Vol. 259 (8) 1642-1649
  • 6. Motivation first
    When the problem is not obviously "interesting".
    Abstract I(1)
    South African grasslands support a rich flora that is attracting growing conservation interest. Fire has long been used to manage grasslands for livestock production. However, there is very little information on the effects of fire on forb  diversity to help guide conservation management. We studied plant diversity at scales of 1 and 100 m2 in three long-term burning experiments in mesic, montane and semi-arid grasslands, respectively, to explore forb responses to different fire regimes. Though the dominant grasses were strongly influenced by season and frequency of fire, forb  diversity  showed no consistent trends. Ordination results showed that forb composition varied less with fire treatment than with local site conditions. Forbs in all three grasslands seem remarkably resilient to fire. However, all three sites showed large compositional changes if fires were excluded for about 10 or more years, with the replacement of many species by a suite of, mostly, woody species. Patterns of beta- diversity sampled in the montane grassland, showed somewhat different patterns, with species turnover increasing with inter-fire interval. Our results indicate that most forb species tolerate a wider range of season and frequency of fires than the dominant grasses. However, to accommodate those species with low tolerance of frequent fires, parts of the landscape will require less frequent fires.
    Why do we care?
    Problem statement
    What is the problem?
    (1) Uyes, R., Bond, W. andEverson, T. (2004). The effect of different fire regimes on plant diversity in southern African grasslands. Biological Conservation. Vol 118 (4) 489-499
  • 7. Problem statement first
    When your work is a progress on a problem that is widely recognized as important.
    Abstract II(2)
    Application of organic waste materials such as food processing and serving industry cooking oil waste (OFW) can recycle soil nitrate nitrogen (NO3–N), which is otherwise prone to leaching after the harvest of crop. Nitrogen (N) recycling will not only reduce the amount of N fertilizer application for corn crop production but is also expected to mitigate green house gas (GHG) emissions by saving energy to be used for the production of the same amount of industrial fertilizer N required for the growth of corn crop.Application of OFW at 10 Mg solid ha−1 y−1 conserved 68 kg N ha−1 y−1 which ultimately saved 134 L diesel ha−1 y−1, which would otherwise be used for the production of fertilizer N as urea. Average fossil energy substitution value (FESV) of N conserved/recycled was calculated to be 93 US$ ha−1 y−1, which is about 13 million US$y−1. Potential amount of GHG mitigation through the application of OFW to agricultural soils in Canada is estimated to be 57 GgCO2Eq y−1.
    Problem statement
    What is the problem?
    Why do we care?
    (2) Rashid, M., Voroney, R. and Khalid, M. (2010). Application of food industry waste to agricultural soils mitigates green house gas emissions. BioresourceTechnology. Vol 10 (2) 485-490
  • 8. Pay attention to the word countlimitation.
    Avoid “might", "could", "may", and "seem".
    Try to followtheAbstracts of the same field that your research.
    Look for the rightwords.
    Search for synonymies on the web.
    Be careful not to use too much jargon.
  • 9. VERIFY
    Abstract IV
    Waterlogged archaeological woodsuffers from microbial degradation. Sections from 92 archaeological samples from seven marine and terrestrial sites in Sweden were investigated using light- and electron microscopy to determine the major forms of microbial decay. Decay was related to sample age, woodspecies and environmental factors. The results confirmed earlier observations that erosion bacteria were the main degraders of archaeological waterlogged soft- and hardwoods, whereas soft rot and tunnelling bacterial decay were less frequently observed. Characteristic slime material, derived from attack by erosion bacteria and left behind in the cell lumen, may affect the penetration of consolidants used to conserve waterlogged archaeological wood.Advanced decay by erosion bacteria had only a slight effect on the original colour, form and appearance of the wood. Different oxygen levels influence the type of microbes and the extent of decay. Examining the decay can reveal a great deal about the past history of a site and provide valuable information to archaeologists.
    Bjordal, C.G., Nilsson, T. and Daniel, G. (1999).Microbial decay of waterlogged archaeological wood found in Sweden Applicable to archaeology and conservation. InternationalBiodeterioration & Biodegredation. Vol 43 (1-2) 63-73
    - Subdivide on its five components
    - Identify the keywords
    - Identify the jargon
    - Did you understand what you read? What would you change?
    Did you tell exactly what you did and how you did it?
    Show the abstract to someone that is not familiarly with your project.
    - What is the motive behind this work?
    - What was the problem that they were trying to solve?
    - How did they do to test the hypothesis?
    - What were the results?
    - What is the conclusion and possible application of the results?
    Do you want to read the full paper?
  • 11. “How to Write a Scientific Abstract
    Abstract: the most important part of a scientific paper?”
    Get the full documenthere.