How to write an abstract

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How to write an abstract. English, Gioberti.

How to write an abstract. English, Gioberti.

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  • 1. HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT
  • 2. IN THIS LESSON
    • WHAT IS AN ABSTRACT
    • WHO WRITES IT
    • FOR WHAT PURPOSES
    • WHO READS IT
    • DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT
    • WHAT TO INCLUDE
    • WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE
    • SOME EXAMPLES
  • 3. WHAT IS AN ABSTRACT?
    • A short, self-contained, powerful summary of an article, paper or thesis;
    • Length: between 150 and 250 words;
    • Layout: usually one single paragraph; font size is different from the main text;
    • Position: usually at the beginning of the paper (but it can appear elsewhere, e.g. in book of abstracts or on-line);
  • 4. WHAT IS AN ABSTRACT? (continued)
    • An abstract is an original document, not a collection of quotations taken from the text it summarizes, i.e. it must be able to stand alone.
    • It does not contain vague statements which force the reader to refer to the main text.
  • 5. WHO WRITES IT?
    • Usually the author of the paper, because they have a first hand knowledge their piece of research;
    • Sometimes professional writers, who abstract books and articles for a wide audience.
  • 6. FOR WHAT PURPOSES?
    • TO PERSUADE THE READER TO SEE THE FULL TEXT
    • TO HELP READERS DECIDE IF THE ARTICLE IS RELEVANT FOR THEIR PURPOSES
    • TO ANSWERE A CALL OF PAPER IN A CONFERENCE
    • TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR YOUR PIECE OF RESEARCH TO APPEAR IN ON-LINE PUBLICATION DATABASES (indexing)
  • 7. WHO READS IT?
    • Same-field professionals (e.g. linguists, psychologists, biologists) looking for further information;
    • Teachers having to evaluate future specialists’ achievements;
    • Students charting research in a given area.
  • 8. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT
    • Abstracts are genre-sensitive (i.e. components vary according to discipline
    • an abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work.
    • an abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted.
  • 9. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT (continued)
    • Abstracts are usually divided into two main categories:
    • DESCRIPTIVE AND INFORMATIVE
    • Descriptive abstracts describe:
      • What the text is about
      • The issues or problems explored
      • The purpose and methodology of the research
  • 10. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT (continued)
    • Informative abstracts describe:
      • What the text is about
      • The issues or problems explored
      • The purpose and methodology of the research
      • The results
      • The conclusion and recommendations
  • 11. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT (continued)
    • Descriptive abstracts are often written before a project is completed;
    • Emphasis is placed on the problem and method;
    • They may be required for conference paper proposals or for progress reports;
    • Informative abstracts are written after a project has been completed;
    • Emphasis is placed on the results and conclusion of the project.
  • 12. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABSTRACT (continued)
    • The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted;
    • An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa;
    • However, all abstracts share several mandatory components.
  • 13. WHAT TO INCLUDE
    • Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
    • Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
  • 14. WHAT TO INCLUDE (continued)
    • Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research (e.g. qualitative interviews, book reviews, etc.)
  • 15. WHAT TO INCLUDE (continued)
    • Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
    • Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?
  • 16. WHAT TO INCLUDE (continued)
    • To put it simple:
      • What the author did;
      • How the author did it;
      • What the author found;
      • What the author concluded
  • 17. WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE
    • Information not contained in the original work;
    • References to other work;
    • Quotations from the original work or from other works;
    • Lengthy explanations of words and concepts;
    • Unexplained acronyms or abbreviations
    • Tables and maps
  • 18. EXAMPLE OF DESCRIPTIVE ABSTRACT
    • Machine-Intelligent Gust Front (fronte delle raffiche) Detection
    • Doppler weather radar imagery is being used to detect gust fronts as part of a program at Lincoln Laboratory to anticipate hazardous weather conditions. The project goal, under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration, is to develop a Machine-Intelligent Gust Front Algorithm (MIGFA) as part of a suite of hazardous-weather detection.
  • 19. EXAMPLE OF INFORMATIVE ABSTRACT
    • Machine-Intelligent Gust Front Detection
    • Techniques of low-level machine intelligence, originally developed at Lincoln Laboratory to recognize ground vehicles obscured by camouflage and foliage, are being used to detect gust fronts in Doppler weather radar imagery. A machine-intelligent gust front algorithm (MIGFA) has been developed as part of a suite of hazardous-weather detection functions being prepared under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • 20.
    • Initially developed for use with the latest generation Airport Surveillance Radar equipped with a wind shear processor (ASR-9 WSP), MIGFA was deployed for operational testing in Orlando, Florida during the summer of 1992. MIGFA has demonstrated levels of detection performance that have not only markedly exceeded the capabilities of existing gust front algorithms, but are also competing well with human interpreters.
  • 21. EXAMPLE OF INFORMATIVE ABSTRACT
    • "Their War": The Perspective of the South Vietnamese Military in Their Own Words Author: Julie Pham
    • Despite the vast research by Americans on the Vietnam War, little is known about the perspective of South Vietnamese military, officially called the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF). The overall image that emerges from the literature is negative: lazy, corrupt, unpatriotic, apathetic soldiers with poor fighting spirits. This study recovers some of the South Vietnamese military perspective for an American audience through qualititative interviews with 40 RVNAF veterans now living in San José, Sacramento, and Seattle, home to three of the top five largest Vietnamese American communities in the nation.
  • 22.
    • An analysis of these interviews yields the veterans' own explanations that complicate and sometimes even challenge three widely held assumptions about the South Vietnamese military: 1) the RVNAF was rife with corruption at the top ranks, hurting the morale of the lower ranks; 2) racial relations between the South Vietnamese military and the Americans were tense and hostile; and 3) the RVNAF was apathetic in defending South Vietnam from communism. The stories add nuance to our understanding of who the South Vietnamese were in the Vietnam War. This study is part of a growing body of research on non-American perspectives of the war. In using a largely untapped source of Vietnamese history &endash; oral histories with Vietnamese immigrants &endash; this project will contribute to future research on similar topics
  • 23. ANALYSIS OF AN INFORMATIVE ABSTRACT
    • This paper sets out to examine two findings reported in literature: one, that during the one-word stage a child’s word productions are highly phonetically variable, and two, that the one-word stage is qualitatively distinct from subsequent phonological development.
    • 1. Introducing purpose of paper – this part of the abstract gives a precise indication of the author’s intention or thesis.
  • 24. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • Questo articolo intende verificare empiricamente due assunti presenti in letteratura: primo, il concetto che durante lo stadio delle parole singole la qualità fonetica delle parole di un bambino sia altamente variabile; secondo, il concetto che lo stadio delle parole singole sia da ritenersi qualitativamente diverso rispetto al successivo sviluppo fonologico.
  • 25. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • The complete set of word forms produced by a child at the one-word stage were collected and analysed both cross-sectionally (month by month) and longitudinally (looking for changes over time).
    • 2. Describing methodology – in this part of the abstract the author gives information on data, procedures or methods used
  • 26. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • L’intera gamma di parole pronunciate da un bambino durante lo stadio delle parole singole è stata raccolta e analizzata sia in prospettiva trasversale (mese per mese) che longitudinale (alla ricerca di variazioni nel tempo).
  • 27. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • It was found that the data showed very little variability, and that phonological development during the period studied was qualitatively continuous with subsequent development.
    • 3. Summarizing results – in this part of the abstract the author mentions his observations , and findings. He can also suggest solutions if any.
  • 28. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • L’analisi dei dati raccolti ha evidenziato scarsa variabilità fonetica e ha dimostrato come lo sviluppo fonologico del bambino durante il periodo analizzato sia qualitativamente simile a quello della fase successiva.
  • 29. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • It is suggested that the phonologically principled development of this child’s first words related to his late onset of speech. (French, 1989.69-90.)
    • 4. Presenting conclusions –in this part of the abstract the author interprets results and includes implications and/or applications of the present findings.
  • 30. ANALYSIS (continued)
    • Viene avanzata quindi l’ipotesi che lo sviluppo coerente della fonologia delle prime parole pronunciate dal bambino analizzato sia correlato all’inizio della fase locutoria.
  • 31. EXAMPLE OF AN INFORMATIVE ABSTRACT
    • Noun phrase complexity in English tourist information texts. Marco Piovaz “Studi e Ricerche” 3, 2008, pp. 235-250
    • Questo studio analizza il grado di variazione nella complessità del gruppo nominale in due generi testuali molto diffusi nel campo del turismo: I resoconti di viaggio o ‘travelogues’ e le brochures promozionali. Ipotizzando l’esistenza di una correlazione funzionale tra la complessità del gruppo nominale e il diverso scopo comunicativo dei due generi testuali, lo studio, basato sull’analisi quantitativa di un corpus di 875 gruppi nominali, dimostra che le brochures sono caratterizzate
  • 32.
    • Da un’alta percentuale di gruppi nominali premodificati (68%), mentre I ‘travelogues’ prediligono la postmodificazione (58%). L’alta percentuale di gruppi nominali premodificati viene correlata all’esigenza di concentrare l’informazione in poco spazio, un fenomeno tipico delle brochures promozionali. Laddove lo spazio a disposizione risulta invece essere maggiore, come nel caso dei resoconti di viaggio, I gruppi nominali sono perlopiù postmodificati.
  • 33.
    • Un’ulteriore differenza tra I due generi testuali analizzati è rappresentata dalla frequenza di gruppi nominali semplici (i.e. costituiti unicamente da un sostantivo o da un pronome e privi di pre- o postmodificazione). L’analisi quantitativa rileva che nelle brochures 47 gruppi nominali su 100 sono di tipo semplice mentre nei travelogues la percentuale sale al 56%. In sintesi, lo studio dimostra come l’analisi della variazione di un elemento sintattico possa essere utilizzata come punto di partenza per una classificazione ‘fine’ di generi testuali simili tra loro e per testare in modo scientifico ipotesi intuitive sull’esistenza di correlazioni tra forma e funzione .
  • 34. TO KNOW MORE …
    • www.unc.edu/depts/web/handouts/abstracts.html
    • (the writing centre page of the University of North Carolina, USA)
    • http://research.berkeley.edu/ucday/abstract.html
    • (advice on how to write an abstract created by Berkeley university, California, USA)
    • www.mestierediscrivere.com/file/brevi_deagostini.pdf
    • (a pdf page in Italian on what an abstract is and on how to create a successful one)
    • Bondi, Marina (1999) English Across Genres, Modena: Edizioni il Fiorino
    • Bhatia, Vijav, K (1993) Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings, London and New York: Longman
  • 35.
    • THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION