'For the most part, abstracts are taken-for-granted academic practice which researchers are just expected to know how to produce'. (Kamler & Thomson, 2006:85).
Writing can be learned (Murray, 2009:12) but there are few opportunities to learn
Elizabeth wrote an academic journal article based on her dissertation on young children's interactions with ICTs. She didn't attempt to write the abstract until after she completed the article and she found it very difficult to write. Elizabeth's first draft consisted of only one sentence. The text is short and consists of only 45 words. Elizabeth doesn't situate her research on young children and ICT to any social or educational issue, or previous research. She doesn't mention she is reporting research. Strangely the word research is omitted altogether. She uses the personal pronoun 'I' with the verb 'argue' but the abstract doesn't make an argument. Her use of the modal verb 'may require' creates a cautious stance, but it is not clear what it is that may require reviewing.
The second draft is longer (73 words) and now consists of two sentences. Elizabeth uses the personal pronoun 'I' in both sentences, but the verb argue is now left out and 'explore' and 'suggest' now used instead. However, some sense of argument begins to emerge. There is still no reference to Elizabeth's research, but the 'three young boys' are now more visible as research participants. The use of 'neither/nor' also creates a slightly more critical stance, and an implicit contrast between what children can do outside school and what schools offer them. There is however, still no sense of how this research relates to a wider field of practice,
This rewrite is clearly a more successful bid for journal inclusion because it adopts a more authoritative stance. The ideas are more elaborated, signalled by an increased number of sentences (3) and words (from 45 tp 73 to 94). Importantly, the three sentences correspond to three rhetorical moves. The first sentence locates the paper in relation to a body of research on early and emergent literacy and takes a critical stance through the evaluative phrases 'seriously underestimate' and 'continues to be privileged'. The second sentence identifies the same data as draft two, the 'three young boys', but now a purpose for looking at the boys is stressed - 'highlight the complexity'. The third sentence concludes by making an explicit argument, and uses evaluative terms 'unless', 'failure', 'could inhibit' to assert the writer's point of view.
Writing an abstract presentation
ABSTRACTSTEACHING AND LEARNING RESEARCH GRANT HOLDER WRITING FOR PUBLICATION WORKSHOP VIVIENNE 1BOZALEK
Introduction• What is an abstract?• Why is it important?• How would I write an abstract? 2
What is an abstract?• Different for different journals - array of conventions/genres (Kamler & Thomson, 2006; Murray, 2009)A quantitative example which places importance on the following:• Abstracts begin with what is known, what isnt known and what needs to be research, followed by a justification of the work researched• Theme sentence to grab readers attention, main aim, importance of study, methodology, main findings, statement of conclusions, implications• Short summary of article max 200-250 words 3
The seven el em s entEl em 1Br ief t hem sent ence; ent eEl em 2 M pur pose or aimof st udy ent ainEl em 3 Academ or pr act ical im t ance of st udy ent ic porEl em 4: M hodol ogy of t he st udy ent etEl em 5: M f indings of t he st udy ent ainEl em 6: Concl usions or cont r ibut ion t o l it er at ur e entEl em 7: Im icat ions of st udy ent pl( r ef er ence: Kot ze web.up.ac.za ) 4
Why is an abstract important?• Window display or advert for your own work• Kamler & Thomson (2006) call abstracts tiny texts - need to learn to write persuasively about research small amount of words but large in what they can accomplish• Often only your abstract will be read by other researchers• Authors scan them• Highlights issues of authority and voice - compress rhetorical act of arguing into a small textual space using a small number of words (Kamler & Thomson, 2006:85)• Needs to be compelling bid for inclusion in scholarly events - can be seen as a legitimate knower (Kamler & Thomson, 2006:85)• So what? Question - given that there is so much out there why would people be interested in reading your text and not someone elses? (Kamler& Thomson, 2006:90) 5
Story of your article (Thanks to Lucia Thesen for this slide) • Once upon a time researchers believed that … • But then I thought that maybe … • So what I did was … • And I’ve discovered that … • Which changed the way that we … 6
Draft 1 - Elizabeth gets abstracted (Kamler & Thomson, 2006:86-87)In this article I argue that careful analysis ofvery young children’s use of ICT and othertechnologies suggests that both thedominance of print in emergent literacyeducation, and school expectations of theliteracy achievements of children prior toformal schooling, may require review. 7
Draft 2In this paper I explore how three young boys in theperiod of pre-school transition use ICT and othertechnologies. I suggest that neither the dominance ofprint in emergent literacy education, not schoolexpectations of the literacy achievements of childrenprior to formal schooling, attend to the versatility withliteracy technologies demonstrated by these veryyoung children and that this failure could inhibit theircontinuing literacy development both in ICTs andprint. 8
Draft 3Recent investigations of early and emergent literacyseriously underestimate young children’s capacity touse ICTs and other technologies in becoming literate,and print continues to be privileged as the dominantliteracy for young children. In this article I examinehow three young boys used ICT in the period of pre-school transition and highlight the complexity of theirmultimodal reading and writing practices. I argue thatunless schools attend to young children’s versatilitywith literacy technologies, this failure could inhibittheir continuing literacy development both in ICTsand print. 9
How to write an abstract• What is the research problem being addressed?• How do I locate the significance of my own work?• What conversation am I in? Where am I standing in relation to this research problem?• What do I offer as an alternative to existing research?• What is my argument? (Kamler & Thomson, 2006:88) 10
Four moves thanks to Lucia Thesen for this useful slide• Locate: specific paper in relation to larger projects/debates/issues, naming the angle• Focus: identify the particular questions/issues/kinds of problems that the paper will explore/examine• Report: summarise major findings pertinent to the argument, outlining the research, sample, method of analysis• Argue: open out the argument, analysis, possibilities, and indicate a point of view, returning to the angle Kamler and Thomson (2004), (2006) 11
References• Feldmann, D.C. (2004). The devil is in the details; Converting good research into publishable articles. Journal of Management, 30(1):1-6.• Kotze, T. n.d. Guidelines on writing a first quantitative academic article. Department of Marketing and Communication Managemetn. University of Pretoria. web.up.ac.za (accessed 20 November, 2011)• Murray, R. (2009). Writing for Academic Journals. Second edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press.• Kamler, B. & Thomson, P. (2006). Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. London & New York: Routledge. 12
Now you can t r y t o r e/const r uct your own abst r act 13