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Writing the Abstract

Writing An Abstract

Kelly Sturner

on 14 July 2011

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Transcript of Writing the Abstract

Writing The Abstract Prepared for the
2011 NIMBioS REU/REV program
by K. Sturner A Good Scientist or
Brain Math Writing Presenting Management Skills Knowledge of Your Subject Area Knowlege of
Your Subject Area A Not-So-Good Scientist or
Mathematician's Brain Not a lot of people go into math and science because they are fantastic writers So having good writing skills gives you a leg up on the competition! But you will need to publish and communicate your work to get anywhere. What is an Abstract? Why is an Abstract Important? What are some general Abstract guidelines? How to "Dig In" and write an Abstract Some Final Thoughts "Formal Summaries that Writers Prepare of Their Work" Written by Scientists or Mathematicians for Scientists or Mathematicians* Help people in your discipline wade through a barrage of information in print and on the web to get to your work! Define: It's the first thing people read - and first impressions count! It's ok to be technical Helps Reader to Decide
Whether to Invest Time
Reading Your Article Why Should I
Invest the Time? Often it
will appear separately
from your paper on websites,
in indexing journals ... Helps your reader remember key findings later -- quick reference Increases reader
- a "pre-outline" Allows supervisors to keep up with
technical work without getting
bogged down with details Do you want someone to actually read your hard work?
Do you want someone to use it and cite it? ...I mean, I've spent weeks on my project, and countless hours making this article awesome, what does this one little paragraph matter? Generally speaking* ... A single paragraph
150-250 words
Everything important in your paper should be mentioned
Highlight your new technique, observation or data
Must stand alone, because ...

Follows a general formula Actual Abstract guidelines will vary.* Depending on your target publication. Disregard this warning at your own risk. Some abstract services truncate for length. Your readers may miss out on your conclusions! Stick to the main ideas Avoid "alluding" phrases like "will be discussed"
No references, figure or table citations
Equations are usually inappropriate
Limit use of abbreviations, define the ones you use
At first mention, give the entire scientific name of the organism or full name of the chemical. Be specific Rationale Objectives or
Hypothesis Methods Results Conclusions Species' ranges are dynamic, shifting in response to a large number of interrelated ecological and antropogenic processes. Climate change is thought to be one of the most influential drivers of range shifts, but the effects of other confounded ecological processes are often ignored even though these processes may modify expected range responses to climate change. To determine the relative effects of climate, forest availability, connectivity, and biotic processes such as immigration and establishment, we examine range changes occurring in a species of bird, the Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina). We focus predominantly on the periphery of the species' northern range in Canada but we also examine data from the entire species' range. Nesting records in southern Ontario were obtained from two breeding bird Atlases of Ontario separated by a period of 20 years (1981-1985 and 2001-2005), and the rate of range expansion was estmated by comparing the number of occupied areas in each Atlas. Twelve hypotheses of the relationship between the rate of range expansion and factors known to influence range change were examined using model-selection techniques and a mixed modeling approach (zero-inflated Poisson's regression.). Cooler temperatures were positively related to a lack of range expansion indicating that climate constrained the species' distribution. Establishment probability (based on the number of occupied, neighboring Atlas squares) and immigration from populations to the south (estimated using independent data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey) were also important predictors of range expansion. Expansion due to climate change may be slower in fragmented systems, but the rate of expansion will be influenced largely by biotic processes such as proximity to neighboring populations. Digging In Look at other abstracts It will be read more widely than your actual paper! You won't have to mention these again later in the text! Make an Outline Write Revise Plagiarism = Bad
Looking for Conventions = Good Revise Again Make sure you're being concise Smooth out your transitions Be conscious of "I" or "We"
- some places don't allow it Passive voice ok Does it makes sense? Final Thoughts Make sure you emphasize the right parts First know the "rules" Don't forget you're convincing readers ... Then you can break them later So focus on what's new to want to read your paper! and COOL! Any Questions ? Sources ASA-CSSA-SSSA Publications Handbook & Style Manual. 1998. American Society of Agronomy Inc: Madison, WI. "Writing Guide: How to Write an Abstract" from Writing@CSU, Colorado State University. http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/documents/abstract/index.cfm Rationale Objectives or
Hypothesis Methods Results Conclusion Sets up the context and main point Not every step - just the basics Some highlights, be specific Synthesize - put your overall finding(s) in the big picture Narrows it down to your study US Department of
Homeland Security Tense about your tense? For example, if you are writing a paper on climate change for the journal Global Change Biology, do you need to define "Climate Change" in your abstract? Let's check ... Again, publications will vary, so look for the conventions. Often you should use present tense. But in some cases you may need to switch to past tense for methods and results. A Module Created by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
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