Focusing Your Quest By Writing the Abstract First

Focusing Your Quest By Writing the Abstract First

LibParlor Contributor, Allison Hosier, discusses how writing an abstract first can help clarify what you are writing about.

Allison Hosier is an Information Literacy Librarian in the University at Albany, SUNY. She’s got presented and published on research pertaining to practical applications of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy included in information literacy instruction. Her research that is current is on exploring the metaconcept that research is both an action and an interest of study. Follow her on Twitter at @ahosier.

In 2012, I attended a number of workshops for new faculty on the best way to write very first article that is peer-reviewed step-by-step. These workshops were loosely predicated on Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks by Wendy Laura Belcher.

Our first assignment? Write the abstract for our article.

These tips was shocking for me therefore the other scholars that are new the room at that time. Write the abstract first? Wasn’t that the part that was likely to come last? Just how do you write the abstract in the event that you don’t even understand yet exactly what your article will likely be about?

I have since come to regard this as the most piece that is useful of advice We have ever received. So much so that I meet, both new and experienced that I constantly try to spread the word to other scholars. However, whenever I share this piece of wisdom, I realize that I am generally regarded with polite skepticism, especially by people who strongly believe that your introduction (never as your abstract) is better written in the final end associated with process as opposed to in the beginning. This can be fair. What realy works for just one person won’t necessarily work for another. But I would like to share why i believe starting with the abstract is beneficial.

Structuring Your Abstract

Me establish in the beginning just what question I’m trying to resolve and just why it’s worth answering.“For me, you start with the abstract during the very beginning has got the added bonus of helping”

For every single piece of scholarly or writing that is professional have ever written (including this one!), I started by writing the abstract. In doing so, I follow a format suggested by Philip Koopman of Carnegie Mellon University, that I happened upon through a Google search. His recommendation is the fact that an abstract will include five parts, paraphrased below:

  • The motivation: exactly why is this extensive research important?
  • The situation statement: What problem have you been wanting to solve?
  • Approach: How did you go about solving the situation?
  • Results: that which was the main takeaway?
  • Conclusions: Exactly what are the implications?

To be clear, once I say I mean the very beginning that I write the abstract at the beginning of the writing process. Generally, it is first thing i actually do after I have an idea I think could be worth pursuing, even before I make an effort to do a literature review. This differs from Belcher’s recommendation, which is to write the abstract as the first step of a revision as opposed to the first faltering step associated with the writing process but i believe the benefits that Belcher identifies (a way to clarify and distill your ideas) are identical either way. Me establish early on exactly what question I’m trying to answer and why it’s worth answering for me, starting with the abstract at the very beginning has the added bonus of helping. In addition think it is beneficial to start thinking in what my approach may be, at the very least as a whole terms, before I start therefore I have a sense of how I’m going to go about answering my big question.

So now you’re probably wondering: if this part comes at the very beginning of this writing process, how will you come up with the results and conclusions? You can’t know very well what those will likely to be before you’ve actually done the study.

“…writing the abstract first commits you to nothing. It’s just a way to organize and clarify your thinking.”

It’s true that your results in addition to conclusions you draw until you have some real data to work with from them will not actually be known. But understand that research should involve some sort of hypothesis or prediction. Stating what you think the total results will be in early stages is a means of forming your hypothesis. Thinking by what the implications should be in case your hypothesis is proven can help you think about why your projects will matter.

Exactly what if you’re wrong? What if the total answers are completely different? What if other aspects of your quest change as you go along? What if you want to change focus or improve your approach?

You can certainly do all of those things. In reality, I have done all of those plain things, even with writing the abstract first. Because writing the abstract commits that are first to nothing. It’s just a real way to prepare and clarify your thinking.

An Example

Listed here is an early draft of the abstract for “Research is a task and a topic of Study: A Proposed Metaconcept and its own Practical Application,” an article I wrote that has been recently accepted by College & Research Libraries:

Motivation: As librarians, the transferability of data literacy across one’s academic, professional, and private life is easy to grasp but students often fail to see how the relevant skills and concepts they learn included in an information literacy lesson or course might apply to anything other than the research assignment that is immediate.

Problem: a good reason for this can be that information literacy librarians concentrate on teaching research as a process, a strategy that was well-supported by the Standards. Further, write my paper for me the process librarians teach is one associated primarily with just one genre of research—the college research essay. The Framework allows more flexibility but librarians may well not be using it yet. Approach: Librarians might reap the benefits of teaching research not only as an activity, but as an interest of study, as is done with writing in composition courses where students first study a genre of writing and its particular rhetorical context before attempting to write themselves.

Results: Having students study various kinds of research may help cause them to alert to the many forms research usually takes and may improve transferability of data literacy skills and concepts.

Conclusions: Finding ways to portray research as not just an activity but in addition as a topic of study is more in line with the new Framework.

That is most likely the first time I’ve looked over this since I originally wrote it. It’s a little messy and as I worked and began to receive feedback, first from colleagues and mentors, then from peer reviewers and editors while I recognize the article I eventually wrote in the information here, my focus did shift significantly.

For comparison, here is the abstract that appears into the preprint regarding the article, which is scheduled to be published in 2019 january:

Information literacy instruction based on the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for advanced schooling has a tendency to give attention to preliminary research skills. However, research is not only an art and craft but in addition a subject of study. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for advanced schooling opens the door to integrating the study of research into information literacy instruction via its acknowledgement regarding the contextual nature of research. This short article introduces the metaconcept that scientific studies are both an activity and a topic of study. The use of this metaconcept in core LIS literature is discussed and a model for incorporating the scholarly study of research into information literacy instruction is recommended.

So obviously the published abstract is a lot shorter as it needed seriously to fit within C&RL’s guidelines. It doesn’t proceed with the recommended format exactly however it does reflect an evolution in thinking that happened within the writing and revision process. This article I wound up with had not been this article I started with. That’s okay.

Then exactly why is writing the abstract first useful it out later if you’re just going to throw? Given that it focuses your research and writing from the start that is very. I only knew that in reading Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies by Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, I had found significant parallels between their work and information literacy when I first came up with the idea for my article. I desired to write I only had a vague sense of what I wanted to say about it but. Writing the abstract first forced me to articulate my ideas in a way that made clear not just why this topic was of interest in my experience but how it may be significant into the profession as a whole.

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