Focusing Your Research By Writing the Abstract First

LibParlor Contributor, Allison Hosier, discusses how writing an first that is abstract help clarify what you are currently talking about.

Allison Hosier is an Information Literacy Librarian during the University at Albany, SUNY. She’s got presented and published on research associated with practical applications associated with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy included in information literacy instruction. Her research that is current is on examining the metaconcept that scientific studies are both an activity and a subject of study. Follow her on Twitter at @ahosier.

In 2012, I attended a few workshops for brand new faculty on how best to write very first peer-reviewed article, step-by-step. These workshops were loosely according to Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks by Wendy Laura Belcher.

Our first assignment? Write the abstract for our article.

These tips was shocking to me plus the other scholars that are new the room at the time. Write the abstract first? Wasn’t that the part which was supposed to come last? How can you write the abstract if you don’t even know yet what your article is going to be about?

We have since come to treat this as the most useful written piece advice I have ever received. To such an extent that I constantly attempt to spread the term to many other scholars that I meet, both new and experienced. However, whenever I share this piece of wisdom, I realize that I am generally regarded with polite skepticism, especially by those who strongly feel that your introduction (never as your abstract) is best written during the final end for the process as opposed to at the beginning. That is fair. That which works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. But i do want to share why i believe starting with the abstract is advantageous.

Structuring Your Abstract

Me establish buy custom written essays early on precisely what question I’m trying to answer and why it is worth answering.“For me, starting with the abstract in the very beginning has got the added bonus of helping”

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

  • The motivation: exactly why is this research important?
  • The situation statement: What problem are you currently attempting to solve?
  • Approach: How do you go about solving the issue?
  • Results: that which was the takeaway that is main?
  • Conclusions: which are the implications?

To be clear, when I say I mean the very beginning that I write the abstract at the beginning of the writing process. Generally, it’s the very first thing i really do after I have an idea i believe may 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 because the first step of a revision rather than the first rung on the ladder associated with writing process but i believe the huge benefits that Belcher identifies (an opportunity to clarify and distill your opinions) are the same in either case. 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. I also find it useful to start thinking by what my approach will soon be, at least in general terms, I have a sense of how I’m going to go about answering my big question before I start so.

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

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

It’s true that your results and also the conclusions you draw until you have some real data to work with from them will not actually be known. But keep in mind that research should possess some sort of hypothesis or prediction. Stating everything you think the results should be early on is an easy method of forming your hypothesis. Thinking in what the implications would be in case the hypothesis is proven makes it possible to think of why your work shall matter.

Exactly what if you’re wrong? Let’s say the results are completely different? Imagine if other aspects of your research change as you choose to go along? Imagine if you need to change focus or improve your approach?

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

An Example

Listed here is an draft that is early of abstract for “Research is an Activity and a topic of Study: A Proposed Metaconcept and Its Practical Application,” a write-up 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 personal life is easy to grasp but students often neglect to see how the skills and concepts they learn as an element of an information literacy lesson or course might apply to anything aside from the research assignment that is immediate.

Problem: a good reason because of this may be that information literacy librarians give attention to teaching research as a procedure, an approach which was well-supported because of the Standards. Further, the procedure librarians teach is certainly one associated primarily with only 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 benefit from teaching research not merely 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 context that is rhetorical before to write themselves.

Results: Having students study several types of research can help cause them to aware of the numerous forms research usually takes and could improve transferability of data literacy skills and concepts.

Conclusions: Finding approaches to portray research as not just an activity but in addition as an interest of study is more on the basis of the new Framework.

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

For comparison, this is actually the abstract that appears in the preprint of the article, that is scheduled to be published in 2019 january:

Information literacy instruction in line with the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for advanced schooling has a tendency to give attention to basic research skills. However, research is not only an art but in addition an interest of study. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for advanced schooling opens the door to integrating the research of research into information literacy instruction via its acknowledgement regarding the nature that is contextual of. This short article introduces the metaconcept that research is both an activity and an interest of study. The application of this metaconcept in core LIS literature is discussed and a model for incorporating the study of research into information literacy instruction is recommended.

So obviously the published abstract is a lot shorter as it had a need to fit within C&RL’s guidelines. In addition does not follow the recommended format exactly nonetheless it does reflect an evolution in thinking that happened included in the revision and writing process. The content I ended up with had not been this article I started with. That’s okay.

Then why is writing the abstract first useful it out later if you’re just going to throw? Because 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 create 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 only why this topic was of interest in my opinion but how it can be significant towards the profession as a whole.

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