Writing an Effective Abstract for Journal Submission

Writing an Effective Abstract for Journal Submission
With the exception of your covering letter, the abstract of your paper are the first things encountered by the editor considering your submission (and the very first things if you are not able to submit any sort of covering letter). While preparing your article for submission, think of the paper itself as dinner and its title and abstract (as well as any keywords you provide) as appetisers. You want the editor, the reviewers who will hopefully follow and your future readers if the paper is published to be tantalised by your appetisers – to enjoy the texture and flavour of these delicacies while building a hearty appetite and on that basis to expect good things from the dinner (paper) to follow. You do not want them to feel glutted by too much nourishment that is too richly seasoned or repulsed by a dull product of so low a quality that they leave the table before dinner arrives.
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The Abstract An academic or scientific abstract should briefly and comprehensively summarise the contents of the paper it precedes. It should not contain information that is not present in the article and it should report, not evaluate, what can be found in the paper. Like the title, the abstract needs to be precise, concise and as engaging as possible, but it also needs to be densely packed with detailed information. Word limits for abstracts set by journals usually range between 100 and 400 words, with 150–250 being the most common length, and those limits should be strictly observed despite how much must be accomplished in that short space. A carefully prepared abstract will situate your research in both its physical and its intellectual context; it will inform the reader about the problem(s) or concept(s) you investigate, any participants in your study and the essential features of the methodology used; and it will report the basic findings, implications and conclusions of your study. The journal guidelines may indicate that the abstract should form a single paragraph or be divided into shorter paragraphs, each with its own heading (such as ‘Background’, ‘Methodology’ and ‘Results’) and may also require different kinds of abstracts for different kinds of papers (empirical studies, literature reviews, etc.): whatever the requirements are, they should be followed precisely because any deviation will be immediately visible.

Occasionally, a journal’s guidelines will specify the exact content of the abstract or even of each part of the abstract, but in most cases the balance of information will be determined by the author, and even in a completely structured abstract you will need to decide which concepts, methods and results to include and highlight. This decision should be based not only on what you think is most important about your research, but also on what you think the journal editor will find most appropriate and engaging for his or her readers. Remember that an effective abstract can inspire a journal editor to read on to the paper itself, and when published it can similarly promote potential readers to engage with the paper itself and ultimately cite it in their own research. It is therefore crucial that your abstract be well written in grammatically correct, properly punctuated and complete English sentences. Every sentence should bear the maximum amount of information and meaning possible, with minimal use of minor words, and each main word should be chosen with great care, primarily for its denotations, of course, but also for its potential connotations: it should be precise and informative, and if it manages to nuance matters in a way that seems appropriate to the journal’s interests, that is all to the good. Your first sentence in particular is vital in gaining both the interest and the confidence of your reader, especially that journal editor, so it needs to be polished to perfection in both content and style.
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A good academic or scientific abstract is not easy to produce, and abstracts are notorious for requiring repeated editing as an article is written, submitted, revised and published. The experienced proofreaders at PRS can help you polish your abstract and all aspects of your paper, so please do not hesitate to send your work our way.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At proofreading services we pride ourselves on the exceptionally dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals who provide our English editing and proofreading services. Our editors and proofreaders are highly educated native speakers of English who have undergone rigorous training in expert editing practices, and their fields of study and specialisation range so widely that we are able to help our clients improve and polish research manuscripts of all kinds for successful publication. Many members of our research paper editing and proofreading team focus on journal editing, manuscript editing, scientific manuscript editing, academic proofreading, academic editing, dissertation proofreading services, professional proofreading, thesis editing services and scientific proofreading, assisting authors with articles that will be submitted to scientific and academic journals by ensuring that the formatting and references in their manuscripts conform to the relevant guidelines with precision and by correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and typing errors to enable the clear and accurate communication of original research that acquisitions editors expect in publishable papers.

Our scientific editing, medical editing, bioscience editing, life science editing, environmental science editing, pharmaceutical science editing, physical science editing, agricultural science editing, LaTeX paper editing, social science editing, political science editing, engineering paper editing, psychology editing, research paper editing, manuscript editing, humanities editing, journal article editing, biomedical science editing, planetary science editing, plant science editing, material science editing, veterinary science editing, behavioural science editing and neurosurgery editing services for authors of scientific papers and reports are especially popular, but we also excel at book editing and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit books and papers of all kinds across every scholarly discipline. Some of our carefully trained editors and proofreaders work exclusively on PhD thesis editing, master’s dissertation proofreading, bachelor’s dissertation proofreading, thesis editing, dissertation editing, thesis proofreading and dissertation proofreading, applying their education and instructional skills in providing thesis editing and dissertation proofreading services that help advanced students to improve the formatting and language of their theses and dissertations and thereby increase their chances of degree success. Whether you are preparing a conference or class presentation, putting the final touches to a professional report for colleagues or tackling the challenging task of editing any kind of academic or scientific document for publication, a qualified member of our outstanding proofreading and editing team will be delighted to provide proofreading and editing services and boost your confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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