Types of Abstracts


Abstracts can take the form of either descriptive abstracts or informative abstracts.  Typically informative abstracts will be better suited for legal scholarship since descriptive abstracts merely describe the problem and the methods used.  These type abstracts are useful for retrieving articles but not particularly useful to a researcher interested in the paper's conclusions and recommendations.  [Robert Goldbort, Abstracts for Scientific Articles, 65 Journal of Environmental Health 26, 27 (November 2002)]. 

 The primary purpose of informative abstracts is to convey new scientific information.  As a result, the author's conclusions and recommendations should be given the most space with little discussion of past studies or background material.  Legal scholars should remember this and make sure they do not devote too much space to describing the legal issue while only giving cursory review to proposed solutions.  Readers will be grateful to find specific thesis sentences clearly identified in the abstract.  "Physicist Michael Alley (1996) quotes Winston Churchill as having said:  ‘Please be good enough to put your conclusions and recommendations on one sheet of paper at the very beginning of your report, so that I can even consider reading it.'" [Id.]