Example of A Well Written Abstract

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During the last few weeks I posted information on how to write an effective abstract.  Critiquing a real abstract will help illustrate the various suggestions in prior posts.  My colleague, Judy Fischer, drafted an abstract for her recent article that could be a text book model for effective abstract writing.  The abstract piques my interest and tells me what is covered in the article including her thesis. 

 

Judy Fischer's Abstract:     
Through empirical research, this article examines whether judges on the United States courts of appeals are framing their opinions in gender-neutral language. Drawing on multidisciplinary sources, including the work of language scholars, psychologists, framing theorists, and legal professionals, the article explains why gender-neutral language is important and discusses ways of constructing it. The article then presents the results of a study of recent court opinions, compares data from the years 1965 and 2006, and discusses implications of the data. It concludes that courts have made significant progress toward gender neutrality, but it also identifies a need for further improvement, which can be accomplished through shifting both mental and verbal frames toward greater inclusiveness.

 

  1. Does the abstract include all the necessary information?  Yes the reader can identify:
  • Objective:  To determine if courts frame opinions in gender neutral language
  • Methods:  Empirical research using a study of recent court opinions
  • Results  Courts have made significant progress toward gender neutrality
  • Conclusions/Recommendations:  Further improvement is needed and can be accomplished through shifting both mental and verbal frames. 

 

  1. Does the abstract tell me how it fits into existing literature?  Yes it explains that she will draw from multidisciplinary sources, including the work of language scholars, psychologists, framing theorists and legal professionals. 

 

  1. Is the abstract written clearly and concisely?  Yes.  The abstract contains no throat clearing words, clutter, "there is" constructions or the passive voice.  Professor Fischer uses strong verbs almost exclusively (avoiding the "verb to be") to make her points (examines, explains, presents, discusses, concludes, identifies).  The abstract contains slightly over 100 words making the point that useful, interesting abstracts can be accomplished with brevity.  The only suggestion I have is to add a sentence which explains why gender-neutral language is important instead of merely foreshadowing this with the abstract.  I think specifically including this information in the abstract will help show readers why they should care about the issue and want to download her article.