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Abstracts can save you time!

Reading the abstract can help you assess if it is worth reading the whole article

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a short paragraph at the beginning of a research paper, summarising the main themes and conclusions. It gives a brief description of what the research is about, how it was conducted and what the findings were.

Abstracts will vary in length and some may give more detail than others.

Why are abstracts useful?

An abstract won’t tell you everything about an article. It helps the reader to decide whether it is worthwhile to continue reading and analysing the paper in question. An abstract will often give: bibliographic details about the paper (year, authors, etc.), the background or initial hypothesis, keywords or subject terms used in the literature review, methodology used, results and findings, and the conclusions or recommendations drawn by the authors. You can view the abstracts of articles in bibliographic databases such as PubMed, and they provide a good indication of whether the full text will be of any use.