The power behind writing a good abstract–how to read a journal

Here is an interesting article on how to read a journal. 

Once we establish that academic peers, not general readers, are the intended audience, and that presentation of research, new findings, and new ideas are among the purposes of a journal, we can then query if it makes any sense to read these the way they would approach a Harry Potter book. When the “well duhs!” subside, spend a few moments talking about how it’s just as important to have multiple reading strategies, as it is to write in different voices. Now comes the hard part. How should students read a professional article? I usually emphasize the following:

  • Purpose and reading strategy
  • Main points and new claims
  • Abstracts and introductions
  • Habits of the writer
  • Evaluating evidence
  • Concrete examples
  • Small doses
  • Skimming and moving on
  • Back to the purpose

In particular I had an A’hah! moment when reading the advice to read the abstract…

Students are startled to consider that it’s often easier to find the writer’s theoretical and analytical points than to scan content. Quite a few students skip the abstract and pay little attention to the introduction. These, of course, are precisely where most journal writers lay out their theses, outline their main arguments, and make whatever new claims they purport to prove.

In the past I have hated having to write an abstract and until now; have never seen the point in it. In reading this article, not only has it shown me the importance of writing one; its shown me the importance of how to and why to write one well.

* This article was brought to my attention through another blogger. I lost the thread as to who referred to it and if it was you; I’m sorry for not bringing that to my readers attention.


About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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