Writing an abstract

Linda Panton
Clinical Nurse Specialist, RIDU, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

The word ‘abstract’ comes from the Latin abstractum, which means a condensed form of a longer piece of writing.
There are two different types of abstract. The first kind is used to give an overview of a whole research study or literature review that you have undertaken and written up. In this case it is generally the last piece of written work to be completed, condensing all the key points into one or two small paragraphs, and appearing at the head of the work. It is the first thing people will read to get an overview of the whole paper. Alternatively, you may write an abstract to submit to a conference, in the hope that you will attract interest in your project and be asked to deliver an oral presentation. It is this type of abstract that we will focus on for the remainder of this article. Projects can vary in size, from a large project involving various study centres around the country, to a small audit in a specific patient cohort focusing on one particular issue. Read more. . .