The Abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
lengthy background information, references to other literature, elliptical (i.e., ending with ...) or incomplete sentences, abbreviations or terms that may be confusing to readers, any sort of illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Top of page3. Strategy: Although it is the first section of your paper, the Abstract, by definition, must be written last since it will summarize the paper. To begin composing your Abstract, take whole sentences or key phrases from each section and put them in a sequence which summarizes the paper. Then set about revising or adding words to make it all cohesive and clear. As you become more proficient you will most likely compose the Abstract from scratch.
4. Check your work: Once you have the completed abstract, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what is written in the paper. Confirm that all the information appearing the abstract actually appears in the body of the paper.
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[ strategy | FAQs | style | structure | relevant literature review | statement of purpose | rationale ]
1. Function: The function of the Introduction is to:
Establish the context of the work being reported. This is accomplished by discussing the relevant primary research literature (with citations) and summarizing our current understanding of the problem you are investigating;
State the purpose of the work in the form of the hypothesis, question, or problem you investigated; and,
Briefly explain your rationale and approach and, whenever possible, the possible outcomes your study can reveal.
Quite literally, the Introduction must answer the questions, "What was I studying? Why was it an important question? What did we know about it before I did this study? How will this study advance our knowledge?"
2. Style: Use the active voice as much as possible. Some use of first person is okay, but do not overdo it.
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3. Structure: The structure of the Introduction can be thought of as an inverted triangle - the broadest part at the top representing the most general information and focusing down to the specific problem you studied. Organize the information to present the more general aspects of the topic early in the Introduction, then narrow toward the more specific topical information that provides context, finally arriving at your statement of purpose and rationale. A good way to get on track is to sketch out the Introduction backwards; start with the specific purpose and then decide what is the scientific context in which you are asking the question(s) your study addresses. Once the scientific context is decided, then you'll have a good sense of what level and type of general information with which the Introduction should begin.
Here is the information should flow in your Introduction:
Begin your Introduction by clearly identifying the subject area of interest. Do this by using key words from your Title in the first few sentences of the Introduction to get it focused directly on topic at the appropriate level. This insures that you get to the primary subject matter quickly without losing focus, or discussing information that is too general. For example, in the mouse behavior paper, the words hormones and behavior would likely appear within the first one or two sentences of the Introduction.
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Establish the context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. The key is to summarize (for the reader) what we knew about the specific problem before you did your experiments or studies. This is