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If the goalposts moved as your work progressed, state the natural start point of the story as you are telling it.For most journals this will be the longest section.You need your work to be found when people are searching.
Google Adwords keyword planner or Google trends can also be good sources of information.
Like all the rest of your document, your abstract will need multiple drafts before it is perfect.
The most obvious way to do this is to combine the methods and results for each stage of the experiment and using better linking phrases to smooth your transitions; things like “next we asked”.
These can vary a lot from journal to journal; usually somewhere between 200 and 350 words. is more enjoyable to read, delivers the message within the story more effectively. I plan to write an editing guide soon but for now this page is quite good.
One sentence of the big picture – accessible to a scientist of any discipline.
Then one sentence of more detailed background to set up your specific question.
On the rare occasions when you do have to cite something i.e.
your whole story is hung on the back of a single previous finding, you should be aware that there might be different rules in the abstract than there is for the rest of your in text citations; check your instructions.
The difference between a 200 and a 350 word abstract is quite large in terms of style and content, so I recommend that you be aware of your target length before you start. *Be aware that sometimes your data will require passive voice e.g.
the phrase in the box might be more appropriate as the passive version when you don’t have the appropriate data to support interpretation as a direct influence.