Adoption of structured abstracts by general medical journals and format for a structured abstract

Aichi Shukutoku University, Koromo, Aichi, Japan
Journal of the Medical Library Association JMLA (Impact Factor: 0.99). 05/2005; 93(2):237-42.
Source: PubMed


The use of a structured abstract has been recommended in reporting medical literature to quickly convey necessary information to editors and readers. The use of structured abstracts increased during the mid-1990s; however, recent practice has yet to be analyzed.
This article explored actual reporting patterns of abstracts recently published in selected medical journals and examined what these journals required of abstracts (structured or otherwise and, if structured, which format).
The top thirty journals according to impact factors noted in the "Medicine, General and Internal" category of the ISI Journal Citation Reports (2000) were sampled. Articles of original contributions published by each journal in January 2001 were examined. Cluster analysis was performed to classify the patterns of structured abstracts objectively. Journals' instructions to authors for writing an article abstract were also examined.
Among 304 original articles that included abstracts, 188 (61.8%) had structured and 116 (38.2%) had unstructured abstracts. One hundred twenty-five (66.5%) of the abstracts used the introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) format, and 63 (33.5%) used the 8-heading format proposed by Haynes et al. Twenty-one journals requested structured abstracts in their instructions to authors; 8 journals requested the 8-heading format; and 1 journal requested it only for intervention studies.
Even in recent years, not all abstracts of original articles are structured. The eight-heading format was neither commonly used in actual reporting patterns nor noted in journal instructions to authors.

Download full-text


Available from: Mariko Naito
  • Source
    • "One of the possible structures of such abstracts is to divide the abstract into three sections: background, results, and conclusion. And, additionally , there are keywords at the end 1 [10]. Another way to facilitate access to the content of a paper is using so called highlights which are " a short collection of bullet points that convey the core findings and provide readers with a quick textual overview of the article " . 2 There are also semantic solutions addressing this problem. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We address the problem of the access to the results of scientific publications in the agri-food domain. We focus on the description of main contributions of the papers treating them as accepted or rejected beliefs of their authors expressed in the form of scientific laws. We define the structure of different kinds of scientific laws present in the domain in the form of an ontology. The main concern of the paper is a process in which we proceed from the abstracts of papers to the ontological representation of laws. Moreover, we present examples of SPARQL queries which show how the resulting knowledge base can be used. Among the uses we point out discovering new scientific hypotheses and incoherencies among scientific laws.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Sep 2015
  • Source
    • "This window displays all the QuikScan summaries (along with hyperlinked headings of the document) but none of the intervening body text—very convenient if you opt to read just the summaries. Finally, there is a structured abstract [9] [13], partly visible in the upper left. Structured abstracts, like conventional abstracts, enable a reader to preview the document, but are divided into sections with headings that map to the headings of the document. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many people--especially knowledge workers--experience information overload, lack sufficient time to read, and therefore choose to read selectively within texts. QuikScan Views is a new Web-based reading environment that provides extensive support for selective reading. It is an enhancement of QuikScan, an empirically validated document format that employs a multiple summary approach to facilitate selective reading, enable quick access to specific ideas in the body of the document, and improve text recall. QuikScan Views provides a hyperlinked table of contents for global navigation, displays QuikScan summaries in a scrolling window (as well as within the body of the document), and adds an extra level of summarization by means of a hyperlinked structured abstract. A QuikScan Views document gives the reader choices of pathways through the document corresponding to the time the reader wishes to invest and the reader's desire to increase their recall of the document.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Oct 2012
  • Source
    • "Efforts have been made to improve the quality and accuracy of journal abstracts since they are often the most commonly read part of an article—if not the only part read.10 11 15 In 1987, the Ad Hoc Working Group for Critical Appraisal of the Medical Literature introduced a seven-heading format (Objectives, Design, Setting, Patients, Interventions, Measurements and Conclusion) for structured abstracts.16 Variations in structured abstracts include the eight-heading format proposed by Haynes et al,17 IMRAD18–20 (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion), and more recently, BMJ's pico format21 (Patient, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome). Structured abstracts tend to be longer than traditional ones but they also tend to have better content, readability, recall and retrieval.14 "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Many clinicians depend solely on journal abstracts to guide clinical decisions. Objectives This study aims to determine if there are differences in the accuracy of responses to simulated cases between resident physicians provided with an abstract only and those with full-text articles. It also attempts to describe their information-seeking behaviour. Methods Seventy-seven resident physicians from four specialty departments of a tertiary care hospital completed a paper-based questionnaire with clinical simulation cases, then randomly assigned to two intervention groups—access to abstracts-only and access to both abstracts and full-text. While having access to medical literature, they completed an online version of the same questionnaire. Findings The average improvement across departments was not significantly different between the abstracts-only group and the full-text group (p=0.44), but when accounting for an interaction between intervention and department, the effect was significant (p=0.049) with improvement greater with full-text in the surgery department. Overall, the accuracy of responses was greater after the provision of either abstracts-only or full-text (p<0.0001). Although some residents indicated that ‘accumulated knowledge’ was sufficient to respond to the patient management questions, in most instances (83% of cases) they still sought medical literature. Conclusions Our findings support studies that doctors will use evidence when convenient and current evidence improved clinical decisions. The accuracy of decisions improved after the provision of evidence. Clinical decisions guided by full-text articles were more accurate than those guided by abstracts alone, but the results seem to be driven by a significant difference in one department.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Evidence-based medicine
Show more