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On the Importance of the abstract in original research papers

Many readers will read only the abstract of your paper. For others, the abstract will induce them to read the paper in more detail. In either case, the abstract is VERY important. The purpose of the abstract is to make it easy for the reader to quickly grasp the key points of the article.2  However, writing it well may be a daunting task.1

Some general features of a good abstract

Observe the journal’s instructions for abstracts

Structured vs unstructured abstracts

Here is an example of an unstructured abstract and an edited, structured version of the abstract:

Unstructured abstract
Combining antibiotics with plant sterols that have antibacterial activity is a method of increasing the effectiveness of the antibiotics. In this study, we synthesized α-spinasterol from commercially available stigmasterol by a novel method in order to increase its yield, and tested the combination of the α-spinasterol with ceftiofur in vitro against four strains of pathogenic bacteria. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of stigmasterol, spinasterol and ceftiofur against Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae CAU0070, Salmonella pullorum cvcc533 and Staphylococcus aureus were determined with a tube dilution method. Results showed that MICs of α-spinasterol against the four pathogenic microorganisms were the same for all (256 µg/ml), or one-half that of stigmasterol (512 µg/ml), and much greater than the MIC of ceftiofur (0.125 to 4 µg/ml). The combination of α-spinasterol and ceftiofur were strongly synergetic against the four bacterial strains; the fractional inhibitory concentrations on E. coli, S. pneumoniae CAU0070, S. pullorum cvcc533, and S. aureus were 0.375, 0.375, 0.533 and 0.5, respectively. In time-kill analyses, at concentrations above the MICs, ceftiofur exhibited only time-dependency against the four pathogenic microganisms, whereas ceftiofur in combination with α-spinasterol exhibited time-dependency and concentration-dependency. We conclude that ceftiofur combined with α-spinasterol, synthetized from stigmasterol by our method, is effective against four pathogenic bacterial strains in vitro. Effectiveness of this combination in vivo deserves investigation.

Abstract re-written in a structured format
Background/Aim. Combining antibiotics with plant sterols that have antibacterial activity is a method of increasing the effectiveness of the antibiotics. In this study, we synthesized α-spinasterol from commercially available stigmasterol by a novel method in order to increase its yield.
Methods. The minimum inhibitory concentration of stigmasterol, spinasterol and ceftiofur against Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae CAU0070, Salmonella pullorum cvcc533 and Staphylococcus aureus were determined with a tube dilution method.
Results. Minimum inhibitory concentrations of α-spinasterol against the four pathogenic microorganisms were the same for all (256 µg/ml), or one-half that of stigmasterol (512 µg/ml), and much greater than the minimal inhibitory concentration of ceftiofur (0.125 to 4 µg/ml). The combination of α-spinasterol and ceftiofur were strongly synergetic against the four bacterial strains; the fractional inhibitory concentrations on E. coli, S. pneumoniae CAU0070, S. pullorum cvcc533, and S. aureus were 0.375, 0.375, 0.533 and 0.5, respectively. In time-kill analyses, at concentrations above the minimum inhibitory concentrations, ceftiofur exhibited only time-dependency against the four pathogenic microganisms, whereas ceftiofur in combination with α-spinasterol exhibited time-dependency and concentration-dependency.
Conclusions. Ceftiofur combined with α-spinasterol, synthetized from stigmasterol by our method, is effective against four pathogenic bacterial strains in vitro. Effectiveness of this combination in vivo deserves investigation.

Components of the structured abstract

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