FYI: An explanation. Our class has an assignment to find and write abstracts for 5 articles related to one topic of our choosing. My group has settled on a schedule of submitting 2 abstracts for review the first week, 2 more the next week, and then our final abstract with a few days left before the 5 are due to our instructor. In this way, we are able to review each others’ work in stages, offer feedback on each attempt, and apply that feedback when writing our next round.
My first attempt at writing abstracts for our Research Assignment produced results unlike any of my group mates. My abstracts were much shorter and more generalized, avoiding a lot of details of the individual study. I had focused on trying to include keywords that would be useful to anyone performing abstract keyword searches, since I’ve found that to be a very helpful way of searching for things in my own experience. The individuals in my group had mostly positive things to say about them (I had some problems with tense that needed further editing, etc.), and since I usually prefer to read shorter abstracts with less specific detail I figured these first attempts were alright for the time being.
For my second attempt, I decided to try a different approach to both reading the articles and writing the abstracts. I started by opening the article in question in one window on my laptop and having a word document open in another window. As I read through the article, I took notes about the details of the study, along with things that I felt would help someone who was searching for information determine if the article was worth their time or applicable to their own needs. After finishing the article, I minimized that pdf window and opened another word document that was completely blank. Having this window open side-by-side with the original note-taking word document allowed me to see my notes at a glance and reference them easily while crafting my abstract. The immediate difference that I see between my first attempt at abstracting and this new round is that my abstracts are MUCH longer and more detailed. They resemble those of my group mates much more. I am curious to see what their feedback is on them this time around.
My initial feeling is that I need to find a middle ground between the two attempts. Figure out what details from the study to eliminate so that I can decrease the length of the abstract without diminishing it, but also retain keywords for those searchers who are utilizing keyword abstract search techniques. From a personal standpoint, I definitely feel a higher retention of the information in both of these studies/articles. I imagine that I will continue to take notes in this manner for most of my article readings in the future.