Abstracts provide a summary of the report in less than 300 words; some journals limit to 150. The abstract is the only section of a submission published in conference proceedings, reviewed by potential referees, and accessible to readers when they search electronic databases.

General Rules

  • Write the abstract last to ensure the abstract represents the entire paper.
  • Provide as much detail as permitted within the word limit.
  • The title and abstract will be able to stand on their own.
  • Address any unique aspects of the study and/or if this is a new line of inquiry.

Recommendations for Format

  • Background: This is the shortest section of the abstract (2-3 sentences) and addresses what is known and what is not known about the subject and states the problem/purpose.
  • Methods: This is the second longest section of abstract and addresses (as relevant) the research design, data set, sample size, participant qualifiers, setting of study, treatment, study duration, instruments, and the primary outcome measure and how it was defined.
  • Results: This is the longest and most important section and provides as much detail about the findings as word count permits, including, results (along with P values in parentheses), statistics with confidence intervals, and any important negative findings.
  • Conclusions: Greatest impact on the reader and contains: (1) primary take-away; (2) additional findings of importance; and (3) researcher's perspective and/or implications.

Language, Graphic Design, and Layout

  • Use active voice, and write in third person. Include known facts and hypotheses in present tense, and use past tense when referring to past experiments.
  • Utilize subheadings whenever permissible, and do not include tables or figures.

Abstract Example

Purpose: Children injured on farms in the United States are hospitalized at 14 times the rate of children with injuries unrelated to farming. This study characterizes pediatric injuries occurring on farms compared to injuries in homes. Methods: We examined the National Trauma Data Bank from 2009 to 2014 to identify children ages 0‐17 with ICD‐9 E‐codes reflecting a farm or residential place of injury occurrence. Appropriate nonparametric tests were used to compare patient, injury, and hospitalization characteristics by injury locale. Mixed effects models for binary responses were used to examine the odds of an injury occurring on a farm versus at home, and we controlled for random effects of trauma center after adjustment for potential confounding variables including age, sex, and categorical injury severity. Findings: There were 2,776 injuries on farms, and 133,119 injuries at homes. Children injured on farms had a median age of 10 years compared to 4 years at homes (P < .001). Machinery injuries were 19 times more frequent on farms (P < .001), and injuries to multiple anatomic locations were twice as frequent on farms (P < .001). Children injured on farms required helicopter transport 4 times as often as those injured at home. Additionally, children injured on farms were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a length of stay greater than 7 days. Conclusion: Injuries occur during the course of childhood; however, injuries sustained in a farming environment are more severe and require greater clinical management than injuries which occur in the home.

Example taken from Cooper, G., Zagel, A., Nickel, A., & Ortega, H. (2019). A comparison of pediatric traumatic injuries on farms and residences from 2009 to 2014. Journal of Rural Health.