Analysis of the Variability of Abstract Structures in Medical Journals
The abstract is typically the most widely read section of articles, and sometimes the only section that is read.1 It provides readers with an overview of the article without having to read the entire paper. Thus, abstracts should be presented in a manner that will most efficiently deliver the article’s major messages to the reader. This is especially relevant in the medical field, since physicians are required to keep up with the burgeoning literature as it pertains to their chosen specialty or subspecialty.2
In 1987, the Ad Hoc Working Group for Critical Appraisal of the Medical Literature proposed a seven-heading format for structured abstracts in clinical articles.3 Their proposal was further supported by several studies that suggested that structured abstracts were superior to unstructured abstracts, in terms of both quality and the ability to allow readers to select articles more quickly.4,5However, several subsequent studies questioned the superiority of structured...
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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