Ducks Over-Winter in Colorado Barley Fields in Response to
Increased Daily Mean Temperature
Ima Mallard, Ura Drake, and Woodruff Ducque
Department of Wildlife Biology, University of Colorado - Boulder
The title is not a section, but it is necessary and important. The title should be short and unambiguous, yet be an adequate description of the work. A general rule-of-thumb is that the title should contain the key words describing the work presented. Remember that the title becomes the basis for most on-line computer searches - if your title is insufficient, few people will find or read your paper. For example, in a paper reporting on an experiment involving dosing mice with the sex hormone estrogen and watching for a certain kind of courtship behavior, a poor title would be:
Why? It is very general, and could be referring to any of a number of mouse behaviors. A better title would be:
The Effects of Estrogen on the Nose-Twitch Courtship Behavior in Mice
Why? Because the key words identify a specific behavior, a modifying agent, and the experimental organism. If possible, give the key result of the study in the title, as seen in the first example. Similarly, the above title could be restated as:
Estrogen Stimulates Intensity of Nose-Twitch Courtship Behavior in Mice
4. Strategy for Writing Title.
1. Function: An abstract summarizes, in one paragraph (usually), the major aspects of the entire paper in the following prescribed sequence:
·???????? the question(s) you investigated (or purpose), (from Introduction)
o??? state the purpose very clearly in the first or second sentence.
·???????? the experimental design and methods used, (from Methods)
o??? clearly express the basic design of the study.
o??? Name or briefly describe the basic methodology used without going into excessive detail-be sure to indicate the key techniques used.
·???????? the major findings including key quantitative results, or trends (from Results)
o??? report those results which answer the questions you were asking
o??? identify trends, relative change or differences, etc.
·???????? a brief summary of your interpetations and conclusions. (from Discussion)
o??? clearly state the implications of the answers your results gave you.
Whereas the Title can only make the simplest statement about the content of your article, the Abstract allows you to elaborate more on each major aspect of the paper. The length of your Abstract should be kept to about 200-300 words maximum (a typical standard length for journals.) Limit your statements concerning each segment of the paper (i.e. purpose, methods, results, etc.) to two or three sentences, if possible. The Abstract helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper, or it may be the only part they can obtain via electronic literature searches or in published abstracts. Therefore, enough key information (e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.) must be included to make the Abstract useful to someone who may to reference your work.
How do you know when you have enough information in your Abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing an study similar to the one you are reporting. If your Abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the information presented there?
2. Style: The Abstract is ONLY text. Use the active voice when possible, but much of it may require passive constructions. Write your Abstract using concise, but complete, sentences, and get to the point quickly. Use past tense. Maximum length should be 200-300 words, usually in a single paragraph.