Friday, 10 February, 2012

How to write an effective abstract

There is more than enough advice on how to write effective abstract. After all, abstract is the one which brings readers' attention to your paper or article. I follow the advice given by Kent Beck in his OOPSLA talk, "How to Get a Paper Accepted at OOPSLA". Let me produce it here almost verbatim:

"The abstract is your four sentence summary of the conclusions of your paper. ... I try to have four sentences in my abstract. The first states the problem. The second states why the problem is a problem. The third is my startling sentence. The fourth states the implication of my startling sentence."

The startling statement should communicate the key message of the paper that would catch interest of target readers. Kent Beck further advises that one should resist the temptation to argue for the conclusion in the abstract. That way the reader has more incentive to carefully read the rest of the paper to validate the startling statement

Using this advice, I recently wrote following abstract for my upcoming article on "Managing Information and Email Overload":

If you feel overloaded with lots of emails in your inbox and availability of Too Much Information(TMI), then be assured that you are not alone! Thanks to widespread use of computers and internet, the information load is going to only increase in future and would result in reduced productivity and delay in decision making.In this article, you will find 3F formula for managing information and email overload. With this formula, you can not only increase your productivity and decision-making ability but can also improve your work-life balance.

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