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RE: Abstracts should summarise (Was: Sauropod methane emissions)

I completely agree!  The only thing more frustrating are conference abstracts 
that are guilty of this, since then there's not even a full paper to refer to 
to find out the conclusion.  Worst SVP abstract format ever-

"Group X is a highly diverse clade found all over the world [duh].  Recently, 
Genus was found from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China and described as a 
member of Group X [we know].  Genus has several unique characters such as A, B 
and C [yes, those were in the original description].  In order to test its 
relationships, we conducted a broad phylogenetic analysis of Group X and 
included Genus [ah good, that needed to be done. I'm interested to see what the 
results are...].  The results are quite interesting and found a novel placement 
for Genus [yes? YES?].  Placing Genus in the phylogeny of Group X has important 
ramifications for biogeography and the evolution of function D [but but where 
did you find it? that was just filler!]"

Mickey Mortimer

> Date: Mon, 7 May 2012 18:29:13 +0100
> From: mike@indexdata.com
> To: bcreisler@gmail.com
> CC: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Abstracts should summarise (Was: Sauropod methane emissions)
> On 7 May 2012 17:10, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:
> > From: Ben Creisler
> > bcreisler@gmail.com
> >
> > The Current Biology article is now posted online. Full text is
> > available at link:
> >
> > David M. Wilkinson, Euan G. Nisbet and Graeme D. Ruxton (2012)
> > Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive
> > Mesozoic climate warmth?
> > Current Biology 22(9): R292-R293
> > doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.042
> > http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(12)00329-6
> >
> > Mesozoic sauropods, like many modern herbivores, are likely to have
> > hosted microbial methanogenic symbionts for the fermentative digestion
> > of their plant food. Today methane from livestock is a significant
> > component of the global methane budget. Sauropod methane emission
> > would probably also have been considerable. Here, we use a simple
> > quantitative approach to estimate the magnitude of such methane
> > production and show that the production of the greenhouse gas methane
> > by sauropods could have been an important factor in warm Mesozoic
> > climates.
> This is not an abstract. It's an advertisement. From the JVP author
> instructions at
> http://www.vertpaleo.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Info_for_Authors&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=2123
> And from Wikipedia:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_%28summary%29
> "Academic literature uses the abstract to succinctly communicate
> complex research. An abstract may act as a stand-alone entity instead
> of a full paper."
> "The abstract for Articles ... should summarize the main facts, ideas,
> and conclusions of the Article, and not simply list the topics
> discussed ...
> An academic abstract typically outlines four elements relevant to the
> completed work:
> The research focus (i.e. statement of the problem(s)/research
> issue(s) addressed);
> The research methods used (experimental research, case studies,
> questionnaires, etc.);
> The results/findings of the research; and
> The main conclusions and recommendations"
> I'm seeing a lot of these "abstracts" recently that don't tell you
> what the paper's conclusions are, but merely dangle a bait by saying
> what information the paper contains.
> Please, folks. Don't do this in your own papers.
> -- Mike.