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Webinar Transcripts

Successfully Writing Doctoral Capstone Abstracts

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Presented October 16, 2018

Last updated 11/26/2018

 

Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. The title of the webinar, “Housekeeping

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    • Polls, files, and links are interactive. 
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    • Use the Q&A box.
    • Send to editor@waldenu.edu
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Hello, everyone. And welcome to the webinar today. Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Beth Nastachowski and I'm going to be one of the facilitators for today’s session and I just wanted to get us started by going over a couple of quick housekeeping notes. 

The first thing I will note here is that the webinar is being recorded and I'll be posting this in our webinar archive probably be tomorrow afternoon. So, if you have to leave for any reason or if you’d like to come back to review the session, you're more than welcome to do so. And I’d also like to note here is that all of our sessions are recorded in the Writing Center, so if you're ever looking for help on a writing topic, the webinar recordings archive is a great place to go and you can find over 40 recordings there. So, that's one thing I'd like to point out to you. 

Another thing we'll be having is places you can interact with our presenter Carey and your fellow students. I know Carey has a poll and chats she'll be using. Additionally, there's links that you can use that you can click and open up on your own computer. So, if you click those links they will open up on a new tab on your browser. So that's another great way to get more out of the webinar if there's a topic that you'd like more information about, or a resource. That’s a great way to save those 

I also like to note however that the slides Carey will be using are in the files pod, that’s at the bottom right hand corner, so you’re welcome to download that, along with hand out with additional resources that you can save to your computer as well.       

There's also a Q&A box on the right side of the screen. If you have questions throughout the session today please make sure to, let us know. So, myself and my colleague Sara will be monitoring those questions and we are be happy to get you answers and links to further information or resources if that's applicable as well. Do let us know in the Q&A box how we can help. 

However, I’d also like to note that at the end of the webinar, sometimes we have to end early‑‑ not end early but end without being able to respond to everyone's question just because the time is up and we want to be respectful of everyone's time. 

If that's the case or you think of a question after the webinar, please make sure to let the editors know, at editor@waldenu.eduthey welcome your emails and you're welcome to send questions as well through that e-mail address.

The last thing I'll note here is if you have technical issues let me know in the Q&A box. I have a couple of tips and tricks I can provide you. There's also the help button on the top right corner and that's a good place to go for any technical help.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Successfully Writing Doctoral Capstone Abstracts” and the speakers name and information: Carey Little Brown, Dissertation Editor, Walden University Writing Center.

Audio:With that, Carey, I'll hand it over to you. 

Carey: Thanks Beth. Hi, I’m Carey Little Brown, and thank you all for coming today. I hope to present some information that's useful to you. I'm one of the dissertation editors at the Walden Writing Center and I’m in the groups that conducts the form and style review, which comes really close to the end of the dissertation, doctoral study slash capstone, doctoral approval process. Right before the oral conference and right after the final URR review. I've been with Walden since 2012, and I enjoy this work. So, we read the dissertation that's part of the form and style review. As we'll be discussing later in the presentation, it then goes for a more detailed review with the CAO or chief academic office at the very end of the approval process. But we do take a look and do a preliminary review and revision and comment round on all of the abstracts. So, I'm excited to present this session. 

In the background is Sara Witty. She's one of my colleagues another form and style editor who can answer questions and I've encouraged her to break in at any point if there's anything I have said or presented that needs to be repeated or clarified. I'm more than happy to do that. Please feel free to ask any questions and make any comments that you have. Oops. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Outcomes:

After this webinar, you will be able to …

  • Identify the purpose and audience of an abstract
  • Apply Walden/APA guidelines for abstract format and content
  • Write an effective, concise abstract
  • Locate additional abstract resources

Audio: All right. So, there are four main outcomes that we hope to have in this webinar, and these are the following. I would like to present information that helps you to identify the purpose and audience for an abstract. 

You're going to learn how to apply specific Walden and APA guidelines for abstract format and content so that you can ideally get that abstract approved. 

We're going to talk about how to write an effective and concise abstract that meets those guidelines and brings forward the information in the best way possible. And that's grounded in some very specific examples. 

And finally, at the end of the presentation, we'll talk about some additional resources specific to writing the abstract that you can get through the Writing Center and elsewhere at Walden. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What is an Abstract?

•      Concise description of a study

•      “Brief, comprehensive summary of the contents” of a work (APA Publication Manual)

•      Differs from an introduction: “an abstract, unlike an introduction, is a summary, and not a teaser summary, a complete summary.” (Claire Helakoski, Walden WC blog post)

Audio:So first of all, we're going to talk about what an abstract is. Oh, but I'm jumping ahead, actually. [Chuckling]. Beth, we had a poll. Why don't we go ahead and launch that now before I go into this content? Those of you in the audience, if you would be willing to make a selection from this poll. This asks, which of the following best describes your current stage in the capstone process? And hopefully where you are in the process is captured in this. And I'll give that a moment while you answer. 

[silence as students take the poll]

Okay. So, looks like a good mix of students. I have a couple of other. Curious what that is. But I see some people at the final study stage where you're getting close to producing this document of the abstract. Quite a few people in the proposal and preproposal stages. Well good, this should be useful to all of you, since the abstract is something that you keep revisiting really until the very end of the approval process. 

All right.  We can exit the poll. All right. So, what is an abstract? At first glance, the definition of an abstract might seem pretty simple. In capsule form it's a concise description of a study. But, if you look into it a bit further there's some nuance to what an abstract in the doctoral capstone. In the APA publication manual, they described an abstract as a brief comprehensive summary of the contents of the work. And digging into that a bit I think is helpful. And you could do it by thinking about how the summary that you have in an abstract is distinct from some summary elements you might have elsewhere in your writing in the capstone such as in the introduction. And Claire, one of the writing instructors in the Writing Center wrote a really excellent blog post where she teases out I think a useful distinction between the sort of summary writing that you might see at the very beginning where you're presenting a background and kind of hook for a study and the information that actually shows up in the abstract. And that's this. 

An abstract is a summary of the work sort of from top to bottom whereas the summary elements that you might have in an introduction is more of a teaser summary, like a teaser summary of the background in your field that would lead you into the study that you specifically had presented. And I think it's a useful distinction because in the form and style review, I have often seen students who I think are in a hurry to produce something for the abstract part of the document, copy information that seems like summary information out of the beginning of their study, like the beginning of a chapter or section 1 in the introduction. And in nearly all cases, that's not a very effective strategy. A reason for that is, again, that the abstract really needs to capture that study sort of from top to bottom in miniature form. It needs to be a complete summary, not a teaser. And I believe that should come out in the examples we will be looking at. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Abstract as a Story

The abstract “should tell the story of your research from beginning to end and help the reader determine the applicability of your work to their own” (Walden Abstract Primer)

Logical storyline: What is known àWhat is not known (gap) àProblem/Question(s) àDesign àAnalysis àResultsàConclusions àSocial change impact

Audio:So, one way to think about that sort of top to bottom presentation of your story of your abstract is through a metaphor of the story. And that metaphor is used specifically in Walden's abstract primer which I believe is produced through the research office. And there's an excellent quote in there that says, the abstract should tell the story of your research from beginning to end and help the reader determine the applicability of your work to their own. 

And that could play out, you know, in a number of ways, as we'll see in the examples. But the idea behind that metaphor is that the abstract can follow what you can think of as a logical story line, and that will help the ideas flow from one thing to the next and develop a full picture. So, for example, often an abstract will go from presenting what is known about your topic or in the field to what is not known relevant to your study. That's that gap in the literature that your study fills. It then would naturally lead to the problem or questions that you investigated, which leads to the design that you selected, the analysis that you conducted, the results that you generated through that analysis, and then the conclusions that you drew on the basis of that work. And then often, that will wrap up with some discussion ‑‑ and this is an element of all capstones at Walden, specifically ‑‑ of the potential social change impact of your work. And again, we'll be talking about all these elements in a lot more detail. But they all work together to present a narrative structure that I think can be quite effective in presenting the abstract as a story. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Audience for the Abstract, Part 1

General academic audience: The abstract is the public face of your work for the academic community as a whole.

•      Readers will decide whether to read the full study on the basis of the abstract.

•      Abstract should contain clear, precise language that incorporates relevant keywords, which will help other scholars locate the study in electronic searches.

Audio: Now, a story always has an audience, so I think we can continue the metaphor a bit further. And I think when you're thinking about the audience for your abstract, it can be useful to think of that in at least two broad ways and that's what these next two slides capture. 

So, the first audience for your abstract of course is the general academic audience. The abstract is going to serve as the public face of your work for the academic community as a whole. 

Readers are going to decide whether they want to read and access the full study on the basis of the abstract when they're conducting their own research. And in order to fulfill that role, it needs to contain clear and precise language and that language needs to incorporate relevant key words. That doesn't mean a listing of key words which is in the abstract included in the capstone document, but key words that are actually integrated into the page of abstract text because those are going to make it searchable so that other scholars can locate that study when they're conducting their electronic searches. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Audience for the Abstract, Part 2 

At Walden, every abstract undergoes CAO reviewafter the final oral presentation of the capstone. To receive approval, an abstract must:

•       Offer an accurate, complete, and coherent account of the study

•       Follow Walden and APA guidelines

Once published, the abstract will represent both the student and the institution.

Audio: Now, there's another element of the audience for the abstract that's more specific here at Walden. As I mentioned at the beginning of the presentation, every abstract undergoes CAO review, chief academic officer review. After the final oral presentation of the capstone. And that approval has to happen before the capstone receives final approval and before you can publish it with ProQuest. 

So, to receive approval, an abstract need to meet the following criteria. It needs to offer an accurate, complete, and coherent account of the study, it needs to follow all applicable Walden and APA guidelines, and it needs to ultimately be, you know, an effective presentation of your work and a presentation that also is a good representation of the student and the institution. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA and Walden Guidelines for the Abstract

Audio:Okay. And in the next section, I'm going to talk in more detail in concrete ways what the APA and Walden guidelines for the abstract that you need to follow, are. Before I do that,  were there any general questions about the information I just talked about the role and definition of an abstract? 

Okay. It looks like we are ‑‑ I'm not able to see the questions, so Sara or Beth, feel free to break in on me if there are any questions. 

Sara: I will. So far, we only have one question about the methodology. So, do they need to provide info on the methodology in detail or just a summary? 

Carey: Usually, you're not presenting full information. We'll be looking at specific examples as we go into the rest of the presentation that may clarify that a bit about how that may work out. It really is going to vary on a case by case basis, but I'll be showing authentic Walden abstracts from a qualitative and quantitative study so you may get a sense of what may or may not be included from looking at those. But if you have any questions as we get into that, feel free to ask.

If that's all, I'll go ahead and talk about the guidelines. [Clearing throat]. And, excuse me. Like everyone else, I've had a fall old that just will not end.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: General Abstract Guidance:

Characteristics of an effective abstract:

•       Accurate

•       Nonevaluative(report, don’t evaluate)

•       Coherent & readable

•       Concise

(APAPublication Manual[6thed.], p. 26)

Audio: So, the APA manual talks in pretty broad terms about the characteristics of an effective abstract in the publication manual. And I think it's worth quickly going over those to get a sense, and again, of what the expectations are of abstract writing in APA style. 

First of all, an abstract need to be accurate. It needs to be an accurate depiction of what was actually done in the study that it summarizes. It needs to be nonevaluative. That means essentially, it's an objective presentation of the research. It's a reporting of the research, not a heavily evaluative or subjective or editorial kind of discussion. It needs to be coherent and readable. That gets to that issue I was touching on and talking about it as a story. It needs to have a logical, coherent flow. And one function of that is just making sure that it gets read in its abstract form and that your study gets read by people who are conducting similar research who might learn something from it. It needs to be appealing and have clarity in conveying what you did and how it might be relevant to your readers. And of course, a document that needs to be at Walden, a page long or less, it needs to be concise. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Layout of the Abstract

•      One block of text, no indent, double spaced

•      Text must fit on a single page

•      Standard font (Times New Roman, 12 pt)

•      “Abstract” centered at top of page in regular type

•      Preceded by abstract title page

Use the template for your doctoral program for correct format settings

Audio:Now, at Walden, we have specific guide lines for the layout of the abstract and these are captured in the Walden template document. [Clearing throat]. Excuse me. If you're aren’t already using it, I would strongly recommend ‑‑ and there's a link later in the presentation in the slides to where you can access the Writing Center capstone templates. But I would recommend that you use the template while you're writing your document. You can actually write it into the template document. And I say that primarily because the layout formatting that you’ll be required to use, before you get approval of the capstone are all captured and reflected in the template. It makes life a whole lot easier. 

But the abstract is laid out in the template the way it needs to appear and it has a few peculiar qualities that differ a little bit from some of the rest of the document. First of all, it's one block of text. It's not broken into paragraphs and it's not indented as paragraphs. There's no indentation. The whole thing is double spaced. 

As I said before. It needs to fit on a single page. It needs to be an in a standard font. So, given that single page requirement, there could be a temptation to, oh, can I put this in 11 point or 10 point or maybe 11.5. It needs to be in 12-point font like everything else. In nearly all cases, the font is Times New Roman. It needs to be consistent with the rest of the document. 

The word abstract is centered at the top of the page in regular type, not bold, not italic. And what comes before the abstract itself is what's called the abstract title page, that’s the first page of all the capstone templates. It's identical to the main title page which follows the abstract, except it has the word abstract at the top, just like the abstract does. 

And again, the template for your doctoral program is going to have all that information plugged into it, so you just kind of fill out those parts that are specific to your study and program. So, you know, I totally encourage you to go grab that template if you haven't already. And there's the link here. 

And now let's look at what that actually looks like on the page because I know hearing somebody describe that, at least being a visual person like myself, it's not real satisfying. So, I think it's helpful to look at it. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Abstract Example

An image of a paper 

  • Heading “Abstract” centered, not bold or italic
  • Text begins flush left
  • 1.5” left margin
  • “Ragged right” margin
  • Double spaced, 12 pt font not longer than a page

Audio: This is what the abstract would typically look like on a capstone document. The heading abstract is there at the top. It's centered, it’s not bold, it’s not italic. The text starts flush left and the whole left side is justified. There's no paragraph indentation, no paragraph breaks. There's a 1-and-a-half-inch left margin that's true throughout the capstone documents so that presumably there would be a bound copy someplace, an actual physical copy. 1 and a half inches allows for binding. The margin on the right is not justified. We call that ragged right. So, there's that uneven right margin with the text. And the text again, all double spaced, all 12-point font, and it doesn't go over a page. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Rules Specific to the Abstract

Certain style rules apply onlyto the abstract:

•      Allnumbers must be expressed as numerals, unless at the beginning of a sentence

•      No references or citations

•      No “I” or “we” statements (passive voice may be appropriate)

•      Abbreviate a term only if it is used at least twice. (As with other APA abbreviations, write out the full term the first time, with the abbreviation in parentheses.)

Audio:Now, in terms of the actual content of the abstract and the way that's laid out and formatted on the level of the language, there's certain rules that apply only to the abstract, and I think it's worth bringing these out because they can be a little confusing, especially if you’ve just spent a lot of time following the rules you need to follow for the rest of the document. It's useful to be aware, I think, that there's a few little details where what you have to do in the abstract is a bit different. 

The first thing is all numbers in the abstract are expressed as numerals or digits. In the rest of your document as you probably know from working in APA style, there are certain times you write out words. There are certain times that you use numerals for numbers. But in the abstract, unless it's at the beginning of a sentence, you use a digit every time, and that is a space saving measure. 

There are no references or citations in an abstract. You might mention an author's name, particularly if you're mentioning very briefly the theorist who developed the framework that you based your study on. You might mention that theorist's name, but you don't include parenthetical citations. And the simple reason for that is the abstract serves as a free-standing document in a lot of ways, separate from the rest of your study and so there's no reference list it's attached to so it doesn't make sense to have citations. 

Now, here's the thorniest one because we spend a lot of time in the Writing Center reassuring, encouraging and admonishing everyone to use the first person when you're talking about yourself in your study. Don't call yourself the researcher. And that comes from APA style rules. In APA style for purposes of clarity, the APA editors say use I, me, pronouns to talk about yourself. Don't call yourself third person things like the researcher. Now, the one place that we don't want you to use I, me, my statements is the abstract. Again, that's because I like to think of it as the abstract is that free-standing document, kind of its own island apart from the rest of your study without that larger context. It needs to be in a more objective kind of tone. So that means in my view as an editor, you can ‑‑ you might get more anthropomorphic than you might in the rest of the document, meaning I am more likely to allow phrases like this study examined that people might call anthropomorphic, and that means giving human kinds of action to a nonhuman thing. You might get encouraged not to do that in the rest of your study. I would say you can do that. There's more passive voice that ends up being allowable if it's a way to avoid saying I, me, we in the abstract. You don't want the first person. You also don't want to use phrases like the researcher in the abstract. That's just awkward and that's avoided in APA style in general to talk about yourself. But the abstract is the one place we don't want you using first person. 

And finally, in the abstract, you would abbreviate a term, meaning use an abbreviation only for terms that are used at least twice. And this is true of all abbreviations in APA style. Any time that you present an abbreviated term, you need to write out the full term first with the abbreviation in parentheses after it before you use that abbreviation by itself. What's different about the abstract is that you can abbreviate things if you want to that are used at least twice whereas in the rest of the document, I think our recommendation is trying to limit abbreviated terms to things that appear at least four times in the text. The abstract works as a separate document for that purpose. So as long as it's used at least twice, you can abbreviate as long as you have that term written out at least once. And you're not using so many abbreviations that it's becoming unreadable. So, use your discretion kind of situation. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Alignment in the Abstract 

CAO reviewer: ~50% of abstract returns relate to alignment problems

•       Using qualitative terms to describe a quantitative study or vice versa 

Ex: "the purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the relationship between ...“

•       Incorrect inclusion of methods or design components

Ex: qualitative studies should not contain hypotheses; quantitative studies should not contain interview questions

•       Inconsistency in descriptions of methods, RQs, etc. across study as a whole

Audio: Okay. And I don't know if you all have heard the term alignment come up in your capstone writing process. That's something that ends up being important on the level of the review of your abstract at Walden is that it needs to have alignment, and we'll talk about what this means. The CAO or chief academic officer reviewer who again is the last hurdle before ProQuest publication, the last institutional hurdle at Walden, that office has told me that around half of the returns that they make of reviews, meaning they send back the abstract and say I’m sorry you need to revise this and resubmit it before we can give you approval, about half of those relate to alignment problems in the abstract. And alignment in this context means something about the way that your study is presented ‑‑ and this is usually a methodology issue ‑‑ in the abstract is not aligning or lining up with what actually happened in your study or what makes sense for the kind of study that you conducted. 

For example, that can be using qualitative terms to talk about a quantitative study or vice versa. And the example I can give is a phrase like the purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the relationship between ‑‑ that's a problem because when you're looking at a relationship between variables you typically have a quantitative, not a qualitative study. So, a phrase like that would signal, ohhh there's a big alignment problem. This needs to go back to the drawing board, this abstract and be rewritten. 

By the same token, incorrectly including certain kinds of methods or design components that aren't consistent or align with your methodology is something that can get flagged for revision. So qualitative studies don't have hypothesis, for instance. So, if you have hypothesis in a qualitative study, that's an alignment problem. Quantitative studies generally aren’t going to have open ended interview questions and so forth. 

And then more generally, any inconsistency in your descriptions of methods, your research questions, et cetera, where it's showing up in an abstract as different from what's actually happening in the study is a problem that could cause a revision request. So be thinking ‑‑ I would say alignment is perhaps the No. 1 thing to think about as you're revising an abstract. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing an Effective Abstract

Audio:Okay. And again, I know ‑‑ that's all a pretty abstract discussion about abstracts. So, I'm going to make that more concrete with specific examples from real world Walden abstracts that have been only lightly modified for this context. But before I do that I’ve have seen things popping up in the Q&A box but I haven't been able to read them. Is there anything I need to address or repeat or clarify? 

Sara: No, we were just discussing the fact that it's conferences. Students had seen that people had submitted abstracts in the conference that included citations. And I think that's pretty odd. I could see how you don't really have to stick to the exact abstract lay out at a conference versus a published documents. But do you have any thoughts about that? 

Well, I think ‑‑ you mean, like, organizational conferences, academic conferences? 

Sara: Yup.

Carey: Outside Walden? I think when I'm presenting here, what the APA manual has to say about abstracts is pretty limited to that slide that I showed early on. It sort of speaks to the qualities of a good abstract. The specific format requirements and the elements of the abstracts that are different from the rest of the study are Walden specific institutional requirements. And that's going to be true of ‑‑ you know, variations of APA style for different conferences, for different journals, for different universities. They’ll be slight nuances and differences that exist. So, this is something that we do ‑‑ these rules are things that we do in the spirit of the APA manual, but specifically at Walden where the manual may not specify. Does that make sense? 

Sara: Yes.

Carey: The APA manual may not necessarily address all those things. 

Sara: I do enjoy the description of working within the spirit of the APA manual. 

Carey: [Chuckling]. Yes, which I think we do in good faith. I don't think we're making major departures. But that's one area where ‑‑ because the APA wants to allow leeway for the individual academic institutions and conferences and publications that are interpreting and using their rules. Their publication requirements tend to be somewhat looser in certain areas like this to allow for institutional specifics. So that's I guess the best answer I can give. Was there anything else related to the content we just talked about? 

Sara: Nope, that was about it. 

Carey: Okay. All right. Well, let's look at some specific examples. And again, the examples I'm going to be showing here come from one of the other form and style editors in the DBA program got permission from students to show some good exemplars of showing quantitative abstract and qualitative abstract. So, I hope this is helpful even if it's not in your exact discipline. The general content guidance is very similar across programs. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Elements of an Abstract

  1. Overall research problem/issue and why it is important. 
  2. Specific problem of the study.
  3. Theoretical foundations of the study.
  4. Overall research design and methods.
  5. Data analysis procedures.
  6. Key results and conclusions.
  7. Implications for positive social change.

Audio:Okay. So, when you're looking at the various guidance we have to abstracts at Walden, the abstract primer, which is link said elsewhere in this document which is a pretty comprehensive guide to writing abstracts at Walden or the description of the abstract that exists in the template documents, there's certain elements that are brought out in all of the descriptions that are required in any abstract at Walden. And as we'll be seeing in all the examples these don't need to occur in a certain order for the most part. But all of the elements need to be there. 

These are the elements. The first is the overall research problem and issue and some description of why that's important in the field. The second is the specific problem that your study addressed. The third the theoretical foundation of the study. The fourth is the overall research design and methods. The fifth is a description of the data analysis. The 6th is some key results and conclusions. And the seventh ‑‑ and again this is something Walden emphasizes specifically is the study’s possible implications for positive social change. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Elements of an Abstract

Let’s look at each of these elements with examples from a Walden abstract.

Audio:Now, let's look specifically at how those might work into a real-world abstract. And as this graphic shows, you can think of it as a puzzle with the colors representing those different elements all coming together. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 1. Overall research problem/issue and why it is important.

  • Should indicate (or at least imply) who has a stake in solving the problem
  • Can include general statement of issue/brief background information, but should be interesting and focused.

Behaviors that may waste time in the workplace, like surfing the Internet for personal purposes (cyberloafing) or smoking breaks, may be the root antecedent for poor productivity.

Audio:And that can happen in a number of ways. First, we'll be looking at each of these elements with examples from I believe a quantitative study abstract. So that first element is the overall research problem or issue and why it's important. Your description should indicate or at least imply who has a stake in solving the problem that you're addressing, who the audience is for a study of this nature. That might include a general statement of the issue or a very small amount of background information. But it needs to stay interesting and focused. It shouldn't go on for many sentences. It needs to be pretty tight. 

And here's an example from a real abstract. And this, I believe, is the beginning of the abstract. Behaviors that may waste time in the workplace like suffering the interest for personal purpose, cyber loafing or smoking breaks may be the root antecedent for poor productivity. That's a general statement of an issue in the field in the world that the study is going to be addressing. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 2. Specific problem of the study.

•      Clear, concise statement of research problem

•      May include main RQ(s) in statement form

The purpose of this study was to examine whether there was a relationship between the independent variables, time spent cyberloafing and time in uncontrolled smoking breaks, and the dependent variable, employee productivity. 

Audio:Okay. And then you would typically go into the specific problem of the study, and this is of course a very important element in the abstract. That needs to be a clear, concise statement of the research problem, that might include the main research question or questions. But those in the abstract, we typically ask that to be in statement form. I know in the form and style review, and I believe in the CAO review, the reviewers will discourage you from actually just copying your research question and tends to be awkward not to read as well. You want to generally convert that naturally into statement form so it fits into the flow of the discussion in the abstract.

And in the sample that we're looking at, that problem is conveyed in this sentence. The purpose of this study was to examine whether there was a relationship between the independent variables, time spent cyberloafing and time in uncontrolled smoking breaks, and the dependent variable, employee productivity.

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 3. Theoretical foundations of the study.

(If the objective of the study is to generate a theory inductively, then this element is omitted.)

Procedural justice theory was used to frame the study. 

Audio: And that third element is the theoretical foundations of the study, the theoretical background that informed your approach. Now, if you're doing a grounded theory study, if you're trying to generate a theory inductively, you wouldn't have a theoretical foundation. You would mention that. In most situations there is going to be some kind of theory that is underlying the work. And the statement in this abstract was pretty straight forward. Procedural justice theory was used to frame the study. Okay. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 4. Overall design and methods.

•      Design should be clearly and specifically identified.

•      May include sampling/participants, grouping, procedures/treatments/interventions, instruments, or measures. 

The population for this correlational study consisted of 34 employees working in a multinational engineering company in Jordan that had official smoking policies but not cyberloafing policies.

Audio: The next element is the overall design methods. I think someone had asked, well, how much detail do I go into? And the answer is you want to ‑‑ you're not going to be able to present your full methodology in the abstract. It's generally not possible or advisable. But you want to give enough information that you give enough of an idea to the reader of the nature of your study, the population of interest, what you did, what kind of study this was. The design should be clearly and specifically identified. And elements you might include here might be the sampling or participants, any groupings that you used, procedures, treatments, or interventions that you applied, instruments that you used or measures that you used. And that could, you know, play out in a number of different ways, depending on the space available for this element of the abstract in your specific case and the specific kind of study that you conducted. 

So, in the sample abstract we're looking at here, this sentence captured some of this design and methods. The population for this correlational study, correlation study is identified, quantitative is implied here. Consisted of 34 employees working in a multinational engineering company in Jordan had official smoking policies but not cyber loafing policies. It tells us where it was conducted, how many participants, kind of where that population was. As you'll see some of the other sentences discussing some of the other components, we're also going to find out what treatments and interventions were used. Again, you don't need to present these elements as discreet sentences or in this specific order. They just all need to be there. So, as you're editing down to a page, you may find that it makes sense to move things around. And as we'll see in the next example, often these different elements of the abstract are kind of intermixed with each other in whatever way best serves the flow of the discussion. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 5. Data analysis procedures.

•      Should be linked to RQ(s) and any measure(s) used.

•      Do not mention specific statistical analysis software (e.g., SPSS).

(In this example, the instruments are introduced here rather than in the previous sentence.)

Correlations and multiple regression were computed using a cyberloafing scale and time spent smoking (independent variables) and the Endicott Work Productivity Scale (dependent variable).

Audio: Sara: Carey, can I ask you a quick question? 

Carey: Of course. 

Sara: For you to expand on? Somebody had a question about what do you mean by indicating who has a stake in the research or the study? Could you kind of expand on that?

Carey: I think that's just a way of getting to the audience for the study. You know, by describing who has a stake in the researcher, signaling, you know, that the study is of interest to, you know, say researchers in a specific field or, you know, maybe its clinicians doing a certain kind of work, or, you know, educators in secondary education in a certain part of the country or serving a certain student population. And that may come out by implication in your discussion of the problem by indicating where there is, you know ‑‑ where there has been discussion or debate around the problem in those introductory kinds of sentences. It may come out ‑‑ needs to come out, too, in the ‑‑ when you're discussing the social change implications, which we'll be talking about shortly. That should indicate, you know, who is ‑‑ it's basically saying who is ‑‑ who is this problem meaningful to? Who will your research be meaningful to? That doesn't mean you have to come out and say directly in your abstract, this is of interest to blah, blah, blah. But it needs to be implied in what you're writing I guess as clearly as you can, somewhat strongly indicated who the audience for the work is. I hope that's not too circuitous.

Sara: I think that's one of the complicated thing about the abstract, that you're smooshing all this complicated information into a very small package. 

Carey: It is, yeah. It's hard, and I think that's why I structured this session ‑‑ it is an awkward topic to talk about. That's why I'm trying to show you a number of different examples because there's not one way to approach it. I think the essence of this is that all of these elements need to be there, but the way that you get there is really pretty variable. You know, following the principles of conciseness, clarity, alignment. And hopefully, that will come across as we show more of these examples. 

Sara: Yup, that's great. Thank you so much. 

Carey: Sure. Yeah, please, ask any questions anyone has. Feel free to write those in the Q&A box. 

And the next element is the data analysis procedures. And as I said, you're not going to be able to talk about most likely your data analysis in an absolutely comprehensive way, but you want to present it in accurate capsule form. So, when you ‑‑ any data analysis that you bring up should be linked to the research questions in measures. It should be clear to the reader glancing out it, how your measures, or instruments are related to that analysis and how that analysis answered the research questions. 

Now, in the abstract ‑‑ and this is different again from the rest of the text, but the CAO reviewers will ask you not to talk about your specific statistical analysis software that you used. You can mention that you conducted a certain kind of statistical analysis that might be computerized, but they don't want you getting into the details of what version of SPSS you used, that kind of thing. That's a rule they applied that is basically is space saving maneuver because you can go into more detail about that in your discussions of data analysis in the actual capstone. 

In the example I'm about to read from the real-world abstract, you can see the instruments are actually are presented here in the data analysis sentence rather than in the previous methods descriptions sentence because it doesn't matter which sentence it comes in, just so it naturally flows. 

So here, the sentence is correlations and multiple regression were computed using a cyber loafing scale and time spent smoking, independent variables, and the end caught work productivity scale, dependent variable. So, and that's adequate, too. That's of course not giving a full picture of every single aspect of the data analysis, but it gives you an idea that there was correlation and multiple regression and how those were performed, you know, using which variables and what measures. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 6. Key results and conclusions.

•      It is not necessary to include all results.

•      Be sure to present one or two major conclusions.

•      May include recommendations supported by the findings.

The results of the correlations indicated no significant relationship between Internet surfing and employee productivity. Smoking breaks were not a significant source of wasted time during the workday (the subsample and frequency of engaging in smoking were low); therefore, smoking did not have an effect on productivity. The findings of this study support the theory that using the Internet at work does not affect employee productivity. 

Audio: Okay. And then you want to pull out just a few key results and conclusions. And this also won't be absolutely comprehensive. It's not necessary to include all your results. One or two major conclusions is often enough. 

This might also include recommendations supported by the findings. If you have room and that's appropriate. And here's how this writer did it. 

The results of the correlations indicated no significant relationship between internet surfing and employee productivity. Smoking breaks were not a significant source of wasted time during the work day. The subsample and frequency of engaging in smoking were low. Therefore, smoking did not have an effect on productivity. The findings of this study support the theory that using the internet at work does not affect employee productivity. So, you’ve got just a few results and conclusion that that supports. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 7. Implications for positive social change.

•      Be sure that your language is specificand precise.

•      Do not simply restate purpose of study.

•      Implications should be grounded in tangible outcomes and improvements for individuals, organizations, institutions, cultures, and/or societies.

These findings have implications for positive social change that are also supported by existing research. Employees who engage in personal Internet activities at work tend to meet private demands and obligations. This connectivity may help to facilitate work-life balance.

Audio:And finally, you want to bring up the implications for positive social change. And this is a tricky thing to do because it is this required component at Walden. And often, I think it gets included sort of as an afterthought and it could be awkward and uncomfortable. One way around ‑‑ an ineffective statement or one that would have to be revised is being specific as possible about the social impact that you could see for the study potentially and not being too widely ambitious or broad. 

You don't want to just restate the purpose of the study as the implications either. [Chuckling]. They need to be grounded in potential tangible outcomes and improvements for individuals, organizations, institutions, cultures or societies. Outcomes for the audience, basically, of the study or for the stake holders of the study, the people who have a stake in the outcome. 

So, here's an example. These findings have implications for positive social change that are also supported by existing research. Employees who engage in personal internet activities at work tend to meet private demands and obligations. This connectivity may help to facilitate work‑life balance. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Another Example (Qualitative Study)

Researchers have demonstrated that customer centricity strategies, including customer relationship management (CRM), contribute to 33% of the formula for organizational success. Relationship management theory was used to frame this single case study focused on the factors contributing to successful CRM strategies used by business leaders in 1 multinational organization in the service industry in Egypt. 

Audio: And then I wanted to briefly show in a little more quickly than before how these same elements might be combined and presented in a slightly different way in another study. This one is qualitative, so it will give you a sense of that, too. So just quickly read through ‑‑ again, this is a real abstract only lightly modified for the presentation. 

So, here's this one. Researchers have demonstrated that customer centricity strategies, including customer relationship management, CRM ‑‑ and you can see right there that's the abbreviation format you would use for a term that's going to occur more than once ‑‑ contribute to 33 percent of the formula for organizational success. And then in dark blue there, that's that overall research problem. And often, that does make the most sense at the beginning of the abstracts. That’s where it occurs here. As you can see the next sentence has several of those elements we talked about in the previous slides combined to one sentence. For concision and flow purposes. 

Relationship management theory ‑‑ and that's your theoretical foundation piece ‑‑ was used to frame this single case study. And that's your design piece right there in green. Focused on the factors contributing to successful CRM strategies used by business leaders in one multinational organization in the service industry in Egypt. And that light blue then is the specific research problem. And all three of those elements, the theory, the design, and the research problem, can all be presented in that same sentence.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following:  Another example, continued

This company was chosen for its successful implementation of CRM strategies, as shown by online reviews, the company website, and market reputation. The population consisted of managers working in the marketing department for more than 5 years. Data collection included semistructured interviews, review of company documents, and onsite observation. 

Audio: And then you can see in this study, this writer has spent more time on some design and methods description than in the following sentences than the previous ‑‑ than the previous example did. And I bring that out because the amount that you're going to be devoting to each of these components is going to vary from case to case, from abstract to abstract. It's what makes sense in your specific case as a writer, in the specific case of your study, as long as all the elements are there and they all fit on one page, you have some leeway on how that plays out. 

So here, this is all essentially ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ design and methods content. This company was chosen for its successful implementation of CRM strategies, as shown by online reviews, the company website, and market reputation. The population consisted of managers working in the marketing department for more than 5 years. Data collection include semi structured interviews, review of comp documents and onsite observation. 

So, you've got why the company was chosen, some of its characteristics, the population of interest, and some criteria for that, and how data collection occurred. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Another Example, continued

Transcribed interviews, company documents, and observational notes were coded for emergent themes. Member checking was used to increase the credibility of the findings. Findings suggested 7 themes that contributed to the effective CRM strategies of this single operation: improving the customer experience, customer segmentation and targeting, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty, organization, market differentiation, sophisticated technical capability, and increasing revenue and profitability. 

Audio: Okay. And then we have some data analysis content. Transcribed interviews, company documents and observational notes were coded for emergent themes. Member checks was used to increase the credibility of the findings. That's all kind of an analysis piece. 

And then the writer goes into some key results and conclusions. Findings suggested 7 themes that contributed to the effective CRM strategies of this single operation. And they list the 7 themes. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Another Example, continued

The results from this study may influence social change by helping to create a positive work culture for the employees in this company. Research has shown that customer empowering behaviors positively affect employee creativity, satisfaction, and trust, creating a positive work environment. In addition, these positive changes to the work environment may in turn strengthen this organization’s sustainability and ability to engage directly in community outreach.

Audio:And then this writer has a more lengthy but still concise enough social change impact statement. It says the results from this study may influence social change by helping to create a positive work culture for the employees in this company. Research has shown that customer empowering behaviors positively affect employee creativity, satisfaction and trust, creating a positive work environment. In addition, these positive changes to the work environment may in turn strengthen this organization's sustainability and ability to engage directly in community outreach.

So, they're talking more specifically about the way in which the results might be applied to create a positive change in that field. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: One Approach to Drafting the Abstract

•      If you are struggling to incorporate all necessary content into your abstract, it can be helpful to use a sentence outline like the one in the next slide to write a first draft.

•      Later, you may want to reorder and/or combine the sentences to improve the flow of the abstract and conserve space.

•      Tip: Get all required content on paper, then revise for length as needed.

Audio: Okay. Those two examples show kind of two different ways of incorporating all of the required elements within the abstract and show how you can afford different weight to different things, depending on your individual needs. This last slide is kind of a third way, presents a third way to ‑‑ of presenting all the same required material in an abstract that my manager developed, I believe, for her DBA students but could be anyone writing an abstract at Walden as a good way of getting an abstract that has all these components that you then might pair down. You don’t have to use this, this is one option if you're really struggling to get all this information down. 

If you're struggling to write an abstract, you might pull this out of these slides. I find it's a useful way to get all the information on the paper. Later, you might want to reorder or recombine the sentences to improve the flow of the abstract and get everything on a single page and so forth. But this is a good way of getting it all on paper before you revise. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: One Approach to Drafting the Abstract

  1. Interesting opening statement on the state of research on this topic. (1 sentence)
  2. Statement summarizing the findings from existing research. (1 sentence)
  3. Statement on what is missing or unknown in the current literature. (1 sentence)
  4. Purpose of the study. (1 sentence)
  1. Theories used. (1 sentence)
  2. Methods description. (1 sentence)
  3. Results. (1-2 sentences)
  4. Statement on social change impact. (1 sentence)

Audio: And here's the sentence out line. So, you can get ‑‑ first sentence would be an interesting opening statement on the statement of research on the topic.  

Second sentence is a statement summarizing the findings from existing research. Again, without citations. 

The third sentence is a statement on what is missing or unknown in the current literature, or the gap in the literature that your study addresses. 

Fourth sentence is the purpose of the study. 

Fifth sentence is theories used. 

Sixth sentence is a methods description. 

And then one to two sentences of results. One sentence on the social change impact. And let's go back to that. 

And again, what you might result with this is perhaps something too long, perhaps something awkward or clunky, but it gets everything down on paper. And I think that makes it easy to reorder and realign those elements, especially if you've been having a hard time knowing how to get all of that in, having a hard time knowing where to begin. This could be a good place to start to end up with a product like one of the two abstracts we looked at in more detail. I hope that makes sense. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Abstract Draft

Chat box: 

As a reader, how do you react to the following sentences from an abstract?

Audio:Okay. I have a real brief chat activity to have everyone thinking about some of this abstract content. And if in the chat discussion box, if you are willing to volunteer your point of view on these, feel free. I want to know how you react to the following sentences from an abstract. What feedback would you give if you're a peer reviewing and abstract? This is an excerpt. This is not including everything that you would want to look at. And I will tell you the primary thing I'm looking at here is the social change statement. And so, this excerpt has the purpose – in the abstract is says, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of middle school teachers with regard to violent subject matter included in the curriculum and changes in the student behavior. And then it says this study will contribute to positive social change by leading to lower levels of violence in middle schools. 

Does anyone have any thoughts about how that purpose statement ‑‑ how effectively is that relating to the social change impact statement? And I'll give a moment of quiet here if you want to read it and react. 

[silence as students respond]

Yeah. I'm seeing some great questions. I do think there's an alignment here, an alignment issue here. And then I ‑‑ the social change impact statement should have some relationship to the purpose of the study. You don't want to just restate the purpose of the study as the impact, but it's ‑‑ both of these things are very broad. Yeah, I see someone saying, my question would be how. I agree. I see lots of social change statements that are very broad and I say overly ambitious about the impact of a study. Saying that your study will lead to lower levels of violence without indicating any of the specific changes that it might lead people to implement or information that it might give to readers that would help them to implement specific kinds of changes, you just end up with a pretty broad and not very meaningful statement. 

Yeah, I see it seems to be a bit of a stretch. Yes, you don't want to overstate ‑‑ you're not going to create, most likely ‑‑ it would be great if it were the case, but you probably won't create world peace with one doctoral level study or solve a problem like violence in middle schools. 

I think, you know, you could see ‑‑ someone is asking, would you remove qualitative study? You would have to see the rest of the abstract. It could be ‑‑ typically you'd need to know that a study is qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods in the abstract. It's not always necessary to include that word. But if you're missing that word, it would be because you already mentioned that there's a design that's inherently qualitative, like, you know, case study, which makes qualitative redundant. But we don't know what else it would say. 

Yeah, and exploring perceptions is very different than reducing violence, which I agree with the person who just said that. Yeah, there's a lot of connections that are not being made. It's not specific enough. It's too broad. So yeah, I think that you're all seeing what I would see in this. There needs to be, you know, a kind of remotely plausible potential social change impact that has a clear relationship to the purpose of the study and what the study actually did. And then of course what the study did needs to be spelled out with enough specificity and clarity that readers understand. And some of those pieces, you know, we can't see in an excerpt, but we can see regardless of what else was here, that social change statement is not a very effective one. 

Okay. Well, thank you for contributing. We're almost at the end of the presentation. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Abstract Excerpt

[. . .] The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of middle school teachers with regard to violent subject matter included in the curriculum and changes in student behavior. [. . .] This study will contribute to positive social change by leading to lower levels of violence in middle schools. 

Audio:I have just a few resources to share. And then if you have any questions in the last few minutes, we can do those. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Abstract Assistance

Your chairperson, committee member, and URR

Center for Research Quality/OSRA

•       Abstract Primer

•       Abstract guidelines 

•       “Writing an Abstract” tutorial 

Audio:For abstract assistance at Walden, your No. 1 line of help, of course, is your chair and then your committee member, and URR. Those are going to be your best resources because they are from your program and have the best understanding of the content requirements of your specific program and discipline, which is something that we don't ‑‑ even though we can tell you the general components of an abstract, we're not familiar with all of your academic disciplines at the Writing Center. So, we always say the chair committee are the best resources for detailed assistance. 

The Center for Research Quality does have a lot of helpful material up on their site. There are some links here. The abstract primer goes into a lot of detail with examples about writing abstracts at Walden. They also have abstract guidelines posted as a document, and a tutorial called writing an abstract, and I recommend all of those things. And they're all linked if you download the slide deck. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Abstract Resources

•      Walden Form & Style abstract page

•      Writing Center blog poston abstracts

•      APA Style Blog: “Making a Concrete Abstract,” “Brevity Is the Soul…”

Audio: Some additional resources. I want to promote the form and style group, the dissertation group which I work in. We have our own website within the Writing Center and we have a page on abstracts that's linked here with a lot of content and links. There's that blog post on abstracts that I mentioned. The APA style blog is a fantastic resource if you have weird APA questions or problems or looking for general guidance on social science writing. Again, that's the people who actually publish the APA manual, those editors write excellent blog entries, and there are a couple of these linked hereupon that are specific to the abstract. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources for Capstone Writers

•      Form & Style website(scroll down for link to Editor Office Hours live chat service)

•      Doctoral Capstone Resources websitefor resources across Walden centers

Audio:In terms of general resources for capstone writers at Walden, there's a link here to the form and style website, which is the group I work in that talks about the form and style review and many issues of the capstone writing and formatting. I'll take a moment too to plug we have a live chat editor office hours service on weekdays at various times. If you go to our main page, which is linked here, and scroll down a little bit, you'll see our hours listed and a button where you can link to us there. We don't do long document review or anything like that in that context, but we do lots of Q and A and, you know, help people figure out how to trouble shoot issues they might be having with writing and formatting and so forth. And we're an underused service at this point. So please come visit us. 

The doctoral capstone resources website, too, has lots of resources across Walden centers. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions

Now: Let us know!  ·          Anytime:editor@waldenu.edu

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

Looking for more on completing your capstone study? 

See the recorded webinar “Preparing for the Form & Style: Common Errors and Editor Q&A

Audio: And that is it for the presentation. There's our address here if you have questions and you wanted to email us. Response in one business day. That's editor@waldenu.edu. Sara, you had questions? 

Sara: Two quick questions. Someone is at the beginning of writing a proposal and they have to write an abstract before the first round of oral defense. The question is how do you write an abstract when you don't have the results yet? 

Carey: Well, typically, what I will see ‑‑ sometimes in form and style, we have someone submit who hasn't actually gone back and revised their abstract and we put the feedback that that, that needs to be done. So, I will see them sometimes in the proposal stage. And typically, it's the summary and kind of capsule, of the dissertation or doctoral study, or project up to that point. So, some of it is going to be future tense like the proposal is. We don't have a specific guide for that because that abstract doesn't go through formal review at Walden through form and style or the CAO. So, if there are specific requirements for it beyond just being an effective concise summary of the proposal, that would have to come from your chair or committee. 

Sara: Excellent, thank you. 

Carey: And was there anything else? I know we have about a minute left. 

Sara: Nope.

Carey: Oh, okay. Well, that comes to the end of our presentation. There's a link here to another webinar I’d strongly recommend that's in our archive of recorded webinars that's called preparing for the form and style common errors and editor Q and A. And there's a link here to that. There are capstone webinar recordings on virtually every element of the capstones from introduction and conclusions through literature review, methods and results. So, I encourage you to take advantage of those resources. And thank you all very much for coming. 

Beth: Thank you so much, Carey. I appreciate it. And I just wanted to say thank you, Sara for all your work in the background taking those questions. And I hope everyone ‑‑ I see lots of thank you’s in the QA box. That's great. I'll go ahead and close this off for the night. And yeah, thank you so much, everyone. Hope to see you at another webinar see. Bye, all. 

Carey: Thank you. Bye. 

Sara: Bye.      

 

[End of webinar]