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Bulletin, December 2008/January 2009


What's New?
Selected Abstracts from JASIST

Authors who choose to do so prepare and submit these summaries to the editor of the Bulletin.

From JASIST v. 59 (12) 
Hartley, J. & Betts, L. (2008). Revising and polishing a structured abstract: Is it worth the time and effort? (1870-1877).

Study and Results. This study tested whether readers can detect tiny changes made to text in order to improve its clarity. Over 200 information scientists and authors of academic articles rated electronically an original and a revised version of a structured abstract. The results showed that the revised aims, results and conclusion sections, and the abstract as a whole, were all rated significantly clearer than were the original texts.

What’s New? Few studies address the effectiveness of revising texts despite the fact that authors spend a good deal of time doing it. Here the reasons for making the revisions are discussed in detail and tested. The findings – that changes are detectable and are thus worth doing – have clear relevance for information science and the scientific community. 

Limitations. This research is a close study of work with one abstract. Further research is needed with different kinds of text, participants and texts from different cultures. Such quantitative studies also need to be complemented by qualitative ones.