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ERIC Number: EJ876457
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 24
ISSN: ISSN-0965-948X
Teaching Psychology Students to Write Structured Abstracts: An Evaluation Study
Hartley, James; Rock, Judy; Fox, Claire
Psychology Teaching Review, v11 n1 p2-11 2005
Background: Considerable evidence suggests that structured abstracts in scientific journal articles are more informative than traditional ones, but no one (to our knowledge) has written about asking psychology undergraduates to write structured abstracts for their laboratory reports. Aim: Our aim was to assess whether or not the quality of such abstracts would be improved if such students were required to write structured abstracts rather than traditional ones. Sample & Method: 117 first-year psychology students at Keele wrote traditional abstracts for their laboratory reports during the academic session 1998-1999, and 122 wrote structured abstracts during the session 1999-2000. We compared 50 abstracts from each of these groups. Results: We found that the structured abstracts were significantly longer (M = 217 vs 181 words, t = 3.23, p less than 0.005 one-tail) but that they did not contain significantly more key information than the traditional ones, as measured with an information checklist (M = 9.2 vs 8.6, t = 1.52). Nor was there any significant difference between them as measured with the Flesch Reading Ease formula (M = 40 vs 37, t = 1.36). However, independent raters, in two separate studies, rated the quality of the structured abstracts to be significantly higher than that of the traditional ones (M = 6.9 vs 6.1, t = 3.36, p less than 0.005 and 7.1 vs 6.0, t = 5.20, p less than 0.001 respectively). Conclusions: These results give only partial support to the notion that teaching students to write structured abstracts will lead to improved abstracts. (Contains 2 tables.)
British Psychological Society, Division for Teachers & Researchers in Psychology. St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester, LE1 7DR, UK. Tel: +44-1162-529551; Fax: +44-1162-271314; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Flesch Reading Ease Formula