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In Sum

The abstract of a scientific paper may be the most important section, writes Neuroskeptic, but it can easily go wrong. "[A]n abstract is not a paper, nor is it the beginning of one. It's a whole art form in itself," Neuroskeptic says.

Neuroskeptic makes a list of what an abstract should not contain: a prologue, footnotes, promises, or mistakes. An abstract doesn't need to start with a rundown of previous work, the blogger says, but can jump right into the methods, though a quick introduction can work, and make sure that what it says about the work is substantiated by what follows in the paper. And, Neuroskeptic adds, watch out for grammatical errors. " You might get away with a few English language errors or typos in the main text, but you just can't afford even one in the abstract," the blogger says. "Anyone who notices it won't bother to read (or cite) you; the rest of the paper could be perfect, but that's no good, if no-one reads it."