An abstract for a case study, when it’s needed and how to make one

A case study in a different discipline can have different characteristics. Learn in this article everything you should know about it.

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There is no doubt that case studies are a unique way to gain insight into the professional practices of any profession, as well as how they operate in a bigger picture.

A case study in a different discipline can have different characteristics. A case study, for example, cannot guide subsequent treatment but can help frame relevant research questions. Case studies also provide valuable teaching material, demonstrating both classical and unusual presentations which may confront the practitioner.  

The cover letter and abstract are vital parts of a submission package and are crucial for clearing the initial editorial screening at the journal end. These are the elements that the editor reads first, and based on these, form his or her impression of the manuscript. Some editors screen papers by reading the cover letter and abstract and do not read the entire paper if they do not find these interesting enough.

What is an abstract in case study, and what is its purpose?

An introduction to a topic normally appears in case studies, but they don’t require citations or viewpoints from the author. Consider a case study as primarily a record of a treatment’s progress, not a personal story. A case study should not contain editorial or adversarial remarks. The most effective approach is to tell a story and allow the end product to speak for itself.

It is generally a good idea to confine yourself to specific details and facts when writing case studies. What really happened should be outlined fairly concisely in a case study. We should avoid speculating about the mechanism or prognosis of the disease. 

Structure of abstract in case study

A narrative abstract describes the entire paper shortly and concisely. Narrative abstracts do not have headings. By composing a logical story from the paper, the author aims to sum up the content.

Abstracts with subheadings are structured. In basic scientific and clinical research, structured abstracts have become more popular since they streamline information and include certain details. Researchers who conduct article searches online will greatly benefit from this. Readers often decide whether or not to download a full article based on the abstract displayed by a search engine to save time. 

Readers are more likely to enjoy structured abstracts since they contain all the essential data they need to decide to read the entire article. Please follow the guidelines below when writing an abstract.

  • A one- to two-sentence introduction summarizing the whole article and describing the background of the case study.
  • A brief summary of the case and the investigation conducted is given in several sentences. This case is described in detail, including its diagnosis and therapeutic approach.
  • Provide details about the patient’s complaint and its outcome. 
  • If the patient’s progress was empirically measured, refer to those measures.
  • Describe correlations and apparent inconsistencies between the foregoing subsections. 
  • You may wish to summarize the key points covered within a sentence or two, depending on the situation.

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About Aayushi Zaveri

Aayushi Zaveri majored in biotechnology engineering. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Bioentrepreneurship from Karolinska Institute. She is interested in health and diseases, global health, socioeconomic development, and women's health. As a science enthusiast, she is keen in learning more about the scientific world and wants to play a part in making a difference.

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How to Write a Conference Abstract

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What is a Case Report Abstract?

Author information, writing a title, introduction, case presentation.

  • How to Write a Quality Improvement Project Abstract
  • Writing Tips
  • Reasons for Rejection

Medical and clinical case reports (or “clinical vignettes”) are integral in recording unusual and rare cases of diseases, disorders, and injuries. They provide not only the details of a given case, but also briefly include background and establish the wider significance of a case in the medical literature.

  • You should aim for completeness; Use full names and formal credentials; department and institution worked. The author information usually does NOT count against the total word count but be sure you check the instructions.
  • There may be a limit on how many authors can be on the submission.
  • The first author is the one who conceived the study and did most of the work; will be the person who presents. Sometimes you have to be a member of an association to submit an abstract, so check for those rules as well.
  • Full disclosure on sponsors.
  • Check how your abstract is being reviewed. Is it blind? You may see instructions like, To ensure blinded peer-review, no direct references to the author(s) or institution(s) of origin should be made anywhere in the title, body, tables or figures.

Your best strategy in writing a title: Write the abstract first.  Then pull out 6-10 key words or key phrases found in the abstract, and string them together into various titles. Brainstorm lots of keywords to help find the best mix.

  • Ideally 10-12 words long
  • Title should highlight the case​
  • Avoid low-impact phrases like ‘effect of... ‘ or ‘influence of…’; Do not include jargon or unfamiliar acronyms
  • 2-4 sentences long
  • Give clinical context
  • Explain the relevance or importance of this case.  Describe whether the case is unique. If not, does the case have an​ unusual diagnosis, prognosis, therapy or harm? Is the case an unusual presentation of a common condition? Or an unusual complication of a disease or management?​
  • Describe the instructive or teaching points that add value to this case. Does it demonstrate a cost-effective approach to management or​alternative diagnostic/treatment strategy? Does it increase awareness of a rare condition? 
  • 8-10 sentences long
  • Use standard presentation format
  • Present the information chronologically​
  • Patient history; physical examination; investigations tried; clinical course
  • Describe the history, examination and investigations adequately. Is the cause of the patient's illness clear-cut? What are other plausible explanations?​
  • Describe the treatments adequately. Have all available therapeutic options been considered? Are outcomes related to treatments? Include the patient’s progress and outcome
  • 3-4 sentences long
  • ​Review the uniqueness of this case. Explain the rationale for reporting the case. What is unusual about the case? Does it challenge prevailing wisdom?​
  • Review any relevant literature. Describe how this case is different from those previously reported​
  • Impart any lessons learned. In the future, could things be done differently in a similar case
  • Case report abstract example
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how to write a case study abstract

How to Write an Abstract for a Case Study: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Crafting an effective abstract for a case study requires attention to detail and a clear understanding of its purpose. It serves as a brief summary of the study's main points and objectives, providing readers with a quick grasp of its content. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to write an abstract that accurately portrays your case study while capturing the interest of your target audience. Follow our step-by-step guide and learn how to create an abstract that stands out.

Understanding the Purpose of an Abstract

Before diving into the specifics of how to write an abstract for a case study, it is crucial to understand its purpose. An abstract is a concise synopsis of a larger article or research paper that captures the reader's attention and briefly summarizes its main points. The primary objective of an abstract is to help readers determine if the study meets their needs. With that in mind, it is vital to put considerable thought into crafting your abstract effectively.

When writing an abstract, it is essential to keep your target audience in mind. Are you writing for academics, professionals, or the general public? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your abstract to their needs and interests.

Importance of an Abstract in a Case Study

When it comes to case studies, an abstract is just as critical as the body of the study itself. Without a well-crafted abstract, readers may skip over your article altogether. An abstract functions as a hook, compelling readers to delve further into your study. Therefore, investing time and effort to create a strong abstract can help garner better engagement and readership.

Moreover, an abstract is often the first thing readers encounter when searching for literature on a particular topic. Therefore, a well-written abstract can make your study stand out from the rest and increase its visibility.

Key Components of an Effective Abstract

To ensure that your abstract is effective, it is essential to include the following components:

  • A concise summary of the study's objectives: This should be a brief statement that outlines the purpose of your study and what you hope to achieve.
  • A brief description of the study's methodology: This should include a summary of the research methods you used to collect and analyze your data.
  • The primary findings and conclusions of the case study: This should be a brief summary of your study's key findings and the conclusions you drew from them.

It is important to remember that an abstract should not include any new information that is not already present in your study. Instead, it should serve as a concise summary of the most important aspects of your research.

In conclusion, writing an effective abstract is essential to the success of your case study. By including the key components and tailoring it to your target audience, you can ensure that your study captures the attention of readers and encourages them to read further.

Preparing to Write Your Abstract

Now that you have an understanding of the importance of an abstract, let's explore a few tips to help you prepare before writing.

Thoroughly Analyze the Case Study

Before you start writing your abstract, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the case study's content. A deep understanding of the study will help you distill the most critical points quickly.

Identify the Main Points and Objectives

Identifying the focus of the study is essential so that you can include the primary objectives and findings in your abstract. By understanding the critical points, you ensure that your abstract is accurate and informative.

Determine the Target Audience

Identifying your target audience will help you create an abstract that speaks directly to their interests. Consider the level of education, field of study, and demographic of your readership. This will help you determine the appropriate level of language and clarity to use in your abstract.

Structuring Your Abstract

Now that you are ready to write your abstract let's examine the structure and elements.

Introduction and Background

The introduction should provide readers with a brief overview of the study's background and objectives. It should be brief, concise, and capture the reader's attention.

Problem Statement and Objectives

The problem statement should be clear and concise, and its relevance to the study should be evident in the abstract. The objectives should outline the key goals and outcomes of the study.

Methods and Approach

The methods and approach section should describe the research techniques used to study the problem and achieve the study's objectives. It should also provide details on data collection, analysis, and interpretation methods.

Results and Findings

This section should provide a summary of the study's primary findings, highlighting the key results and outcomes. Keep it concise while still providing readers with a clear understanding of the study's results.

Conclusion and Implications

The conclusion should summarize the study's findings and their significance. The implications should identify the broader impact of the study's findings and their relevance to the study's audience.

Writing Tips for an Effective Abstract

While following the step-by-step guide outlined, it is also essential to keep these writing tips in mind for an effective abstract:

Use Clear and Concise Language

Avoid using ambiguous language and technical jargon that may confuse readers. Use plain language that is easy to understand and concise.

Focus on the Most Important Information

Prioritize the most critical elements of the case study in your abstract. This will ensure that your abstract is relevant and captures the reader's attention.

Maintain a Logical Flow

Ensure that your abstract flows in a logical order, from the introduction to the conclusion. Maintaining a logical flow can make it easier for the reader to follow the study's main points.

Edit and Revise for Clarity and Brevity

Before submitting your abstract, edit it thoroughly for clarity and brevity. A well-crafted abstract should be concise and easy to understand, while still conveying the critical elements of the case study.

ChatGPT Prompt for Writing an Abstract for a Case Study

Use the following prompt in an AI chatbot . Below each prompt, be sure to provide additional details about your situation. These could be scratch notes, what you'd like to say or anything else that guides the AI model to write a certain way.

Please compose a concise and thorough summary of a case study, highlighting the key findings and outcomes. Your abstract should effectively convey the purpose, methodology, and results of the study in a clear and engaging manner.


An abstract is a crucial component of any case study, and crafting one that captures the reader's attention and accurately summarizes the study's main points is essential. By following the guide above, you can create an abstract that effectively communicates your findings and highlights the relevance of the study to your audience.

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Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Definition and Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:

  • an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
  • an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
  • and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.

Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:

  • the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
  • the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
  • what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
  • the main reason(s) , the exigency, the rationale , the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
  • your research and/or analytical methods
  • your main findings , results , or arguments
  • the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.

When to Write Your Abstract

Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.

Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract

The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.

The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.

The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).

Sample Abstract 1

From the social sciences.

Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.

“The growing economic resemblance of spouses has contributed to rising inequality by increasing the number of couples in which there are two high- or two low-earning partners. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the topic under study (the “economic resemblance of spouses”). This sentence also implies the question underlying this research study: what are the various causes—and the interrelationships among them—for this trend?] The dominant explanation for this trend is increased assortative mating. Previous research has primarily relied on cross-sectional data and thus has been unable to disentangle changes in assortative mating from changes in the division of spouses’ paid labor—a potentially key mechanism given the dramatic rise in wives’ labor supply. [Annotation for the previous two sentences: These next two sentences explain what previous research has demonstrated. By pointing out the limitations in the methods that were used in previous studies, they also provide a rationale for new research.] We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose the increase in the correlation between spouses’ earnings and its contribution to inequality between 1970 and 2013 into parts due to (a) changes in assortative mating, and (b) changes in the division of paid labor. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The data, research and analytical methods used in this new study.] Contrary to what has often been assumed, the rise of economic homogamy and its contribution to inequality is largely attributable to changes in the division of paid labor rather than changes in sorting on earnings or earnings potential. Our findings indicate that the rise of economic homogamy cannot be explained by hypotheses centered on meeting and matching opportunities, and they show where in this process inequality is generated and where it is not.” (p. 985) [Annotation for the previous two sentences: The major findings from and implications and significance of this study.]

Sample Abstract 2

From the humanities.

Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.

“From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, a network of young urban migrant men created an underground pulp fiction publishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the context for this research and announces the topic under study.] As texts that were produced in the underground economy of a city whose trajectory was increasingly charted outside of formalized planning and investment, these novellas reveal more than their narrative content alone. These texts were active components in the urban social worlds of the young men who produced them. They reveal a mode of urbanism otherwise obscured by narratives of decolonization, in which urban belonging was constituted less by national citizenship than by the construction of social networks, economic connections, and the crafting of reputations. This article argues that pulp fiction novellas of socialist era Dar es Salaam are artifacts of emergent forms of male sociability and mobility. In printing fictional stories about urban life on pilfered paper and ink, and distributing their texts through informal channels, these writers not only described urban communities, reputations, and networks, but also actually created them.” (p. 210) [Annotation for the previous sentences: The remaining sentences in this abstract interweave other essential information for an abstract for this article. The implied research questions: What do these texts mean? What is their historical and cultural significance, produced at this time, in this location, by these authors? The argument and the significance of this analysis in microcosm: these texts “reveal a mode or urbanism otherwise obscured . . .”; and “This article argues that pulp fiction novellas. . . .” This section also implies what previous historical research has obscured. And through the details in its argumentative claims, this section of the abstract implies the kinds of methods the author has used to interpret the novellas and the concepts under study (e.g., male sociability and mobility, urban communities, reputations, network. . . ).]

Sample Abstract/Summary 3

From the sciences.

Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

“Several studies have reported reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes; however, reprogramming into proliferative induced cardiac progenitor cells (iCPCs) remains to be accomplished. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence announces the topic under study, summarizes what’s already known or been accomplished in previous research, and signals the rationale and goals are for the new research and the problem that the new research solves: How can researchers reprogram fibroblasts into iCPCs?] Here we report that a combination of 11 or 5 cardiac factors along with canonical Wnt and JAK/STAT signaling reprogrammed adult mouse cardiac, lung, and tail tip fibroblasts into iCPCs. The iCPCs were cardiac mesoderm-restricted progenitors that could be expanded extensively while maintaining multipo-tency to differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, iCPCs injected into the cardiac crescent of mouse embryos differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iCPCs transplanted into the post-myocardial infarction mouse heart improved survival and differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. [Annotation for the previous four sentences: The methods the researchers developed to achieve their goal and a description of the results.] Lineage reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs provides a scalable cell source for drug discovery, disease modeling, and cardiac regenerative therapy.” (p. 354) [Annotation for the previous sentence: The significance or implications—for drug discovery, disease modeling, and therapy—of this reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs.]

Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract

Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.

“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:

how to write a case study abstract

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Writing a Clinical Vignette (Case Report) Abstract

Case reports represent the oldest and most familiar form of medical communication. Far from a "second-class" publication, many original observations are first presented as case reports. Like scientific abstracts, the case report abstract is governed by rules that dictate its format and length. This article will outline the features of a well-written case report abstract and provide an example to emphasize the main features.

Scientific forums have specific rules regarding how the abstract should appear. For the ACP, the rules are available on the electronic abstracts portal. Organizers of scientific meetings set explicit limits on the length of abstracts.

The most difficult decision to make is whether your case report is worth submitting as an abstract. Of course, rarity of a condition almost always meets the criterion of worthiness, but few of us have the opportunity to describe something that is completely new. Another reason to report a case is the lesson that it teaches. With this in mind, consider presenting a case if it increases awareness of a condition, suggests the proper diagnostic strategy, or demonstrates a more cost-effective approach to management. Alternatively, a case can be presented because it represents an unusual presentation of a relatively common condition. Other twists include an unusual complication of a disease and its management. Again, it's important to think about the message or lesson that the case can deliver.

Before you begin writing the abstract, present a quick summary of your case to colleagues or mentors to determine if they agree that the case is worthy of presentation. It is important to contribute something unique, but not if it depends on some trivial variation from previously presented cases. For example, if it is known that a certain cancer widely metastasizes, it is not worthwhile to report each new site. Similarly, drug reactions often merit a case report, but not if it is simply a report of a drug in a class whose other members are known to cause the same reaction.

Once you have decided to submit a case report abstract, describe it in such a way as to make it interesting, yet conform to the accepted format. The following paragraphs provide suggestions on both style and format.

Title and Author Information: The title is a summary of the abstract itself and should convince the reader that the topic is important, relevant, and innovative. However, don't tell everything about the case in the title, otherwise the reader's interest might lag. Make the title short, descriptive, and interesting. Some organizations require a special format for the title, such as all uppercase letters. Be sure to check the instructions. Following the title, include the names of authors followed by their institutional affiliations. Deciding upon the authorship of a case report can be tricky. In the past, it was acceptable to include as authors those contributing to the management of the patient, but this is no longer true. Currently, it is expected that the authors contribute significantly to the intellectual content of the case report. It is assumed that the first author will present the work if the abstract is accepted. The first author may need to meet certain eligibility requirements in order to present the abstract, for example, be a member of the professional society sponsoring the research meeting. This information is always included with the abstract instructions.

Introduction: Most case report abstracts begin with a short introduction. This typically describes the context of the case and explains its relevance and importance. However, it is perfectly acceptable to begin directly with the description of the case.

Case Description: When reporting the case, follow the basic rules of medical communication; describe in sequence the history, physical examination, investigative studies, and the patient's progress and outcome. The trick is to be complete without obscuring the essence of the case with irrelevant details.

Discussion: The main purpose of the discussion is to review why decisions were made and extract the lesson from the case. Not uncommonly, reports from the literature, or their absence, are cited that either directly support or contradict the findings of the case. Be wary of boasting that your case is the "first" to describe a particular phenomenon, since even the most thorough searches often fail to reveal all instances of similar cases. Keep in mind that the best case report abstracts are those that make a small number of teaching points (even just one) in clear and succinct language.

When writing the abstract, avoid the use of medical jargon and excessive reliance on abbreviations. Limit abbreviations to no more than three, and favor commonly used abbreviations. Always spell out the abbreviations the first time they are mentioned unless they are commonly recognized (e.g., CBC).

It typically takes several days to write a good abstract, and the process should not be undertaken alone. Get help from a mentor who is not familiar with the case; such mentors can quickly point out areas that are unclear or demand more detail. Make revisions based upon the feedback. Finally, have others read your draft in order to check for technical errors, such as spelling and grammar mistakes. Reading the abstract out loud is another good way to catch awkward phrasing and word omissions. Finally, a Clinical Vignette Abstract Checklist  and an example of a clinical vignette abstract  are available to help you with the process of writing a successful abstract.

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Medical Case Report Abstract and Title Guidelines

how to write a case study abstract

What is a Medical Case Report Abstract Used For?

Medical and clinical case reports (or “clinical vignettes”) are integral in recording unusual and rare cases of diseases, disorders, and injuries. They provide not only the details of a given case, but also briefly include background and establish the wider significance of a case in the medical literature.

Before researchers will even have a chance to read your case report, they will likely be searching through abstract indexes (e.g., via search engines such as PubMed or ScienceDirect ) to locate information relevant to their own medical research. Therefore, both the title and brief abstract are crucial to providing critical details about your case report. The following guidelines and case report templates will help you compose a title and abstract for medical case reports submitted to case report journals.

Formatting to Fit Your Target Journal

The information in this guide is generally applicable to case reports intended for submission to most medical journals. However, each journal has its own guidelines for content and formatting provided in the journal’s “Instructions for authors”, “Author guidelines” or “Preparing your manuscript” section. Read various medical case reports to gain a sense of the different formatting styles used by specific journals.

Case Report Journals

Some medical journals publish a limited number of case reports. There are also numerous respected, peer-reviewed medical journals that specialize in case reports; many are open access journals. A few examples are  Journal of Medical Case Reports ,  Oxford Medical Case Reports ,  BJR Case Reports , and  International Journal of Surgery Case Reports.

Case Report Title

As the first element of a case report that readers will see, the title should be  informative ,  highly relevant  to the subject, and  concise . It should attract the attention of researchers and other readers of a journal while remaining authentic and convincing.

Useful Terms to Include in the Title

  • Case-related terms:  presentation, unusual case, rare case, challenges, complications, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment
  • Patient-related terms:  patient, adult, child, infant, adolescent, elderly, man/woman

Article-related terms such as  case study  and  case report  are generally considered redundant and may detract from the interest of your title, so use them sparingly (but check the author instructions of the target journal prior to submission).

Clinical Vignette Title Examples:

  • “An  unusual   presentation  of primary small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) in an  elderly woman”
  • “Challenges  in the management of mycotic splenic arteriovenous fistula in a cirrhotic  patient”
  • “CREST syndrome: a  rare cause  of chronic upper-gastrointestinal Hemorrhage in  adults”
  • “Primary tuberculous dacryocystitis: two  cases mimicking  tumors of the lacrimal sac ”

Case Report Abstract

The abstract must be concise, complete, and comprehensible to readers before they have read the article.

How to Organize an Abstract

1.  background (1-2 sentences).

First, explain why this case is being reported and its novelty or clinical relevance.

how to write a case study abstract

2.  Case presentation  (3-6 sentences)

Give a brief description of the patient’s medical and demographic details, their diagnosis, interventions or complications, and the outcomes. Level of detail should be determined by importance to the novelty and outcomes of the case.

how to write a case study abstract

3.  Discussion/Conclusion  (1-2 sentences)

Briefly summarize the clinical impact and/or implications of this case and provide suggestions for the clinical area. Emphasize aspects of the case that may have broader implications, suggest precautions that should be taken, or provide interesting topics for future research.

how to write a case study abstract

Medical Case Report Abstract Templates

Example #1: a case of injury.

We herein report a case of a [patient age and gender] with an unusual case of  [injury] . The  [injury]  consisted of features typical of  [common features of the injury/disease/disorder] , with additional  [additional features of case, if any] , signifying a  [diagnosis/complications] . Features of this case are discussed together with its implications, including  [implications of case] .  [Additional measures taken—treatment/surgery/etc.]  was undertaken due to  [reason for measures] .

Example #2: A Case of Disease/Disorder

[Disease/disorder]  is a rare condition characterized by  [symptoms] . Its presentation is usually  [sporadic/chronic/acute] . Usually seen in patients who are  [typical demographics of patient] ,  [disease]  presentation in  [this specific category of patient]  is rare. Symptoms at presentation depend on  [parts of body/patient’s environment] . Patients with  [disease/disorder]  may present with  [additional major symptoms] . We herein report a rare presentation of  [disease/disorder]  in a  [patient demographic—age/gender/race/etc.] . who suffered from  [corresponding symptoms or co-morbid diseases] .  [Diagnostics/tests]  revealed  [results of tests/complication] . The patient underwent  [surgery/treatment]  and was given  [drugs/intubation/etc.] . Recovery was  [description of recovery] . In spite of a wide range of therapeutic options for the management of  [disease/disorder]  described in the literature, the efficacy of those available therapies is  [unknown/not well established/open/etc.] .

Wordvice Resources

For more input on how to come up with the perfect title for your report, how to write abstracts for research papers in general, or how to impress the editor of your target journal with the perfect cover letter , head over to the Wordvice academic resources page. And ensure your chances of journal publication with our English editing services , which include Paper Editing and Manuscript Editing Services .

How to Write an Abstract APA Format

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

An APA abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article, research paper, dissertation, or report.

It is written in accordance with the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a widely used format in social and behavioral sciences. 

An APA abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of between 150–250 words, the major aspects of a research paper or dissertation in a prescribed sequence that includes:
  • The rationale: the overall purpose of the study, providing a clear context for the research undertaken.
  • Information regarding the method and participants: including materials/instruments, design, procedure, and data analysis.
  • Main findings or trends: effectively highlighting the key outcomes of the hypotheses.
  • Interpretations and conclusion(s): solidify the implications of the research.
  • Keywords related to the study: assist the paper’s discoverability in academic databases.

The abstract should stand alone, be “self-contained,” and make sense to the reader in isolation from the main article.

The purpose of the abstract is to give the reader a quick overview of the essential information before reading the entire article. The abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper.

Although the abstract will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s good practice to write your abstract after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

Note : This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), released in October 2019.

Structure of the Abstract

[NOTE: DO NOT separate the components of the abstract – it should be written as a single paragraph. This section is separated to illustrate the abstract’s structure.]

1) The Rationale

One or two sentences describing the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated. You are basically justifying why this study was conducted.

  • What is the importance of the research?
  • Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
  • For example, are you filling a gap in previous research or applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data?
  • Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer can experience an array of psychosocial difficulties; however, social support, particularly from a spouse, has been shown to have a protective function during this time. This study examined the ways in which a woman’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue, and her spouse’s marital satisfaction predict the woman’s report of partner support in the context of breast cancer.
  • The current nursing shortage, high hospital nurse job dissatisfaction, and reports of uneven quality of hospital care are not uniquely American phenomena.
  • Students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are more likely to exhibit behavioral difficulties than their typically developing peers. The aim of this study was to identify specific risk factors that influence variability in behavior difficulties among individuals with SEND.

2) The Method

Information regarding the participants (number, and population). One or two sentences outlining the method, explaining what was done and how. The method is described in the present tense.

  • Pretest data from a larger intervention study and multilevel modeling were used to examine the effects of women’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue and average levels of mood, pain, and fatigue on women’s report of social support received from her partner, as well as how the effects of mood interacted with partners’ marital satisfaction.
  • This paper presents reports from 43,000 nurses from more than 700 hospitals in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Germany in 1998–1999.
  • The study sample comprised 4,228 students with SEND, aged 5–15, drawn from 305 primary and secondary schools across England. Explanatory variables were measured at the individual and school levels at baseline, along with a teacher-reported measure of behavior difficulties (assessed at baseline and the 18-month follow-up).

3) The Results

One or two sentences indicating the main findings or trends found as a result of your analysis. The results are described in the present or past tense.

  • Results show that on days in which women reported higher levels of negative or positive mood, as well as on days they reported more pain and fatigue, they reported receiving more support. Women who, on average, reported higher levels of positive mood tended to report receiving more support than those who, on average, reported lower positive mood. However, average levels of negative mood were not associated with support. Higher average levels of fatigue but not pain were associated with higher support. Finally, women whose husbands reported higher levels of marital satisfaction reported receiving more partner support, but husbands’ marital satisfaction did not moderate the effect of women’s mood on support.
  • Nurses in countries with distinctly different healthcare systems report similar shortcomings in their work environments and the quality of hospital care. While the competence of and relation between nurses and physicians appear satisfactory, core problems in work design and workforce management threaten the provision of care.
  • Hierarchical linear modeling of data revealed that differences between schools accounted for between 13% (secondary) and 15.4% (primary) of the total variance in the development of students’ behavior difficulties, with the remainder attributable to individual differences. Statistically significant risk markers for these problems across both phases of education were being male, eligibility for free school meals, being identified as a bully, and lower academic achievement. Additional risk markers specific to each phase of education at the individual and school levels are also acknowledged.

4) The Conclusion / Implications

A brief summary of your conclusions and implications of the results, described in the present tense. Explain the results and why the study is important to the reader.

  • For example, what changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work?
  • How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?

Implications of these findings are discussed relative to assisting couples during this difficult time in their lives.

  • Resolving these issues, which are amenable to managerial intervention, is essential to preserving patient safety and care of consistently high quality.
  • Behavior difficulties are affected by risks across multiple ecological levels. Addressing any one of these potential influences is therefore likely to contribute to the reduction in the problems displayed.

The above examples of abstracts are from the following papers:

Aiken, L. H., Clarke, S. P., Sloane, D. M., Sochalski, J. A., Busse, R., Clarke, H., … & Shamian, J. (2001). Nurses’ reports on hospital care in five countries . Health affairs, 20(3) , 43-53.

Boeding, S. E., Pukay-Martin, N. D., Baucom, D. H., Porter, L. S., Kirby, J. S., Gremore, T. M., & Keefe, F. J. (2014). Couples and breast cancer: Women’s mood and partners’ marital satisfaction predicting support perception . Journal of Family Psychology, 28(5) , 675.

Oldfield, J., Humphrey, N., & Hebron, J. (2017). Risk factors in the development of behavior difficulties among students with special educational needs and disabilities: A multilevel analysis . British journal of educational psychology, 87(2) , 146-169.

5) Keywords

APA style suggests including a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. This is particularly common in academic articles and helps other researchers find your work in databases.

Keywords in an abstract should be selected to help other researchers find your work when searching an online database. These keywords should effectively represent the main topics of your study. Here are some tips for choosing keywords:

Core Concepts: Identify the most important ideas or concepts in your paper. These often include your main research topic, the methods you’ve used, or the theories you’re discussing.

Specificity: Your keywords should be specific to your research. For example, suppose your paper is about the effects of climate change on bird migration patterns in a specific region. In that case, your keywords might include “climate change,” “bird migration,” and the region’s name.

Consistency with Paper: Make sure your keywords are consistent with the terms you’ve used in your paper. For example, if you use the term “adolescent” rather than “teen” in your paper, choose “adolescent” as your keyword, not “teen.”

Jargon and Acronyms: Avoid using too much-specialized jargon or acronyms in your keywords, as these might not be understood or used by all researchers in your field.

Synonyms: Consider including synonyms of your keywords to capture as many relevant searches as possible. For example, if your paper discusses “post-traumatic stress disorder,” you might include “PTSD” as a keyword.

Remember, keywords are a tool for others to find your work, so think about what terms other researchers might use when searching for papers on your topic.

The Abstract SHOULD NOT contain:

Lengthy background or contextual information: The abstract should focus on your research and findings, not general topic background.

Undefined jargon, abbreviations,  or acronyms: The abstract should be accessible to a wide audience, so avoid highly specialized terms without defining them.

Citations: Abstracts typically do not include citations, as they summarize original research.

Incomplete sentences or bulleted lists: The abstract should be a single, coherent paragraph written in complete sentences.

New information not covered in the paper: The abstract should only summarize the paper’s content.

Subjective comments or value judgments: Stick to objective descriptions of your research.

Excessive details on methods or procedures: Keep descriptions of methods brief and focused on main steps.

Speculative or inconclusive statements: The abstract should state the research’s clear findings, not hypotheses or possible interpretations.

  • Any illustration, figure, table, or references to them . All visual aids, data, or extensive details should be included in the main body of your paper, not in the abstract. 
  • Elliptical or incomplete sentences should be avoided in an abstract . The use of ellipses (…), which could indicate incomplete thoughts or omitted text, is not appropriate in an abstract.

APA Style for Abstracts

An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:

Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page (professional papers only) and page number. Note, student papers do not require a running head. On the first line, center the heading “Abstract” and bold (do not underlined or italicize). Do not indent the single abstract paragraph (which begins one line below the section title). Double-space the text. Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt. Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins. If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting.

Example APA Abstract Page

Download this example as a PDF

APA Style Abstract Example

Further Information

  • APA 7th Edition Abstract and Keywords Guide
  • Example APA Abstract
  • How to Write a Good Abstract for a Scientific Paper or Conference Presentation
  • How to Write a Lab Report
  • Writing an APA paper

How long should an APA abstract be?

An APA abstract should typically be between 150 to 250 words long. However, the exact length may vary depending on specific publication or assignment guidelines. It is crucial that it succinctly summarizes the essential elements of the work, including purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions.

Where does the abstract go in an APA paper?

In an APA formatted paper, the abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper. It’s typically the second page of the document. It starts with the word “Abstract” (centered and not in bold) at the top of the page, followed by the text of the abstract itself.

What are the 4 C’s of abstract writing?

The 4 C’s of abstract writing are an approach to help you create a well-structured and informative abstract. They are:

Conciseness: An abstract should briefly summarize the key points of your study. Stick to the word limit (typically between 150-250 words for an APA abstract) and avoid unnecessary details.

Clarity: Your abstract should be easy to understand. Avoid jargon and complex sentences. Clearly explain the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of your study.

Completeness: Even though it’s brief, the abstract should provide a complete overview of your study, including the purpose, methods, key findings, and your interpretation of the results.

Cohesion: The abstract should flow logically from one point to the next, maintaining a coherent narrative about your study. It’s not just a list of disjointed elements; it’s a brief story of your research from start to finish.

What is the abstract of a psychology paper?

An abstract in a psychology paper serves as a snapshot of the paper, allowing readers to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, results, and implications of the research without reading the entire paper. It is generally between 150-250 words long.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

Definition and Introduction

Case analysis is a problem-based teaching and learning method that involves critically analyzing complex scenarios within an organizational setting for the purpose of placing the student in a “real world” situation and applying reflection and critical thinking skills to contemplate appropriate solutions, decisions, or recommended courses of action. It is considered a more effective teaching technique than in-class role playing or simulation activities. The analytical process is often guided by questions provided by the instructor that ask students to contemplate relationships between the facts and critical incidents described in the case.

Cases generally include both descriptive and statistical elements and rely on students applying abductive reasoning to develop and argue for preferred or best outcomes [i.e., case scenarios rarely have a single correct or perfect answer based on the evidence provided]. Rather than emphasizing theories or concepts, case analysis assignments emphasize building a bridge of relevancy between abstract thinking and practical application and, by so doing, teaches the value of both within a specific area of professional practice.

Given this, the purpose of a case analysis paper is to present a structured and logically organized format for analyzing the case situation. It can be assigned to students individually or as a small group assignment and it may include an in-class presentation component. Case analysis is predominately taught in economics and business-related courses, but it is also a method of teaching and learning found in other applied social sciences disciplines, such as, social work, public relations, education, journalism, and public administration.

Ellet, William. The Case Study Handbook: A Student's Guide . Revised Edition. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2018; Christoph Rasche and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Analysis . Writing Center, Baruch College; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:

How to Approach Writing a Case Analysis Paper

The organization and structure of a case analysis paper can vary depending on the organizational setting, the situation, and how your professor wants you to approach the assignment. Nevertheless, preparing to write a case analysis paper involves several important steps. As Hawes notes, a case analysis assignment “ useful in developing the ability to get to the heart of a problem, analyze it thoroughly, and to indicate the appropriate solution as well as how it should be implemented” [p.48]. This statement encapsulates how you should approach preparing to write a case analysis paper.

Before you begin to write your paper, consider the following analytical procedures:

  • Review the case to get an overview of the situation . A case can be only a few pages in length, however, it is most often very lengthy and contains a significant amount of detailed background information and statistics, with multilayered descriptions of the scenario, the roles and behaviors of various stakeholder groups, and situational events. Therefore, a quick reading of the case will help you gain an overall sense of the situation and illuminate the types of issues and problems that you will need to address in your paper. If your professor has provided questions intended to help frame your analysis, use them to guide your initial reading of the case.
  • Read the case thoroughly . After gaining a general overview of the case, carefully read the content again with the purpose of understanding key circumstances, events, and behaviors among stakeholder groups. Look for information or data that appears contradictory, extraneous, or misleading. At this point, you should be taking notes as you read because this will help you develop a general outline of your paper. The aim is to obtain a complete understanding of the situation so that you can begin contemplating tentative answers to any questions your professor has provided or, if they have not provided, developing answers to your own questions about the case scenario and its connection to the course readings,lectures, and class discussions.
  • Determine key stakeholder groups, issues, and events and the relationships they all have to each other . As you analyze the content, pay particular attention to identifying individuals, groups, or organizations described in the case and identify evidence of any problems or issues of concern that impact the situation in a negative way. Other things to look for include identifying any assumptions being made by or about each stakeholder, potential biased explanations or actions, explicit demands or ultimatums , and the underlying concerns that motivate these behaviors among stakeholders. The goal at this stage is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the situational and behavioral dynamics of the case and the explicit and implicit consequences of each of these actions.
  • Identify the core problems . The next step in most case analysis assignments is to discern what the core [i.e., most damaging, detrimental, injurious] problems are within the organizational setting and to determine their implications. The purpose at this stage of preparing to write your analysis paper is to distinguish between the symptoms of core problems and the core problems themselves and to decide which of these must be addressed immediately and which problems do not appear critical but may escalate over time. Identify evidence from the case to support your decisions by determining what information or data is essential to addressing the core problems and what information is not relevant or is misleading.
  • Explore alternative solutions . As noted, case analysis scenarios rarely have only one correct answer. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the process of analyzing the case and diagnosing core problems, while based on evidence, is a subjective process open to various avenues of interpretation. This means that you must consider alternative solutions or courses of action by critically examining strengths and weaknesses, risk factors, and the differences between short and long-term solutions. For each possible solution or course of action, consider the consequences they may have related to their implementation and how these recommendations might lead to new problems. Also, consider thinking about your recommended solutions or courses of action in relation to issues of fairness, equity, and inclusion.
  • Decide on a final set of recommendations . The last stage in preparing to write a case analysis paper is to assert an opinion or viewpoint about the recommendations needed to help resolve the core problems as you see them and to make a persuasive argument for supporting this point of view. Prepare a clear rationale for your recommendations based on examining each element of your analysis. Anticipate possible obstacles that could derail their implementation. Consider any counter-arguments that could be made concerning the validity of your recommended actions. Finally, describe a set of criteria and measurable indicators that could be applied to evaluating the effectiveness of your implementation plan.

Use these steps as the framework for writing your paper. Remember that the more detailed you are in taking notes as you critically examine each element of the case, the more information you will have to draw from when you begin to write. This will save you time.

NOTE : If the process of preparing to write a case analysis paper is assigned as a student group project, consider having each member of the group analyze a specific element of the case, including drafting answers to the corresponding questions used by your professor to frame the analysis. This will help make the analytical process more efficient and ensure that the distribution of work is equitable. This can also facilitate who is responsible for drafting each part of the final case analysis paper and, if applicable, the in-class presentation.

Framework for Case Analysis . College of Management. University of Massachusetts; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Rasche, Christoph and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Study Analysis . University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center; Van Ness, Raymond K. A Guide to Case Analysis . School of Business. State University of New York, Albany; Writing a Case Analysis . Business School, University of New South Wales.

Structure and Writing Style

A case analysis paper should be detailed, concise, persuasive, clearly written, and professional in tone and in the use of language . As with other forms of college-level academic writing, declarative statements that convey information, provide a fact, or offer an explanation or any recommended courses of action should be based on evidence. If allowed by your professor, any external sources used to support your analysis, such as course readings, should be properly cited under a list of references. The organization and structure of case analysis papers can vary depending on your professor’s preferred format, but its structure generally follows the steps used for analyzing the case.


The introduction should provide a succinct but thorough descriptive overview of the main facts, issues, and core problems of the case . The introduction should also include a brief summary of the most relevant details about the situation and organizational setting. This includes defining the theoretical framework or conceptual model on which any questions were used to frame your analysis.

Following the rules of most college-level research papers, the introduction should then inform the reader how the paper will be organized. This includes describing the major sections of the paper and the order in which they will be presented. Unless you are told to do so by your professor, you do not need to preview your final recommendations in the introduction. U nlike most college-level research papers , the introduction does not include a statement about the significance of your findings because a case analysis assignment does not involve contributing new knowledge about a research problem.

Background Analysis

Background analysis can vary depending on any guiding questions provided by your professor and the underlying concept or theory that the case is based upon. In general, however, this section of your paper should focus on:

  • Providing an overarching analysis of problems identified from the case scenario, including identifying events that stakeholders find challenging or troublesome,
  • Identifying assumptions made by each stakeholder and any apparent biases they may exhibit,
  • Describing any demands or claims made by or forced upon key stakeholders, and
  • Highlighting any issues of concern or complaints expressed by stakeholders in response to those demands or claims.

These aspects of the case are often in the form of behavioral responses expressed by individuals or groups within the organizational setting. However, note that problems in a case situation can also be reflected in data [or the lack thereof] and in the decision-making, operational, cultural, or institutional structure of the organization. Additionally, demands or claims can be either internal and external to the organization [e.g., a case analysis involving a president considering arms sales to Saudi Arabia could include managing internal demands from White House advisors as well as demands from members of Congress].

Throughout this section, present all relevant evidence from the case that supports your analysis. Do not simply claim there is a problem, an assumption, a demand, or a concern; tell the reader what part of the case informed how you identified these background elements.

Identification of Problems

In most case analysis assignments, there are problems, and then there are problems . Each problem can reflect a multitude of underlying symptoms that are detrimental to the interests of the organization. The purpose of identifying problems is to teach students how to differentiate between problems that vary in severity, impact, and relative importance. Given this, problems can be described in three general forms: those that must be addressed immediately, those that should be addressed but the impact is not severe, and those that do not require immediate attention and can be set aside for the time being.

All of the problems you identify from the case should be identified in this section of your paper, with a description based on evidence explaining the problem variances. If the assignment asks you to conduct research to further support your assessment of the problems, include this in your explanation. Remember to cite those sources in a list of references. Use specific evidence from the case and apply appropriate concepts, theories, and models discussed in class or in relevant course readings to highlight and explain the key problems [or problem] that you believe must be solved immediately and describe the underlying symptoms and why they are so critical.

Alternative Solutions

This section is where you provide specific, realistic, and evidence-based solutions to the problems you have identified and make recommendations about how to alleviate the underlying symptomatic conditions impacting the organizational setting. For each solution, you must explain why it was chosen and provide clear evidence to support your reasoning. This can include, for example, course readings and class discussions as well as research resources, such as, books, journal articles, research reports, or government documents. In some cases, your professor may encourage you to include personal, anecdotal experiences as evidence to support why you chose a particular solution or set of solutions. Using anecdotal evidence helps promote reflective thinking about the process of determining what qualifies as a core problem and relevant solution .

Throughout this part of the paper, keep in mind the entire array of problems that must be addressed and describe in detail the solutions that might be implemented to resolve these problems.

Recommended Courses of Action

In some case analysis assignments, your professor may ask you to combine the alternative solutions section with your recommended courses of action. However, it is important to know the difference between the two. A solution refers to the answer to a problem. A course of action refers to a procedure or deliberate sequence of activities adopted to proactively confront a situation, often in the context of accomplishing a goal. In this context, proposed courses of action are based on your analysis of alternative solutions. Your description and justification for pursuing each course of action should represent the overall plan for implementing your recommendations.

For each course of action, you need to explain the rationale for your recommendation in a way that confronts challenges, explains risks, and anticipates any counter-arguments from stakeholders. Do this by considering the strengths and weaknesses of each course of action framed in relation to how the action is expected to resolve the core problems presented, the possible ways the action may affect remaining problems, and how the recommended action will be perceived by each stakeholder.

In addition, you should describe the criteria needed to measure how well the implementation of these actions is working and explain which individuals or groups are responsible for ensuring your recommendations are successful. In addition, always consider the law of unintended consequences. Outline difficulties that may arise in implementing each course of action and describe how implementing the proposed courses of action [either individually or collectively] may lead to new problems [both large and small].

Throughout this section, you must consider the costs and benefits of recommending your courses of action in relation to uncertainties or missing information and the negative consequences of success.

The conclusion should be brief and introspective. Unlike a research paper, the conclusion in a case analysis paper does not include a summary of key findings and their significance, a statement about how the study contributed to existing knowledge, or indicate opportunities for future research.

Begin by synthesizing the core problems presented in the case and the relevance of your recommended solutions. This can include an explanation of what you have learned about the case in the context of your answers to the questions provided by your professor. The conclusion is also where you link what you learned from analyzing the case with the course readings or class discussions. This can further demonstrate your understanding of the relationships between the practical case situation and the theoretical and abstract content of assigned readings and other course content.

Problems to Avoid

The literature on case analysis assignments often includes examples of difficulties students have with applying methods of critical analysis and effectively reporting the results of their assessment of the situation. A common reason cited by scholars is that the application of this type of teaching and learning method is limited to applied fields of social and behavioral sciences and, as a result, writing a case analysis paper can be unfamiliar to most students entering college.

After you have drafted your paper, proofread the narrative flow and revise any of these common errors:

  • Unnecessary detail in the background section . The background section should highlight the essential elements of the case based on your analysis. Focus on summarizing the facts and highlighting the key factors that become relevant in the other sections of the paper by eliminating any unnecessary information.
  • Analysis relies too much on opinion . Your analysis is interpretive, but the narrative must be connected clearly to evidence from the case and any models and theories discussed in class or in course readings. Any positions or arguments you make should be supported by evidence.
  • Analysis does not focus on the most important elements of the case . Your paper should provide a thorough overview of the case. However, the analysis should focus on providing evidence about what you identify are the key events, stakeholders, issues, and problems. Emphasize what you identify as the most critical aspects of the case to be developed throughout your analysis. Be thorough but succinct.
  • Writing is too descriptive . A paper with too much descriptive information detracts from your analysis of the complexities of the case situation. Questions about what happened, where, when, and by whom should only be included as essential information leading to your examination of questions related to why, how, and for what purpose.
  • Inadequate definition of a core problem and associated symptoms . A common error found in case analysis papers is recommending a solution or course of action without adequately defining or demonstrating that you understand the problem. Make sure you have clearly described the problem and its impact and scope within the organizational setting. Ensure that you have adequately described the root causes w hen describing the symptoms of the problem.
  • Recommendations lack specificity . Identify any use of vague statements and indeterminate terminology, such as, “A particular experience” or “a large increase to the budget.” These statements cannot be measured and, as a result, there is no way to evaluate their successful implementation. Provide specific data and use direct language in describing recommended actions.
  • Unrealistic, exaggerated, or unattainable recommendations . Review your recommendations to ensure that they are based on the situational facts of the case. Your recommended solutions and courses of action must be based on realistic assumptions and fit within the constraints of the situation. Also note that the case scenario has already happened, therefore, any speculation or arguments about what could have occurred if the circumstances were different should be revised or eliminated.

Bee, Lian Song et al. "Business Students' Perspectives on Case Method Coaching for Problem-Based Learning: Impacts on Student Engagement and Learning Performance in Higher Education." Education & Training 64 (2022): 416-432; The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Georgallis, Panikos and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching using Case-Based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Georgallis, Panikos, and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching Using Case-based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; .Dean,  Kathy Lund and Charles J. Fornaciari. "How to Create and Use Experiential Case-Based Exercises in a Management Classroom." Journal of Management Education 26 (October 2002): 586-603; Klebba, Joanne M. and Janet G. Hamilton. "Structured Case Analysis: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in a Marketing Case Course." Journal of Marketing Education 29 (August 2007): 132-137, 139; Klein, Norman. "The Case Discussion Method Revisited: Some Questions about Student Skills." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 30-32; Mukherjee, Arup. "Effective Use of In-Class Mini Case Analysis for Discovery Learning in an Undergraduate MIS Course." The Journal of Computer Information Systems 40 (Spring 2000): 15-23; Pessoa, Silviaet al. "Scaffolding the Case Analysis in an Organizational Behavior Course: Making Analytical Language Explicit." Journal of Management Education 46 (2022): 226-251: Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Write and Format a Business Case Study." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 5, 2022); Reddy, C. D. "Teaching Research Methodology: Everything's a Case." Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods 18 (December 2020): 178-188; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:

Writing Tip

Ca se Study and Case Analysis Are Not the Same!

Confusion often exists between what it means to write a paper that uses a case study research design and writing a paper that analyzes a case; they are two different types of approaches to learning in the social and behavioral sciences. Professors as well as educational researchers contribute to this confusion because they often use the term "case study" when describing the subject of analysis for a case analysis paper. But you are not studying a case for the purpose of generating a comprehensive, multi-faceted understanding of a research problem. R ather, you are critically analyzing a specific scenario to argue logically for recommended solutions and courses of action that lead to optimal outcomes applicable to professional practice.

To avoid any confusion, here are twelve characteristics that delineate the differences between writing a paper using the case study research method and writing a case analysis paper:

  • Case study is a method of in-depth research and rigorous inquiry ; case analysis is a reliable method of teaching and learning . A case study is a modality of research that investigates a phenomenon for the purpose of creating new knowledge, solving a problem, or testing a hypothesis using empirical evidence derived from the case being studied. Often, the results are used to generalize about a larger population or within a wider context. The writing adheres to the traditional standards of a scholarly research study. A case analysis is a pedagogical tool used to teach students how to reflect and think critically about a practical, real-life problem in an organizational setting.
  • The researcher is responsible for identifying the case to study; a case analysis is assigned by your professor . As the researcher, you choose the case study to investigate in support of obtaining new knowledge and understanding about the research problem. The case in a case analysis assignment is almost always provided, and sometimes written, by your professor and either given to every student in class to analyze individually or to a small group of students, or students select a case to analyze from a predetermined list.
  • A case study is indeterminate and boundless; a case analysis is predetermined and confined . A case study can be almost anything [see item 9 below] as long as it relates directly to examining the research problem. This relationship is the only limit to what a researcher can choose as the subject of their case study. The content of a case analysis is determined by your professor and its parameters are well-defined and limited to elucidating insights of practical value applied to practice.
  • Case study is fact-based and describes actual events or situations; case analysis can be entirely fictional or adapted from an actual situation . The entire content of a case study must be grounded in reality to be a valid subject of investigation in an empirical research study. A case analysis only needs to set the stage for critically examining a situation in practice and, therefore, can be entirely fictional or adapted, all or in-part, from an actual situation.
  • Research using a case study method must adhere to principles of intellectual honesty and academic integrity; a case analysis scenario can include misleading or false information . A case study paper must report research objectively and factually to ensure that any findings are understood to be logically correct and trustworthy. A case analysis scenario may include misleading or false information intended to deliberately distract from the central issues of the case. The purpose is to teach students how to sort through conflicting or useless information in order to come up with the preferred solution. Any use of misleading or false information in academic research is considered unethical.
  • Case study is linked to a research problem; case analysis is linked to a practical situation or scenario . In the social sciences, the subject of an investigation is most often framed as a problem that must be researched in order to generate new knowledge leading to a solution. Case analysis narratives are grounded in real life scenarios for the purpose of examining the realities of decision-making behavior and processes within organizational settings. A case analysis assignments include a problem or set of problems to be analyzed. However, the goal is centered around the act of identifying and evaluating courses of action leading to best possible outcomes.
  • The purpose of a case study is to create new knowledge through research; the purpose of a case analysis is to teach new understanding . Case studies are a choice of methodological design intended to create new knowledge about resolving a research problem. A case analysis is a mode of teaching and learning intended to create new understanding and an awareness of uncertainty applied to practice through acts of critical thinking and reflection.
  • A case study seeks to identify the best possible solution to a research problem; case analysis can have an indeterminate set of solutions or outcomes . Your role in studying a case is to discover the most logical, evidence-based ways to address a research problem. A case analysis assignment rarely has a single correct answer because one of the goals is to force students to confront the real life dynamics of uncertainly, ambiguity, and missing or conflicting information within professional practice. Under these conditions, a perfect outcome or solution almost never exists.
  • Case study is unbounded and relies on gathering external information; case analysis is a self-contained subject of analysis . The scope of a case study chosen as a method of research is bounded. However, the researcher is free to gather whatever information and data is necessary to investigate its relevance to understanding the research problem. For a case analysis assignment, your professor will often ask you to examine solutions or recommended courses of action based solely on facts and information from the case.
  • Case study can be a person, place, object, issue, event, condition, or phenomenon; a case analysis is a carefully constructed synopsis of events, situations, and behaviors . The research problem dictates the type of case being studied and, therefore, the design can encompass almost anything tangible as long as it fulfills the objective of generating new knowledge and understanding. A case analysis is in the form of a narrative containing descriptions of facts, situations, processes, rules, and behaviors within a particular setting and under a specific set of circumstances.
  • Case study can represent an open-ended subject of inquiry; a case analysis is a narrative about something that has happened in the past . A case study is not restricted by time and can encompass an event or issue with no temporal limit or end. For example, the current war in Ukraine can be used as a case study of how medical personnel help civilians during a large military conflict, even though circumstances around this event are still evolving. A case analysis can be used to elicit critical thinking about current or future situations in practice, but the case itself is a narrative about something finite and that has taken place in the past.
  • Multiple case studies can be used in a research study; case analysis involves examining a single scenario . Case study research can use two or more cases to examine a problem, often for the purpose of conducting a comparative investigation intended to discover hidden relationships, document emerging trends, or determine variations among different examples. A case analysis assignment typically describes a stand-alone, self-contained situation and any comparisons among cases are conducted during in-class discussions and/or student presentations.

The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2017; Crowe, Sarah et al. “The Case Study Approach.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 11 (2011):  doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-100; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing; 1994.

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How to write an abstract that will be accepted

  • Related content
  • Peer review
  • Mary Higgins , fellow in maternal fetal medicine 1 ,
  • Maeve Eogan , consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist 2 ,
  • Keelin O’Donoghue , consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and senior lecturer 3 ,
  • Noirin Russell , consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist 3
  • 1 Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2 Rotunda Hospital Dublin, Ireland
  • 3 Cork University Maternity Hospital, Ireland
  • mairenihuigin{at}

Researchers do not always appreciate the importance of producing a good abstract or understand the best way of writing one. Mary Higgins and colleagues share some of the lessons they have learnt as both researchers and reviewers of abstracts

Effective abstracts reflect the time, work, and importance of the scientific research performed in the course of a study. A last minute approach and poor writing may not reflect the good quality of a study.

Between the four of us we have written over 150 published papers, as well as having reviewed numerous abstracts for national and international meetings. Nevertheless, we have all had abstracts rejected, and this experience has emphasised a number of teaching points that could help maximise the impact of abstracts and success on the world, or other, stage.

An abstract is the first glimpse an audience has of a study, and it is the ticket to having research accepted for presentation to a wider audience. For a study to receive the respect it deserves, the abstract should be as well written as possible. In practice, this means taking time to write the abstract, keeping it simple, reading the submission guidelines, checking the text, and showing the abstract to colleagues.

It is important to take the necessary time to write the abstract. Several months or years have been spent on this groundbreaking research, so take the time to show this. Five minutes before the call for abstracts closes is not the time to start putting it together.

Keep it simple, and think about the message that needs to be communicated. Some abstracts churn out lots of unrelated results and then have a conclusion that does not relate to the results, and this is just confusing. Plan what points need to be made, and then think about them a little more.

Read the submission guidelines and keep to the instructions provided in the call for abstracts. Don’t submit an unstructured abstract if the guidance has asked for a structured one. Comply with the word or letter count, and do not go over this.

An abstract comprises five parts of equal importance: the title, introduction and aims, methods, results, and conclusion. Allow enough time to write each part well.

The title should go straight to the point of the study. Make the study sound interesting so that it catches people’s attention. The introduction should include a brief background to the research and describe its aims. For every aim presented there needs to be a corresponding result in the results section. There is no need to go into detail in terms of the background to the study, as those who are reviewing the abstract will have some knowledge of the subject. The methods section can be kept simple—it is acceptable to write “retrospective case-control study” or “randomised controlled trial.”

The results section should be concrete and related to the aims. It is distracting and irritating to read results that have no apparent relation to the professed aims of the study. If something is important, highlight it or put it in italics to make it stand out. Include the number of participants, and ensure recognition is given if 10 000 charts have been reviewed. Equally, a percentage without a baseline number is not meaningful.

In the conclusion, state succinctly what can be drawn from the results, but don’t oversell this. Words like “possibly” and “may” can be useful in this part of the abstract but show that some thought has been put into what the results may mean. This is what divides the good from the not so good. Many people are capable of doing research, but the logical formation of a hypothesis and the argument of its proof are what make a real researcher.

Once you have written the abstract, check the spelling and grammar. Poor spelling or grammar can give the impression that the research is also poor. Show the abstract to the supervisor or principal investigator of the study, as this person’s name will go on the abstract as well. Then show the abstract to someone who knows nothing about the particular area of research but who knows something about the subject. Someone detached from the study might point out the one thing that needs to be said but that has been forgotten.

Then let it go; abstracts are not life and death scenarios. Sometimes an abstract will not be accepted no matter how wonderful it is. Perhaps there is a theme to the meeting, into which the research does not fit. Reviewers may also be looking for particular things. For one conference, we limited the number of case reports so that only about 10% were accepted. It may be that your research is in a popular or topical area and not all abstracts in that area can be chosen. On occasions, politics play a part, and individual researchers have little control over that.

Finally, remember that sometimes even the best reviewer may not appreciate the subtleties of your research and another audience may be more appreciative.

Competing interests: We have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and have no relevant interests to declare.

how to write a case study abstract

Writing an abstract

Schreiben eines Abstracts

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  • Published: 10 May 2024

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how to write a case study abstract

  • Elmar Herbst 1 ,
  • Sebastian Kopf 2 &

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Abstracts are the most important part of a manuscript as they are the most widely read. In general, unstructured abstracts must be differentiated from structured abstracts. While the latter follow a clear and obvious structure (e.g., background, aim, methods, results, conclusion), unstructured abstracts are basically written the same way but without this obvious structure. Abstracts are generally written in past tense and the third person, and must follow the instructions provided by each journal or conference. Importantly, the key message of the abstract should align to the main manuscript and should not contain any other or irrelevant information. In this manuscript, for each section of an abstract, tips and tricks are provided for preparing an abstract.

  • Zusammenfassung

Die Zusammenfassung ist der wichtigste Teil eines Manuskripts, da er wohl am häufigsten gelesen wird. Grundsätzlich müssen unstrukturierte von strukturierten Abstracts unterschieden werden. Bei Letzteren wird eine klare Struktur (z. B. Hintergrund, Ziel der Arbeit, Methodik, Ergebnisse, Schlussfolgerungen) vorgeben. Bei unstrukturierten Abstracts fehlt diese offensichtliche Struktur. Allerdings werden Abstracts in derselben Art und Weise geschrieben. Beim Schreiben von Abstracts sollte dies in der Vergangenheitsform und in der dritten Person erfolgen, wobei insgesamt die Vorgaben der Fachjournale oder wissenschaftlichen Kongresse berücksichtigt werden müssen. Wichtig ist, dass die Hauptaussagen aus dem Hauptmanuskript auch so im Abstract transportiert werden und dass keine neuen oder unwichtigen Informationen diskutiert werden. Im vorliegenden Beitrag werden Tipps und Tricks genannt, wie die einzelnen Teile eines Abstracts verfasst werden können.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.


The abstract or summary is arguably the most important part of a scientific paper as it is the most widely read part of the manuscript. The abstract should not only provide the most accurate description of a study, but also serve as a promotional tool [ 5 , 7 , 10 , 11 ]. Often, readers decide whether to continue to read the full manuscript or listen to a scientific presentation at a conference based solely on the abstract. For authors of abstracts, this means that the aim, methodology, results, and conclusion of a study must be presented as clearly and precisely as possible. This is the only way to arouse the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue to read. However, if many questions about the study remain unanswered after reading the abstract, it is unlikely that the full manuscript will be read, despite the potentially excellent scientific work.

In general, abstracts follow the structure as asked by scientific journals or conferences. Therefore, this article aims to provide a general overview on how to write an abstract.

Types of abstracts

There are two main types of abstracts. On the one hand, there are descriptive abstracts, which are typically about 100 words and describe nothing more than the aim and methods of a study. The reader is encouraged to read the full manuscript to fully understand the main findings of the scientific work. In contrast, informative abstracts, such as those commonly found in the field of orthopedics and trauma surgery, succinctly summarize the content of the manuscript in about 350 words. Therefore, informative abstracts include at least the aim and methodology of the work, the results, and the conclusions. This means that an informative abstract must be written in such a way that the reader will have understood the main aspects of the scientific work after reading the abstract (Example 1 below). Abstracts submitted for conferences may be slightly longer and may include figures and/or tables, depending on the guidelines. Thus, abstracts for conferences can and should place even more emphasis on the presentation of results.

Example 1: fictional structured informative abstract

Aim/hypothesis: The aim was to investigate pain and symptoms following medial opening wedge high tibial osteotomy (HTO) compared to conservative management. It was hypothesized that the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome (KOOS) score for pain and symptoms would be significantly higher after HTO than after conservative management.

Methods: In this prospective randomized study, 100 patients with medial knee osteoarthritis and varus deformity >   5° were included after appropriate sample size calculation. Fifty patients each were assigned to either conservative therapy (group A) or medial open wedge HTO (group B). Conservative treatment consisted of wearing a valgus-producing knee brace, strength training, and physical therapy. KOOS pain and symptom subscores were collected at 6 weeks and 6, 12, and 24 months. Clinically significant improvement was defined as an increase of 20 points in the primary endpoint, KOOS pain. The two groups were compared using two-tailed t‑tests and a significance level of p   <   0.05 after confirmation of normal data distribution.

Results: Demographic data were comparable between the two groups (mean age: group A 54   ±   4; group B 56   ±   3 years; p   >   0.05). KOOS pain and KOOS symptoms were statistically but not clinically significantly better in group A than in group B at 6 weeks (72   ±   4 vs. 64   ±   9 and 67   ±   3 vs. 61   ±   4; p   <   0.05). From the sixth month, patients after HTO showed statistically but not clinically significantly better values (64   ±   3 vs. 61   ±   5 and 77   ±   6 vs. 65   ±   4; p   <   0.05). At 12 and 24 months, the KOOS subscores in the HTO group were not only statistically but also clinically significantly better in group B than in group A (p   <   0.05). Looking at the course of conservative therapy over time, there was a statistically significant improvement in both KOOS subscores during the first 6 months (p   <   0.05), whereas between 6 months and 24 months there was a worsening of symptoms to preintervention levels. In contrast, in group B, both KOOS subscores were statistically and clinically significantly higher than preoperatively at 2 years (54   ±   8 vs. 84   ±   6 and 49   +   5 vs. 79   ±   10; p   <   0.01).

(Optional in conference abstracts: table/figure [no repetition of text content!])

Conclusion: The results confirm the hypothesis that HTO in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis is statistically superior to conservative therapy in terms of pain and symptoms from 6 months postoperatively and clinically superior from 12 months postoperatively. Short-term symptom bridging with conservative therapy cannot be recommended based on these data, as no clinically significant symptom improvement was observed. In conclusion, the medial open wedge HTO should be considered the treatment of choice for symptomatic medial knee osteoarthritis.

Keywords: osteoarthritis, medial opening wedge high tibial osteotomy, HTO, physical therapy, KOOS

Abstracts can be structured or unstructured. Structured abstracts follow a clear structure (e.g., aim of the work, methods, results, and conclusion; Example 1) [ 9 ]. Unstructured abstracts, on the other hand, present a continuous text without a predefined structure, although the content of unstructured abstracts also consists of an introduction, main body, and conclusion (Example 2).

Example 2: Unstructured abstract as from [ 2 ]

Meniscectomy is one of the most popular orthopedic procedures, but long-term results are not entirely satisfactory and the concept of meniscal preservation has therefore progressed over the years. However, the meniscectomy rate remains too high even though robust scientific publications indicate the value of meniscal repair or non-removal in traumatic tears and nonoperative treatment rather than meniscectomy in degenerative meniscal lesions. In traumatic tears, the first-line choice is repair or non-removal. Longitudinal vertical tears are a proper indication for repair, especially in the red–white or red–red zones. Success rates are high and cartilage preservation has been proven. Non-removal can be discussed for stable asymptomatic lateral meniscal tears in conjunction with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Extended indications are now recommended for some specific conditions: horizontal cleavage tears in young athletes, hidden posterior capsulomeniscal tears in ACL injuries, radial tears, and root tears. Degenerative meniscal lesions are very common findings which can be considered as an early stage of osteoarthritis in middle-aged patients. Recent randomized studies found that arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM) has no superiority over nonoperative treatment. Thus, nonoperative treatment should be the first-line choice and APM should be considered in case of failure: 3 months has been accepted as a threshold in the ESSKA Meniscus Consensus Project presented in 2016. Earlier indications may be proposed in cases with considerable mechanical symptoms. The main message remains: save the meniscus!

Unstructured abstracts are often found in conjunction with review articles. However, some journals also require unstructured abstracts for original articles. Although there is no obvious structure, the content of unstructured abstracts follows that of original articles including an introduction, description of the methods and results, and concluding remarks [ 6 ].

Structure of an abstract

Essentially, the structure of an abstract follows the guidelines of the various journals. The following sections discuss the most common components.

The background of an abstract usually consists of one or two sentences that present the (clinical) problem. A common mistake is to discuss what is already known about the topic instead of highlighting the unanswered questions. The reader should immediately understand the gap in knowledge that the study aims to fill. An example of a good background section could be [ 1 , 3 , 4 ]:

Transtibial drilling of the femoral bone socket in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is commonly performed as it is easy and fast. However, this technique poses the risk of nonanatomic bone tunnel placement.

In this example, it is clear, what is known about the subject (easy and fast drilling method) and why the study is needed (nonanatomic tunnel placement).

Aim of the scientific study

The aim of the study must be clearly stated in every abstract. The statement should provide a concise explanation of what the study specifically aims to investigate. It is important to be as precise and specific as possible. In abstracts, the background and aim of the work are often presented in a single paragraph [ 6 ].

Materials and methods

This section should help the reader to understand how the study was carried out. Therefore, the methods section of an abstract briefly and concisely describes the study design, the type and size of the study population, the study endpoints, and a sentence about the statistical methods. However, depending on the length of the abstract, the description of statistical procedures may be omitted unless they are relevant for the interpretation of the results (e.g., post-hoc corrections for multiple testing, multiple regression, etc.) [ 6 ].

An example of appropriate methodology is presented in Example 1, and an example of inappropriate presentation of the methods section based on the same fictional abstract might be:

In this study 100 patients with knee osteoarthritis were included and treated either conservatively (n   =   50) or operatively with a medial open wedge high tibial osteotomy (HTO; n   =   50). After 6 weeks and 6, 12, and 24 months, patient-reported outcome scores were evaluated. Additionally, patient satisfaction and pain were documented and statistically analyzed (p   <   0.05).

In this example, neither the study design nor the inclusion and exclusion criteria are defined. Furthermore, it is not clear what the authors mean by “conservative treatment.” The endpoints of the study are not defined.

Common mistakes in presenting the methodology include describing unimportant details that only confuse the reader in such a short text. Instead, even after reviewing the methodology in the abstract, it should be clear in general terms how the study was conducted [ 1 , 4 ].

Apart from a clear research question, the results are the most important part of an abstract as they are the reader’s main interest. Therefore, the results should be presented in as clear and detailed a manner as possible. The data presented in the abstract must be consistent with both the results in the main manuscript and with the conclusion. It is therefore surprising that this is not the case in almost 80% of manuscripts, and sometimes divergent results are presented in abstracts [ 8 ].

The results section includes not only qualitative but also quantitative results, including means/medians and standard deviations or p -values [ 1 ]. Degrees of freedom of statistical tests are not reported here.

As mentioned earlier, results should also be described qualitatively. This means that not only a group difference is reported, but also which group achieved higher values. The author of an abstract should focus on the most important results according to the hypothesis and endpoints, in accordance with the specified abstract length. Secondary analyses are less important [ 6 ].

Results checklist

The data presented must be consistent with the results reported in the main manuscript.

Absolute and relative data are required, including standard deviations, confidence intervals, etc.

Results should be presented with p‑values, unless the study is purely descriptive.

Results should not be interpreted or provided with reinforcing/qualifying adjectives (e.g., extremely, significantly …)

The conclusion contains the most important statement of a manuscript and usually consists of one or two sentences summarizing the main findings of the paper by addressing the hypothesis. In addition, the main results of the study should be placed in a clinically relevant context and discussed. It should be discussed how the results of the study have implications for clinical practice. As the reader often skips straight to this section of the abstract, it is the responsibility of the authors to describe the results of the study and their implications in a concise and precise manner [ 1 ].

In some journals, the clinical relevance of the data in the abstract is listed separately from the conclusion.

General guidelines for writing an abstract

An abstract condenses and communicates the key points of a scientific paper in up to 350–400 words. A common mistake in writing abstracts is to include information that will not be discussed in the main manuscript. As the author of an abstract must adhere to a very limited length, it is difficult and important at the same time to focus on the key messages of the paper. This means that the author must ensure that the information provided in the abstract is consistent with the content and message of the main manuscript. Therefore, it is advisable to write the abstract at the end of the manuscript writing process, in order to follow the thematic thread of the main manuscript. Many authors find it easier to write an abstract first, regardless of the word limit, and then adjust the abstract length according to the journal’s requirements.

It is important when writing an abstract, especially in structured abstracts, that each part can stand on its own, so that the reader does not have to invent connections or conclusions. The abstract should be written in the past tense and in the third person. If abbreviations are used, they must be described the first time they are used, e.g., “anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).” Unlike the main manuscript, an abstract does not contain references.

At the end of each abstract, authors must define 4–6 keywords to ensure that the article is easily found in relevant search engines.

Checklist for writing an abstract

An abstract is a representative summary of a manuscript that is freely available and therefore widely read.

The abstract should not contain information that is not further elaborated in the manuscript.

Irrespective of the structural requirements, the aim of the study, the description of the methodology, the main results, the conclusions drawn from them, and the clinical/scientific relevance should be presented briefly and concisely.

Abstracts are written in the past tense and in the third person, and are usually 300–400 words long.

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Department of Trauma, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Muenster, University of Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, 48149, Muenster, Germany

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Netspeak in Students’ Academic Writing: A Case in the Philippines

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The study explored the presence of Netspeak in senior high school students’ academic writing. Several studies have revealed that students’ writing in a face-to-face setting has been observed to be declining, and a limited body of literature explored this phenomenon during a pandemic where classes were largely done virtually. With teachers complaining on the dominance of Netspeak on students’ written communication skills, the study explored whether this phenomenon becomes more evident during the pandemic. The researchers analyzed their academic writing outputs and examined the presence of Netspeak. A total of six (6) writing prompts was completed by 62 students and was given weekly through Canvas, the school’s learning management system. Through discourse analysis, the study revealed that students’ written communication responses showed forms of Netspeak which can be categorized into orthographic deviations, neosemanticism, neologism, and social media expressions. The researchers further argued that the presence of Netspeak could be attributed with so much language creativity and freedom that students enjoy over the Internet amplified by the pandemic. With so many factors involved in the conduct of the study, further studies should explore how students can lessen the use of Netspeak, especially in the field of academic writing.

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