Making Your Career through Publishing Original Papers

Abstracts, Keywords, Abbreviations and Units of Measurements


The abstract generally follows the title page, immediately after the title page, or a page listing possible COI disclosures. It is important to make sure that your word count is within the limit specified in the Instructions to Authors, and that the format of the abstract is in agreement with the Instructions to Authors of the journal you are submitting to. Furthermore, it is advisable to aware of the fact that some journals require not just one but two abstracts, in another words, a main abstract and a mini-abstract, and you must provide whatever documents specified concerning abstract in the Instructions to Authors of the journal. The abstract should describe the background, purpose, and basic procedures of the study, and then provide the main findings with special emphasis on what the new and important aspects of the study are. If the editor or reviewer reads the abstract and sees nothing new of importance, they will be probably reluctant to accept the paper or at least have a somewhat negative approach when reading the rest of the paper.

The vocabulary used in the title, abstract, and keywords must be carefully chosen to maximize possibility of being picked up by electronic search engines. This will increase the citation rate of your paper, which will then probably have a positive effect on future submissions. Although it may be difficult within the constraint of the numbers of words in the abstract, try to address all the contents of the paper within the abstract. Once again, be sure to follow the latest version of the Instructions to Authors.


Keywords, according to the Recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), should be between 3 and 10 words, but here again, you should look at your target journal, paying special attention to what the numbers they give in the Instructions to Authors, and, if they do not specify a given number, look at the number of keywords that is generally used for papers in that journal, and tailor the number of your keywords accordingly. The words that you include among your keywords should preferably been from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) of the Index Medicus. Finally, once again it is important to maximize possibility of being selected by search engine by using a wide spectrum of vocabulary in the title, abstract and keywords.

Abbreviations and Units of Measurements

Some journals request a list of abbreviations if more than a certain number of abbreviations are made, in which case use the type of abbreviations that the journal favors. This also is the case for units of measurements. Some journals insist on International Standard Units (ISU), others do not. Remember you must tailor your paper for the journal or it might be considered not to have been written specifically for that journal, and perhaps even to have been already rejected by another journal and then resubmitted to the present journal. If the journal specifies metric units, you should use metric units instead of ISU. With temperatures use degrees Celsius (℃) and express blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Please remember that with 2 exceptions, there should always be a space between the numerals and the unit, i.e. 22 milliliters of water is 22 ml. The 2 exceptions are degrees, as in ℃ or 45°, and the other is %, 55 percent being written 55%.

In addition to listing the abbreviations, at the beginning of the paper, if required, you should always introduce abbreviations in the text by giving the full spelled-out forms in the text followed immediately by the abbreviation, e.g. non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (Once you begin to use an abbreviation, you must stay with it throughout the paper, and you should not try to re-introduce or re-explain abbreviations in the Discussion).

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