An abstract is a summarized version of a report or any written output. It contains in brief form, the essential facts, conclusions, or recommendations of a particular written report. It is like a small window into the contents of the written object that gives an indication of the content of the whole article or written work.
Kinds of Abstract
There are three known kinds of abstract: the professional abstract, the written abstract, and the thematic abstract.
A professional abstract is written by a technical professional who is competent on the subject matter of the report, typically the author of the written work. It is the best form of abstract possible since it is typically written by the author himself or someone who is an authority on the topic being addressed by the article. It is most often used on highly technical or scientific write-ups and is written primarily for the specific audience of the material.
The written abstract is typically written by a writing professional and it seeks to summarize in brief the contents of the article. It is the second best form of abstract and is usually written for articles that are of interest to the general population.
The thematic abstract is not written at all but only lifted from the article itself. An operator who has a reading comprehension that can understand and determine what the content of the written work is copies important sentences from the pages of the report and combines the sentences into an abstract. It is the worst type of all the three in terms of usability.
Cost of Making the Abstract
The professional abstract is the most costly to prepare owing the specialist nature of the work and the qualifications required for preparing the abstract. The written abstract is less costlier to prepare since only a trained writer who has a good reading comprehension is needed to prepare the abstract. The least expensive to make is the thematic abstract which only require a good reading comprehension and use of a word processing software on a computer.
Skills Required in Making the Abstract
The professional abstract requires the most skill as technical competence in the subject area of the report is needed to make the abstract. Written abstract requires less technical competence but needs good reading comprehension and writing skills to prepare. The thematic abstract needs the least skill to prepare as it needs only reading comprehension and the use of a computer software.
How fast the Abstract can be made
The professional abstract requires the longest time to prepare owing to the need for accuracy and technical acceptability of the resulting output. The whole report on which the abstract is made is typically long and usually difficult to comprehend by the average person.
The written abstract deal with shorter form originals like articles and news reports. Hence, they take less time to prepare and deals with topics that are comprehensible to ordinary readers. The fastest abstract to make is the thematic abstract which only require its creator to copy and paste sentences from the original.
Usefulness of the Abstract
The professional abstract is intended for a specific audience and therefore has a limited range of usefulness. The written abstract represents a good compromise for cost and usability since no specialized technical competence is required to make it. The thematic report seems to be the least useful as it is difficult to read and understand owing to the manner in which it was made.
Issue with Thematic Abstract
The thematic abstract can be open to charges of plagiarism since whole sentences are copied from the original. Hence, the legality of making and using this type of abstract needs to be studied by lawyers who are well-versed on the law on copyrights.
Written Abstract as Practical Choice
The written abstract is the practical choice as it bridges the gap between cost of preparing and usefulness of the written output. The only possible hurdle is the difficulty of finding good writers since the writing skill is not developed sufficiently in the general population but is found only on a small percentage of the work force.
Read my other article on the nature and purpose of writing at: http://sites.google.com/site/ournewapproach/the-nature-and-purpose-of-writing.
Read an article on how to create office documents without using Microsoft or open source software at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-to-create-office-documents-without.html.
Read an article on writing faster and controlling the length of your web article with phrase outlining at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2011/12/write-faster-and-control-length-of-your.html.
Read an article on a few guidelines on writing translation friendly articles at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2012/01/few-guidelines-on-writing-translation.html.