Title, abstract and keywords are keys for publication success –Dr. Wilfred Peh, APAME

Dr. Wilfred CG Peh, Executive Vice President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) discusses Guidelines on Writing the Abstract and Title of a Scientific Article

“The title and abstract are crucial in the process of peer review. They are mostly the basis of journal editors and reviewers for further evaluation of the full paper. These are keys for publication success,” stressed Dr. Wilfred CG Peh, Executive Vice President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) during the 2nd National Writing and Peer Review Workshop in Davao City last July 26- 27, 2012.

Title of the manuscript creates immediate impact on the value of the research work and the number of readership. “A good title attracts reader’s attention and induces reader’s interest in the paper. It should convey accurately what the whole paper is about in a few words as possible,” explained Dr. Peh.

A powerful title, according to Dr. Peh, must have emphasis, impact and keywords. While the title should be brief, it should emphasize the most important aspect or value of the research. An impactful title, on the other hand, reveals to readers why they should be interested with the work. The right keywords will be helpful to readers when locating the article. “As a basic rule, the use of redundant words, jargons and acronyms in writing titles should be avoided,” said Dr. Peh.

Similar with the title, the abstract also influences journal editor, reviewer, and readers’ impression about the research. Being the mini-version of the paper, the abstract summarizes the most significant phases of the study while giving partial information on its background, methodology and results. By reading the abstract, the readers should be able to easily identify the fundamental contents of the paper and accurately determine its relevance. “The abstract needs to reveal the importance of the entire paper. It should contain enough comprehensive factual information that can stand alone,” pointed out Dr. Peh.

A typical abstract length ranges only from 150 to 300 words. With the limited number of words allowed in the abstract, the authors are advised to critically evaluate the components of the manuscript and choose to include only those with adequate importance. “If abstract is excessively long, readers may give up reading before learning the value of the paper. It is likely to discourage a potential reader to read further,” warned Dr. Peh.

Likewise, keywords must be selected carefully to be effective. Keywords must be specific and represent the contents of the manuscript. “Nothing works better than well-chosen keywords to make sure the paper will get to the readers,” emphasized Dr. Peh.

As a general rule, Dr. Peh strongly advised to always check the instruction to authors of the target journal because specifications in writing vary per journal.

“When writing a manuscript, the researchers must always dedicate special attention to the Title, Abstract and Keywords as these three represent the whole paper. The probability of a paper to be published is greatly influenced by the initial impression it will create,” stressed Dr. Peh.