How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords

More often than not, when researchers set about writing a paper, they spend the most time on the “meat” of the article (the methods, results, and discussion sections). Little thought goes into the title and abstract, while keywords get even lesser attention, often being typed out on-the-spot in a journal’s submission system. Ironically, these three elements—the title, abstract, and keywords—may well hold the key to publication success. A negligent or sloppy attitude towards these three vital elements in the research paper format would be almost equivalent to leaving the accessibility of the research paper up to chance and lucky guessing of target words, indirectly making the effort and time expended on the research and publication process almost null and void.

It could be said that the keywords, title, and abstract operate in a system analogous to a chain reaction. Once the keywords have helped people find the research paper and an effective title has successfully lassoed and drawn in the readers’ attention, it is up to the abstract of the research paper to further trigger the readers’ interest and maintain their curiosity. This functional advantage alone serves to make an abstract an indispensable component within the research paper format. However, formulating the abstract of a research paper can be a tedious task, given that abstracts need to be fairly comprehensive, without giving too much away. This is mainly because if readers get all the details of the research paper in the abstract itself, they might be discouraged from reading the entire article.

The title, abstract, and keywords: Why it is important to get them right

The title, abstract, and keywords play a pivotal role in the communication of research. Without them, most papers may never be read or even found by interested readers1-4. Here’s why:


  • Most electronic search engines, databases, or journal websites will use the words found in your title and abstract, and your list of keywords to decide whether and when to display your paper to interested readers.1,2,5-8Thus, these 3 elements enable the dissemination of your research; without them, readers would not be able to find or cite your paper.
  • The title and abstract are often the only parts of a paper that are freely available online.1,9 Hence, once readers find your paper, they will read through the title and abstract to determine whether or not to purchase a full copy of your paper/continue reading.2-4
  • Finally, the abstract is the first section of your paper that journal editors and reviewers read. While busy journal editors may use the abstract to decide whether to send a paper for peer review or reject it outright, reviewers will form their first impression about your paper on reading it.10

Given the critical role that these 3 elements play in helping readers access your research, we offer a set of guidelines (compiled from instructions and resources on journals’ websites and academic writing guidelines, listed in the references) on writing effective titles and abstracts and choosing the right keywords. 

Good research paper titles (typically 10–12 words long) use descriptive terms and phrases that accurately highlight the core content of the paper.

How to write a good title for a research paper

Journal websites and search engines use the words in research paper titles to categorize and display articles to interested readers, while readers use the title as the first step to determining whether or not to read an article. This is why it is important to know how to write a good title for a research paper. Good research paper titles (typically 10–12 words long)6,7 use descriptive terms and phrases that accurately highlight the core content of the paper (e.g., the species studied, the literary work evaluated, or the technology discussed).1,5 


How to write a research paper abstract

The abstract should work like a marketing tool.4,11It should help the reader decide “whether there is something in the body of the paper worth reading”10 by providing a quick and accurate summary of the entire paper,2,3 explaining why the research was conducted, what the aims were, how these were met, and what the main findings were.1,2,6-8,12 

Types of abstracts

Generally between 100 and 300 words in length,1,3,4,12abstracts are of different types: descriptive, informative, and structured. 

  1. Descriptive abstracts, usually used in the social sciences and humanities, do not give specific information about methods and results.13,14
  2. Informative abstracts are commonly used in the sciences and present information on the background, aim, methods, results, and conclusions.13,14
  3. Structured abstracts are essentially informative abstracts divided into a series of headings (e.g., Objective, Method, Results, Conclusion)9,15,16and are typically found in medical literature and clinical trial reports.


In this section, we focus on how to write a research paper abstract that is concise and informative, as such abstracts are more commonly used in scientific literature. You can follow the same strategy to write a structured abstract; just introduce headings based on the journal guidelines.


Here are some steps (with examples) you can follow to write an effective title: 

1. Answer the questions: What is my paper about? What techniques/ designs were used? Who/what is studied? What were the results?

  • My paper studies whether X therapy improves the cognitive function of patients suffering from dementia.
  • It was a randomized trial.
  • I studied 40 cases from six cities in Japan.
  • There was an improvement in the cognitive function of patients.

2. Use your answers to list key words.

  • X therapy
  • Randomized trial
  • Dementia
  • 6 Japanese cities
  • 40 cases
  • Improved cognitive function

3. Build a sentence with these key words: This study is a randomized trial that investigates whether X therapy improved cognitive function in 40 dementia patients from 6 cities in Japan; it reports improved cognitive function. (28 words)

4. Delete all unnecessary words (e.g., study of, investigates) and repetitive words; link the remaining. This study is a randomized trial that investigates whether X therapy improved cognitive function in 40 dementia patients from 6 cities in Japan; it reports improved cognitive functionRandomized trial of X therapy for improving cognitive function in 40 dementia patients from 6 cities in Japan (18 words)

5. Delete non-essential information and reword. Randomized trial of X therapy for improving cognitive function in 40 dementia patients from 6 cities in Japan reports improved cognitive function

Randomized trial of X therapy for improving cognitive function in 40 dementia patients (13 words) OR (reworded with subtitle and a focus on the results)X therapy improves cognitive function in 40 dementia patients: A randomized trial (12 words)

  1. Begin writing the abstract after you have finished writing your paper.
  • First answer the questions “What problem are you trying to solve?” and “What motivated you to do so?” by picking out the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and Conclusion sections.
  • Next, answer the question “How did you go about achieving your objective?” by selecting key sentences and phrases from your Methods section.
  • Now, reveal your findings by listing the major results from your Results section.
  • Finally, answer the question “What are the implications of your findings?”
  • Arrange the sentences and phrases selected in steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 into a single paragraph in the following sequence: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.
  • Make sure that this paragraph is self-contained1,2,7,12 and does not include the following:1-3,7,12
    • Information not present in the paper
    • Figures and tables
    • Abbreviations
    • Literature review or reference citations
  • Now, link your sentences.
  • Ensure that the paragraph is written in the past tense1,7,17 and check that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose, basic study design/techniques used, major findings, conclusions, and implications.
  • Check that the final abstract
    • Contains information that is consistent with that presented in the paper.
    • Meets the guidelines of the targeted journal (word limit, type of abstract, etc.)
    • Does not contain typographical errors as these may lead referees and editors to “conclude that the paper is bad and should be rejected.”10

How to choose appropriate keywords in a research paper

Journals, search engines, and indexing and abstracting services classify papers using keywords.2,4,5,7 Thus, an accurate list of keywords will ensure correct indexing and help showcase your research to interested groups.2 This in turn will increase the chances of your paper being cited.3
Here’s how you can go about choosing the right keywords for your paper:3,5,7,18

  • Read through your paper and list down the terms/phrases that are used repeatedly in the text.
  • Ensure that this list includes all your main key terms/phrases and a few additional key phrases.
  • Include variants of a term/phrase (e.g., kidney and renal), drug names, procedures, etc.
  • Include common abbreviations of terms (e.g., HIV).
  • Now, refer to a common vocabulary/term list or indexing standard in your discipline (e.g., GeoRef, ERIC Thesaurus, PsycInfo, ChemWeb, BIOSIS Search Guide, MeSH Thesaurus) and ensure that the terms you have used match those used in these resources.
  • Finally, before you submit your article, type your keywords into a search engine and check if the results that show up match the subject of your paper. This will help you determine whether the keywords in your research paper are appropriate for the topic of your article.

While it may be challenging to write effective titles and abstracts and to choose appropriate keywords, there is no denying the fact that it is definitely worth putting in extra time to get these right. After all, these 3 smallest segments of your paper have the potential to significantly impact your chances of getting published, read, and cited. 

You might also find the following articles helpful:


1. Department of Biology, Bates College. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

2. Day R and GastelB. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 6thEdition. Westport, Connecticut:Greenwood Press, 2006.

3. Taylor & Francis Author Services. Writing your article. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

4. Koopman P. How to Write an Abstract. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

5. SAGE Publications. Help Readers Find Your Article. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

6. Bem DJ. Writing the empirical journal article. In MP Zanna& JM Darley (Eds.), The Complete Academic: A Practical Guide for the Beginning Social Scientist (pp. 171-201). New York: Random House, 1987.

7. Fathalla M and Fathalla M. A Practical Guide for Health Researchers. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

8. Coghill A and Garson L (Eds.).Scientific Papers. In A Coghill& L Garson (Eds.), The ACS Style Guide, 3rdEdition (pp. 20–21).New York: Oxford University Press, 2006T

9. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: Writing and editing for biomedical publication [Accessed: June 14, 2011] Available from:

10. SatyanarayanaK. How to Write a Research Paper.Proceedings of11th Workshop on Medical Informatics & CME on Biomedical Communication, 2008; 44–48.

11. Rhodes W. Guest Editorial: The Abstract as a Marketing Tool. Optical Engineering, 2010; 49:7. 

12. Nadim A.How to Write a Scientific Paper? Ain Shams Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2005; 2:256–258.

13. The University of Adelaide. Writing an Abstract. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

14. The Writing Center, University of North Carolina. Abstracts. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

15. US National Library of Medicine. Structured Abstracts. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

16. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. How to Write an Abstract. [Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

17. Cordova S. How to Write a Scientific Paper.[Accessed: July 20, 2011] Available from:

18. Council of Science Editors. Journal Style and Format. In Council of Science Editors(Eds.),Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers,7th Edition (p. 460). Reston, VA: Rockefeller University Press, 2006.


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This post How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords was originally published on Editage Insights.

Being the Change – The Story of Uttam Teron, the founder of Parijat Academy.

Colin Powell (the first African American to be appointed as the Secretary of State in United States of America) rightly said, ‘A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work’

Uttam is a young college graduate who is transforming lives of hundreds of children in a small tribal village of Pamohi in Assam. While working as a master trainer with Learn, Out of the Box in Assam, I had an opportunity to support Parijat Academy,a school for underprivileged children which currently serves more than 500 children from 9 tribal villages.

It was winter of 2013, I first met Uttam, the founder-principal of Parijat Academy. That day, he was busy with his usual academic schedule. Prior to meeting him, I had heard of him from my colleagues at Pratham. Additionally, I had read about him and his school on the Internet. After initial introduction, Uttam told the story of Parijat Academy.

Thirteen years back, Uttam started teaching with four children. An empty cow shed and a pair of desk and bench was the only infrastructure he had then.It’s been more than a decade since the school started and Uttam has grown from being just a college graduate to an expert Educator and a change agent. An Educator who understands the pedagogy for his children and a change agent who understands the need of the community; shares a concern of his society and works for it.

Since the beginning he has worked relentlessly. Reminiscing the memory, he said “I was just a fresh college graduate then, and I could see many institution of National importance around me like IIT Guwahati, Assam Agricultural University, Guwahati Medical College, Assam Engineering College, and Guwahati University. I figured out that none my village youths were attending these institutions of higher education. With those thoughts in my mind, I decided to start teaching children, with a hope that one day Pamohi village will have youths who will be graduating out of these institutions”

The first visit was an insightful one. His enthusiasm and zeal to make change is unsurpassable. In fact, he hadclearly demonstrated how to make ‘change’ happen through his initiative.Since the first visit, I visited the school several times. Each visit gave me lot of motivation, inspiration and opportunity to be with Uttam and hear more from him.As I reflect on his practices at the school, I see Uttam as an excellent teacher and a school manager – He is so different that it seemshe has gained mastery over the art of teaching. His way of explaining concepts are fun filled and engaging to students. At the school, Uttam’s engagement with other staff is transformational. Hierarchical system is non-existent and everyone’s working towards one common goal.In one of the visits to the school, he showcased me a book ‘Connect the Dots’ by Rashmi Bansal and said ‘See Bikash, I am doing nothing, but trying to connect the dots’.

For his effort, Uttam was awarded CNN-IBN Real Hero Award in 2011, Silver Phoenix Award in 2012 and Balipara Foundation Award in 2013. Parijat Academy is today supported by numerous organizations and individuals.

If every Indian village had one Uttam Teron, that would then transform the landscape and at least attempt to resolutely take on challenging issues like corruption, quality of education, poverty among others. This might sound utopian. But this is the utopian dream I have.

Can living fig-tree bridges save lives in a changing climate?

Author: Mike ShanahanHe is a British biologist and writer whose work focuses on rainforests, climate change, biodiversity and related issues.

Originally published at Under The Banyan living_root_bridge (1)

In 1841, a young Scotsman called Henry Yule was exploring the Khasi Hills of north-east India when he came upon something no other European had ever reported. There, in that challenging landscape of thick rainforest and perilous gorges, was a most extraordinary structure — a living bridge formed from the roots of a gnarly old fig tree.

The tree’s roots had somehow reached more than 20 metres across a river and taken hold on the far side. Over time, they had thickened and interwoven to form a walkway, onto which Yule now had to step. One of the roots, which in places was thicker than his thigh, provided a handrail. Side roots had descended from it and merged into the walkway, making the whole structure strong and secure. Yule could cross with confidence.

The bridge was no miracle. Long before, human hands had guided the tree’s roots across the river, training them into a shape that could promise safe passage. Yule had assumed the bridge to be “unique, perhaps half accidental”, but he soon saw several more. Their architects were local Khasi people, whose attitudes towards time, the environment and their unborn descendants we are sorely lacking in our fast-warming world.


The Khasi Hills are in Meghalaya, an Indian state whose name means ‘land of the clouds’. The clouds cry often on this land, for nowhere else on Earth must people endure such heavy rainfall. Twelve metres of it falls in a typical year. After monsoon rains, the region’s rivers rise. The rush of water racing downstream renders steep gorges impassable, isolating villages and endangering lives. Yet people have lived in the Khasi Hills for at least 3200 years. For generations, they have overcome this extreme environment by harnessing the strong yet pliant roots of Ficus elastica, a fig species best known as the Indian rubber tree.

Fig roots are exceptional. They grow fast, long and strong. They can even rip apart bare lava and concrete. In many fig species, including Ficus elastica, the roots aren’t all underground. These figs produce aerial roots that flow down their trunks and drop from their branches. Their roots can merge and split and merge again, forming strong, mesh-like structures. Long ago, the Khasi people worked out how to get such fig roots to do their bidding.

It’s a practice still alive today. The Khasi and neighbouring Jaintia peoples have shaped fig roots into living ladders, whose rungs ease journeys up steep slopes. They have woven the roots into nets that hold banks of earth in place, preventing landslides and soil erosion. They have even forced fig roots to form a platform, from which to watch football games. But the masterworks of Khasi architecture are their bridges. Most — like one Yule sketched, below — form from the roots of two fig trees, one on either side of a river. The longest spans more than 50 metres, the oldest an estimated 500 years.


Building these bridges involves first guiding slender fig roots through hollow trunks of betel palms, which support, nourish and protect the roots as they lengthen. Once the fig roots are long and strong, the bridge builders bind them to those of the opposing tree or embed them in the ground on the far side of the river. They shape secondary roots that grow from these mainstays into a net that will form a walkway. They use stones and soil to plug any gaps then wait for the roots to thicken and hold everything in place.

It can take 15-30 years before the bridge is strong enough to use. But in Khasi time this is an eye-blink. The Khasi people are investors in the future. People living there today benefit from the ingenuity and foresight of their ancestors and today’s bridge builders bequeath security to future generations. The fig tree bridges don’t only make commerce and romance possible between otherwise isolated villages. They also save lives. As the climate changes, this ancient approach to bioengineering has never been more relevant.

Meghalaya was already the wettest place in the world when Henry Yule explored its forested hills in 1841. Back then, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was 283 parts per million. Today it is more than 400. More carbon means warmer air, and as warmer air carries more moisture, this means more rain. The state government’s climate change action plan says rainfall has increased in most districts of Meghalaya in the past century, with the highest increase in the West Khasi Hills. It warns that as temperatures continue to rise, so will rainfall and the risk of floods and landslides.

To architect Sanjeev Shankar, these threats call for renewed attention to living bridges. In a research paper he presented in 2015, he warned that they are being replaced by “inappropriate solutions”. Quick-fix bamboo bridges buckle and break – they can’t withstand the monsoon rains. People have died as a result. Modern steel bridges corrode, their cables weaken and snap. And because repairs are rare, these bridges last just 40-50 years compared to hundreds for living bridges.

Shankar says the living fig bridges cost next to nothing and become stronger, more robust and resilient with time and use – unlike expensive, short-lived steel suspension bridges. Indeed, some of the bridges Henry Yule saw in the 1840s are still saving lives today. Shankar urges a revival of fig-tree bridge-building, and even foresees bridge that are strong enough for vehicles to cross.

The only downside is the time it takes the bridges to grow. But Shankar sees potential to blend the old with the new. Having seen how Khasi people have used fig roots to mend steel bridges, he envisages planned hybrid structures — steel bridges that fig trees envelop with their roots and make stronger. Shankar wonders if other fig species could perform this role in other countries, helping people adapt to the changing climate.

The question is, will there be time? It’s a question for us all, as climate change doesn’t respect the short-term thinking that tends to rule our lives. The Khasi people’s approach is instructive. To build living bridges, they invest time and effort knowing they might not personally benefit but that their children surely will. Such foresight, patience and selflessness is rare.

This post was first published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and is reproduced here with permission.

IMAGE CREDITS: Top (Aditi Verma, via Wikimedia Commons); middle (Laurence Mitchell); bottom (Henry Yule, from Yule, H. (1844). “Notes on the Khasia Hills, and people”. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 14 Part 2, Jul-Dec (152): 612–631).

Mike Shanahan’s new book —published in the UK as Ladders to Heaven and in North America as Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells how fig trees have shaped our world, influenced diverse cultures and can help us restore life to degraded rainforests.

What’s your Learning Style?

We learn in different ways!

Yes. WE DO!

Like our choices for food, dress, colour and music, we have a way in which we learn the best. This has a high relevance to our classroom teaching as it determines how much we understand information and solve problems – it influences our learning.

Usually there are 3 types of learning styles as given below:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetics

If you wish to discover your learning style, you can take a learning style using the quiz given in the link below. Here is a site with learning style inventory. The learning style is printable post you finish the quiz.

Do let us know your learning style post the survey! 🙂

How to Choose a Preschool in India

Every year thousands of parents in cities and towns of India walk-in and enquire for admissions into Preschool for their kids. Often it is confusing as there are dozens of branded preschools and hundreds of others.



This post guides you into choosing the best preschool for your little one.

  • Safety and Security:

This is of utmost importance, thus check with the school in details about this. Questions to ask:

  1. Do the campus have walls and secured entry and exits?
  2. Is anyone allowed to inside without permission?
  3. Are the support trained and verified?
  4. what does the school do in case of any emergency?
  5. Do the preschool have a doctors on panel/ doctor on call?
  • Curriculum and Teaching Staff

You child is coming to learn, and preschool is the first school. You child will shape this attitude and behaviour here. Thus, ask about what are the key learning milestones for the child annually?

  1. Who designed the curriculum?
  2. How will it help the child to enter the formal schooling?
  3. Do they focus on socio-emotional learning?
  4. Are the teachers have training in Early Childhood Care and Education or experience in preschool teaching.
  • Annual Cost of Education

Many schools have low fee in the beginning to attract more admissions and have add on cost at later point of time. Ask for all cost upfront, this will help you budget for your child’s education and be prepared for it.

  1. What is the total fees?
  2. Would there be any extra cost? If yes how much it would be?

Other points to consider are the cleanliness of the school, number of caretakers in the school, number of teachers in the centre.

I hope the big three points helps while you look for preschool for your child.

Happy Schooling!

Who was Indira Miri?

indira miri. for sankardev award stroy.Year 1947, on Indira’s return to India after her Masters’ from University of Edinburg and training at Oxford, she was appointed the Chief Education Officer of NEFA (North East Frontier Agency).

With her base in Sadiya, she worked with the tribals for a decade before joining as head of Jorhat BT College. He served the college till her retirement.

At an information age, where Google becomes source to everything, we often gain many things while missing out many things.

Indira got advanced level training  from Maria Montessori in Ahmedabad anAssamDistrictsd completed her Master’s degree from University of Edinburgh.

For her work in the field of Education she was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award by the Government of India.

Mereng, a fictionalised biography by Anuradha Sharma Pujari captures her life Captureand Bisishta sikshabida Indira Miri by  Hiranmayi Dewi is her biography.

On Mareng – the book

A leading blog Online Blog by Runa Neog Borah states, “Mereng, a novel based on a life of Assamese woman who lead a successful career despite many ups and downs in life. Mereng is in fact the life of Indira Miri, one of the torch bearer of education in the North Eastern states during British era. It is about that time when education was something far away from the the lives of people who lived in the remote areas of Assam and North East. There were no trace of roads to connect those people. Indira Miri led the team of a teacher who sacrificed the comfortable life at Assam and tried to spread education and awareness among those people. Indira Miri was educated at Scotish Church College of Kolkata and Edinburgh University of Scotland. With that qualification she could have led a comfortable life by taking up well paid job in Shillong or Guwahati, but she chose to serve the masses, she took up a path that required unique courage and willpower.”


Three Books That Every Teacher Must Read

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”, said Albert Einstein, the scientist who contributed to one of the pillars of modern physics – the theory of relativity and the popular equation E = mc2  equation which is considered the most famous formula till date.

Here is a list of three books for teachers around the world who wish to begin the journey towards learning the art of teaching.

  1. Divaswapna by Gijubhai Badheka  :


2) TOTTO-CHAN – The Little Girl at the Window


3) How Children Learn by John Holt


More list of books will be share in our upcoming post, do share about the books you have read on teaching and learning.

Share you love and passion for the cause of education by sharing this post with your friends and colleagues.