Beware of Focusing too Narrowly

No one who has ever written a concise restatement of a complex point will claim that the work was easy or straightforward. Usually, a writer needs to work back and forth between revising the restatement and re-reading the paper to be sure the main idea is stated accurately and clearly. Having worked so hard on that point, though, don't assume that you don't need to revise other parts of your abstract. In this example, the writer restates only the main point and dismisses key information from the 15-page document that should be included in the abstract.

Sample Abstract with Overly Narrow Focus

Community Right-to-Know Notice. Federal Register: January 23, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 15). "Phosphoric Acid; Toxic Chemical Release Reporting." Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


EPA is denying a petition to delete phosphoric acid from the reporting requirements under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA). This action is based on EPA's conclusion that phosphoric acid does not meet the deletion criteria of EPCRA section 313(d)(3). Specifically, EPA is denying this petition because EPA's review of the petition and available information resulted in the conclusion that phosphoric acid meets the listing criterion in EPCRA section 313(d)(2)(C) in that the phosphates that result from the neutralization of phosphoric acid may cause algal blooms. Algal blooms result in deoxygenation of the water and other effects that may ultimately lead to a number of serious adverse effects on ecosystems, including fish kills and changes in the composition of animal and plant life.

(accessed January 26, 1998)

« Previous
Continue »