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Abstract 1 is ineffective because it is almost all trees and no forest.Indeed, its opening acknowledgment of the forest does not do much more than restate the essay’s title.
In addition, Abstract 1 does not address the “so what?
” question, does not say anything significant about its methodological commitments, and does not even do a good job of explaining how the analyses of the two case studies relate to each other.
However, from the perspective of an author submitting work to a journal, there is another important audience to consider: the journal editor(s) and the external reviewers to whom the editor(s) send it.
This audience looks at your abstract with their most pressing question in mind: is this article publishable in this journal?
Its fundamental flaw is its unexamined assumption that each of its two cases studies is in itself a significant contribution to conversations about the relation between narrative and argument.
Abstract 2 is much more effective because it backgrounds the trees and foregrounds the forest. ” question, it explicitly announces its methodological commitment (to a conception of “narrative as rhetoric”), and it clearly states its conclusions in a way that situates them in the larger debate.
In other words, yet another important audience for your abstract is yourself.
Abstracts are important because they give a first impression of the document that follows, letting readers decide whether to continue reading and showing them what to look for if they do.
Abstract 2: This essay responds to scholarly skepticism about narrative as argument, due to its reliance on hindsight effects (because such and such happened, then so and so must be the causes), and its tendency to develop inadequate analogies or to overgeneralize from single cases.
The essay contends that, while some uses of narrative as argument display these problems, they are not inherent in narrative itself.