Recommended Set

11. Abstract Provide an accurate summary of the research objectives, animal species, strain and sex, key methods, principal findings, and study conclusions. explanation

11 Provide an accurate summary of the research objectives, animal species, strain and sex, key methods, principal findings, and study conclusions.

A transparent and accurate abstract increases the utility and impact of the manuscript, and allows readers to assess the reliability of the study [1]. The abstract is often used as a screening tool by readers to decide whether to read the full article or whether to select an article for inclusion in a systematic review. However, abstracts often either do not contain enough information for this purpose [2], or contain information that is inconsistent with the results in the rest of the manuscript [3,4]. In systematic reviews, initial screens to identify papers are based on titles, abstracts and keywords [5]. Leaving out of the abstract information such as the species of animal used or the drugs being tested, limits the value of preclinical systematic reviews as relevant studies cannot be identified and included. For example, in a systematic review of the effect of the MVA85A vaccine on tuberculosis challenge in animals, the largest preclinical trial did not include the vaccine name in the abstract or keywords of the publication, the paper was only included in the systematic review following discussions with experts in the field [6].

To maximise utility, include details of the species, sex and strain of animals used, and accurately report the methods, results and conclusions of the study.  Also describe the objectives of the study, including whether it was designed to either test a specific hypothesis or to generate a new hypothesis (see item 13 – Objectives). Incorporating this information will enable readers to interpret the strength of evidence, and judge how the study fits within the wider knowledge base.



  1. Haynes RB, Mulrow CD, Huth EJ, Altman DG and Gardner MJ (1990). More informative abstracts revisited. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-113-1-69
  2. Hair K, Macleod MR, Sena ES, Sena ES, Hair K, Macleod MR, Howells D, Bath P, Irvine C, MacCallum C, Morrison G, Clark A, Alvino G, Dohm M, Liao J, Sena C, Moreland R, Cramond F, Currie GL, Bahor Z, Grill P, Bannach-Brown A, Marcu D-C, Antar S, Blazek K, Konold T, Dingwall M, Hohendorf V, Hosh M, Gerlei KZ, et al. (2019). A randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve compliance with the ARRIVE guidelines (IICARus). Research Integrity and Peer Review. doi: 10.1186/s41073-019-0069-3
  3. Pitkin RM, Branagan MA and Burmeister LF (1999). Accuracy of data in abstracts of published research articles. Jama. doi: 10.1001/jama.281.12.1110
  4. Boutron I, Altman DG, Hopewell S, Vera-Badillo F, Tannock I and Ravaud P (2014). Impact of spin in the abstracts of articles reporting results of randomized controlled trials in the field of cancer: the SPIIN randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.56.7503
  5. Bannach-Brown A, Przybyla P, Thomas J, Rice ASC, Ananiadou S, Liao J and Macleod MR (2019). Machine learning algorithms for systematic review: reducing workload in a preclinical review of animal studies and reducing human screening error. Syst Rev. doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-0942-7
  6. Kashangura R, Sena ES, Young T and Garner P (2015). Effects of MVA85A vaccine on tuberculosis challenge in animals: systematic review. Int J Epidemiol. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv142