The 20,000 article problem: How a structured abstract can help practitioners sort out educational research

Edward J. Miech, Bill Nave, Frederick Mosteller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

4 Scopus citations


Background: Today over 1,000 education journals publish more than 20,000 articles in the English language each year. No systematic tool is available at present to get the research findings from these tens of thousands of articles to the millions of education practitioners in the United States who might use them. Purpose: To help practitioners sort out findings from education research, we propose that education journals consider adopting a structured abstract, an innovation that focuses on the article format itself. The structured abstract would take the place of the paragraph-style narrative summary that appears at the beginning of most articles. Intervention: A structured abstract is a formal and compact summary of an article's main features and findings. Like a table or figure, it has a predictable structure that compresses information into a small space and can be read independently from the main body of the article. The structured abstract is longer and more detailed than the standard paragraph-style narrative summary. On the printed page, the structured abstract appears between the title and the main body of the article. It includes basic elements that apply to all articles (background, purpose, research design, and conclusions) and several additional elements that apply to some articles but not to others (e.g., setting, population, intervention, data collection and analysis, and findings). Research Design: Analytic essay. Conclusions: The structured abstract offers a robust vehicle to help practitioners systematically access, assess, and communicate education studies and research findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-400
Number of pages5
JournalPhi Delta Kappan
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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