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The peer-reviewed medical literature has grown exponentially. Through mobile devices, previously unavailable clinical resources have now become freely accessible worldwide. These include abstracts and some full-text articles of published studies. Through PubMed/MEDLINE, abstracts can now be conveniently accessed at the point of care.1 ,2 The universal accessibility of abstracts as a knowledge resource in many parts of the world with mobile Internet access has sparked interest in using journal abstracts as evidence-based sources when full-text articles are unavailable to clinicians especially in geographic areas with limited resources.1 ,3 Hence, it was recently proposed that a clinician-oriented web application formatted for mobile devices such as ‘Consensus Abstracts’ could be used to search and review multiple concurring abstracts in MEDLINE/PubMed to inform clinical decisions.1
The abstract is the most often read section of a research article.4 Journal abstracts and related bottom-line summaries are appealing because they are easy to read and give a quick digest of the article.1 ,4–8 As a short summary of the full-text article,8 the abstract incorporates a significant amount of information when written well and is frequently the only part perused by the reader.9 It is essential therefore that the abstract accurately reflects the contents of the full-text article.9 It should be a concise, clear and informative representation of the results or interpretation of the full text.10
Searching abstracts is convenient because it contains most of the article's relevant keywords.11 Many clinicians continue to depend on journal abstracts in seeking answers to clinical questions despite the increasing availability of full-text articles from online archives like PubMed Central12 and other similar repositories. Clinicians and other healthcare practitioners also rely exclusively on abstracts due to lack of time to read the full-text article, poor critical appraisal …