The functions of abstracts in the initial screening of technical documents by the user

Charles W N Thompson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Abstracts (and other short surrogates for the complete text) of a document have been generally considered a valuable aid to the reader in quickly determining the relevance of a document (as well as, in some cases, serving as a substitute for reading the text, and as a separate surrogate in secondary services). A test of this hypothesis was conducted in the form of a field experiment in three military laboratories. Based on what a sample of 85 scientists and engineers reported on the time they took and the relevance judgments they made with respect to the documents which came across their desks over a four week period, there does not appear to be any evidence to support the assumption that abstracts, accompanying a document, have any significant effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1973


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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