PURPOSE: To summarize the main findings from research on structured abstracts. METHODS: A narrative review of all the relevant papers known to the author was conducted. RESULTS: Authors and readers judged the structured abstracts to be more useful than traditional ones. In 1987 the Ad Hoc Working Group for Critical Appraisal of the Medical Literature proposed guidelines for informative seven-headings abstracts. In 1990 Haynes et al. reconsidered the structured abstract of clinical research and review articles and proposed revised guidelines. Nowadays, most abstracts are informative, and the most commonly used structure is IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results And Discussion) format. CONCLUSIONS: There are many variations in the structured-abstract formats prescribed by different journals. But even in recent years, not all abstracts of original articles are structured. More research is needed on a number of questions related to the quality and utility of structured abstracts.
Abstracting and indexing; Review literature; Peer review