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Abstract

You're reading an abstract of a research paper. Is the abstract sufficiently relevant to make you want to read the whole paper? That's the question that we look at here. We start with an assumption: If the abstract doesn't grab your attention, you will skip the paper and go on to read another. To find out if our assumption is true, we asked two groups of people (a group of information systems professionals and a group that conducts research on information systems) to judge whether abstracts would entice them to read the article. Unfortunately, we found little consensus in the literature about how best to measure the relevance of a paper or its abstract. We therefore ran an experiment to improve our understanding. In this experiment we used three dimensions of relevance based on the work of Benbasat and Zmud (1999): Important: the topic is important to the reader, Accessible: the paper is written so that its ideas can be understood, and Applicable: the reader can apply the paper his or her own work. Our question was: Do people use these dimensions to determine from the abstract whether or not the article is relevant enough for them to read all of it? We created, validated, and ran a questionnaire to measure these three dimensions. We found that, for both practitioner and academic audiences, being important, accessible, and applicable are indeed significant indicators for reading an article based on its abstract. Well, we've led you to the water, will you drink?

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