I'm writing a thesis which consists in a literature review and I came across some articles whose titles seem to be appropriate for my research, but they don't have any abstract and their full text is unavailable. Before even trying to get those full texts, which might require some time and effort, my question is: are they reliable? I mean, what are the possibilities of finding a peer reviewed article which doesn't have an abstract?

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    Does the citation indicate they are not journal articles, for example, book chapters? These may not follow the same format. Another possibility is that they are titles for posters or conference presentations.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 17, 2022 at 19:31
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    What do you mean by "have no abstract" as the only way I can think to check this is too look at the first pages of the paper. If you are looking on some database, please tell us which one. Aug 17, 2022 at 19:36
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    Do you mean that a cursory observation of a web hit doesn't include the abstract, or that the citation tool entry doesn't include the abstract, or that you've gone and LOOKED at the actual paper an find that it doesn't have a abstract. These are very different things, and only the last case really means there is no abstract. You have no truly reliable way of knowing without going to the full text. Aug 17, 2022 at 21:32
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    Also it depends on the field and the year. Maybe math papers in the 20s had no abstract.
    – Miguel
    Aug 18, 2022 at 15:42
  • Welcome to Academia SE! Please provide the titles of two or three of these articles and their links and this would help you get high-quality answers. It is hard to answer "is such an article reliable" without having any idea of which articles you are talking about. Perhaps for confidentiality you do not want to list the article names, but if you could, then that would help others help you.
    – Tripartio
    Aug 19, 2022 at 7:17

4 Answers 4


It is impossible to say without actually examining them, but you can get a fair idea by knowing the journal in which they appear. If it is reputable, then the chances are that the paper is.

Also, there is a difference between not having an abstract and not having a published abstract.

You probably need to get the articles to be sure, however, but that is true of everything. See an academic librarian to ease your task. They can probably also give you advice on the reputation and reliability of publishers.


As to the literal question on papers without abstract, I would say that not having an abstract is becoming less common, but it not really a sign of quality. Shorter papers really don't need an abstract (or a discussion section) if they have a good introduction. This is the "say something once, why say it again" philosophy.

Many journals will not allow a paper without an abstract. The journal that published a paper of mine with no abstract now says "the article should include an abstract of at most 150 words" so it seems you might be able to publish a paper there without an abstract if you insist.

Of course, you still need to look to the paper to see if it has an abstract. No database covers all papers and has zero omissions.


It's definitely possible. For example most news articles don't come with abstracts. Same goes for most popular-level articles, editorials, monographs, etc.

The publication venue says more about the reliability of the article than the presence of an abstract.


It is quite possible that the answer is whatever database you are using does not have the abstract, rather than the original paper not having one.

This is quite common for older papers - many of the literature databases are stitched together out of all sorts of older databases, some of which had citation details only, and going back to add them in is a laborious task which may not be very highly prioritised.

Take Nature, for example. Web of Science has it covered since 1900, but abstracts are only included from ~1990. In Scopus, it is covered right back to 1869, but the abstracts only go to ~1950 (and seem to miss 1965-66 for some even odder reason).

And of course papers that are harder to find online may be more likely to be older, obscure, etc and less likely to be comprehensively indexed on databases. So it's unlikely to automatically indicate it's of low value or not worth investigating.

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