Q: Should MeSH keywords not be duplicated with those within the abstract?
My question is regarding MeSH keywords. I know that they should not be duplicated with the title. However, should they also not be duplicated with the words within the abstract?
Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The abstract must feature the keywords that apply to the article in question. In fact, the abstract is a good place to look for appropriate keywords. We would suggest that if none of the keywords appears in the abstract, there is something wrong either with the abstract or with the keywords.
The restriction of not using as keywords the terms that appear in the title exists for a good reason. Terms in the title of a paper are indexed automatically. Keywords thus give you the opportunity to increase the chances that your paper would come to the attention of those who are looking for information on the topic of your paper by offering the indexing services additional terms under which to index your paper.
Based on what we have discussed above, you would have gathered that this advice does not differentiate between keywords confined to medical subject headings (MeSH) and other keywords. This is because MeSH is essentially only a subset of terms chosen by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and thus related to the broader domain of medicine. Those headings make up the thesaurus compiled and updated by the NLM.
Hope that helps. For more help with keywords, you may refer to the following resources:
- How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords
- How to create keywords for a research paper
And in case you are doing a review especially using PubMed articles, you may find the following resources useful:
- Secondary research – the basics of narrative reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis
- What is the rule for describing the result of a thesaurus search in the manuscript?
All the best!