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Physical Therapy

Abstract Format and Guidelines for Dissertation/Final Paper

Study Design

Objective: Write out the exact objective, purpose, or question in this section. If a research hypothesis has been stated prior to data collection, it should also be stated here. 

Background:  Information should be included that summarizes the rationale for the study, giving the clinical reason for the study's question. 

Methods and Measures: Should include information about the participants (subjects) in the study:

  • Number of subjects
  • Clinical diagnosis or healthy
  • How the subjects were selected
  • Volunteer sample, consecutive sample, random sample, convenience sample 
  • How subjects were assigned to control and/or intervention groups (if applies) 
  • Number of subjects selected 
  • Number of subjects excluded (if applies) 
  • A full description of any treatments or interventions that includes specific methods and duration of administration, use the most common clinical name of the intervention.
  • A full description and timing of the outcome measure(s) (dependent variable) should be stated. 

Results: The main results of the study should be given. For clarity, measurements that require an explanation to the expected audience should be given.  

Conclusion: Only include statements that are directly supported by the study's results or evidence, also include the clinical application of the evidence. Also, note whether additional study is needed before the results should be used in clinical practice.  

General Format and Style Information

Spacing, Margins, and Text Line Alignment in the Manuscript 

  • Text is double spaced throughout by having one full-sized line blank between each typed line. 
  • Text on only one side of each page (some exceptions may be made for special documents presented in the Appendices). 
  • Margins: All pages should have 1 inch margins except for Title Page, Statement of Permission to Copy Page, and Approval Page. The margins for the Program in Physical Therapy format are 1 inches on the top, bottom, and right. The left margin is 1 1/2 inches.
  • Left justify the text lines. 
  • Indent paragraphs 5 spaces for all text, except the Abstract and Reference list pages. 

Page Numbers in the Manuscript 

  • Number all pages (including the Title, Statement of the Permission to Copy, Approval, and Abstracts pages) in the upper right corner, the number should be placed at least 1" from the right edge of the page. 
  • Follow Journal of Physical Therapy Manuscript preparation guidelines for:
    • Page numbers
    • Journal section
    • Information for authors


  • Spell out word(s) first, then follow the word with the abbreviations or acronym. 
  • Use Arabic numerals in text. However, the following are exceptions: 
    • The number is spelled out when the number is the first word of a sentence
    • The number is spelled out when the number is used to communicate an ordinal concept (i.e. the ROM was the Fourth outcome measures... use the word fourth not 4th).
    • The number is spelled out when the number is used as a pronoun. (i.e. the researchers compared the outcomes from the new treatment with the standard one. 
    • The number spelled out when expressing common fractions (i.e. three fourths of the total sample of participants were older than 65 years. 
  • For more in depth information, refer to the AMA Manuel of Style.  

In-Text Citations Using Arabic Superscript Numerals Consecutively

One Work by One Author

  • Smith1 compared strength…
  • The 2 largest studies on strength included 100 patients1 and 80 patients.2
  • Citations are numbered with superscript Arabic numerals in the order they are cited in the text.
  • Superscript numerals are placed outside periods and commas.

Works by Multiple Authors 

  • When a work has two authors always cite both names every time the reference occurs in text. 
    • Example: Smith and Johnson3 observed…

  • When a work has more than 2 authors
    • ‚ÄčUse "et al" 
    • Smith et al