An abstractor is someone who gathers information from a variety of sources and presents it in a unified document called an abstract which discusses the most important and pertinent pieces of information from these sources. Abstractors are employed in the information science sector, and they can work in a wide range of industries. They are especially common in the legal, medical, and scientific fields. Compensation rates for abstractors vary, depending on the type of work and their skills.
Typically, an abstractor has some sort of college education, and if he or she wants to work in a specific field, additional certification may be pursued as well. For example, legal abstractors are expected to understand basic legal concepts, as this understanding is crucial when evaluating and presenting text from legal sources. Some trade schools offer specific training which is targeted at people who want to become abstractors; this training focuses on finding, analyzing, and synthesizing information in a productive and clear way.
A reasonable amount of intelligence is required to be an abstractor, as abstractors must be good at seeking out information and evaluating its validity and usefulness. Abstractors must be prepared to grub through strange sources of information to get the material they need, whether it pertains to a criminal trial or a clinical study. They must also have strong communication skills, as the whole point of an abstract is distillation of information so that it can be readily understood.
In some cases, an abstractor creates an abstract which is targeted at people in the field to which the abstract pertains. For example, a lawyer may handle an abstractor to research cases which are similar to the one he or she is working on. In this case, the resulting abstract may include technical language, as it is assumed that the reader understands the field which the abstract covers. In other cases, abstracts are designed for the general public, and they are written more simply, with an eye to informing and educating people who may not be at all familiar with the subject.
The organization and presentation of information is a vital and very useful skill. A proficient abstractor will never be short of employment, as there is a constant need for people in this field. Some people work only temporarily as abstractors, using the position as a jumping off point into their field of interest, so turnover is reasonably high in this field, making way for new talent.