How to Write a Dissertation Abstract: Top Tips for a Perfect Chapter
Abstracts are usually an unavoidable element of research papers and other writing projects, including dissertations. If you are a Doctorate or graduating student, you will definitely have to submit an abstract. So, we presume that you have already finished your dissertation project. Consequently, it is now an ideal moment to write the abstract section. Despite the fact that it is a short piece of writing, composing it successfully takes a great deal of knowledge and practice. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to write a dissertation abstract properly.
The abstract is a crucial part of your dissertation. It is typically the first detailed summary of your work that an external examiner reads, since it is presented at the beginning of your project. It is important to see it as a chance to establish clear expectations. As you've arrived here, we can assume that you are searching for good examples of dissertation abstracts, or you're unsure about how to write an abstract for a dissertation, or what to include in the chapter. You don't have to worry anymore. We will guide you through the process step by step, making it easy for you to learn how to write an abstract for dissertation well.
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Basic Information about an Abstract Chapter
Abstracts are significant, since they are an easy and fast way of communicating your work. What is more, academic abstracts may be even an effective promotional tool and so they should be paid utmost attention to. This section of the paper is presented on a separate page and its primary purpose is to explain what the paper will be about. So, for your research project, it is the first thing your examiners will see and read, forming their expectations for the rest of the paper.
Abstracts are usually aligned to the “writer’s expectations,” i.e. what they want to achieve when they undertake to research a given topic. Here are more details of abstracts:
- Abstracts are short, concise summaries of an entire paper. All the main elements of a dissertation or other paper should be introduced in this chapter.
- It is important to separate an abstract from the remainder of a paper’s text. Furthermore, it should stand alone as a self-sufficient document. Generally speaking, it is usual for academic databases to only publish abstracts while the rest of the text is hidden in bibliographic index sections. A reader should be able to glean sufficient information from an abstract to decide whether a text is relevant to the topic they are looking for or not. If it is, they can then read the entire paper or discard it and continue their search for something more relevant.
- It is important for writers to understand the difference between an introductory paragraph and an abstract since these chapters do not serve the same purpose. Of course, they are alike in a number of ways. Essentially, an introductory paragraph gives the reader a general overview of what the topic of a paper is. By nature, abstracts are full overviews of an entire paper.
How Long Should a Dissertation Abstract Be?
While scrutinizing various sample dissertation abstracts found on the Internet, you may wonder "what is the ideal length for a dissertation abstract?" In fact, the length can vary depending on the university and program, but generally it should be between 300 to 500 words. Therefore, before submitting your work, it's important to check the specific word count requirements set by the university or journal.
Why Writing a Dissertation Abstract Is Important?
An abstract in a dissertation or thesis is a well-organized and concise summary of the important aspects and main findings of your study. Its purpose is twofold:
- Firstly, it aims to inform readers about the main idea of your study and its findings without requiring them to read the entire document. It should clearly state the topic of your study and what you were trying to investigate, as well as provide an overview of your results. Since the abstract is the first thing readers will see, it plays a crucial role in determining whether they will read your full research project.
- Secondly, abstracts serve the purpose of providing information to search engines and dissertation libraries when they index and catalog your work.
Note that it is usually recommended to write your abstract section at the end, after you have completed your research. However, some universities may require an abstract before you begin working on your dissertation/thesis to assess your understanding of the topic. In such cases, you would need to create an abstract based on your preliminary research and your planned research methodology.
Size and Structure of a Paper’s Abstract
- It is essential to read all of the instructions your professor provides to understand how long your abstract should be.
- Usually, an abstract is between 150 and 350 words in the case of a thesis or dissertation.
- You should align the structure of your abstract to the sequence the chapters are laid out in your paper. The primary elements should be deliberately presented in the same manner that they are discussed in the paper.
- For example, if your dissertation includes an introductory chapter, review of literature, methodology, findings, implications, and so on, you should devote one sentence at least to summing-up each of these chapters.
Research Question(s) Should be Clearly Identified
- Thesis and dissertation writing is entirely about the research question and any issues the writer is attempting to analyze or explore. You should always mention the research question you are addressing clearly in your abstract and you should be precise. This will help guide your readers through your work.
- In the event you are addressing a number of questions in your research paper, you should number each one of them at the beginning of your abstract.
- Students are usually permitted to present between one to three questions per one research paper. These should be listed in logical order e.g. from the most to least important with secondary research questions immediately presented.
Results Should Always Be Stated!
- Some students believe that the results should not be discussed in the abstract, but this is simply a mistake.
- Not only should an abstract set out the research question(s) and describe the paper’s main parts, it should also say what has actually been found. It should not, however, include any unnecessary detail such as a list of every single method that you used to investigate your topic, and so on.
- Writing an abstract means in part interpreting and summing-up any findings. You should not, however, set out all results since readers may be discouraged from reading to the end if the abstract provides the majority of the information they need.
How to Write a Dissertation Abstract and Make It Look Great: Top Recommendations
Writing a good PhD abstract can be challenging, especially when you have to convey all the necessary information within a limited word count, i.e. around 300 words. While some universities may allow a slight deviation from this limit, it is generally advisable to stay within it. Thus, the ability to succinctly communicate your research findings is an important skill for researchers, as it is often required when writing papers for peer review. Here are the best tips on how to write a dissertation abstract like a pro:
Keep It Succinct
To write an effective abstract, it is crucial to focus only on the key elements of your research and the main outcomes and significance of your project. Avoid discussing any incidental findings or including unnecessary details, as you have limited words to work with. Additionally, ensure that everything mentioned in the abstract is described in detail in the main thesis.
Provide a Unique Point in Each Sentence
Each sentence in the chapter should present a unique point and provide new and useful information about your research. There is no need to repeat your project title; instead, use one or two sentences to introduce your subject area and provide context. Then, dedicate a few more sentences to explain the research gap or problem you aimed to address. Note that references are not expected in the abstracts.
Clarify Your Research
When explaining your research, you can choose to state your overarching aim or present your research questions, depending on the structure of your dissertation/thesis chapters. The goal is to help the reader understand the purpose of your dissertation or thesis and whether your results contribute to answering the research questions or if further work is needed.
Always Keep the Chapter Factual
Keep the content of the section factual and avoid injecting personal opinions. Opinions can make the writing vague and undermine the clarity of your points.
Write the Chapter, Edit and Then Rewrite It
After writing an abstract for a dissertation, it is important to spend time editing and, if necessary, rewriting it. Try to seek feedback from others and ask them to explain their understanding of your research, ensuring they can address each of the six structure points mentioned earlier. It is important to convey the new knowledge you contributed to your field, but be cautious not to overstate the conclusions, impact, or significance of your work.
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