An abstract is a synopsis of a document or work that is much more detailed or lengthy such as dissertations. It provides an overview of what the paper is about and allows reader to get an idea of the major key points. The readers can then judge, based off the synopsis, whether they are interested in reading the paper or not. Some important things that an abstract should include are:
- A statement of your main topic, purpose and objectives
- A brief description of the methodology
- An overview of the most significant findings or arguments
- A summary of your conclusions and recommendations
Although an abstract is supposed to be at the very beginning of a dissertation and is the first thing readers notice and read, it is the last thing that should be the last thing that is written when writing a dissertation.
In a dissertation, the proper format is to include it on a separate page. The abstract should appear after the title page but before the table of contents. The acceptable word length for an abstract is anywhere between 150 and 300 but can vary depending on the assignment. The word limit is usually given by the person who is handling or teaching the course.
When should you write an abstract? Is it mandatory?
An abstract is required with every dissertation, thesis, research paper or when submitting an article to an academic journal.
The abstract is always written after the dissertation has been written as it is an overview of what the dissertation actually is, not what the student wanted or planned it to be. The extract should be independent from the dissertation and be a stand-alone text which allows readers to get an understanding of the aim of the paper and its contents.
The proper guide to writing a dissertation abstract.
Abstracts can often be quite difficult for students as they cannot judge what they are supposed to write in an abstract, especially given that abstracts have a strict and often very low word limit. Students can get an idea of what should be included in an abstract from the abstracts of journal articles that they have used. They should think what was it about the abstract of the article that made them read it how the abstract allowed them to judge whether the article was relevant to their study or not.
Similarly, their own abstract should inform the reader why they should read the dissertation, what the dissertation is related to, that questions and queries it answers, how the dissertation can be helpful to others and what concepts the dissertation aims to discuss and resolve.
This should be used as a guide with each question being answered briefly. The abstract should be proofread, edited and polished multiple times before it is finalized.
The two types of dissertation abstracts:
- Descriptive dissertation abstracts
- Informative dissertation abstracts
Descriptive dissertation abstracts:
Descriptive dissertation abstracts generally provide the reader with information regarding what the contents of the dissertation are including the purpose, methods, scope of the report or article. These abstracts are generally shorter than informative abstracts, despite the name. They are only used to provide the reader with an introduction to the dissertation and do not provide the reader with the results of the study which are included in the dissertation.
Informative dissertation abstracts
Informative dissertation abstracts are much more detailed than descriptive dissertation abstracts. They include in-depth, detailed information regarding the dissertation such as the purpose of the dissertation, the method used, the scope of the report or the article. They also include the results and conclusions of the dissertation. They are also quite short but generally longer than descriptive dissertation abstracts and can range from a couple of paragraphs to two pages. This also depends on the length of the dissertation but it should not be more than 10% of the overall dissertation.
How can a student make sure their abstract is relevant and interesting?
A good abstract is always very concise and sharp, having paragraphs which are unified, coherent and can stand alone. Abstracts are written to particular structures or formats and these can vary depending upon the university. Abstracts do no include any extra or outside information or try to persuade a person to read the dissertation. They simply provide a summary of the dissertation and are written so that anyone can get an understanding of what the dissertation is about.
Some key tips for writing a dissertation abstract.
- Read and re-read the dissertation.
Reading the dissertation allows the student to get an idea of what the main contents of their dissertation are. Some of the more important contents are the purpose, methods, scope, conclusions and recommendations.
- Use proper headings.
Proper headings are essential as they provide an even more brief look of the dissertation. They should be to the point and not drag on needlessly into long sentences.
- The introduction should be gripping.
The introduction should be interesting to the reader and written so that the average person can understand it. If the person cannot be bothered to read the abstract then it is unlikely that they will read the whole dissertation.
- Make a rough draft of the abstract.
Making a rough draft is very useful as the student can write it out and then edit it as needed. They can write down key points and elaborate on them or remove any unnecessary information they might have included.
- Read the abstract and test it.
The student should read the abstract and see if it sounds interesting while providing the needed information. It should not seem very haphazard and should have a smooth flow. Students can also give the abstract to friends or family and get their reactions to see if it is suitable.
Frequently Asked Question
Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Findings/Research, Conclusions, Bibliography and Appendices.