How to Write an Abstract for Your Thesis or Dissertation
What is an Abstract?
- The abstract is an important component of your thesis. Presented at the beginning of the thesis, it is likely the first substantive description of your work read by an external examiner. You should view it as an opportunity to set accurate expectations.
- The abstract is a summary of the whole thesis. It presents all the major elements of your work in a highly condensed form.
- An abstract often functions, together with the thesis title, as a stand-alone text. Abstracts appear, absent the full text of the thesis, in bibliographic indexes such as PsycInfo. They may also be presented in announcements of the thesis examination. Most readers who encounter your abstract in a bibliographic database or receive an email announcing your research presentation will never retrieve the full text or attend the presentation.
- An abstract is not merely an introduction in the sense of a preface, preamble, or advance organizer that prepares the reader for the thesis. In addition to that function, it must be capable of substituting for the whole thesis when there is insufficient time and space for the full text.
Size and Structure
Clearly Specify Your Research Questions
- Currently, the maximum sizes for abstracts submitted to Canada's National Archive are 150 words (Masters thesis) and 350 words (Doctoral dissertation).
- To preserve visual coherence, you may wish to limit the abstract for your doctoral dissertation to one double-spaced page, about 280 words.
- The structure of the abstract should mirror the structure of the whole thesis, and should represent all its major elements.
- For example, if your thesis has five chapters (introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion), there should be one or more sentences assigned to summarize each chapter.
- As in the thesis itself, your research questions are critical in ensuring that the abstract is coherent and logically structured. They form the skeleton to which other elements adhere.
- They should be presented near the beginning of the abstract.
- There is only room for one to three questions. If there are more than three major research questions in your thesis, you should consider restructuring them by reducing some to subsidiary status.
Don't Forget the Results
- The most common error in abstracts is failure to present results.
- The primary function of your thesis (and by extension your abstract) is not to tell readers what you did, it is to tell them what you discovered. Other information, such as the account of your research methods, is needed mainly to back the claims you make about your results.
- Approximately the last half of the abstract should be dedicated to summarizing and interpreting your results.
© John C. Nesbit
Dissertation Abstract Guide That Will Answer the Following 5 Questions Related To Dissertation Abstract Frequently Asked By Students:
Dissertation Abstract Question # 1
What is a dissertation abstract? What is a good dissertation abstract?
Dissertation Abstract Question # 2
How to write a dissertation abstract through a comprehensive dissertation template or outline?
Dissertation Abstract Question # 3
Where can I find a dissertation abstract example to learn the ins and outs of a good dissertation abstract?
Dissertation Abstract Question # 4
How to check if the dissertation abstract I have written fulfills each and every criteria of comprehensiveness?
Dissertation Abstract Question # 5
How can this website further help me in writing my dissertation abstract?
Below you will find our Dissertation Abstract Help Section that will answer each and every above question comprehensively to help you get rid of every dissertation abstract problem in no less than 15 Minutes… Guaranteed!
Dissertation Abstract - Answer # 1
What is a dissertation abstract?
A dissertation abstract is the first piece of work that readers come across in your dissertation. It is a summary of your work and normally appears after your Title Page and Acknowledgements. It should capture the essence of your research in a lucid and succinct way. Some institutions differentiate between a descriptive abstract and an informative abstract: the former concentrates on the structure of the dissertation and not its content (and so is of limited value), whereas the latter provides a condensed summary of the actual work carried out by the researcher.
What is a good dissertation abstract?
Like everything else in your dissertation, there is a technique to writing an abstract. A good dissertation abstract normally consists the following rudiments:
- a statement of the problem/issue that you are probing, including an indication of the requirement for your research;
- your research methods;
- your results/findings;
- your main conclusion(s) and recommendation(s).
- Try to keep your dissertation abstract to one paragraph and to one page.
- Keep it italicized.
Dissertation Abstract - Answer # 2
How to write a dissertation abstractthrough a comprehensive dissertation template or outline?
To discover how to write a dissertation abstract effectively and easily, a dissertation template has been created which highlights the main elements you are supposed to include in your dissertation abstract. (i.e. research problem, research requirements, research methods, conclusive findings & recommendations). It will become very easy for you to write you dissertation abstract having referred to the following dissertation abstract template. This further assures that your abstract will not miss any key element, hence creating a favorable impression before your dissertation advisor.
Dissertation Abstract Template
The focus of this research is in the area of . . . Such a study is important in order to…. The research approach adopted in this dissertation includes. . . The findings from this research provide evidence that . . . The main conclusions drawn from this study are . . . This dissertation recommends that . . .
Keywords: a, b, c, d, e
Dissertation abstract exampleto learn the ins and outs of a good dissertation abstract!
A good & well-written dissertation abstract is as follows (for the purpose of emphasis, the key abstract elements are in bold, and in square parentheses – obviously, they would not appear so in the finished version):
Dissertation Abstract Sample / Example
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the adverse effect of Internet crime on the modern business community.
[Motivation] Cybercrime – crime on the Internet – is of growing concern in the business community. Despite UK Government initiatives (such as BS7799) and growing sales in software solutions (e.g. anti-virus software), cyber attacks are on the increase. [Research Focus] This dissertation focuses on ways to assess the effectiveness of current preventative measures to cybercrime and to understand why organizations continue to be vulnerable to cybercrime. [ResearchMethods] This dissertation met these twin research aims through an extensive study of relevant literature and the implementation of practical research. The latter was carried out through a Case Study with Company XXX using semistructured interviews with key I.T. security personnel. [Findings] This research produced a number of key findings: recent surveys confirm a significant increase in the incidences of cybercrime and their impact on the business community but also the types of cybercrime (viruses, hacking, spam, identity theft, fraud, privacy issues, web vandalism, etc.); organizations lacked the security expertise to deal with cybercrime and so depended too much on readily available technical ways to combat cybercrime (and failing); organizations were not aware of Government recommendations on how to address internet-based security issues; and Governments and law enforcement agencies tended to localize cybercrime, allocating scant resources to contributing to a global solution. [Conclusions] The main conclusions drawn from this research were that current approaches to fighting cybercrime are deficient because they fail to embrace an holistic approach, instead opting for a narrow local software-based focus, and that a lack of communication between major stakeholders at local, national and international level has hindered security development. [Recommendation] This research argues for a multi-pronged model to reduce incidences of cybercrime. One that takes into account Risk-Assessment models, local management of company policies, implementation issues (including proper resourcing and review policies), the need for global support infrastructures, and a means of fostering communication networks.
Notice that each of the features expected of a good abstract – research focus, motivation behind the research, research methods, findings and conclusions/ recommendations – are to be included in a well-written dissertation abstract.
How to check if the dissertation abstract I have written fulfills each and every criteria of comprehensiveness?
When you write your dissertation abstract, make sure that your abstract can answer the following questions:
- Have I recognized the focus of my research?
- Have I pointed out my motivation/rationale behind this study?
- Have I mentioned how I did my research?
- Have I summarized my findings/results?
- Are my main conclusions and recommendations included?
If you dissertation abstract addresses the above questions, then you should have an abstract that avoids the common pitfalls and is a credit to your dissertation.
Dissertation Abstract - Answer # 5
HHow can this website further help me in writing my dissertation abstract?
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