A dissertation abstract is an important part of your work. It’s the first part of your paper that the readers will get acquainted with. This is an opportunity to attract the attention of external examiners and tell the most important things about your dissertation. Keep in mind that the abstract presents the summary of the whole work, so don’t overload it with too many details.
Since many people are likely to find and read your summary in bibliographic databases, you should spend a reasonable amount of time in order to compose a solid piece of writing. The following ten points to consider will help you structure and organize your abstract:
- Make sure to meet the word limit. Usually, there is a maximum size of abstracts submitted to electronic archives. The size is different for Master’s and doctoral dissertations.
- Use a double-space interval. Your writing will look visually coherent if it’s limited to a single page. Format it according to the requirements of your supervisor.
- Structure it logically. Usually, it’s better to organize the abstract according to the structure of the dissertation. This part of your work should represent all the major elements of the paper.
- Write a couple of sentences summarizing each chapter of the dissertation, such as an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, conclusion, and discussion. Some summaries also provide information about the sources used.
- State your research question. It’s necessary to write your key research questions in the summary, so the readers will understand the logic of your research.
- Present your main research question and a thesis statement near the beginning of the abstract before describing the methodology you’ve applied.
- Don’t write more than three research questions. If you address more than three questions in your dissertation, you should consider restructuring them by reducing some of the words in order to make the text more reader-friendly.
- Remember to present the findings. It’s surprising that many students forget to present their findings in the summary. Be aware of this common mistake and avoid it.
- Know the primary function of your paper. You don’t need to tell the readers what you did but tell them what you found out and why it’s important instead.
- Dedicate the last half of the abstract to summarizing and explaining your findings. It’s a good idea to get a dissertation writing manual with examples or a summary template, so you’ll learn how to structure the text and what vocabulary to use.