An abstract is your dissertation decreased to around one page. It outlines the main ideas of the paper and discloses the information about a research topic, hypotheses, methodology, and the finding, i.e., all the most important components of the dissertation. To understand better what writing an abstract implies think of an annotation that one can find, for example, on the cover of a book. It introduces the main characters, elaborates on the setting, and allows predicting what will happen, but the most alluring details remain unrevealed. The abstract actually has the same purpose, namely to provide an insight into the paper, intrigue a reader, but keep the juiciest things unknown. To reach this effect, the brevity is demanded. Therefore, usually, an abstract is limited to 200-300 words, but the length requirement may vary from a university to university.
Writing a good abstract requires preparation. The best approach here is to learn from the examples of those who had successfully written a dissertation and are experienced in conducting research. Thus, go back to the articles that you have used for the literature review and check the abstracts. You should decide for yourself what made you interested in the article upon reading the abstract and how you came to the conclusion that this piece of research is pertinent to your study. Moreover, it is advisable to pay attention to the language that other authors use.
Once you are done with reading, move on to the first writing attempts. Jot down the answers to the following question and fit them in around 50 words:
- Why may my dissertation be interesting to other people?
- What problem does it solve?
- How can my research help others with their studies?
- Why is my dissertation relevant these days?
- What are the main concepts on which the dissertation is focused?
Then, polish the written answers and arrange them in the way to comply with the order in which the same ideas are presented in the dissertation. Make sure to cross out unnecessary data and meaningless fillers. Instead, add comments on the purpose of own work.
Types of Abstracts
There are two types of abstracts that are distinguished based on the nature of a dissertation. They are:
- Informative abstract. These pieces of writing disclose quite specific data about the research conducted and, therefore, are comparatively long. They, as a rule, constitute 10% of the overall length of the dissertation. Informative abstracts reveal the scope, significance, purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations of the paper. Since they provide a comprehensive picture of the study, such abstracts are commonly used to determine whether one wants to read the dissertation or not.
- Descriptive abstracts. These abstracts constitute a summary of scope, purpose, significance, and the methods used whereas the results, conclusions arrived at upon the analysis, and recommendations remain not discussed. Consequently, a descriptive abstract is much shorter than informative one and does not exceed the limit of 100 words. Its goal is to introduce a reader to the subject. For more details, the entire research should be read.
Features of a Well Written Abstract
A properly composed abstract obligatorily contains a list of keywords. They are needed to simplify the search of your dissertation in a database in which it will be, beyond doubt, uploaded. The paper will be uploaded automatically while the title and keywords will be entered manually. Depending on the main concepts that you distinguish, your dissertation will be allocated to a certain category. Therefore, be sure to select appropriate keywords and duly list them after an abstract.
Another feature of a well written abstract is a correct structure. It should have one or more paragraphs that must be developed and coherent. Although an abstract is a set of different ideas taken from various sections of a dissertation, it should not look fragmented. The content should be easy to follow and understand. In other words, an abstract should exhibit an exemplary coherence, cohesion, and, of course, chronology of the paper. In addition, there should be no pieces of new information or references to other authors. You should stick to summarizing only. Still, do not forget that an abstract should be engaging and entice a reader to check the entire dissertation.
Abstract Writing Tips
- Although you are likely to know it by heart, read you dissertation several times again and select the ideas that are worth to be included in an abstract. Primarily, pay attention to scope, purpose, significance, methods, and the findings of the research.
- Focus on introduction and conclusion as they contain the most useful information in this regard. These are also good places to start if you write an abstract to someone else’s dissertation.
- Steer clear of mere copying sentences from the dissertation. It will only add up some work for you to do. Instead, compose a rough draft from the ideas paraphrased in your own words. Just remember that you need to present the same information in a new and concise manner.
- Spend a lot of time revising your rough draft. Identify the weak sides of the abstract and eliminate them. Add transition and delete unnecessary data to ensure smooth flow of ideas, coherence, and cohesion.
- Remember to do edit and proofread the abstract. Make sure that not a single grammar, stylistic, punctuation or spelling mistake is overlooked. Adjust the formatting. Print out the ready abstract and reread it one more time in case some issues went unnoticed.