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Writing A Dissertation Abstract – A Comprehensive Guide

An abstract is like a snapshot of all the important bits in your dissertation. An essay abstract is a tool to help people decide whether they should bother reading through your essay or not. Before writing an abstract, you need to understand the purpose of writing an abstract. Here are some guidelines for writing a great abstract:

Length

Abstracts are short. A typical abstract should be 150-300 words long. Learn how to communicate the substance of your dissertation in as few words as possible.

Use double spacing to make it easier for readers to skim or speed read through.

Summary

Every chapter of your dissertation has to be presented in the abstract. Dedicate a sentence or two to each chapter. Let the structure mirror that of the writing itself.

Questions

Clearly spell out your research questions in the abstract. Your research questions – or hypothesis, for that matter – are central to the research and must be presented at the beginning of the abstract. There may not be room for all the research questions in case there are many of them, but you can focus on the two or three that are most important.

Results

A lot of students fail to present their results in the abstract. Realize that 90% of the people who come across your abstract will not read the full paper. So failing to include your results is shooting yourself in the foot. The details of your research methods can be explored further in the paper. Within the abstract, results are more important.

After learning of the results of your research, readers will then be motivated to read your paper to discover what research methods you used to arrive at the conclusions you did. If the conclusions of the research are interesting, people will want to find evidence to back it.

Mind your Language!

The vocabulary of a research abstract is very critical. The action words you use at the beginning should describe exactly what the thesis is meant to do (or what it did).

Use words like ‘investigate,’ ‘explore,’ ‘assesses,’ ‘evaluates,’ etc. These words should be used carefully to make sure that they mean exactly what you want them to mean.

Remember that the people who come into contact with your paper will be looking for specific information. Your abstract will let them know whether they are going to find what they are looking for.

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