When anyone comes across your dissertation, the first part they will probably read will be the abstract. The presentation of your abstract will also determine, to a great extent, if the reader will be interested in reading your dissertation. Therefore, your abstract must be well constructed.
Where Do You Start?
A dissertation abstract is the overall summary of your work that encourages readers to continue reading your article. You can present an abstract when writing a proposal for a conference paper, a book, etc.
You can also have an abstract for articles submitted to journals, when applying for research grants, when writing your dissertation or thesis, etc. But, for whatever reason you are writing an abstract, it should come as a summary and be engaging enough to encourage your readers to read.
What Should It Look Like?
There are two main types of thesis or dissertation abstract, namely, descriptive and informative abstract.
The descriptive type of abstract only tells about the information found within your research work with an emphasis on some phrases and keywords. You can, sometimes, include the purpose, methods, and scope of the work. However, it is usually a short type of abstract of about 100 words.
An informative abstract, on the other hand, is more detailed. It’s where you present the main arguments and highlight the main findings and conclusions of your research. An informative abstract can be 250 to 350 words in length. However, you must be conscious not to make it too long.
How to Write an Abstract
Your abstract is the first session in your report, but it should be the last session you write. The reason is so that you can highlight your essential conclusion and results from your research.
Your abstract should comprise just one paragraph; therefore, the section should be well structured and organized. Start by reading through your work again to get an overall perspective.
As you read through each session, note one or two sentences that highlight the main points, then put these sentences together to form your abstract. But, you must ensure that there’s a flow between one sentence and another.
When that is done, reread the paragraph to see if it cover the main points of your paper. If no, then go through each session of your research back to find the missing link.
When found, go ahead to check the word count and ensure it falls within the requirement. If not, you’ll have to cut out words. Continue to reread the abstract to make sure the essential points are in it.
You won’t be adding references/citations of external sources to your abstract. The reason is that an abstract should be able to stand alone.
Understand that not everyone reading your dissertation abstract has a clear picture of your research work. Therefore, you must be able to find the balance between the wider audience and those within your discipline.
Write your abstract in plain English, communicating your idea in a way that everyone will understand, and, most importantly, want to know more about your research work.