How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation
Abstract is an obligatory part of any dissertation as its core purpose is to make your research paper accessible and searchable to other writers who are working in the same or adjacent field of research or who are writing on a similar topic. Actually, the abstract is the very first thing a researcher reads in order to get the main idea of the dissertation and see whether it contains relevant material to the topic of focus. That is why an abstract should briefly and succinctly provide the most essential information on the research topic.
When writing an abstract, pay attention to the following requirements:
- Write the abstract in the active voice.
- Write in the past tense (since you are already writing about the dissertation that is already completed).
- Despite the fact that the abstract is placed at the very beginning of the dissertation, it is written last (after the whole paper is ready).
How to Differentiate an Abstract from a Thesis
If you want to write a successful abstract, first you have to learn to differentiate it from the thesis writing. At first sight, they might resemble each other, but they greatly differ in their core. In the thesis, you just present the main idea (the research question) that needs to be discussed and addressed in detail throughout the dissertation. In the abstract, on the contrary, you have to provide a brief overview of the most important results and findings of the paper.
Now with the help of the given definitions, you know how to write an abstract and a thesis: the former is written after the dissertation is ready, while the latter before writing the actual body of the dissertation.
Classification of Abstract Chapters
Types of dissertation are classified into four categories: highlight, descriptive, informative, and critical. Actually, all of them aim to accomplish the same goal – to provide a paper synopsis – but in order to be most effective in dissertation writing, it is necessary to know the difference between all of them. Having identified the slightest peculiarities between them, you will then better know which suits better for your paper. In some cases, your academic supervisor may tell you which kind of abstract is needed, but in case you have to decide it on its own, make sure you know the difference as it will ensure a good mark for your paper.
The main purpose of the highlight abstract is to draw readers’ attention to the main research question by providing information that is particularly interesting. A descriptive abstract simply provides a description of information and facts that a reader can find in the paper. An informative abstract is the generally known type required in research writing, where you provide a paper synopsis. Actually, an informative abstract contains information about purpose of the research, the methodology applied, and the scope of research. Finally, a critical abstract evaluates the dissertation instead of just presenting facts and comments on it.
Technical Requirements for Writing an Abstract
As a rule, each dissertation or any other type of research writing has its own specifics and requirements for writing. Therefore, before starting the actual writing process, you need to carefully study the assignment specifics in order to avoid major discrepancies between the original requirements and your already written paper.
The core questions that need to be answered before writing the paper relate to the paper length, specific requirements to academic style and formatting, and the purpose of writing.
As a rule, an abstract requires 150-300 words. It is also mainly written double-spaced. Besides, it is strongly recommended to keep the abstract as succinct as possible in order to make it coherent in visual terms. To ensure paper consistency, the general structure (or development) of the abstract should be the same as of dissertation.
Editing, Proofreading, and Finalizing
Dissertation writing is an essential precondition when you aim to obtain a PhD degree. Therefore, make sure that each constituent part of this massive research is perfect. Double-check the dissertation writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. As soon as you have finished the abstract, make sure you edit and proofread it carefully. Besides, check whether the information provided in the abstract is consistent with the information provided in the dissertation body. It might as well be helpful to ask your friend or group mate to have a look at the abstract in order to spot some mistakes or discrepancies.