Creating a Compelling Dissertation Abstract
Where do you start?
A good dissertation is known from the abstract because the abstract provides an overall summary of your work. It provides readers with the needed encouragement to continue reading your paper. Your abstract is an opportunity for you to make a good first impression, and if your abstract fails to arrest the much-needed attention, readers will avoid your thesis.
The abstract comes first and even though writing an abstract is expected to be in a specific format depending on your discipline and department’s requirement, every abstract should be concise.
Bear in mind that your abstract is what you submit when applying for grants and fundings with your thesis. Now you see just how important the abstract is, not only to you or your thesis but to the department as a whole.
What should it look like?
There are two main types of abstracts when writing a dissertation: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract from the name describes the types of information found in your work using keywords and phrases. It may provide information about the method, purpose, and scope of the work. The length of a descriptive abstract is usually about 100 words or less. Informative abstract, on the other hand, is slightly more detailed and contains more information. Informative abstracts present your main arguments and also highlights the main findings and conclusions. In length, informative abstracts have between 250-350 words.
Regardless of if you are writing descriptive or informative abstracts, your abstract should never exceed one paragraph; therefore, this paragraph must be well structured and organized. While writing your dissertation, it is important that you always reread your work to gain an overall perspective. You can also read each section individually and jot down at least two sentences for each section while also highlighting the main points. Next, join the sentences and make sure each sentence transitions into the next one seamlessly.
If your abstract doesn’t cover your paper’s main points, you need to go back to reviewing and rewriting those sections of the original work. If your abstract successfully covers all the main issues, ensure that it falls within the required word count. If it doesn’t measure up to the required word count, you have to add more sentences, and if it exceeds the word count, you have to tactically cut out some part while ensuring that it doesn’t affect the information you are trying to put out. An abstract does not contain citations/references to any external source because an abstract should stand alone. Use of references ties your abstract to another paper, and that’s not good for your dissertation
Make use of simple and plain English when writing your abstract because you need to consider that not everyone who reads your abstracts understands your concepts the way you do. Therefore, you must try to balance writing for the people within your discipline and a wider audience.
Anything that is not in your work should never make it to your abstract, and endeavor to write your abstract in passive language.