Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper
Definition and Purpose of Abstracts
An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:
- an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
- an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
- and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.
It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.
If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.
The Contents of an Abstract
Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.
Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:
- the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
- the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
- what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
- the main reason(s) , the exigency, the rationale , the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
- your research and/or analytical methods
- your main findings , results , or arguments
- the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.
Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.
When to Write Your Abstract
Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.
What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.
Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract
The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.
The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.
The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).
Sample Abstract 1
From the social sciences.
Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses
Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.
Sample Abstract 2
From the humanities.
Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications
Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.
Sample Abstract/Summary 3
From the sciences.
Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells
Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.
Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract
Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study
Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.
Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.
“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.
METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.
RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.
CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)
Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:
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- How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation or Thesis
- Doing a PhD
What is a Thesis or Dissertation Abstract?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines an abstract in academic writing as being “ a few sentences that give the main ideas in an article or a scientific paper ” and the Collins English Dictionary says “ an abstract of an article, document, or speech is a short piece of writing that gives the main points of it ”.
Whether you’re writing up your Master’s dissertation or PhD thesis, the abstract will be a key element of this document that you’ll want to make sure you give proper attention to.
What is the Purpose of an Abstract?
The aim of a thesis abstract is to give the reader a broad overview of what your research project was about and what you found that was novel, before he or she decides to read the entire thesis. The reality here though is that very few people will read the entire thesis, and not because they’re necessarily disinterested but because practically it’s too large a document for most people to have the time to read. The exception to this is your PhD examiner, however know that even they may not read the entire length of the document.
Some people may still skip to and read specific sections throughout your thesis such as the methodology, but the fact is that the abstract will be all that most read and will therefore be the section they base their opinions about your research on. In short, make sure you write a good, well-structured abstract.
How Long Should an Abstract Be?
If you’re a PhD student, having written your 100,000-word thesis, the abstract will be the 300 word summary included at the start of the thesis that succinctly explains the motivation for your study (i.e. why this research was needed), the main work you did (i.e. the focus of each chapter), what you found (the results) and concluding with how your research study contributed to new knowledge within your field.
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States of America, once famously said:
The point here is that it’s easier to talk open-endedly about a subject that you know a lot about than it is to condense the key points into a 10-minute speech; the same applies for an abstract. Three hundred words is not a lot of words which makes it even more difficult to condense three (or more) years of research into a coherent, interesting story.
What Makes a Good PhD Thesis Abstract?
Whilst the abstract is one of the first sections in your PhD thesis, practically it’s probably the last aspect that you’ll ending up writing before sending the document to print. The reason being that you can’t write a summary about what you did, what you found and what it means until you’ve done the work.
A good abstract is one that can clearly explain to the reader in 300 words:
- What your research field actually is,
- What the gap in knowledge was in your field,
- The overarching aim and objectives of your PhD in response to these gaps,
- What methods you employed to achieve these,
- You key results and findings,
- How your work has added to further knowledge in your field of study.
Another way to think of this structure is:
- Aims and objectives,
Following this ‘formulaic’ approach to writing the abstract should hopefully make it a little easier to write but you can already see here that there’s a lot of information to convey in a very limited number of words.
How Do You Write a Good PhD Thesis Abstract?
The biggest challenge you’ll have is getting all the 6 points mentioned above across in your abstract within the limit of 300 words . Your particular university may give some leeway in going a few words over this but it’s good practice to keep within this; the art of succinctly getting your information across is an important skill for a researcher to have and one that you’ll be called on to use regularly as you write papers for peer review.
Keep It Concise
Every word in the abstract is important so make sure you focus on only the key elements of your research and the main outcomes and significance of your project that you want the reader to know about. You may have come across incidental findings during your research which could be interesting to discuss but this should not happen in the abstract as you simply don’t have enough words. Furthermore, make sure everything you talk about in your thesis is actually described in the main thesis.
Make a Unique Point Each Sentence
Keep the sentences short and to the point. Each sentence should give the reader new, useful information about your research so there’s no need to write out your project title again. Give yourself one or two sentences to introduce your subject area and set the context for your project. Then another sentence or two to explain the gap in the knowledge; there’s no need or expectation for you to include references in the abstract.
Explain Your Research
Some people prefer to write their overarching aim whilst others set out their research questions as they correspond to the structure of their thesis chapters; the approach you use is up to you, as long as the reader can understand what your dissertation or thesis had set out to achieve. Knowing this will help the reader better understand if your results help to answer the research questions or if further work is needed.
Keep It Factual
Keep the content of the abstract factual; that is to say that you should avoid bringing too much or any opinion into it, which inevitably can make the writing seem vague in the points you’re trying to get across and even lacking in structure.
Write, Edit and Then Rewrite
Spend suitable time editing your text, and if necessary, completely re-writing it. Show the abstract to others and ask them to explain what they understand about your research – are they able to explain back to you each of the 6 structure points, including why your project was needed, the research questions and results, and the impact it had on your research field? It’s important that you’re able to convey what new knowledge you contributed to your field but be mindful when writing your abstract that you don’t inadvertently overstate the conclusions, impact and significance of your work.
Thesis and Dissertation Abstract Examples
Perhaps the best way to understand how to write a thesis abstract is to look at examples of what makes a good and bad abstract.
Example of A Bad Abstract
Let’s start with an example of a bad thesis abstract:
In this project on “The Analysis of the Structural Integrity of 3D Printed Polymers for use in Aircraft”, my research looked at how 3D printing of materials can help the aviation industry in the manufacture of planes. Plane parts can be made at a lower cost using 3D printing and made lighter than traditional components. This project investigated the structural integrity of EBM manufactured components, which could revolutionise the aviation industry.
What Makes This a Bad Abstract
Hopefully you’ll have spotted some of the reasons this would be considered a poor abstract, not least because the author used up valuable words by repeating the lengthy title of the project in the abstract.
Working through our checklist of the 6 key points you want to convey to the reader:
- There has been an attempt to introduce the research area , albeit half-way through the abstract but it’s not clear if this is a materials science project about 3D printing or is it about aircraft design.
- There’s no explanation about where the gap in the knowledge is that this project attempted to address.
- We can see that this project was focussed on the topic of structural integrity of materials in aircraft but the actual research aims or objectives haven’t been defined.
- There’s no mention at all of what the author actually did to investigate structural integrity. For example was this an experimental study involving real aircraft, or something in the lab, computer simulations etc.
- The author also doesn’t tell us a single result of his research, let alone the key findings !
- There’s a bold claim in the last sentence of the abstract that this project could revolutionise the aviation industry, and this may well be the case, but based on the abstract alone there is no evidence to support this as it’s not even clear what the author did .
This is an extreme example but is a good way to illustrate just how unhelpful a poorly written abstract can be. At only 71 words long, it definitely hasn’t maximised the amount of information that could be presented and the what they have presented has lacked clarity and structure.
A final point to note is the use of the EBM acronym, which stands for Electron Beam Melting in the context of 3D printing; this is a niche acronym for the author to assume that the reader would know the meaning of. It’s best to avoid acronyms in your abstract all together even if it’s something that you might expect most people to know about, unless you specifically define the meaning first.
Example of A Good Abstract
Having seen an example of a bad thesis abstract, now lets look at an example of a good PhD thesis abstract written about the same (fictional) project:
Additive manufacturing (AM) of titanium alloys has the potential to enable cheaper and lighter components to be produced with customised designs for use in aircraft engines. Whilst the proof-of-concept of these have been promising, the structural integrity of AM engine parts in response to full thrust and temperature variations is not clear.
The primary aim of this project was to determine the fracture modes and mechanisms of AM components designed for use in Boeing 747 engines. To achieve this an explicit finite element (FE) model was developed to simulate the environment and parameters that the engine is exposed to during flight. The FE model was validated using experimental data replicating the environmental parameters in a laboratory setting using ten AM engine components provided by the industry sponsor. The validated FE model was then used to investigate the extent of crack initiation and propagation as the environment parameters were adjusted.
This project was the first to investigate fracture patterns in AM titanium components used in aircraft engines; the key finding was that the presence of cavities within the structures due to errors in the printing process, significantly increased the risk of fracture. Secondly, the simulations showed that cracks formed within AM parts were more likely to worsen and lead to component failure at subzero temperatures when compared to conventionally manufactured parts. This has demonstrated an important safety concern which needs to be addressed before AM parts can be used in commercial aircraft.
What Makes This a Good Abstract
Having read this ‘good abstract’ you should have a much better understand about what the subject area is about, where the gap in the knowledge was, the aim of the project, the methods that were used, key results and finally the significance of these results. To break these points down further, from this good abstract we now know that:
- The research area is around additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) of materials for use in aircraft.
- The gap in knowledge was how these materials will behave structural when used in aircraft engines.
- The aim was specifically to investigate how the components can fracture.
- The methods used to investigate this were a combination of computational and lab based experimental modelling.
- The key findings were the increased risk of fracture of these components due to the way they are manufactured.
- The significance of these findings were that it showed a potential risk of component failure that could comprise the safety of passengers and crew on the aircraft.
The abstract text has a much clearer flow through these different points in how it’s written and has made much better use of the available word count. Acronyms have even been used twice in this good abstract but they were clearly defined the first time they were introduced in the text so that there was no confusion about their meaning.
The abstract you write for your dissertation or thesis should succinctly explain to the reader why the work of your research was needed, what you did, what you found and what it means. Most people that come across your thesis, including any future employers, are likely to read only your abstract. Even just for this reason alone, it’s so important that you write the best abstract you can; this will not only convey your research effectively but also put you in the best light possible as a researcher.
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- Knowledge Base
- How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples
How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples
Published on 1 March 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.
An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.
Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.
One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:
Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.
In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
Table of contents
Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, frequently asked questions about abstracts.
Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.
This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the UK during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).
Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.
Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.
Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.
You will almost always have to include an abstract when:
- Completing a thesis or dissertation
- Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
- Writing a book proposal
- Applying for research grants
It’s easiest to write your abstract last, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:
- Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
- Be fully understandable on its own
- Reflect the structure of your larger work
Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?
You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic, but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialised terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.
After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyse,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.
This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.
- This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
- This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.
- Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
- Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.
Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.
Next, summarise the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.
- Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
- Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
- Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.
Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.
- We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
- We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.
If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalisability of your research.
If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.
If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.
Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.
It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.
Read other abstracts
The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.
You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .
Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.
For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarise the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.
Write clearly and concisely
A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.
To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:
- Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
- Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
- Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
- Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
- Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.
If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services .
Check your formatting
If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .
The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.
The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .
I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.
I have briefly described my methodology .
I have summarized the most important results .
I have stated my main conclusions .
I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.
The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.
You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.
An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:
- To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
- To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.
Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarises the contents of your paper.
An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 150–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.
The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis or paper.
Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:
- The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
- The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.
There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.
The abstract appears on its own page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
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An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.
Writing an Abstract. The Writing Center. Clarion University, 2009; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Importance of a Good Abstract
Sometimes your professor will ask you to include an abstract, or general summary of your work, with your research paper. The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information [e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.] must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.
How do you know when you have enough information in your abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing a similar study. Then ask yourself: if your abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the amount of information presented there? Does it tell the whole story about your study? If the answer is "no" then the abstract likely needs to be revised.
How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Undergraduate Research. University of Kentucky; Staiger, David L. “What Today’s Students Need to Know about Writing Abstracts.” International Journal of Business Communication January 3 (1966): 29-33; Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.
Structure and Writing Style
I. Types of Abstracts
To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.
Critical Abstract A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.
Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less. Informative Abstract The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
Highlight Abstract A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.
II. Writing Style
Use the active voice when possible , but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.
Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.
Composing Your Abstract
Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].
Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words. The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
- A catchy introductory phrase, provocative quote, or other device to grab the reader's attention,
- Lengthy background or contextual information,
- Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
- Acronyms or abbreviations,
- References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
- Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
- Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
- Citations to other works, and
- Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century . Oxford, UK: 2010; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Never Cite Just the Abstract!
Citing to just a journal article's abstract does not confirm for the reader that you have conducted a thorough or reliable review of the literature. If the full-text is not available, go to the USC Libraries main page and enter the title of the article [NOT the title of the journal]. If the Libraries have a subscription to the journal, the article should appear with a link to the full-text or to the journal publisher page where you can get the article. If the article does not appear, try searching Google Scholar using the link on the USC Libraries main page. If you still can't find the article after doing this, contact a librarian or you can request it from our free i nterlibrary loan and document delivery service .
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The Dissertation Abstract: 101
How to write a clear & concise abstract (with examples).
By: Madeline Fink (MSc) Reviewed By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | June 2020
So, you’ve (finally) finished your thesis or dissertation or thesis. Now it’s time to write up your abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary). If you’re here, chances are you’re not quite sure what you need to cover in this section, or how to go about writing it. Fear not – we’ll explain it all in plain language , step by step , with clear examples .
Overview: The Dissertation/Thesis Abstract
- What exactly is a dissertation (or thesis) abstract
- What’s the purpose and function of the abstract
- Why is the abstract so important
- How to write a high-quality dissertation abstract
- Example/sample of a quality abstract
- Quick tips to write a high-quality dissertation abstract
What is an abstract?
Simply put, the abstract in a dissertation or thesis is a short (but well structured) summary that outlines the most important points of your research (i.e. the key takeaways). The abstract is usually 1 paragraph or about 300-500 words long (about one page), but but this can vary between universities.
A quick note regarding terminology – strictly speaking, an abstract and an executive summary are two different things when it comes to academic publications. Typically, an abstract only states what the research will be about, but doesn’t explore the findings – whereas an executive summary covers both . However, in the context of a dissertation or thesis, the abstract usually covers both, providing a summary of the full project.
In terms of content, a good dissertation abstract usually covers the following points:
- The purpose of the research (what’s it about and why’s that important)
- The methodology (how you carried out the research)
- The key research findings (what answers you found)
- The implications of these findings (what these answers mean)
We’ll explain each of these in more detail a little later in this post. Buckle up.
What’s the purpose of the abstract?
A dissertation abstract has two main functions:
The first purpose is to inform potential readers of the main idea of your research without them having to read your entire piece of work. Specifically, it needs to communicate what your research is about (what were you trying to find out) and what your findings were . When readers are deciding whether to read your dissertation or thesis, the abstract is the first part they’ll consider.
The second purpose of the abstract is to inform search engines and dissertation databases as they index your dissertation or thesis. The keywords and phrases in your abstract (as well as your keyword list) will often be used by these search engines to categorize your work and make it accessible to users.
Simply put, your abstract is your shopfront display window – it’s what passers-by (both human and digital) will look at before deciding to step inside.
Why’s it so important?
The short answer – because most people don’t have time to read your full dissertation or thesis! Time is money, after all…
If you think back to when you undertook your literature review , you’ll quickly realise just how important abstracts are! Researchers reviewing the literature on any given topic face a mountain of reading, so they need to optimise their approach. A good dissertation abstract gives the reader a “TLDR” version of your work – it helps them decide whether to continue to read it in its entirety. So, your abstract, as your shopfront display window, needs to “sell” your research to time-poor readers.
You might be thinking, “but I don’t plan to publish my dissertation”. Even so, you still need to provide an impactful abstract for your markers. Your ability to concisely summarise your work is one of the things they’re assessing, so it’s vital to invest time and effort into crafting an enticing shop window.
A good abstract also has an added purpose for grad students . As a freshly minted graduate, your dissertation or thesis is often your most significant professional accomplishment and highlights where your unique expertise lies. Potential employers who want to know about this expertise are likely to only read the abstract (as opposed to reading your entire document) – so it needs to be good!
Think about it this way – if your thesis or dissertation were a book, then the abstract would be the blurb on the back cover. For better or worse, readers will absolutely judge your book by its cover .
How to write your abstract
As we touched on earlier, your abstract should cover four important aspects of your research: the purpose , methodology , findings , and implications . Therefore, the structure of your dissertation or thesis abstract needs to reflect these four essentials, in the same order. Let’s take a closer look at each of them, step by step:
Step 1: Describe the purpose and value of your research
Here you need to concisely explain the purpose and value of your research. In other words, you need to explain what your research set out to discover and why that’s important. When stating the purpose of research, you need to clearly discuss the following:
- What were your research aims and research questions ?
- Why were these aims and questions important?
It’s essential to make this section extremely clear, concise and convincing . As the opening section, this is where you’ll “hook” your reader (marker) in and get them interested in your project. If you don’t put in the effort here, you’ll likely lose their interest.
Step 2: Briefly outline your study’s methodology
In this part of your abstract, you need to very briefly explain how you went about answering your research questions . In other words, what research design and methodology you adopted in your research. Some important questions to address here include:
- Did you take a qualitative or quantitative approach ?
- Who/what did your sample consist of?
- How did you collect your data?
- How did you analyse your data?
Simply put, this section needs to address the “ how ” of your research. It doesn’t need to be lengthy (this is just a summary, after all), but it should clearly address the four questions above.
Need a helping hand?
Step 3: Present your key findings
Next, you need to briefly highlight the key findings . Your research likely produced a wealth of data and findings, so there may be a temptation to ramble here. However, this section is just about the key findings – in other words, the answers to the original questions that you set out to address.
Again, brevity and clarity are important here. You need to concisely present the most important findings for your reader.
Step 4: Describe the implications of your research
Have you ever found yourself reading through a large report, struggling to figure out what all the findings mean in terms of the bigger picture? Well, that’s the purpose of the implications section – to highlight the “so what?” of your research.
In this part of your abstract, you should address the following questions:
- What is the impact of your research findings on the industry /field investigated? In other words, what’s the impact on the “real world”.
- What is the impact of your findings on the existing body of knowledge ? For example, do they support the existing research?
- What might your findings mean for future research conducted on your topic?
If you include these four essential ingredients in your dissertation abstract, you’ll be on headed in a good direction.
Example: Dissertation/thesis abstract
Here is an example of an abstract from a master’s thesis, with the purpose , methods , findings , and implications colour coded.
The U.S. citizenship application process is a legal and symbolic journey shaped by many cultural processes. This research project aims to bring to light the experiences of immigrants and citizenship applicants living in Dallas, Texas, to promote a better understanding of Dallas’ increasingly diverse population. Additionally, the purpose of this project is to provide insights to a specific client, the office of Dallas Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs, about Dallas’ lawful permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship and their reasons for pursuing citizenship status . The data for this project was collected through observation at various citizenship workshops and community events, as well as through semi-structured interviews with 14 U.S. citizenship applicants . Reasons for applying for U.S. citizenship discussed in this project include a desire for membership in U.S. society, access to better educational and economic opportunities, improved ease of travel and the desire to vote. Barriers to the citizenship process discussed in this project include the amount of time one must dedicate to the application, lack of clear knowledge about the process and the financial cost of the application. Other themes include the effects of capital on applicant’s experience with the citizenship process, symbolic meanings of citizenship, transnationalism and ideas of deserving and undeserving surrounding the issues of residency and U.S. citizenship. These findings indicate the need for educational resources and mentorship for Dallas-area residents applying for U.S. citizenship, as well as a need for local government programs that foster a sense of community among citizenship applicants and their neighbours.
Practical tips for writing your abstract
When crafting the abstract for your dissertation or thesis, the most powerful technique you can use is to try and put yourself in the shoes of a potential reader. Assume the reader is not an expert in the field, but is interested in the research area. In other words, write for the intelligent layman, not for the seasoned topic expert.
Start by trying to answer the question “why should I read this dissertation?”
Remember the WWHS.
Make sure you include the what , why , how , and so what of your research in your abstract:
- What you studied (who and where are included in this part)
- Why the topic was important
- How you designed your study (i.e. your research methodology)
- So what were the big findings and implications of your research
Keep it simple.
Use terminology appropriate to your field of study, but don’t overload your abstract with big words and jargon that cloud the meaning and make your writing difficult to digest. A good abstract should appeal to all levels of potential readers and should be a (relatively) easy read. Remember, you need to write for the intelligent layman.
When writing your abstract, clearly outline your most important findings and insights and don’t worry about “giving away” too much about your research – there’s no need to withhold information. This is the one way your abstract is not like a blurb on the back of a book – the reader should be able to clearly understand the key takeaways of your thesis or dissertation after reading the abstract. Of course, if they then want more detail, they need to step into the restaurant and try out the menu.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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What this handout is about
This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.
What is an abstract?
An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.
Why write an abstract?
You may write an abstract for various reasons. The two most important are selection and indexing. Abstracts allow readers who may be interested in a longer work to quickly decide whether it is worth their time to read it. Also, many online databases use abstracts to index larger works. Therefore, abstracts should contain keywords and phrases that allow for easy searching.
Say you are beginning a research project on how Brazilian newspapers helped Brazil’s ultra-liberal president Luiz Ignácio da Silva wrest power from the traditional, conservative power base. A good first place to start your research is to search Dissertation Abstracts International for all dissertations that deal with the interaction between newspapers and politics. “Newspapers and politics” returned 569 hits. A more selective search of “newspapers and Brazil” returned 22 hits. That is still a fair number of dissertations. Titles can sometimes help winnow the field, but many titles are not very descriptive. For example, one dissertation is titled “Rhetoric and Riot in Rio de Janeiro.” It is unclear from the title what this dissertation has to do with newspapers in Brazil. One option would be to download or order the entire dissertation on the chance that it might speak specifically to the topic. A better option is to read the abstract. In this case, the abstract reveals the main focus of the dissertation:
This dissertation examines the role of newspaper editors in the political turmoil and strife that characterized late First Empire Rio de Janeiro (1827-1831). Newspaper editors and their journals helped change the political culture of late First Empire Rio de Janeiro by involving the people in the discussion of state. This change in political culture is apparent in Emperor Pedro I’s gradual loss of control over the mechanisms of power. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. To explore the role of the newspapers in the political events of the late First Empire, this dissertation analyzes all available newspapers published in Rio de Janeiro from 1827 to 1831. Newspapers and their editors were leading forces in the effort to remove power from the hands of the ruling elite and place it under the control of the people. In the process, newspapers helped change how politics operated in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil.
From this abstract you now know that although the dissertation has nothing to do with modern Brazilian politics, it does cover the role of newspapers in changing traditional mechanisms of power. After reading the abstract, you can make an informed judgment about whether the dissertation would be worthwhile to read.
Besides selection, the other main purpose of the abstract is for indexing. Most article databases in the online catalog of the library enable you to search abstracts. This allows for quick retrieval by users and limits the extraneous items recalled by a “full-text” search. However, for an abstract to be useful in an online retrieval system, it must incorporate the key terms that a potential researcher would use to search. For example, if you search Dissertation Abstracts International using the keywords “France” “revolution” and “politics,” the search engine would search through all the abstracts in the database that included those three words. Without an abstract, the search engine would be forced to search titles, which, as we have seen, may not be fruitful, or else search the full text. It’s likely that a lot more than 60 dissertations have been written with those three words somewhere in the body of the entire work. By incorporating keywords into the abstract, the author emphasizes the central topics of the work and gives prospective readers enough information to make an informed judgment about the applicability of the work.
When do people write abstracts?
- when submitting articles to journals, especially online journals
- when applying for research grants
- when writing a book proposal
- when completing the Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
- when writing a proposal for a conference paper
- when writing a proposal for a book chapter
Most often, the author of the entire work (or prospective work) writes the abstract. However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Undergraduates are sometimes asked to draft abstracts of books/articles for classmates who have not read the larger work.
Types of abstracts
There are two types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. They have different aims, so as a consequence they have different components and styles. There is also a third type called critical, but it is rarely used. If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review . If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor (if the abstract is for a class) or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.
A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short—100 words or less.
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the writer presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the complete article/paper/book. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract (purpose, methods, scope) but also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is rarely more than 10% of the length of the entire work. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less.
Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts . Descriptive abstract:
The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided.
Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results. This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one.
Which type should I use?
Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.e., 100-120 words = descriptive; 250+ words = informative.
How do I write an abstract?
The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind:
- Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
- Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
- Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
- Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
- Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?
(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.” )
All abstracts include:
- A full citation of the source, preceding the abstract.
- The most important information first.
- The same type and style of language found in the original, including technical language.
- Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
- Clear, concise, and powerful language.
Abstracts may include:
- The thesis of the work, usually in the first sentence.
- Background information that places the work in the larger body of literature.
- The same chronological structure as the original work.
How not to write an abstract:
- Do not refer extensively to other works.
- Do not add information not contained in the original work.
- Do not define terms.
If you are abstracting your own writing
When abstracting your own work, it may be difficult to condense a piece of writing that you have agonized over for weeks (or months, or even years) into a 250-word statement. There are some tricks that you could use to make it easier, however.
This technique is commonly used when you are having trouble organizing your own writing. The process involves writing down the main idea of each paragraph on a separate piece of paper– see our short video . For the purposes of writing an abstract, try grouping the main ideas of each section of the paper into a single sentence. Practice grouping ideas using webbing or color coding .
For a scientific paper, you may have sections titled Purpose, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each one of these sections will be longer than one paragraph, but each is grouped around a central idea. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement.
Cut and paste:
To create a first draft of an abstract of your own work, you can read through the entire paper and cut and paste sentences that capture key passages. This technique is useful for social science research with findings that cannot be encapsulated by neat numbers or concrete results. A well-written humanities draft will have a clear and direct thesis statement and informative topic sentences for paragraphs or sections. Isolate these sentences in a separate document and work on revising them into a unified paragraph.
If you are abstracting someone else’s writing
When abstracting something you have not written, you cannot summarize key ideas just by cutting and pasting. Instead, you must determine what a prospective reader would want to know about the work. There are a few techniques that will help you in this process:
Identify key terms:
Search through the entire document for key terms that identify the purpose, scope, and methods of the work. Pay close attention to the Introduction (or Purpose) and the Conclusion (or Discussion). These sections should contain all the main ideas and key terms in the paper. When writing the abstract, be sure to incorporate the key terms.
Highlight key phrases and sentences:
Instead of cutting and pasting the actual words, try highlighting sentences or phrases that appear to be central to the work. Then, in a separate document, rewrite the sentences and phrases in your own words.
Don’t look back:
After reading the entire work, put it aside and write a paragraph about the work without referring to it. In the first draft, you may not remember all the key terms or the results, but you will remember what the main point of the work was. Remember not to include any information you did not get from the work being abstracted.
Revise, revise, revise
No matter what type of abstract you are writing, or whether you are abstracting your own work or someone else’s, the most important step in writing an abstract is to revise early and often. When revising, delete all extraneous words and incorporate meaningful and powerful words. The idea is to be as clear and complete as possible in the shortest possible amount of space. The Word Count feature of Microsoft Word can help you keep track of how long your abstract is and help you hit your target length.
Example 1: Humanities abstract
Kenneth Tait Andrews, “‘Freedom is a constant struggle’: The dynamics and consequences of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1984” Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997 DAI-A 59/02, p. 620, Aug 1998
This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so. The time period studied includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies. Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports. This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.
Now let’s break down this abstract into its component parts to see how the author has distilled his entire dissertation into a ~200 word abstract.
What the dissertation does This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so.
How the dissertation does it The time period studied in this dissertation includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies.
What materials are used Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports.
Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to movement demands and the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.
Keywords social movements Civil Rights Movement Mississippi voting rights desegregation
Example 2: Science Abstract
Luis Lehner, “Gravitational radiation from black hole spacetimes” Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1998 DAI-B 59/06, p. 2797, Dec 1998
The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search for and analysis of detected signals. The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm. This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.
This science abstract covers much of the same ground as the humanities one, but it asks slightly different questions.
Why do this study The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search and analysis of the detected signals.
What the study does The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm.
Results This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.
Keywords gravitational radiation (GR) spacetimes black holes
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.
Kilborn, Judith. 1998. “Writing Abstracts.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated October 20, 1998. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/bizwrite/abstracts.html .
Koopman, Philip. 1997. “How to Write an Abstract.” Carnegie Mellon University. October 1997. http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html .
Lancaster, F.W. 2003. Indexing And Abstracting in Theory and Practice , 3rd ed. London: Facet Publishing.
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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.
A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.
A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.
When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.
Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.
Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.
Descriptive thesis (not arguable)
While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.
This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.
Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)
Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.
This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.
Arguable thesis with analytical claim
While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.
This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.
Arguable thesis with normative claim
Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.
This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.
Questions to ask about your thesis
- Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?
- Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?
- Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?
- Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?
- Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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Writing an abstract - a six point checklist (with samples)
Posted in: abstract , dissertations
The abstract is a vital part of any research paper. It is the shop front for your work, and the first stop for your reader. It should provide a clear and succinct summary of your study, and encourage your readers to read more. An effective abstract, therefore should answer the following questions:
- Why did you do this study or project?
- What did you do and how?
- What did you find?
- What do your findings mean?
So here's our run down of the key elements of a well-written abstract.
- Size - A succinct and well written abstract should be between approximately 100- 250 words.
- Background - An effective abstract usually includes some scene-setting information which might include what is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question (a few short sentences).
- Purpose - The abstract should also set out the purpose of your research, in other words, what is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present).
- Methods - The methods section should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. It should include brief details of the research design, sample size, duration of study, and so on.
- Results - The results section is the most important part of the abstract. This is because readers who skim an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should therefore contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits.
- Conclusion - This section should contain the most important take-home message of the study, expressed in a few precisely worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcomes of the study. However, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary, but not essential, to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. Thus, the conclusions may contain three elements:
- The primary take-home message
- Any additional findings of importance
- Implications for future studies
Example Abstract 2: Engineering Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone.
Abstract from: Dalstra, M., Huiskes, R. and Van Erning, L., 1995. Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone. Journal of biomechanical engineering, 117(3), pp.272-278.
And finally... A word on abstract types and styles
Abstract types can differ according to subject discipline. You need to determine therefore which type of abstract you should include with your paper. Here are two of the most common types with examples.
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgements about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarised. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.
(Adapted from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/ )
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Writing an Abstract
Overview of abstracts, steps for writing an abstract, let the abstract guide your paper.
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Sample abstracts from the University of Wisconsin
An abstract is a brief summary of a research paper. When you search for published articles in the library database, you'll first see an abstract of the article, which can give you a good idea whether the article will be useful for your research. In addition, if you would like to present a research project at a conference, you may be required to submit an abstract in order to be considered.
- Keep it short. Abstracts are typically 100- 250 words long.
- Include context, background, and a thesis statement.
- A well-written abstract can act as a guide, or outline, for the rest of your paper.
Keep in mind that writing is a recursive process, meaning that sometimes steps aren’t always followed in order. You may find yourself going back to a previous step, or jumping ahead. Work through the steps in the order that suits your writing process—but each of these steps should occur at some point in the process.
- Read the guidelines
Whether you are writing your abstract for a course, for a conference, or for a professional publication it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the project. Go to the organization’s website and search for submission guidelines, then follow them exactly.
- Look for examples
Most conferences provide archives of presentations and programs. These archives contain abstracts from previous presenters. These abstracts can work to guide your own. Here is a sample abstract from EWU’s Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, 2012:
An Ecologically Based Invasive Plant Management Approach to Prairie Restoration on Mima Mounds at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge Kristin Anicito Rebecca Brown, Biology
Invasive annual grasses (IAG) are a major threat to biodiversity in western United States. IAG replace native plants and increase fire frequency thus altering ecosystem structure and function. Biological soil crust (BSC) disturbance, which leads to a loss of fixed nitrogen, likely promotes IAG invasion. Little is known about BSC disturbance effects in semi-arid systems as most studies are from drier regions. My research goal is to find an effective control for IAG that will not harm native plant growth or BSC health by testing the following questions on a Mima mound prairie at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge: 1) Will BSC disturbance increase vascular plant growth? 2) Which controls (herbicide, native seed, rhizobacteria, and sucrose) reduce IAG while maintaining native species over 1 and 3 year time scales? 3) Does active pocket gopher disturbance increase IAG? My results could improve IAG management in the western United States.
- Compose your thesis statement
Your thesis statement or topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your paper. Some tips:
- Write a thesis statement in one complete sentence.
- Be specific.
- Leave the research open-ended (you don’t have to provide a conclusion in your abstract).
- Choose a statement rather than a question.
- Avoid announcing your thesis. Your sentence can be embedded within the abstract. From the example above:
- Provide background and context
Remember that your abstract does not prove your thesis statement; your paper does. Keep only the most relevant information in your abstract. Be able to succinctly answer the following questions:
- What kind of problem is it?
- How did you address this problem?
- How does your information fit into the larger conversation on this topic?
Some writers complete their paper before writing an abstract. However, some scholars write the abstract first, submit it to a conference, and then write the paper. If you choose to write your abstract first, then you can let the abstract guide your draft.
- Find the main points
Look through the body of your abstract and identify your main point and your supporting points.
- Craft an Outline
Outlines help to organize your thoughts and will also make you aware of your blind spots. If there are gaps in your research or reasoning, then fill the gaps with more research or re-organize the information logically.
Write your main point (your thesis) at the top of the page. Using bullets, list your main points and prepare to incorporate research to back them up.
- Thesis: My research goal is to find an effective control for IAG that will not harm native plant growth or BSC health by testing the following questions on a Mima mound prairie at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
- Provide answer with researched evidence
- DISCUSS WHICH SOLUTION IS BEST
- IAG management can be improved if the following is done….
- Last Updated: Jul 21, 2021 3:04 PM
- URL: https://research.ewu.edu/writers_center_writing_abstract
- Dissertation & Thesis Guides
- Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing
- How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation or Thesis: Guide & Examples
How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation or Thesis: Guide & Examples
Table of contents
A dissertation abstract is a brief summary of a dissertation, typically between 150-300 words. It is a standalone piece of writing that gives the reader an overview of the main ideas and findings of the dissertation.
Generally, this section should include:
- Research problem and questions
- Research methodology
- Key findings and results
- Original contribution
- Practical or theoretical implications.
You need to write an excellent abstract for a dissertation or thesis, since it's the first thing a comitteee will review. Continue reading through to learn how to write a dissertation abstract. In this article, we will discuss its purpose, length, structure and writing steps. Moreover, for reference purposes, this article will include abstract examples for a dissertation and thesis and offer extra guidance on top of that.
In case you are in a hurry, feel free to buy dissertation from our professional writers. Our experts are qualified and have solid experience in writing Ph.D. academic works.
What Is a Dissertation Abstract?
Dissertation abstracts, by definition, are summaries of a thesis's content, usually between 200 and 300 words, used to inform readers about the contents of the study in a quick way. A thesis or dissertation abstract briefly overviews the entire thesis. Dissertation abstracts are found at the beginning of every study, providing the research recap, results, and conclusions. It usually goes right after your title page and before your dissertation table of contents . An abstract for a dissertation (alternatively called “précis” further in the article) should clearly state the main topic of your paper, its overall purpose, and any important research questions or findings. It should also contain any necessary keywords that direct readers to relevant information. In addition, it addresses any implications for further research that may stem from its field. Writing strong précis requires you to think carefully, as they are the critical components that attract readers to peruse your paper.
Purpose of a Dissertation or Thesis Abstract
The primary purpose of an abstract in a dissertation or thesis is to give readers a basic understanding of the completed work. Also, it should create an interest in the topic to motivate readers to read further. Writing an abstract for a dissertation is essential for many reasons:
- Offers a summary and gives readers an overview of what they should expect from your study.
- Provides an opportunity to showcase the research done, highlighting its importance and impact.
- Identifies any unexplored research gaps to inform future studies and direct the current state of knowledge on the topic.
In general, an abstract of a thesis or a dissertation is a bridge between the research and potential readers.
What Makes a Good Abstract for a Dissertation?
Making a good dissertation abstract requires excellent organization and clarity of thought. Proper specimens must provide convincing arguments supporting your thesis. Writing an effective dissertation abstract requires students to be concise and write engagingly. Below is a list of things that makes it outstanding:
- Maintains clear and concise summary style
- Includes essential keywords for search engine optimization
- Accurately conveys the scope of the thesis
- Strictly adheres to the word count limit specified in your instructions
- Written from a third-person point of view
- Includes objectives, approach, and findings
- Uses simple language without jargon
- Avoids overgeneralized statements or vague claims.
How Long Should a Dissertation Abstract Be?
Abstracts should be long enough to convey the key points of every thesis, yet brief enough to capture readers' attention. A dissertation abstract length should typically be between 200-300 words, i.e., 1 page. But usually, length is indicated in the requirements. Remember that your primary goal here is to provide an engaging and informative thesis summary. Note that following the instructions and templates set forth by your university will ensure your thesis or dissertation abstract meets the writing criteria and adheres to all relevant standards.
Dissertation Abstract Structure
Dissertation abstracts can be organized in different ways and vary slightly depending on your work requirements. However, each abstract of a dissertation should incorporate elements like keywords, methods, results, and conclusions. The structure of a thesis or a dissertation abstract should account for the components included below:
- Title Accurately reflects the topic of your thesis.
- Introduction Provides an overview of your research, its purpose, and any relevant background information.
- Methods/ Approach Gives an outline of the methods used to conduct your research.
- Results Summarizes your findings.
- Conclusions Provides an overview of your research's accomplishments and implications.
- Keywords Includes keywords that accurately describe your thesis.
Below is an example that shows how a dissertation abstract looks, how to structure it and where each part is located. Use this template to organize your own summary.
Things to Consider Before Writing a Dissertation Abstract
There are several things you should do beforehand in order to write a good abstract for a dissertation or thesis. They include:
- Reviewing set requirements and making sure you clearly understand the expectations
- Reading other research works to get an idea of what to include in yours
- Writing a few drafts before submitting your final version, which will ensure that it's in the best state possible.
Write an Abstract for a Dissertation Last
Remember, it's advisable to write an abstract for a thesis paper or dissertation last. Even though it’s always located in the beginning of the work, nevertheless, it should be written last. This way, your summary will be more accurate because the main argument and conclusions are already known when the work is mostly finished - it is incomparably easier to write a dissertation abstract after completing your thesis. Additionally, you should write it last because the contents and scope of the thesis may have changed during the writing process. So, create your dissertation abstract as a last step to help ensure that it precisely reflects the content of your project.
Carefully Read Requirements
Writing dissertation abstracts requires careful attention to details and adherence to writing requirements. Refer to the rubric or guidelines that you were presented with to identify aspects to keep in mind and important elements, such as correct length and writing style, and then make sure to comprehensively include them. Careful consideration of these requirements ensures that your writing meets every criterion and standard provided by your supervisor to increase the chances that your master's thesis is accepted and approved.
Choose the Right Type of Dissertation Abstracts
Before starting to write a dissertation or thesis abstract you should choose the appropriate type. Several options are available, and it is essential to pick one that best suits your dissertation's subject. Depending on their purpose, there exist 3 types of dissertation abstracts:
Informative one offers readers a concise overview of your research, its purpose, and any relevant background information. Additionally, this type includes brief summaries of all results and dissertation conclusions . A descriptive abstract in a dissertation or thesis provides a quick overview of the research, but it doesn't incorporate any evaluation or analysis because it only offers a snapshot of the study and makes no claims.
Critical abstract gives readers an in-depth overview of the research and include an evaluative component. This means that this type also summarizes and analyzes research data, discusses implications, and makes claims about the achievements of your study. In addition, it examines the research data and recounts its implications.
Choose the correct type of dissertation abstract to ensure that it meets your paper’s demands.
How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation or Thesis?
Writing a good abstract for a dissertation or thesis is essential as it provides a brief overview of the completed research. So, how to write a dissertation abstract? First of all, the right approach is dictated by an institution's specific requirements. However, a basic structure should include the title, an introduction to your topic, research methodology, findings, and conclusions. Composing noteworthy precis allows you to flaunt your capabilities and grants readers a concise glimpse of the research. Doing this can make an immense impact on those reviewing your paper.
1. Identify the Purpose of Your Study
An abstract for thesis paper or dissertation is mainly dependent on the purpose of your study. Students need to identify all goals and objectives of their research before writing their précis - the reason being to ensure that the investigation’s progress and all its consequent findings are described simply and intelligibly. Additionally, one should provide some background information about their study. A short general description helps your reader acknowledge and connect with the research question. But don’t dive too deep into details, since more details are provided when writing a dissertation introduction . Scholars should write every dissertation abstract accurately and in a coherent way to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the area. This is the first section that potential readers will see, and it should serve as a precise overview of an entire document. Therefore, researchers writing abstracts of a thesis or dissertation should do it with great care and attention to details.
2. Discuss Methodology
A writer needs to elaborate on their methodological approach in an abstract of PhD dissertation since it acts as a brief summary of a whole research and should include an explanation of all methods used there. Dissertation and thesis abstracts discuss the research methodology by providing information sufficient enough to understand the underlying research question, data collection methods, and approach employed. Additionally, they should explain the analysis or interpretation of the data. This will help readers to gain a much better understanding of the research process and allow them to evaluate the data quality. Mention whether your methodology is quantitative or qualitative since this information is essential for readers to grasp your study's context and scope. Additionally, comment on the sources used and any other evidence collected. Furthermore, explain why you chose the method in the first place. All in all, addressing methodology is a crucial part of writing abstracts of a thesis or dissertation, as it will allow people to understand exactly how you arrived at your conclusions.
3. Describe the Key Results
Write your abstract for dissertation in a way that includes an overview of the research problem, your proposed solution, and any limitations or constraints you faced. Students need to briefly and clearly describe all key findings from the research. You must ensure that the results mentioned in an abstract of a thesis or dissertation are supported with evidence from body chapters. Write about any crucial trends or patterns that emerged from the study. They should be discussed in detail, as this information can often provide valuable insight into your topic. Be sure to include any correlations or relationships found as a result of the study. Correlation, in this context, refers to any association between two or more variables. Finally, write about any implications or conclusions drawn from your results: this is an essential element when writing an abstract for dissertation since it allows readers to firmly comprehend the study’s significance.
4. Summarize an Abstract for a Dissertation
Knowing how to write an abstract for dissertation is critical in conveying your work to a broad audience. Summarizing can be challenging (since precis is a summary in itself), but it is an essential part of any successful work. So, as a final step, conclude this section with a brief overview of the topic, outline the course of your research and its main results, and answer the paper’s central question. Summarizing an abstract of your dissertation is done to give readers a succinct impression of the entire paper, making an accurate and concise overview of all its key points and consequent conclusions. In every PhD dissertation abstract , wrap up its summary by addressing any unanswered questions and discussing any potential implications of the research.
How to Format an Abstract in Dissertation
Format depends on the style (APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago), which varies according to your subject's discipline. Style to use is usually mentioned in the instructions, and students should follow them closely to ensure formatting accuracy. These styles have guidelines that inform you about the formatting of titles, headings and subheadings, margins, page numbers, abstracts, and tell what font size and family or line spacing are required. Using a consistent formatting style ensures proper readability and might even influence paper’s overall structure. Another formatting concern to consider when writing dissertation and thesis abstracts is their layout. Most commonly, your paper should have a one-inch margin on all sides with double spacing. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the right guidelines to get the correct information on how to write dissertation abstract in APA format and ensure that it meets formatting standards.
Keywords in a Dissertation Abstract
When writing thesis abstracts, it is essential to include keywords. Keywords are phrases or words that help readers identify main topics of your paper and make it easier for them to find any information they need. Keywords should usually be placed at the end of a dissertation abstract and written in italics. In addition, include keywords that represent your paper's primary research interests and topics. Lastly, use keywords throughout your thesis to ensure that your précis accurately reflect an entire paper's content.
Thesis and Dissertation Abstract Examples
When writing, checking out thesis and dissertation abstracts examples from experts can provide a valuable reference point for structuring and formatting your own précis. When searching for an excellent sample template, engaging the assistance of a professional writer can be highly beneficial. Their expertise and knowledge offer helpful insight into creating an exemplary document that exceeds all expectations. Examples of dissertation abstracts from different topics are commonly available in scholarly journals and websites. We also encourage you to go and search your university or other local library catalogue - multiple useful samples can surely be found there. From our part, we will attach 2 free examples for inspiration.
Dissertation abstract example
Thesis abstract example
Need a custom summary or a whole work? Contact StudyCrumb and get proficient assistance with PhD writing or dissertation proposal help .
Extra Tips on Writing a Dissertation Abstract
Writing a dissertation or PhD thesis abstract is not an easy task. You must ensure that it accurately reflects your paper's content. In this context, we will provide top-class tips on how to write an abstract in a dissertation or thesis for you to succeed. Combined with an example of a dissertation abstract above, you can rest assured that you'll do everything correctly. Below are extra tips on how to write a thesis abstract:
- Keep it concise, not lengthy - around 300 words.
- Focus on the “what”, “why”, “how”, and “so what” of your research.
- Be specific and concrete: avoid generalization.
- Use simple language: précis should be easy to understand for readers unfamiliar with your topic.
- Provide enough relevant information so your readers can grasp a main idea without necessarily reading your paper in its entirety.
- Write and edit your abstract several times until every sentence is clear and concise.
- Verify accuracy: make sure that précis reflect your content precisely.
Bottom Line on How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Abstract
The bottom line when it comes to how to write a dissertation abstract is that you basically need to mirror your study's essence on a much lower scale. Specifically, students should keep their précis concise, use simple language, include relevant information, and write several drafts. Don't forget to review your précis and make sure they are precise enough. In addition, make sure to include all keywords so readers can find your paper quickly. You are encouraged to examine several sample dissertation abstracts to understand how to write your own.
Are you still struggling with your abstract? Contact our dissertation writing service and our qualified writers will gladly help you with this uneasy task. They will make sure it is delivered strictly on time and meets all requirements!
FAQ About Dissertation Abstract Writing
1. why is a dissertation abstract important.
Dissertation abstracts are important because they give readers a brief overview of your research. They succinctly introduce critical information and study’s key points to help readers decide if reading your thesis is worth their time. During indexing, an abstract allows categorizing and filtering papers through keyword searches. Consequently, this helps readers to easily find your paper when searching for information on a specific topic.
2. When should I write an abstract for a dissertation or thesis?
You are supposed to write a dissertation or thesis abstract after completing research and finishing work on your paper. This way, you can write précis that accurately reflects all necessary information without missing any important details. Writing your thesis précis last also lets you provide the right keywords to help readers find your dissertation.
3. What should a dissertation abstract include?
A dissertation abstract should include a research problem, goals and objectives, methods, results, and study implications. Ensure that you incorporate enough information so readers can get an idea of your thesis's content without reading it through. Use relevant keywords to ensure readers can easily find your paper when searching for information on a specific topic.
4. How to write a strong dissertation abstract?
To write a strong abstract for a dissertation, you should state your research problem, write in an active voice, use simple language, and provide relevant information. Additionally, write and edit your précis several times until it is clear and concise, and verify that it accurately mirrors your paper’s content. Reviewing several samples is also helpful for understanding how to write your own.
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Writing an abstract
Journal article writing
- » Targeting a journal
- » Turning a chapter into an article
- » Planning your paper
- » Writing an abstract
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Although it is usually brief (typically 150-300 words), an abstract is an important part of journal article writing (as well as for your thesis and for conferences). Done well, the abstract should create enough reader interest that readers will want to read more!
Whereas the purpose of an introduction is to broadly introduce your topic and your key message, the purpose of an abstract is to give an overview of your entire project, in particular its findings and contribution to the field. An abstract should be a standalone summary of your paper, which readers can use to decide whether it's relevant to them before they dive in to read the paper.
Usually an abstract includes the following.
- A brief introduction to the topic that you're investigating.
- Explanation of why the topic is important in your field/s.
- Statement about what the gap is in the research.
- Your research question/s / aim/s.
- An indication of your research methods and approach.
- Your key message.
- A summary of your key findings.
- An explanation of why your findings and key message contribute to the field/s.
In other words, an abstract includes points covering these questions.
- What is your paper about?
- Why is it important?
- How did you do it?
- What did you find?
- Why are your findings important?
To see the specific conventions in your field/s, have a look at the structure of a variety of abstracts from relevant journal articles. Do they include the same kinds of information as listed above? What structure do they follow? You can model your own abstract on these conventions.
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
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You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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- Thesis Abstract: Writing Techniques and Guidelines
Thesis Abstract Writing Guidelines
Tips on how to write dissertation abstract.
- Three key elements of a Thesis Abstract
Results and Conclusion
Thesis abstract process of writing, dissertation / thesis abstract examples, undergraduate level thesis abstract example, graduate level thesis abstract example.
Thesis abstract is an essential part of the dissertation paper. It is a summary of a complete work. It gives readers a chance to discover the key points of your dissertation, its research chapter, methodology and results part. Writing a proper abstract is important. Students use various techniques and guidelines to perform a perfect thesis abstract. Proper structure and of thesis dissertation is crucial. It should answer all the study’s questions and be written to identify a major element of a dissertation or thesis paper. Also check other thesis writing tips that will lead you to success or contact our thesis writing service to get professional help with Ph.D. work.
Thesis abstract (same as dissertation abstract ) answers the main questions of an entire paper. This short summary is a single page of text. It needs to show key methods used in a work, problems analyzed and gathered outcomes of a complex research work. This kind of academic assignment requires profound knowledge. People, who read abstracts, prefer those summaries that remain short, but very informative, with presented limitations in research and clear study results.
How to write the abstract of a thesis ? Thesis abstract is a small version of your dissertation or thesis . This small description ensures a better understanding of an entire paper, discovers the present condition of analyzed problems, distinguishes main objectives and determines existing expectations. A profound analysis of a major question is requested. Abstract needs to be less than five percent of the dissertation. Students write thesis abstracts of a proper length, get information for the summary using their own personal background information, knowledge and analyses’ fallouts.
Thesis abstract includes main analyzed objectives, compound research questions , problem statements, detailed dissertation methodology , and conclusions. Abstract needs to include source references and acronyms. It allows describing the top point of a dissertation paper providing a good understanding of the studied subjects and discovering numerous outcomes. Key theories and hypotheses are requested parts. They bring needed thesis abstract accurate form and allow saving time for this essential part flawless completion. Don't forget to check out thesis abstract examples provided by our professional thesis writers at the end of this article.
Writing a proper summary requires a good knowledge of an analyzed theme, valuable background information, improved writing and analytical skills. Advanced analytical skills allow performing its professional version. Key theories need to be a part of the short summary, showing main objectives of conducted analyses and research works. Proper thesis abstract format includes the following major elements:
- general background information;
- research hypotheses;
The beginning of abstract needs to include general information. It draws readers’ attention, allows them discovering key research work’ objectives and outcomes of conducted studies when reading a single summary. However, don't confude an abstract with an executive summary format . Checking introduction, people get main information about conducted work. It is a kind of dissertation’s professional review. Writing a thesis abstract takes time for performing and must be performed after the entire dissertation paper is complete. It is clever to write it in such a way. It saves precious time and efforts used for editing in future.
Thesis abstract has a limit of words and describes the major purpose of research works, writer’s contribution to assigned problem-solving history. Many scientists have made great discoveries in their dissertations. Today, students face the same challenges. Numerous investigations are conducted with an aim to answer main questions of dissertation paper and provide appropriate indications. The level of papers’ difficulty depends on a scientist’s personal characteristics. They mostly include research skills and general knowledge.
Three key elements of a Thesis Abstract
Begin by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer? You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic, but don’t go into detailed background information.
After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like investigate, test, analyze or evaluate to describe exactly what you set out to do. This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense, but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.
After - mention the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a direct description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense as it refers to completed actions.
There is no need to evaluate validity or obstacles you might have encountered in this part - the goal is not to give an account of the methodology strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used. Mention whether you have used quantitative or qualitative methods .
Next - summarize the main research results. This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense. Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.
Finally, provide the main conclusion in thesis : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense. If your aim was to solve a practical problem, the conclusions might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.
The literature review brings additional identifications and valuable sources of information. Writing down titles and authors of used works allows readers gaining additional sources of assigned problem discoveries and reaching data for calculations. Many analyses require accurate figures and numbers. You may connect present studies with investigations described in published articles and conducted by famous researchers in past. You show your own contributions and accounts. An abstract format may be updated many times. Each popular thesis abstract includes writer’s scores greatly described at the beginning of written dissertation work.
An accurate summary shows the author’s analytical and writing skills. It contains key objectives, research justifications, detailed methodology, writing techniques, major results and study statements. Never write thesis abstracts before completing a dissertation. Table of content and paper headings may be used as guidelines to write proper thesis abstract. Letting other people read your thesis abstract before submitting is important; it gives a chance to deal with possible mistakes in minutes. Thesis abstract includes various elements. It casts light on difficult methodology and identifies what is your research problem .
Experienced writers prefer writing a dissertation abstract after the entire paper was written and the results were reached. It allows creating a professional paper’s summary. Proper scientific content is important when readers generally read dissertation’s summaries first. This is a short version of the main paper allowing readers gaining the main information and building their own expectations about dissertation outcomes. This special content needs to be flawless and original.
Thesis abstract is an essential part of every dissertation paper. It is a professional summary of a complete dissertation work presented on a few pages at the beginning of the dissertation paper. It gives readers a chance to discover the key points of the dissertation, its research chapters, calculations, source references, methodology and results part. Writing a proper abstract is essential.
Students use various popular techniques and guidelines to perform perfect thesis abstract, including numerous summaries samples available online. Proper structure of short summary is crucial. It should answer all researches’ questions and be written to identify major elements and objectives of a dissertation. Thesis abstract answers main questions of the entire paper. This short summary is a single page of text. Every thesis abstract needs to show the key methods used in a work, problems analyzed and gathered outcomes of conducted complex research work.
Researcher: [Name Surname] Presentation Title: Characterization of Iron Deposition in Recombinant Heteropolymer Ferritins Research Focus: Chemistry School: [School Name] Presentation Type: Poster Presentation Abstract: Characterization of Iron Deposition in Recombinant Heteropolymer Ferritins Deneen Cole, Dr. Fadi Bou-Abdallah, SUNY Potsdam (NY, USA), Dr. Paolo Arosio, University of Brescia (Italy), Dr. Sonia Levi, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Italy) Ferritin is a ubiquitous iron storage and detoxification protein found highly conserved in species from bacteria to plants to humans. In mammals, ferritin is composed of two functionally and genetically distinct subunit types, H (heavy, ~21,000 Da) and L (light, ~19,000 Da) subunits which co-assemble in various ratios with tissue specific distribution to form a shell-like protein. The H-subunit is responsible for the fast conversion of Fe(II) to Fe(III) by dioxygen (or H2O2) whereas the L-subunit is thought to contribute to the nucleation of the iron core. In the present work, we investigated the iron oxidation and deposition mechanism in two recombinant heteropolymers ferritin samples of ~20H:4L (termed H/L) and ~22L:2H (termed L/H) ratios. Data indicates that iron oxidation occurs mainly on the H-subunit with a stoichiometry of 2Fe(II):1O2, suggesting formation of H2O2. The H/L sample completely regenerates its ferroxidase activity within a short period of time suggesting rapid movement of Fe(III) from the ferroxidase center to the cavity to form the mineral core, consistent with the role of L-chain in facilitating iron turn-over at the ferroxidase center of the H-subunit. In L/H, Fe(II) oxidation and mineralization appears to occur by two simultaneous pathways at all levels of iron additions: a peroxidation pathway with a 2Fe(II)/1O2 ratio and a mineralization pathway with a 4Fe(II)/1O2 resulting in an average net stoichiometry of ~3Fe(II)/1O2. These results illustrate how recombinant heteropolymer ferritins control iron and oxygen toxicity while providing a safe reservoir for reversible uptake and release of iron for use by the cell.
Researcher: [Name Surname] Presentation Title: An Analysis of Yukon Delta Salmon Management Research Focus: Fisheries management related to Bering Sea fisheries and Yukon River salmon populations. School: [School Name] Student Level: Masters Presentation Type: Oral Presentation Abstract: The broad range of Pacific Alaskan salmon has resulted in the creation of a complex and multiorganizational system of management that includes the state of Alaska, various federal departments, a Congressionally-mandated fishery council, and a number of commercial and nongovernmental fish organizations. In the Bering Sea salmon are caught by the commercial groundfish fleet as by-catch. On the Yukon River salmon are commercially and traditionally harvested for both economic and cultural sustenance by the Yup’ik residents of the Yukon Delta. Declining salmon populations has driven scientific research which considers the effects of Bering Sea salmon by-catch. My research findings indicate that Bering Sea fisheries occur where juvenile salmon mature, directly impacting Yukon River salmon populations. Further, the research reflects that although Yukon salmon populations have plummeted, a recent effort was made to open the northern Bering Sea, which includes the Yukon River coastal shelf, to deep-sea commercial fishing. By researching the relationship of policy to cultural salmon dependence, it becomes evident that Alaskan salmon-tribes are excluded from salmon management and decision-making. Legal research reflects that three basic federal Indian concepts – inherent rights, Indian Country, and tribal right of occupancy – emerge as potential foundations that may allow Alaskan salmon tribes to begin sharing legal responsibility over salmon. Yukon River salmon are an international and anadromous species that require multi organizational management. My research reflects that current management favors the Bering Sea commercial fishing industry, despite data indicating Bering Sea fisheries impact Yukon salmon populations and an overall downward trend in Yukon salmon populations.
The methodology is an important part of your dissertation. It describes a broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, either quantitative or qualitative, to explain to readers your approach better. Make sure that you’re clear about an academic basis for your choice of research ...
When writing an academic paper on either broad or narrow research paper topics, a good research question can help you start well. It’s all about stating a clear one that your research will answer. It plays an important role because it helps you focus the entire paper and enables you to make a strong...
When you write a thesis, you should pay exceptional attention to the introduction. The reader will start your thesis from the introduction, and he will make up his view and understanding of the problem, your ideas, professionalism and writing skills based on the introduction. Your introduction is an...
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Thesis Abstract Writing Guide For Top Grades
A thesis abstract is a 150-200 word summary of the key points of the thesis, expressing its major idea, implications, and the areas for further research.
Thesis Abstract Example
Sample abstract for thesis.
- Purpose (around 25% of your abstract) – What is the primary goal of your thesis paper? What to you aim to achieve/explore/approve?
- Methods (20% of your abstract) – Which methods, tools, and instruments you have used in your thesis research and why?
- Results (40% of the abstract) – What are the results of the experiments conducted, were they anticipared or not?
- Implications (15% of the abstract) – Taking into account the aforementioned results, which steps should be taken to address the thesis problem?
The abstract of research is appearing at the front and published with the work to help others quickly scan and find out what the work is actually about. It’s required as a part of both the thesis and dissertation projects for both college and graduate students – but is also seen in professional scholarly works throughout. While it is the first section of a research study, the abstract of a paper should be written last, after the complete scope of the study is known.
Because scholars don’t want to waste time pouring through numerous studies that don’t meet their expectations, a thesis abstract tells them precisely, in just a few hundred words, what the major elements of the work contains, what questions it seeks to answer, and the results the study achieved. Indeed, without an abstract for thesis, a lot of time and energy would be lost and we could all expect a tremendous drop off in the amount of scholarly work completed if not attempted.
How to Write Abstract for Thesis
The dissertation abstract length can be anywhere between 100 to 350 words. Some educational institutions have a hard cap for its students, but this usually doesn’t differ too much from the average 350 words – so it’s quite easy to edit appropriately until section meets the proper criterion. Its structure should also match the overall work (for example, starting with the introduction and ending with a conclusion), and each section should have no more than two sentences summarizing each one. Abstracts should also be free of all academic bias you may have arrived at in conducting your study. You only want to stick to the facts and don’t want to make an argument for why you arrived at a certain conclusion.
Dissertation Abstract Research Questions
Let’s get back to question “what is an abstract?” You are being asked to provide a summary of what your research study consists of and what questions you attempted to answer. An in-depth study like a thesis or dissertation will have several questions related to the central or main question – and it’s pertinent that you include all of these in the abstract to ensure it is logically comprehensive when summarizing the areas you explored.
Writing an abstract for a thesis requires rewriting the content from your work without it being copied verbatim. Of course, there is certain terminology or phrasing which cannot be expressed in different ways, but you need to exercise some creativity when you write this summary. In spite of this section being just a few hundred words long, you may find yourself having to work through many drafts until it stands alone but adequately describes the in-depth study accurately.
Abstract Thesis Research Results
Some research studies are so long that it is impossible to include all of the results in the section – so you must do your best to combine related ideas so that you at least touch on all of the most essential findings. There is a grey area when it comes to putting in a conclusion because so much of that section within the main work is analytical and interprets the information from results. You need to stick to factual information and present “conclusions” that cannot be argued or viewed from a different perspective.
If you ask a professor “how to write a thesis abstract,” he will likely say you need to be unbiased and write statements that cannot be refuted in any way. This is true but may seem a little confusing to you if it’s the first time writing an abstract. Make a list of all the major questions you sought to answer and their answers. This will give you a starting point from which to shorten the information to its essential parts. With a little more editing you will arrive at a concise description of your results without veering towards a personal opinion of what they mean.
Use a Lot of Paper Abstract Keywords
Finally, don’t forget about using keywords to increase database efficacy. There are two things that can happen if you don’t use relevant keywords – your work will not come up in search results or it will show up in searches when it has no business doing so. Both of these can stain your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy academic, so be sure to reference a thesis abstract example when you start thinking about your keywords.
When learning how to write a dissertation abstract you will likely have to consult several other abstracts on your own – and by getting a sense of how often terminology and phrases are used, as well as which ones are selected, will ensure your work comes up in only the most relevant indexed searches.
Some Final Thoughts…
If you need to find more information on how to write a good abstract or need to have a look at a sample abstract for thesis turn to a professional writing agency for assistance. A quick web search should bring up a list of the top sites specializing in this kind of writing. But it’s still to your benefit to do a little digging by finding out what student customers have to say about individual sites’ performance history. While you can be sure that an agency focusing on college and graduate-level writing can likely provide you with a dissertation abstract example, more due diligence will reveal which site is an expert in your specific discipline and area of study.
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