Practical Advice On How To Complete A PhD Dissertation Abstract

The abstract section of your dissertation is very important. It is usually presented at the beginning of your document, and will be the first thing an examiner reads of your work. Look at this piece as a chance to set the right expectations in the reader’s mind for the rest of your writing. It should be a summary of your entire thesis, and presents a condensed version of the most important points. This is a standalone text together with the title, and should be announced in the examination. Do not think of an abstract as an introduction, because it does so much more than that—it must be able to stand in for your entire work in case there isn’t time for someone to read the whole thing.

Details of writing a good dissertation abstract for a PhD

It may vary by schools or programs, but the general maximum for an abstract at the doctoral level is 350 words. For simplicity and visual presentation, you might want to shorten your abstract to being able to fit on a single double-spaced page, which would be around 280 words. Let the structure of the abstract mimic the organization of your whole work, and represent every major element.

Clarifying your research questions is critical to a coherent and logical abstract. It will be the foundation the rest of your work sits upon. Make room for only one or two questions within the abstract so that it has a tighter focus.

Common abstract writing mistakes

  • Failing to present the results: this is not a teaser of your work, an abstract needs to say everything—to reveal the ending of the story so to speak

  • Don’t focus on telling readers what you did during the course of this work. You need to talk about what it is that you discovered. You can use other information like research methods, to back up your claims, but it is the results that matter.

  • Don’t summarize your results at the end. At least half of your abstract needs to be for interpreting and concluding the results you got during your work.

That’s pretty much it for writing an abstract. As long as you know your subjects well, you will be able to summarize it properly and write a fantastic abstract. Remember that your advisor is there if you need any extra help.

© 2012 RMetzner-GreenEarth

PhD Dissertation - Solving Common And Specific Writing Struggles