How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation

Dissertation Abstract

Introduction to Dissertation Abstract Writing

The art of dissertation abstract writing is a delicate balancing act. It’s about encapsulating the essence of your research, the beating heart of your dissertation, in a succinct manner. This isn’t just about summarizing your work, it’s about distilling it down to its most critical elements. So, let’s dive in and understand the ropes of this crucial piece of your dissertation abstract writing academic skill.

What is a Thesis or Dissertation Abstract?

Think of a thesis or dissertation abstract as the golden ticket that introduces the reader to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of your research. An abstract is a short summary of the whole thesis. It’s a standalone, miniature version of your dissertation presentation on an overview of your study. In a nutshell, it’s the ‘abstract’ of your hard work and the gateway to your intellectual masterpiece.

What is the Purpose of an Abstract?

Why do we need an abstract? It’s like a movie trailer. It gives a sneak peek into your research, stoking the curiosity of your readers. It serves as a roadmap, providing a quick overview of your research landscape. More importantly, it’s a tool for readers to decide whether your research aligns with their interests and is worth their time.

What Makes a Good PhD Thesis Abstract?

A good PhD thesis abstract is like a well-brewed coffee: strong, rich, and enticing. It covers all the essential elements of your research in a clear, concise manner. It avoids jargon, keeping the language simple yet engaging. It sets the tone for your dissertation, piquing the interest of your readers and inviting them to explore further.

What Does a Dissertation or Thesis Abstract Include?

Crafting a dissertation or thesis abstract is akin to piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Each part of the puzzle holds its own importance and contributes to revealing the complete picture. Let’s delve into what these pieces represent and how they fit together.

An Outline of the Research Problem and the Proposed Objectives

This is where you set the stage, providing the readers with a glimpse into the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your research. You are to explain briefly but precisely the research question or problem your dissertation aims to address and why it matters. It’s the hook that draws the reader in and instills a curiosity about your literature review work.

For instance, if your research is about climate change’s impact on crop yields, you should clearly state this as the problem. Furthermore, you should also articulate the objective of your research, like examining the correlation between climate change and crop yields over a specified period.

The Research Methodology

This segment gives an overview of the ‘how’ of your research, detailing the dissertation methodology you employed. The reader should get a clear idea of your approach to the problem, whether it’s quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

You don’t need to delve into the nitty-gritty, but the reader should know if you’re using statistical analysis, interviews, case studies, or other methods. Following our example, you could mention that you analyzed data from multiple farms over a decade to establish the correlation.

Key Arguments or Results

This section presents the ‘what’ of your research, highlighting the significant findings. You are to outline your key arguments or results concisely, focusing on the most impactful findings.

In a nutshell, you should provide an answer to your research question or problem here. To extend the previous example, your key finding could be that there’s a significant decrease in crop yields due to climate change.

The Conclusion of the Dissertation

Finally, this part presents the ‘so what’ of your research, discussing the implications of your findings. This is your opportunity to express why your research matters in the grand scheme of things.

For instance, following our climate change example, you could state that your findings highlight the need for adaptive farming practices to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

When to Write an Abstract?

The question of “when” can be as crucial as “how” while writing an abstract for a thesis, research, or research paper. Timing, in this context, plays a vital role in the overall quality and coherence of your abstract.

The Standard Approach: Writing the Abstract Last

In most cases, the abstract is the last section you write in your research project. It might seem counter-intuitive given that it’s the first part of your work that readers see. However, there’s a good reason for this.

Writing an abstract at the end of your research ensures that you have a complete understanding of your study. It enables you to provide a concise and precise overview of your research and its findings. As you’ve completed your research, you’re in a better position to summarize your study’s objectives, methods, key findings, and the implications.

The abstract shouldn’t seem like an extension of your research or a disjointed portion of your paper. Instead, it should be a stand-alone piece that piques the reader’s curiosity and compels them to delve deeper into your paper.

The Exception: Writing the Abstract First

There are, however, exceptions to the standard approach. Sometimes, examiners in universities or academic institutions might ask for an abstract before approving your topic for a dissertation or thesis. In such cases, an abstract is submitted to demonstrate that the student has a clear plan and idea about their research.

This initial abstract is often referred to as a proposal abstract. It’s similar to a project proposal where you provide a brief overview of your planned research, including the research problem, objectives, and the proposed methodology.

Regardless of when you write your abstract, it’s critical to remember that it’s a mini-version of your research paper. It should be coherent, concise, and comprehensive, giving the reader a clear snapshot of your complete research.

So, when should you write your abstract? If it’s a standard research paper, dissertation, or thesis, the answer is usually at the very end. If it’s for a proposal, the answer is at the very beginning. Either way, the abstract serves as a critical bridge between your research and the reader, guiding them into the depth of your academic exploration.

Dissertation Abstract

What Should a Dissertation Abstract Include?

A dissertation abstract introduction serves as a compact and comprehensive summary of your entire research. It’s like a movie trailer, providing a sneak peek into your study while enticing readers to delve deeper. So, what elements should this movie trailer of your research include? 

Aim of the Research

The aim of the research is the compass of your study, guiding your exploration and providing direction. It’s the answer to the “why” of your research. This section should clearly articulate the research question or problem you are addressing and the objectives you aim to achieve.

Method of Research (The Research Methodology)

The research methodology is the blueprint of your research, detailing “how” you conducted your study. It outlines the methods and techniques you utilized in your research.

This part doesn’t need to delve into the details, but it should provide enough information for the reader to understand your approach. For instance, did you use quantitative or qualitative methods, or a mix of both? Did you use surveys, interviews, or case studies? This section provides a brief overview of these aspects.

Outcomes of the Research

The outcomes of the research are the fruits of your labor. This section presents the “what” of your research, the key findings, or results. It’s the answer you found to your research question. In this part, you should highlight the most significant findings of your research in a concise manner. 

The Conclusion of the Abstract

The conclusion of the abstract is the takeaway of your research. It discusses the “so what” of your research, the implications of your findings. It’s the part that connects your research to the bigger picture, indicating why your study matters.


Think of keywords as the digital breadcrumbs that lead others to your research. When researchers or students look for information related to your dissertation topic, they use specific terms or phrases in a search engine. If those terms align with your keywords, your paper appears in their search results. In essence, well-chosen keywords can increase the reach and impact of your research by making it easily discoverable.

How Do You Write a Good PhD Thesis Abstract?

Writing a good PhD thesis abstract is an art that can be mastered with practice. Here are some tips:

  • Keep It Concise: Brevity is the soul of a good abstract. Remember, you’re aiming to summarize your work, not detail it exhaustively.
  • Make a Unique Point Each Sentence: Each sentence should carry its weight. Make sure every one or two sentences contributes something unique and significant to the abstract.
  • Explain Your Research: Make sure the abstract paragraph clearly communicates the purpose, methods, results, and implications of your research.
  • Keep It Factual: Stick to the facts. Your abstract should provide a clear, objective overview of your research.
  • Write, Edit and Then Rewrite: Writing an abstract is a process. Write it, take a step back, then return with fresh eyes to revise and refine it.

Thesis and Dissertation Abstract Examples

Understanding what to do (and what not to do) can be best learned through examples. Let’s consider a bad and good abstract.

Example of A Bad Abstract

“The research was conducted on a very important topic. It involved a lot of hard work and effort. The results were very interesting and could have significant implications.”

What Makes This a Bad Abstract

The abstract is vague and doesn’t provide clear information about the research problem, objectives, methodology, or specific results. It’s loaded with subjective terms and lacks a concise, objective overview of the research.

Example of A Good Abstract

“The research explores the impact of climate change on crop yield. Using a quantitative approach, data from 50 farms over a decade were analyzed. The results indicate a significant decrease in crop yield due to climate change, highlighting the need for adaptive farming practices.”

What Makes This a Good Abstract

This abstract is clear, concise, and informative. It outlines the research problem, the method used, the specific results, and the implications of the findings.

How to Structure your Dissertation or Thesis Abstract?

Structuring your abstract effectively is crucial. Start with the research problem and objectives, followed by the methodology. Then, present your key findings, and conclude with the implications of your study. Remember to maintain a logical flow that mirrors the structure of your dissertation.

Tips for Writing a Dissertation Abstract

Transforming your extensive research into a concise abstract of a few hundred words can seem like a monumental task. Yet, it’s crucial to nail and condense it as the abstract is the first and occasionally the only – part that people read. Thus, it’s essential to make it impactful. Here are some strategies to set you on the right path:

  • Chapter by chapter method: Consider your dissertation chapter by chapter. Pick out the key points from each section and use them to build your abstract.
  • Read other abstracts: To get a sense of what a good abstract looks like, read abstracts from other dissertations in your field.
  • Write many versions of the rough drafts: Don’t expect to nail it in your first draft. Write multiple versions and refine them until you’re satisfied.
  • Make it compact: Aim for brevity without sacrificing completeness. Every word counts!
  • Keep editing: Writing is rewriting. Don’t be afraid to make changes until your abstract is as clear and concise as it can be.

Final Thoughts: How to Write an Abstract for a Dissertation

Writing an abstract for a dissertation is truly a blend of art and science. It demands a keen understanding of the objective and format of an abstract, coupled with the ability to concisely encapsulate your research. But, like all great art, it requires practice, patience, and a touch of creativity. With these ingredients, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of drafting an engaging, enlightening, and effective abstract for your dissertation. Now, it’s your turn to dive in and craft that exceptional abstract!

Still, if the prospect of writing your dissertation abstract feels like a hard task, remember: you’re not alone in this journey. Seeking help and guidance is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your commitment to excellence. And that’s where we come in.

Our team of experienced dissertation writers is ready to assist you every step of the way, providing personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs in writing a dissertation abstract.

What Is a Dissertation Preface?

FAQs on Writing an Abstract for a Dissertation

How long should a dissertation abstract be?

The length of an abstract for a dissertation should typically be around 250-300 words. However, this can vary depending on the requirements of your university, so always make sure to check these​1​.

Should the abstract include specific results?

Yes, the abstract should definitely include the key findings of your research. However, these should be summarized concisely, and the detailed results should be reserved for the main body of the dissertation.

When should I write the abstract?

A common question is, “Should I write the abstract at the beginning or the end?” The best practice is to write the abstract after you’ve completed the rest of your dissertation. This ensures that the abstract accurately represents the content of your work.

How detailed should the abstract be?

While the abstract should include all the key points of your research, it should not be overly detailed. Remember, the abstract is a summary, not an exhaustive account of your work.

Can the abstract include references?

Typically, an abstract does not include references. It should be able to stand on its own, providing a clear and concise summary of your work without requiring the reader to refer to other sources.

Should I use jargon in the abstract?

Avoid using jargon in the abstract. Your abstract should be understandable to both experts in your field and non-specialists. Using clear, concise language is key.

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