A dissertation abstract presents an overview of your entire academic work by serving as its prelude. It is the first section any reader comes across when they pick your work and tells them what is ahead. In fact, it can determine whether the reader will continue reading your work. Consequently, it should be concise and straight to the point.
When thinking of an abstract, think of clarity, preciseness, and conciseness. It should be well structured and follow the prescribed format of your department. Also, think of your abstract as the main gate to your dissertation. To create a good impression of your work, this is where to start from.
A dissertation abstract comes in two forms; the informative and descriptive types. An informative abstract gives detailed information about your work. It discusses the main argument in the dissertation and highlights the essential findings and conclusions. It is mostly between 250 to 350 words.
On the other hand, a descriptive abstract uses keywords and phrases to describe the dissertation's information. The level of information may include the purpose, methodology, and scope of the research. A descriptive abstract is mostly short, with at most about 100 words.
No matter the type of abstract you choose to use, it is best if written last to allow you to include critical points and findings.
It is important to note that your abstract must come in just one paragraph. As such, it needs to be well planned and structured. Before you start writing, you should go over the entire dissertation to pick up points you want to highlight. Afterward, re-read each chapter/section independently. You then pick some highlights in each section and write them down. You then put all you’ve put down into strong and convincing sentences, easy to read.
After writing, read over to ensure that it reflects all the key points you noted and the information you want to convey. Also, ensure that you are within the required word count. If not, you have to edit to reduce it; however, all essential points must be maintained.
Unlike the main body and other sections of your dissertation, your abstract shouldn’t contain references or links to external sources. It would be best if you tried to maintain its integrity by making it standalone content.
When writing your abstract, remember to keep it simple, precise, and in plain English with no ambiguities. Keep in mind that your understanding of the concept may differ from that of the readers. Therefore, try to find a balance between you, academia, and the outside world.
Bear in mind that the abstract should not contain any information alien to the main dissertation. Anything that appears there should also be in the main work.
Finally, never rush through your abstract writing process. You may think that it is just a few words, compared to the main work, so it can be done anyhow. However, just like a small axe can fall a big tree, a poorly written abstract can discourage people from reading your work.