How to Write a Dissertation AbstractA dissertation abstract like abstracts for any academic or scientific paper is a summary of paper or work that readers can use as overview. An abstract helps readers to understand the dissertation and assists those searching for particular work to find it and decide on its suitability for their purpose. An abstract is easy to accomplish when viewed as a summary of work already done. An abstract is a comprehensive summary of entire dissertation presenting all major elements of the work in an extremely condensed form.

Although it is just a summary, an abstract is an essential component of a dissertation. When it is presented in the beginning of a dissertation, it acts as the first description of the academic work before it is read by external examiner. It should therefore be viewed as an opportunity for setting accurate expectations.

A thesis abstract is not just an introduction in sense of preamble, preface or advance organizer to prepare readers for content of a thesis. In addition to this function, it should have capacity to substitute the entire paper if there is no sufficient space and time for full text.

An abstract usually functions together with dissertation title as stand-alone text. Abstracts may appear minus full text of thesis in bibliographic indexes. Abstracts can also be presented in announcements of thesis examination. Most readers who encounter an abstract in bibliographical database or even receive email announcing a research presentation cannot not retrieve full text or attend the presentation.

Abstract Structure

Typical abstracts are one of two paragraphs and should not exceed 10% of length of full dissertation.

Although an abstract can reach up to 700 words, abstracts in most of the submitted papers range between 150 and 350 words. In order to preserve visual coherence, dissertation abstract may be limited to a single double spaced page with about 280 words.

The structure of an abstract should reflect that of whole dissertation and represent all the major elements. For instance, if the paper contains 5 chapters from introduction up to conclusion, there should be a sentence or more assigned to summarize every chapter.

Guidelines to Write an Abstract

Provide useful information

Whereas topic paragraph might be vague by intention, abstracts should provide helpful explanation regarding the dissertation papers and research. When writing a dissertation abstract, it should be well worded to make readers understand exactly what it is discussing and are not left hanging with ambiguous phrases and references.

If the topic is about something that is well known, the names of the people and places that the paper focuses on can be referenced.

When writing an abstract, abbreviations or direct acronyms should not be used since these need to be explained so as to make sense to the reader. If they are used in thesis abstract, they take precious writing room hence should be generally avoided.

Write from scratch

The abstract is a summary but should be written separate from the dissertation paper. The writer should not copy and paste direct quotes from themselves. They should also avoid simply paraphrasing their own sentences from some parts of their writing. They should strive to write their abstract using new phrases and vocabulary to make it redundancy free and keep it interesting.

Specify research questions clearly

Just like in paper itself, research questions are important to ensure that the abstract is logically structured and abstract. They form the skeleton that is adhered by other elements. Research questions should be presented near beginning of abstract. There is room for only one to three questions. If the dissertation has over three major research questions, it is advisable to restructure them by reducing some of them to subsidiary status.


The most common mistake that many people make is failing to present results in dissertation abstract. The primary function of each academic paper and by extension the abstract is not telling readers what the writers but what he or she discovered. The other information like account of research methods is mainly needed to back claims made about the results. Approximately, most part of the last abstract half should be dedicated to summarize to interpret the results.

The abstract is a piece of writing like any other therefore should be well revised before completion. The writer should check over for grammatical errors and make sure it is well formatted.

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