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How To Write Dissertation Abstracts: General Guidelines To Follow

A dissertation abstract is the summary of your work. It creates the first impression, and defines whether or not the whole text is worth reading. The abstract establishes the value of your work when there is no time to read the dissertation from the beginning till the end.

As you can see, this small part of the text can be the key to success. Therefore, here are some basic guidelines on how to write an effective dissertation abstract:

  1. Save it till the end.
  2. Keep in mind that the abstract is written after the dissertation itself. To summarize, you need to know what the whole work contains.

  3. Make it short.
  4. One page, that is about 280 words, will be sufficient to mention major points. Furthermore, it will ensure visual coherence.

  5. Mind the structure.
  6. The abstract should represent the whole dissertation. Thus, make sure you assign one or more sentences to each chapter of the paper.

  7. Pay attention to the style.
  8. It should remain the same throughout the text. Write in clear, concise and powerful language.

  9. Use active voice.
  10. However, passive voice is perfectly acceptable when used for brevity and clarity.

  11. Avoid personal pronouns “I” and “We”.
  12. Exclude references.
  13. Avoid defining terms.
  14. You still have time for that in the main body.

  15. Use present tenses for results and conclusions.
  16. Describe what was done and found in past tenses.

  17. Write about the purpose.
  18. Why did you choose this particular topic? Make sure that the aim of your study is understandable.

  19. Clearly state research questions.
  20. Indicate what problems you attempt to solve, and the scope of the project.

  21. Make it simple.
  22. There is room only for 1-3 main arguments. Others should remain subsidiary.

  23. Remember about methodology.
  24. Describe the means and techniques. Note that specific comments are of greater importance than general information.

  25. Mention the results.
  26. Readers are interested in what you discovered. Everything you did was for the outcome. If appropriate, draw conclusions.

  27. End with implications.
  28. Describe the changes that should be implemented as a result of your findings. Let the readers know how your work contributes to the general body of knowledge on the given topic.

  29. Avoid additional information.
  30. Keep to the original text, and omit new points, not mentioned in the dissertation.

  31. Give it a rest.
  32. Leave everything you have written at least for a day. Then, revise the text with a fresh mind. It is even better to do it several times.


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