A dissertation abstract may be seen as a formality rather than a serious step for getting a Master’s or Ph.D. degree. However, an abstract is often underestimated.
What is a dissertation abstract? It is a rich summary of your thesis project. It shouldn’t contain too many details. Instead, it gives an idea of what your research paper is about. Your task here is to convince your reader that your project has some value in it.
In this article, you will find a dissertation abstract formula, a checklist, and some good and bad samples to help with your writing.
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A dissertation abstract is your research summary. Your abstract should outline the main points of your work and show its purpose. Usually, it is about one or two pages long (300-500 words). You are expected to show the importance of your work through your abstract.
It might seem that a dissertation abstract is another name for an executive summary. However, these are two different things. Let’s take a closer look at their difference.
Dissertation Abstract vs. Executive Summary
Both dissertation abstract and executive summary describe the project’s essence. The difference between them is in the level of detail.
- Contains the key points of the research
- Explains its importance
- Provides a short overview of the thesis
- Contains the key points of the research
- Explains its importance
- Provides condensed yet detailed information about the research
Below we explain how to write a dissertation abstract. And if you need to make a summary, you are welcome to use our free summarizing tool.
🎯 What Are the Purposes of a Dissertation Abstract?
So, what are the purposes of writing a dissertation abstract?
Well, the first purpose is to give your reader an idea of what your dissertation is about before making them read the entire work. It should provide a quick explanation and the result of your research. After reading your abstract, your reader can decide whether to read your thesis or not.
Another purpose of your dissertation abstract is to let dissertation databases and search engines know about your work because they index and categorize it. Search engines and dissertation databases use the keywords from your abstract to make it easy for users to find it.
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If you are wondering how to write a dissertation abstract, here’s a formula for you. An abstract usually adheres to the following template:
Let’s look closely at each of the parts!
The introduction tells your reader about the value and purpose of your research.
You should explain:
- What you were aiming at while conducting your research;
- What research questions you brought up;
- What is the importance of your questions to the research field.
Here are the phrases you can use:
- The research examines…
- The report looks at…
- The study investigates…
The literature review should explain how and who studied your topic before. You can refer to Google Scholar or other research databases to find information on your topic.
Some of the phrases that you may use here are the following:
- Many previous studies agree that…
- To contrast the traditional views on this question…
- There’s a gap in the literature regarding…
In this part, you should elaborate on the methods you used in your research. Provide information on your research design and the ways you answered your research questions.
You should let your reader know:
- What approach you used (quantitative or qualitative);
- What or who your sample consists of;
- What methods you used to collect and analyze your data.
Here you should let your reader what know the findings of your research are. You don’t need to explain everything in detail, just highlight the key points. To do so, make sure to answer the research questions you’ve mentioned before.
Remember to keep this part brief and clear too.
Some of the phrases you can use here are the following:
- The results of this study identified…
- The analysis has shown that…
The conclusion is where you should answer the “So what?” question. Whether if you are studying law, engineering, nursing, history, a humanities major, or any other, you should let your reader know what your findings mean from a broader perspective.
Explain your research’s impact on your study field and the world in general. Make sure to mention if your findings support the existing research and their impact on future research.
Some of the phrases that you may use here are:
- Further research is necessary to…
- These findings might be used in practice…
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We have learned the theory, so let’s see how we can use it. Here are good and bad dissertation abstract examples for you.
We’ve gathered two dissertation abstracts on a study about class size.
Let’s take a look at the bad example first.
A Bad Dissertation Abstract Example
In this paper on "Class Size: Does It Matter?", I conducted research on how the size of a class affects academic performance Students in a class with fewer people are more engaged in in-class discussions and show better results than those in a class with more people. The project is a comparative case study. It can improve academic performance.
What makes it a bad abstract?
- There is no literature review. No information about the gap in knowledge is presented. The author didn’t state anything about the previous research on the topic.
- The research methods are not stated clearly. We don’t know how exactly the size of a class affects academic performance.
- There is no information about the impact of the research. The author does not explain how exactly its results will help to improve academic performance.
And now let’s look at a better example with explanation.
A Good Dissertation Abstract Example
What can be done to improve academic performance? There are studies that show that smaller class size allows uncovering students' potential more efficiently by giving them more chances to be engaged in in-class activities. However, they differ in their methods and demonstrate somehow mixed effects, which makes further research necessary. To conduct a comparative case study, I examine two different senior high school classes in New Jersey. The participants of the study were students of similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Class A has 28 students, while class B has 16. The dissertation focuses on differences in the educational outcomes and in-class learning opportunities of students of both classes. The analysis showed that class B students were more engaged in in-class discussions and received a 78.5 average final score. Class A's students were less engaged in in-class activities and received a 72.5 average final score. These findings might be used in practice to improve academic performance in high schools.
After reading this abstract, we have a much better understanding of the topic. So, what makes it a good abstract?
- The research problem is stated clearly. Though the introduction is very short, the research question is stated very clearly, and the significance is shown.
- There is a literature review. The existing research on the topic is briefly described, and gap in the knowledge is demonstrated.
- The research methods are clear. There is enough information about the methodology and the participants of the study.
Let us know what tips for writing a dissertation abstract do you have in the comments below!
❓ Dissertation Abstract FAQ
What is a dissertation abstract?
A dissertation abstract is a summary of your dissertation. It should cover the main ideas of your work, explain your methodology, and show the findings to convince your reader to read your work. Try not to make it too long – one page is usually enough.
How to write a dissertation abstract?
To write a good dissertation abstract, make sure to cover the main ideas of your research, explain your methodology, and explain your findings. Try to keep your abstract concise, factual, and grammatically correct. Your sentences should be short and to the point, and your research should be explained well.
How long should a dissertation abstract be?
A dissertation abstract is usually about one page or 300-500 words long. However, each university might have its own standards. Remember to include all the necessary details in your abstract. Try to cover the main ideas, purpose, and methodology.
What is included in the dissertation abstract?
A dissertation abstract should include information about the main idea of your dissertation. You should also explain your methodology and the findings. Try to cover the purpose of your research to let your reader know the meaning behind your work.