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Tips to Acing a Compelling Abstract for a Dissertation!

By Dani Babb, PhD

A compelling abstract is vital to your dissertation both for your internal document and publication. Many of my students have said the abstract is harder to write than the work itself! The abstract is a very brief overview of hundreds of pages of work and that conciseness, particularly after writing so verbose, can be challenging.​

​The purpose of an abstract is to provide a quick and clear overview of your dissertation, to give readers a sense of what to expect from the full document, and to make it easier for readers to decide whether to read your full research document.​ ​​The abstract will provide a brief summary of the dissertation's key elements and findings. An abstract is typically a short paragraph or two, and it is often the first part of the dissertation that readers will see.​ It's certainly what will populate first after you publish your work.​

An abstract should provide a concise and clear overview of the main points and arguments of your dissertation. It should give readers an idea of the scope and significance of the research, ​the depth, ​as well as the methods used and the results obtained. The abstract should highlight the most important findings or conclusions of the dissertation, and it should also give an indication of the implications of the research for the field of study.​ ​An abstract should also convey the tone and style of your research. It should be well-written and engaging, and it should give readers a sense of ​your expertise and enthusiasm for the topic.

The contents of an abstract for a dissertation may vary depending on ​your field of study and the specific requirements of the ​college you are attending. However, generally, an abstract should include the following elements:

Background and context: Briefly describe the background and context of the research question or problem that the dissertation addresses.

Purpose: Clearly state the main purpose or objective of the dissertation, and explain why this research is important or significant.

Methodology: Describe the research methodology or methods used to investigate the research question or problem, including the approach, data collection, and analysis.

Results: Summarize the main findings or results of the research, highlighting the most important or interesting findings.

Conclusion: Briefly discuss the implications of the research findings, and explain how the research contributes to the field of study.

Key terms: List any key terms or concepts that are central to the dissertation, and provide definitions if necessary.

Length and format: ​At some colleges, you will sSpecify the length and format of the dissertation, including the number of chapters, pages, and any appendices or supplementary materials​ in the abstract, though I see this only on occasion.​

Overall, the abstract should be a concise and clear summary of the dissertation that gives readers an idea of what the research is about, what the main findings are, and why the research is important or significant. ​We can assist you in writing your abstract through our coaching or editing services!​

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