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Writing Manual : How To Create Good Abstract Dissertation

May 01

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If you have finished your dissertation, congratulations are in order. It is an arduous task, and you are one of only 58% of Ph.D. students who actually earn that degree 10 years after starting their programs. The reason? They complete all of the coursework and then get stuck once they begin that dissertation. But you didn’t. It doesn’t matter if you did it on your own or used some help from a dissertation writing service, you completed the project and have only one small piece left - that abstract. As simple as this may seem, it is actually a bit tougher than you think

So here are some tips for getting this final piece competed, so you can get that dissertation to the committee, defend it, and walk across that stage at graduation.

Here are some tips for getting this done:


Defining the Dissertation Abstract

You have no doubt read up on dissertation abstracts, you have, probably, read a number of them and then you began the literature review phase of your dissertation work. After all, reading an abstract could tell you whether the topic and research was pertinent enough to your own research to merit a full review.

The abstract, then, is a summary of the research project that someone has completed, in order to highlight the important components of that research. It is meant to give an “explorer” enough information, in the hopes that they will want to read the entire work. It is also the first impression, and, if it is well written, can motivate readers to move forward.

The key, of course, is how to write a good abstract for dissertation projects that must be no longer than one page in length and provide the right kinds of information.


The Basic Components

There are three major parts of a dissertation abstract.


The Problem Statement/Purpose for the Research

You should not have a problem writing this part of the abstract. You developed your research question in the beginning, refined it with your advisor and/or committee and stated it clearly in the introduction chapter of your dissertation. Now you will state it, perhaps a bit more informal, in your abstract.

This first section should also explain and justify why this research was important and how it has contributed to your field. Again, you covered this in your original dissertation proposal, so you have a reference point.

Example: “Heroin use among high school students in the U.S. has become epidemic and crosses all socio-economic boundaries. The purpose of this study was to explore common factors that lead to heroin abuse in this population.”

You have told the reader that you isolated a problem and, through your research, you are looking for answers. Those will be included later on in your “findings” section.


Description of the Research

This section will briefly describe your research methodology, the population involved, the instruments you used, the setting or environment of the study, and the data that you gathered.

Important things to remember here include a statement of whether the study was qualitative or quantitative, and to be as specific as possible about the participants or subjects of the study. If they are people, obviously, you will not reveal any personally identifying characteristics.

Example: The study involved 50 participants from a high school of diverse students, using matched pairs, in terms of academic and behavioral histories, as identified by the school administrators. Parental permissions were obtained, and students/parents completed specific survey instruments.


This last section briefly describes the findings from the gathered data, along with recommendations for further study. Provide enough detail so that readers can determine if your study relates to their research question and can be used as a part of their literature reviews. If there are constraints and nuisance factors, these should be very briefly stated.


The Challenge

“Here is the rub.” These three sections of an abstract must be reduced to a single page. How do you do that?

Begin by devising an outline of each of the three sections and then writing up your abstract accordingly. It may be long because there is so much you want to tell. But once you have those three sections written up, you must then work to reduce and consolidate that narrative to meet the requirement for your institution. Here are some suggestions for doing that:

  1. Review abstracts from related research. This will give you some clear direction on consolidation of the sections
  2. Go through your methodology and discussion chapters. Read the entire chapter and then write a summary as succinctly as possible.
  3. Have a colleague read the methodology and discussion chapters and provide a verbal summary of what they have read. This can be invaluable for your consolidation efforts.

In the end, take your finished abstract to your advisor for review and recommendations. S/he has plenty of experience and will be able to provide the guidance you need.