• 2-minute read
  • 4th November 2015

How to Write a Dissertation Abstract

When you have finished writing your dissertation, you’ll need to write an abstract as well. This is a short summary of your work. But if you’ve never written one before, don’t panic! Just check out the following tips!

What Is an Abstract?

If you’re thinking of abstract art, you are on the wrong track!

An abstract, in this sense, is a short description of your work. Imagine that you have to explain your dissertation in 30 seconds. It’s a bit like the resulting answer (minus all the ‘umms’ and ‘errs’).

What Is an Abstract For?

Now that most papers exist in digital form, an abstract is like a preview. If someone finds your paper, they can read the abstract to see if your work is relevant to their research.

For this reason, it’s important that the abstract clearly communicates the nature of your research. You may also wish to use it as a proposal to submit to a conference. The most important thing is that works as a standalone description of your work.

How Long Should It Be?

Most abstracts are no longer than 200 words, though some are as long as 500 words. Make sure to check your style guide for advice!

What Should It Include?

Most abstracts should include:

  • What you set out to do and why
  • How you did it
  • What you found
  • Recommendations (if any)

It should also be written in the third person (do not use ‘I’ or ‘we’).

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But don’t include:

  • References
  • Extracts from your paper

Furthermore, the abstract should be an original piece of writing about your work, not simply something copied from the paper itself.

What Tense Should It Use?

It should be a mixture of past and present tense. Any information you found out in the study can be reported in past tense:

The study concluded that…

Anything that is generally known can be reported in the present tense:

Horticultural activity is known to improve mental health…

Good luck with writing your abstract, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any help checking it over!

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