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How To Write Dissertation Abstracts: A Useful Manual

An abstract can be defined as a self-contained, brief and strong statement describing a larger work. The components of an abstract will vary depending on the discipline. In scientific work or the social sciences, it may contain the purpose, scope, contents and results of the work. In the humanities field, it may contain the background, the thesis and the conclusion of a larger work. Remember that an abstract is not an evaluation or review of the work that is being abstracted. Although it contains some of the key words that will be found in the larger work, it is an authentic document and not an excerpted page.

Types of Abstracts

An abstract can either be informative or descriptive. Both types have different aims, thus they also have different styles and components. The descriptive abstract will usually indicate the type of information that is found in the larger paper. It provides no judgements or results, or conclusions about the study. It incorporates the key words found in the paper and often includes the purpose, the methods and scope of the study. It is at times considered to be an outline of the research and is usually about 100 words.

Informative abstracts are the most common. While they do not evaluate or critique the larger work, the do more than just describe it. The ideal informative abstract will act as a surrogate for the larger study. This means that it presents all the key arguments as well as the important evidence and results in the entire paper. It includes information that is also found in a descriptive abstract, as well as the results, the conclusions, and the recommendations of the study.

The Format

The format of any abstract will be dictated by the type of work that you want to abstract. However, all types of abstracts will share a number of mandatory components. However, there are other parts that are optional. In general, an abstract should contain the following components.

  • The purpose of writing: these includes the importance of the study, and reasons why readers would be interested in the larger study.
  • The problem: this is the problem that the study is attempting to solve, as well as the scope of the study and the main argument or thesis/claim.
  • Methodology: if it’s a scientific paper, the description should include specific approaches or models used in the research. In other abstracts you may describe the type of evidence used.
  • Results: similarly, the abstract of a scientific paper may include specific data indicating the project’s results. In other abstracts, the findings can be discussed in a broad or general way.
  • Implications: these include the type of changes that should be implemented due to the findings of the study.In addition, it may include the significance of the study in terms of adding to the body of knowledge.