How to write a thesis abstract
Abstract Writing Intro
The abstract is an essential part of a thesis, providing a brief summary of the thesis. Students often do not recognise the importance of the abstract and thus do not spend the required time in order to produce a well defined abstract. Here are guidelines on how to create a good abstract
Abstract Writing Guidelines
What is an abstract?
The abstract is a mini-version of the thesis. It should give a brief summary of the main sections of the paper. In other words, it is a summary of the "information" the thesis contains.
To give readers a quick identification of the basic content of the thesis. It should "stand on its own" and be a self-contained document. There should be no need to look elsewhere in the thesis for an understanding of what is said in the abstract.
The abstract should be very concise - the maximum length being 50% of one page (outside of the header formatting and keywords line). This means you will need to economise your use of words and tie ideas together. Use the most precise and relevant words to best express the content of the abstract. Abstracts that are too long will have to be re-written.
The abstract can be written as one large paragraph, or for easy reading you can use paragraphs for each section of the content. Paragraph 1 should contain your objectives and scope, Paragraph 2 a description of the methods used, Paragraph 3 a summary of the results, and Paragraph 4 a statement of the main conclusions.
The abstract is usually written in the past tense because the research is already
done. In other words, write the thesis first!
While first person ("I", "we") may be used in the body of your thesis, you must use third person (passive) in the abstract.
DO NOT include abbreviations or acronyms in your abstract if you can help it, but if you must, don't use them without explaining them first. For example, the first time you use the abbreviation you must write out the full form and put the abbreviation in brackets. e.g. "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)" From then on you may use "MRI" for the duration of the abstract.
DO NOT use headings for your abstract paragraphs. (e.g. Objectives, Methods, Results and Conclusions)
Keep your abstract clear and simple - you are trying to show the key points of your thesis to attract interest.
Always check your grammar, spelling, and formatting. Please use either British
English spelling conventions or American English spelling conventions throughout
your abstract, but not both.
The abstract is the first thing a reader reads. It is an indication of the quality of your thesis and what is to come for the reader. Impressions drawn from the reading of the abstract greatly impact the reading of your thesis.
Using some of language samples below that; for example, introduce the different sections of the abstract, will help make the abstract easier to read and more clear to the reader. These are examples only - use must use the language correctly in the proper context and for the correct purpose.
The purpose of this study was to investigate... Another aim was to find out... Finally, ... was examined in the study.
(X) method was applied. (Eg. quantitative/qualitative - both/other?)
The study/survey/thesis/questionnaire/opinion poll...examined, inspected, focused on, was conducted, carried out, sent out, administered (see list of more descriptive verbs) Questionnaires were sent out/administered... ( X number) responses were received
The results of the study were that... It was found/discovered that... The results revealed/indicated...
The principal conclusion was that... One conclusion was that...
Please note the correct singular and plural versions of the following:
appendix appendices (British English) appendices (American English)
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Thesis Abstract Links
- Example Abstract
Thesis Abstract Example
- Abstract Common Mistake
Common mistakes when writing an abstract
- PowerPoint: how to write an abstract
PowerPoint presentation detailing how to write an abstract
- Abstract Writing
What is an abstract? & how to write an abstract
- Different Types of Abstracts
Details what an abstract is, qualities and steps for writing a good abstract and common mistakes
- Abstract Communication Feedback Survey
A survey for those students who have e-mailed me their abstract and I have provided feedback.
Thesis/Abstract writing books on Amazon
With over 100 examples of completed dissertations from well-known universities and colleges, this book allows the student to concentrate on what makes sense and what is important to completing his or her research to writing an effective doctoral dissertation or a master's thesis.
This concise guide emphasizes clear and logical structure as the key to a well-written thesis. Offering concrete examples of common structural problems, and numerous devices, tricks, and tests by which to avoid them, in a direct and conversational tone, it proves that the astute researcher must no longer regard writing as the last chore but rather as a crucial part of the research process. This updated edition reflects the changes in research style brought about by the Internet.