How to Write the Abstract for Dissertation - Research Prospect

How to Write the Abstract for Dissertation

Published by at August 11th, 2021 , Revised On October 22, 2021

What is a Dissertation Abstract – Definition

The abstract is regarded as the foremost component of a dissertation. It will be your first chance to set precise expectations for the supervisor, examiner, or graduate committee members.

The dissertation abstract is the first real significant narrative of your work and is placed at the beginning of the dissertation paper.

Presented in a very shortened form, the dissertation abstract is a summary of your dissertation and sheds light on all aspects of your research.

Here in this article, we will uncover every piece of information you need to know to write the dissertation’s abstract. 

According to the online archives of Simon Fraser University research database, “an abstract is not merely an introduction in the sense of a preface, preamble, or advance organizer that prepares the reader for the thesis. In addition to that function, it must be capable of substituting for the whole thesis when there are insufficient time and space for the full text.”

Do I Need to Write an Abstract?

You will be required to include an abstract at the beginning of your paper if you are working on your thesis, dissertation, research paper, or publishing a paper in any academic journal.

Even though the abstract appears right at the start of a dissertation paper, it is generally written at last.

Here in this article, we will uncover every piece of information you need to know to write the dissertation’s abstract. 

 The table of contents is the section that immediately follows an abstract. Here is a guide on how to create a table of contents for the dissertation.

Your abstract should be an entirely autonomous and independent text and never be an extract taken from within the paper’s original content.

In particular, an abstract aims to provide an overview of research aim and objectives, methods of research employed, results obtained, and the conclusion. Readers should be able to completely understand all aspects of your research work just by reading this text.

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How to Write a Dissertation Abstract

A dissertation abstract serves as a deal maker or breaker when it comes to making a strong impression on your readers. Your dissertation abstract can either motivate your readers to continue reading or discourage them from moving on to the next chapters.

The abstract of the dissertation needs to be conspicuous, meaningful, interesting, and of course, informative. It should contain relevant information from all chapters of your dissertation to provide a brief overview of the research that has been conducted and the results obtained.

 Here we have put together some guidelines for students to understand how to write the abstract for the dissertation to make a great first impression on the readers.

Key Components of the Dissertation Abstract

The key elements of a dissertation abstract are as follows;

  • Background statement, problem statement, elaboration of aim, focus of aim, thesis statement
  • Methods of research employed.
  • A brief description of the results obtained and their interpretation
  • A summary of conclusion, limitations, and future recommendations

Background, Problem Statement, Aim & Objectives

The first couple of sentences of your dissertation abstract should provide a summary of the purpose of your research. This can be expressed as follows;

  • Background statement – Provide a brief perspective on the theoretical and practical significance of your work.
  • The problem statement clearly communicates to the readers why there was a need to research the chosen topic.
  • Present an overview of the research’s aim and objectives to establish what your research intended to achieve.
  • Thesis statement – what is the main idea of your dissertation paper? What are your claims in reference to the established research questions?

Avoid writing this part of the abstract in future tense because it refers to concluded actions.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

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Methods of Research

Briefly specify your dissertation research methodology immediately after stating the purpose of your dissertation paper. Here, you will be expected to summarize how you straightforwardly conducted your research.

Like the first section, a description of research methods should also be written in the simple past tense. There is absolutely no need to highlight the limitations and/or validity of your research methods here.

The goals are to take the readers through the overall approach and process quickly.

Findings of your Dissertation Research

Provide a brief overview of the major findings of your dissertation study. This section is the crux of your abstract, so make sure you can demonstrate how your research addressed the research objectives.

Due to the word limit of the abstract and the complexity of your own research, you might not be able to include all results here. If that is the case, include only the most significant results.

This portion should be written in the past simple or present tense. Here is an example;

  • Analysis of the responses has shown that there is a strong correlation between consumption and productivity.
  • Analysis of the responses shows that there is a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Analysis of the responses showed that there was a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.


Lastly, the abstract of a dissertation should conclude your dissertation research. The conclusion should clearly report how your study addressed the research problem.

Use this part of the abstract to convince people how your research proved an argument or theory that your research was built upon.

Provide recommendations for practical implementation to clearly understand your audience how your work will solve the problem at hand.

Finally, do not forget to mention important research limitations briefly. For example, selecting a smaller sample size due to some constraints. This will only add more weight and credibility to your research.

Make use of the present simple test when writing the conclusions.

Key Phrases

You might be asked to include important key terms and phrases at the end of the abstract, especially if your paper has been selected to be published in an academic journal.

These keywords help potential readers find your paper in search engines during their desk-based research.

However, note that some academic journals have their own specific formatting requirements for keywords. Please read the requirements about keywords in their publication manuals to avoid any misunderstanding.

Format of Dissertation Abstract

The typical size of an abstract for a Masters’ dissertation is 300-400 words whereas abstracts for undergraduate dissertation papers are 150-200 words in size.

Abstract for PhD-level dissertation papers should be limited to 300-350 words to ensure visual coherence. The dissertation abstract structure should be such that there are one or two sentences assigned to each chapter of the dissertation.

For example, if your dissertation paper had 5 chapters, then there should be a minimum of 8-10 sentences in the abstract to provide a reflective summary of each chapter’s information.

As is the case with the dissertation introduction chapter, you will be expected to specify the research questions clearly.

You might need to rearrange them and/or reduce the word count without missing out on any important element; considering there is room for only two to three research questions generally placed at the beginning of the abstract.

  Poor dissertation abstracts don’t present the findings of the research. It is important to recognize that the readers of your dissertation paper will be more interested in what findings you came up with as a result of your research and not merely what you did. Use at least two to 3 sentences for summarizing the results and their interpretation.

Look for the formatting requirements in your dissertation handbook or writing guidelines provided by your school. Make sure to stay within the permissible word limit. An abstract too long or too short will not serve the purpose.

Tips on How to Write the Abstract for Dissertation

Condensing your entire dissertation into just a few sentences can be a daunting task, especially if this is the first time you are writing a dissertation abstract.

It is vitally important to get your dissertation abstract right because this part of the dissertation paper is the first real piece of written description that your audience will read. Here are some tips for you to make sure you write this part to the highest possible academic quality;

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Avoid Citing Publications

Many times, students get carried away with the research of other authors when writing the abstract. Avoid focusing on others’ work, and demonstrate how your own research will substantially contribute to your area of study.

Depending on the allowable word limit for the abstract, you might be able to squeeze in a sentence or two about the scholarly background of the research problem you wish to address. Still, there is absolutely no need to cite any publications.

Be Concise and To-The-Point

Your dissertation abstract should be attention-grabbing even though you will have only a few hundred words to work with. So it is crucial to communicate your research work in the most concise manner efficiently.  Never stuff your dissertation abstract with needless words and avoid vague verbiage that would make no sense to the readers.

 Need help with writing a killer dissertation abstract? Our writers can write the abstract of the dissertation by your school’s guidelines. Or get help from our expert academics with any part of your dissertation.

Read Sample Abstracts

Learn the art of writing great dissertation abstract by reading dissertation abstract samples. It would make sense to look at how other people in your academic subject have written their abstracts.

If you have already conducted your dissertation literature review, then you might have already read many research paper abstracts – which you could use to get useful insights into how to format your own dissertation abstract. Here is a dissertation abstract example to help you get started.

Abstract in Dissertation Example

Language – How to Write the Abstract for Dissertation

Other researchers will look for key terms specific to your research field to figure out the purpose and nature of your dissertation paper. Make sure to include relevant terminology necessary for understanding.

Still not sure how to write the abstract for a dissertation? Why not get one of our writers to help you with your dissertation abstract?

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FAQs Abstract for Dissertation

No, you should not. It is important for an abstract to be an entirely autonomous and independent text and never be an extract taken from within the paper’s original content.

The abstract of your dissertation provides a brief overview of the research conducted and the results obtained.

The abstract of your dissertation must give background information, mention the problem statement, research aims, and objectives. It must briefly mention methods of research and the findings.

No, you must never cite any reference in the abstract.

About Owen Ingram

Ingram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.