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Writing an Abstract for Your Dissertation

There is lots of guidance out there on how to come up with a dissertation title, how to plan your dissertation, conduct the research, pull together the literature review; there’s even guidance on how to ensure that your conclusion is sufficiently robust. Yet there is very limited printed guidance in dissertation support books and textbooks on how best to approach that all-important abstract.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is fundamentally a short summary of the research you have completed and that you are presenting through the dissertation that you have written. The abstract is thus to a student what a synopsis is to a writer – it is a very concise summary of the full text you have written.

What sort of information should be included in an abstract?

Well, certain universities may demand that you include specific information within your abstract, so it is important to check with your tutor to ensure that you know what information needs to be included in any abstract that you write. You can also check the style guidelines or any advice guidelines that you were given when you commenced work on your dissertation writing UK, as they might contain important pieces of information about the requirements for your abstract.

However, almost all abstracts will need to look at the following:

An explanation as to why the lead subject/problem/question of your dissertation is being investigated
An explanation of the methods that you undertook to conduct your research throughout your dissertation. This may need to cover the literature review process that you went through, as well as any quantitative and/or qualitative research methods you may have incorporated.
An outline of the results uncovered. What was the outcome of your research? What did it prove? What didn’t it prove?
What were the implications of these results? And importantly, how do they relate to the lead subject/problem/question that was initially posted in your dissertation?
Any recommendations that you wish to put forward following the outcome of your dissertation.

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Why is an abstract a useful addition to a dissertation?

An abstract should be able to be read independently of the full dissertation. So it is particularly useful for individuals who aren’t going to read your dissertation in full, but who want to get a feel for the purpose and outcome of the dissertation.
What purpose does an abstract serve?

The abstract is often the first thing that will be read by an assessor and so it helps the person marking your work form an initial impression of you, your writing ability, and the validity and thoroughness of your research.

An abstract can also do the following:

Help the reader decide whether or not he/she wants to read your entire dissertation
Act as an indication of how thoroughly you have conducted your research
Act as a standalone summary text which could be submitted as a proposal to a conference for example