Your dissertation is arguably one of the most important pieces of research that you will ever write. It establishes your reputation in the field you’ve chosen, and will be something that future employers and colleagues will read when hiring or doing research projects of their own. That being said, your dissertation should be done methodically, professionally and intelligently. Dissertations should be well researched and compiled. Most universities will give guidelines for students writing their dissertations, which will likely include an Abstract as one of the requirements.

What are Dissertation Abstracts?

A dissertation abstract is basically a summary of key aspects of the dissertation. Abstracts should be no longer than 350 words and should explain the problem that the dissertation addresses, the methods used in the research, the results obtained and the conclusions reached. Many programs have settled on the seven sentence structure for Abstracts, and include such sentence stems as, “The purpose of this study is…”, “The methodology used….”, “Conclusions found….”, and so forth. Be sure to research the requirements of your own university.

How Important is your Abstract?

The Abstract needs to be the best piece of writing in your dissertation, hands down. After all, 99% of people who will ever approach your dissertation will only read the Abstract, and for this reason, the university and your chairperson will have high standards regarding it’s quality.

Your Abstract will also become important to future scholars doing research on your dissertation topic. It should allow the reader to quickly scan your document to determine it’s usability in other publications.

What about Abstracts in the Proposal?

One thing some universities are requiring is for the students to include the Abstract in their dissertation proposal. If you are required to do this, then you cannot write about the findings/results, conclusions and/or discussion, since these have not yet been identified. In this case, it is best to paraphrase your work, your purpose, the problem and your methodology. Then when the dissertation is completed and the results are in, you can comment on the findings and conclusions.

Remember that your Abstract should include your best writing. Be clear and concise, report your findings and conclusions, and write for posterity. First impressions in your Abstract tend to be the most important.