How to write the perfect research abstract for your thesis

How to write the perfect research abstract for your thesis

How to write the perfect research abstract for your thesis


What is a research abstract for a PhD thesis or research article?

An abstract is a condensed overview of the contents of a research paper or thesis. This is a unique composition, not a paraphrased portion. An abstract must be totally self and make sense without additional reference to other sources or the entire text of the article. It emphasizes important subject areas, the goal of your study, the relevance or significance of your work, and the primary results.

This is a well single paragraph that is about 250 words long, indented, and single spaced. The abstract’s purpose is to summarize all of the paper’s sections.
Although the abstract is located at the start of your work, directly after the title page, it should be the last item you write.

An abstract is a condensed version of a larger work (such as a dissertation or research paper). The abstract succinctly summarizes the objectives and findings of your study, ensuring that readers understand precisely what the article is about. The abstract should be written at the end, after the remainder of the content has been finished. There are four components that you must include:

  • Your research goal and issue
  • Your techniques
  • Your most significant findings or arguments
  • Finally, your conclusion

An abstract is typically between 150 and 300 words long, but universities and journals often have stringent word limits, so be sure to verify the criteria of the institution or publication.

Include the abstract on a separate page after the cover page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents in a dissertation or thesis.


When should an abstract be written

When writing a thesis, dissertation, research paper, or submitting an article to an academic publication, you will almost always be required to provide an abstract.

The abstract should always be the very last thing you write. It should be an entirely self-contained document, not a paraphrase of your paper or dissertation. An abstract should be self-contained and completely comprehensible to someone who has not read your whole article or any relevant sources.

The simplest way to write an abstract is to model it after the structure of the bigger work—consider it a smaller version of your dissertation or research paper. Generally, this implies that the abstract should include four critical components.


How to write an abstract

Condensing your entire thesis into a few of hundred words may be a great struggle, but the abstract would be the first (and often only) section that people read, so it is critical to get it correctly. These techniques may assist you in getting started.


Reverse engineering the research abstract

Not every abstract will have the same components. If your study is structured differently (for instance, a humanities thesis that develops an argument via themed chapters), you may create your abstract using a reverse outlining technique.

Create a list of keywords and 1-2 sentences that describe the chapter or section’s primary point or argument for each section or part. This will provide you with a foundation for the structure of your abstract. Then, rewrite the sentences to establish links and demonstrate how the argument progresses.

The abstract should summarize the whole narrative and should include only material that is included in the main text. Revisit the abstract to ensure that it provides a succinct overview of your main point.


Continue reading other abstracts within the scope of your area

The most effective method to get familiar with the norms for writing abstracts in your field is to read others’. While completing your literature review, you have undoubtedly already read many journal article abstracts—consider using them as a guide for organization and language.  Additionally, many dissertation abstract samples may be found in dissertation and thesis repositories.


Write explicitly and concisely

A decent abstract is succinct yet powerful, so make each word count. Each phrase should convey a single major idea succinctly.

Avoid superfluous filler words and complex terminology abstract should be understandable to people unfamiliar with your subject.

If you are having difficulty condensing your abstract to the necessary length, see our guide on condensing an abstract.


Concentrate on your own work

The abstract’s goal is to summarize your research’s unique contributions; thus, avoid discussing other people’s work in the abstract, even if you discuss it extensively in the main body.

You may add a line or two describing the academic background to contextualize your study and demonstrate its significance to a wider discussion, but no particular publications need to be mentioned. Citations should not be used in an abstract unless they are absolutely essential (for example, if your research responds directly to another study or revolves around one key theorist).


Perfect your formatting according to a style guide

If you are writing a research paper or thesis or submitting an article to a journal for publication, the abstract often has particular formatting requirements—be sure to read the rules and style your work properly. You can use the APA abstract format for APA research papers.

Consistently adhere to the character limit. If no recommendations about the length of the abstract have been provided, write not more than one single page.


Finally, edit and proofread the abstract

The abstract is the first section a research will encounter in your research manuscript. So make sure that it not only contains all the important and key concepts, but has also been edited and proofread by a professional editor who can enhance its overall readability and eliminate any language errors within it. This way you can ensure that your readers will easily read a well-written overall summary of your research work.


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