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How to write a compelling dissertation abstract

A dissertation abstract summarises your entire academic work while encouraging readers to read more. It comes on the first page of your piece, with highlights on what the readers should expect. As such, it should be brief and with strict adherence to your university’s formatting system. An abstract is not only related to academic works. It is also done when writing books, conference papers, journal articles, and proposals, among others.

How an abstract should look like

When it comes to dissertation abstracts, there are two types:

  • Descriptive abstract: This type of abstract is concise, with about 100 or less word count. It uses keywords and phrases to inform the reader of the kind of information in your work. This information may include research purpose, methodology, and scope of work.
  • Informative abstract: unlike the descriptive abstract, the information abstract goes a bit further. It talks about the research augments, with a highlight on its findings and conclusions. This ranges from about 250 to 350 words depending on the writer.

No matter the type of dissertation abstract you are using, it is advisable you write it last even though it comes on this first page of your work. Doing this helps you to include essential highlights of your work. Also, since it should comprise only one paragraph, you need to structure it well.

Writing the abstract

Before you put pen on paper or start typing your abstract, you should go over your entire work. Doing allows you to be re-abreast with whatever you have written. You then again read all the various chapters and take notes of the important point made in them. You then put these points into readable sentences.

Afterward, you need to assess these sentences and ask yourself whether they reflect the main points explored in the dissertation. If yes, then congratulations. However, if the answer is no, then you need to redo them. Secondly, as stated above, your abstract needs to be concise, precise, and fall within the required word count. If it is above, then reduce the number without losing the main points or message in the sentence.

Unlike the main work, do not reference your abstracts. All such references should be done in the dissertation and must follow your university’s criteria.


Let’s take a quick look at the main point in the article. Your abstracts should be clear with ambiguities to avoid confusing the readers. You should know that not everyone has the same level of understanding as you do. So, it would be a great disservice if you presume everyone is on your level.

Secondly, your abstract should mirror what is in the main content. Do not introduce new information alien to your work.

Always note that your abstract may determine whether a reader would continue to read your work or not. It is your first impression; therefore put out your best by giving it enough time and importance.