What is an abstract?
An abstract for a dissertation or a thesis is a short summary of a writing that sums up the research by highlighting the important sections of the study. It helps the reader have a broad understanding of the paper before reading it to its entirety. An abstract as an overview of an academic work is used mainly to get a glimpse of the writing. For those applying for academic jobs, it serves as the main piece upon which a candidate is evaluated on their eligibility for the position. However, writing an abstract can be challenging because it involves condensing many years of work into a few words. In this blog we give the important tips for writing a great abstract for your dissertation or thesis.
The purpose of writing an abstract
An abstract is mainly aimed at providing a broad view of what the research was about and the novel findings from the work. It is based on the abstract that a reader will decide whether to read the rest of the thesis or not. Moreover, sometimes the reader may not have the time to read the entire thesis and may only rely on the abstract to obtain important information. The abstract may also guide some in focusing on specific sections of the paper.
In academics, an abstract serves as a guide for selecting the required materials for research. For example, if you were conducting research on politics of population control, the best way to begin the search is to look for dissertations related to the topic. This may return many hits thus making it difficult to find the ones that cover specifically the topic of interest. You would narrow down the search by focusing on the titles. However, titles do not reveal valuable information about the dissertations. The best option is thus to narrow down the search and download the abstracts of the few hits. The abstracts will give you a clear overview of the paper in order to make an informed decision.
Another reason why abstracts are important in academics is for indexing purposes. Most libraries allow people to search for articles based on the content of the abstract. This makes it easier to find articles that match exactly their queries. The library search engines crawl the articles for specific keywords in the article to identify a match. This is also why incorporating keywords that match the key topics of the research project is key to writing a good abstract.
Types of an abstract
There are two main types of abstracts namely: informative and descriptive.
A descriptive abstract provides a short overview of the study including the purpose, method and scope. It contains the type of information used in the research without including judgements, conclusions or results. Descriptive abstracts are often short in length about 100 words and mainly used as an outline of the work.
Informative abstracts are the most common proving a full summary of the research. They go beyond the descriptive abstract to add description of the results, conclusions, recommendations of the study. It covers 10% of the entire paper consisting of the main arguments and evidence presented in the study.
Components of an abstract for dissertation
The following are the key elements of an abstract:
Purpose: The abstract should start by defining the main aim of the study or research project. It should determine the problem the study intends to solve followed by a brief description of the subject of the study.
Methodology: An abstract should incorporate the methodologies applied in the study. This should be a short description of the methodologies without any explanation as to why they were selected.
Results: The abstract should provide a summary of the findings of the study focusing on the most important ones.
Conclusion: This is the last part of the abstract that describes the ability of the research to solve the problem or prove its arguments based on the findings. It also includes the limitations of the study as well as the recommendations.
Things to consider when writing an abstract for your dissertation
An abstract should maintain a length not more than one or two pages. However, one should always confirm the specifications from the department or the supervisor as failure to abide by length guidelines may affect its quality.
An abstract is a summary of the entire research including the objectives, methodology, literature, analysis and conclusion. Therefore, it requires thorough analysis and understanding of the work to provide a valuable analysis.
The abstract should develop and maintain an authoritative academic tone for the entire study. Therefore, it should be written in a credible manner to demonstrate its professionalism.
Other than maintaining the length of your abstract, it is important to keep it concise by focusing on the main points of the research, its outcomes and significance. You should not introduce any new information that was not covered in the study.
Make every sentence unique
Abstract has a limited length and that is why every sentence counts. It is thus important to make every sentence unique by giving readers new and useful information about the study. For example, you can introduce the objectives of the research in a sentence and the subject area in another sentence.
Understand the writing requirements
It is important to understand the specific guidelines as provided by the supervisor. Consider things like the style or length requirements.
Understand the audience
The abstract is written to provide a summary and helps readers understand its content. Therefore, it is important to consider their interests such as what kind of information they will be looking for. For example, an academician may look for the findings to determine the credibility of your research before deciding to read the entire thesis. Therefore, it is important to understand the target audience to determine the type of information that may interest them.
Tips for writing a great abstract for dissertation
Here is a summary of tips for writing a good abstract:
- Use keywords representing main points from the research paper or article
- Do not include additional information that is not covered in the thesis
- Stick to a short and precise background information
- Do not reinstate the title of the study
- Limit the paper to about 4 or 5 main points or findings of the study
- Avoid being vague by using simple terms that can be easily understood by the audience
- Stick to the word limit
- Do not give references
- Write in short clear sentences and make it easy to understand
- Avoid overstatements of statements that make the study sound grander as this may take away the professionalism and credibility of the paper
Sample of a dissertation abstract
DISSERTATION: DISCLOSURE OF RISK AND RISK APPETITE IN UK BANKS INDUSTRY AND BUILDING SOCIETIES
Financial institutions are obligated by internal and external controls to report periodically to the stakeholders. The stakeholders comprise of the owners, managers, investors, and regulatory entities amongst other parties in the command chain. The UK financial institutions offer similar services; however, some aspects of operations and ownership differ. Therefore, this study focussed on UK banks and building societies to understand their risk appetite and disclosure system. The rationale for the study was pegged on the premise the UK banks and Building Societies are always subjected to multiple uncertainties that seem to be inherent. Consequently, the managers have embraced a new modality of accepting some risk as they pursue the firms’ objectives. The paper analysed risk appetite that shows the amount of risks that the banks and building societies are willing to accept so as to accomplish their goals. Additionally, it conducted a comparative analysis of risk appetite of banks and building societies. Methodologically, the study employed a mixed research that integrates both qualitative and quantitative techniques using sequential exploratory design. Secondary data was collected from trade journals, firms’ websites, archival records, and other related books and journals. The primary data collected was conducted through in-depth and telephone interviews coupled with questionnaire surveys. Empirically, the findings of the study approved the null hypothesis that risk appetite and disclosure systems of UK banks and building societies are uninformative and boilerplated. In conclusion, UK firms have made strides in annual statutory reporting; however, the proper disclosure framework is yet to be instituted.