The dissertation is arguably the most important piece of writing in a student’s academic career. As such, the daunting task of writing and preparing a dissertation is intimidating to many academic scholars. Perhaps this is because the dissertation is the culmination of all the years of the student’s education. Perhaps this is because the dissertation will be eventually published for all to see. Or perhaps it is because the student does not have a firm grasp of how to go about preparing the dissertation and all of its component parts. Regardless of the reason, prospective dissertation writers can suppress their feelings of anxiety by familiarizing themselves with the dissertation writing process. In this article, the dissertation abstract will be examined, allowing prospective writers to better understand its role and how to begin its preparation.
The Dissertation Abstract – What It Is and What It Accomplishes
The dissertation abstract is simply a brief summary of the results of the dissertation research. By summarizing the results of the research, it allows others to get an idea of what was accomplished without having to read through the entire dissertation. Students or researchers can read a dissertation abstract to determine if looking at the full dissertation will be worthwhile. The abstract can often provide enough information about the results of research that examining the full dissertation is not necessary.
The Dissertation Abstract – Where It Is Found
- JOURNALS AND ONLINE DATABASES
As stated previously, one of the reasons that students get so anxious about preparing a dissertation abstract is because the abstract will most likely be submitted and published. Abstracts are often collected in journals and online databases so that other researchers can browse them and determine if locating the full dissertation is worthwhile.
- JOB APPLICATIONS
The dissertation abstract can also be included with job applications as part of a curriculum vitae (CV). This is especially true of those who wish to apply for an academic job. Including the abstract with the job application allows potential employers to examine the topic of your dissertation research.
Writing the Dissertation Abstract
The following tips will help you to avoid the common pitfalls that students encounter when preparing the dissertation abstract.
- DON’T GET TOO WORDY
It is important that the abstract does not get too long. As a general rule, a dissertation abstract should not be over two pages long. In fact, if the abstract can be limited to a single page it is even better. This can be especially difficult if the topic of research is particularly complex, but the student must be able to concisely summarize the results of the research without getting too wordy. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of having an abstract in the first place. When preparing an abstract to submit with a job application, it is generally recommended that it not be more than 400-600 words.
- BE ALL-INCLUSIVE
The abstract is designed to be a summary of the entire dissertation. Therefore, it is important that the abstract cover all of the important parts. It may be difficult to accomplish this while limiting the length of the abstract to one or two pages, but through the use of clear, concise writing virtually any topic can be boiled down to that length.
- ONLY DISCUSS TOPICS RELEVANT TO THE ACTUAL DISSERTATION
While it is important to include the entire breadth of your research in the abstract, do not be tempted to discuss anything that is not directly relevant to the research included in your full and custom-written dissertation.
- MENTION KEY TERMS
As stated before the dissertation abstract will most likely be submitted to journals and databases that are created strictly for collecting dissertations so that researchers can peruse them. Including the key terms or phrases about your research will allow those who come across the dissertation to more quickly understand the scope of the research.