How to Write a Dissertation Abstract

By: Tasha Kolesnikova

14 min



How to Write a Dissertation Abstract

As students, drawing up an abstract is tough. If you have thought, “What is a dissertation abstract?” you definitely should be reading what we have to say below. It is practically the place on your dissertation where you prove its worth to the person who is reading. And since it is what the person will see first, you should use it as an opportunity to get them intrigued. Need dissertation abstract help or help with dissertation literature review? We can help you! ;-)

What Is a Thesis Abstract?

A thesis or dissertation abstract definition is a very succinct summary of a study or paper. It showcases everything that is important in your study in a very condensed form. It should cover:

  • What is the problem you are attempting to solve?
  • What are your research aims and research questions?
  • How did you go about researching?
  • What did you find after researching?
  • What sort of conclusion did you reach?

Here’s a goal to keep in mind. When writing a dissertation abstract, you should keep it at around 250-350 words. Though, you should also note that it is different from an introduction. With it, you need to convince the reader that your written paper is worth reading.

The truth is that not everyone will completely read your whole master's or Ph.D. thesis, most likely not even your examiner. The contents will often be too much to go through in a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, the abstract is crucial when the reader decides it is noteworthy enough to continue. You must keep this in mind when writing dissertation abstracts.

Dissertation Abstract Format

There is so much you have to summarize in your abstract thesis writing. You can make it easier on yourself by cutting it down to key components. This will allow you to gather everything you need and structure it in a digestible manner.

To start, first, spend some time noting down the necessary facts:

  1. Your reasoning – For what reason did you select and research your problem.
  2. Specify the principle query – What is the most crucial problem?
  3. Summarize how you went about doing research. You only need to write a brief summary.
  4. Indicate what your ultimate conclusion was. Make sure to write that.
  5. Did you find an answer to your problem? You have to mention that either way.
  6. Note down any limitations you or the study may have faced. This gives it more credibility.

The thesis abstract format should incorporate everything mentioned above, but with a better flow. Also, remember that abstracts need to be double-spaced and have their own page. All this information allows you to build a skeleton to write around.

If you don’t know how to structure a doctoral paper/dissertation, don’t worry, as there are enough samples to act as a guide. In the sections below, we go through “What is an abstract in a dissertation?” and all you have to learn to write the perfect one.

Thesis Abstracts Examples

When learning how to write a dissertation abstract, you should use examples as a reference. It can give you some tips on summating huge chunks of information.

Take some time and go through samples to get a feel for how they are worded. For you to start with, we have created an example of a good abstract for a dissertation. We have colored each segment differently for you to see how to structure one.

For a Dissertation

My dissertation is about fiction created in England between 1770 and 1820. My argument is that the unpredictable political situation and financial predicament of that time influenced what was being produced. The anxiety faced by the people during those unsettling times was reflected in the fiction that was created. There were 7 crises that occurred during the period of 1760 - 1797 that appeared out of nowhere. This series of crises eventually led to the financial debacle, creating economic turmoil. So, how was this reflected in the fiction of that time? Well, that era marked a change in cultural behavior. Works of fiction that typically had similar endings were changed. Instead of protagonists living happily ever after and antagonists being penalized, the narrative became more irrational. This echoed the new realization that being unpredictable was the new norm. I analyzed the works of writers from that time, such as Henry Alabaster, Reynold Bouyer, and Edward Arber to illustrate this change. My conclusion shows how fiction from the late 1800s highlights how people were aware of these unsteady times in the written narratives.

Aim - Green

Method - Blue

Results - Red

For a Ph.D. thesis

This dissertation is made up of 2 essays on how marketing messaging can impact customer engagement. In the first essay, I discuss how the “yes/no” response structure can improve the response rate even if the choice is not forced on them.

Using two field experiments, I showcase how a “yes/no” response structure in emails sent to consumers has a clear advantage over the opt-in structure in choices where the consumer isn’t forced to make a choice. I discuss how certain psychological processes affect the click-through rate of “yes/no” response structures.

In the second essay, I discuss how imagery can improve what is communicated to consumers. Marketers typically use images to convey their marketing message in an easy-to-digest manner, thereby increasing appreciation for the product.

Using multiple experiments, I show how images certainly do impact how consumers positively perceive a product, but there can be mixed results depending on certain factors. I also dive into how these perceptions impact the sale of the products and determine a few areas that need to be explored further to get a more accurate result.

Aim - Green

Method - Blue

Results - Red

Limitations - Purple

Dissertation Abstract Template

With the samples above, you should have an idea of how to write an abstract in a dissertation. But, each one is unique, and you have to grasp how to structure yours specifically. Remember, there is no exact method you need to follow when it comes to the arrangement of the abstract. Just make sure everything noteworthy is added in.

The following template can be used to help you create a skeleton of your abstract. Use what you wrote down (if you did) in the earlier section - “dissertation abstract format.”

1. Always begin with the “Why” and “What”

Clearly note down what you are trying to achieve with some background details. You don’t want to go into too much detail here. Simply write it in a sentence or more if necessary. For example – “My exploration dives into the similarities between soccer and football and how they originated.”

2. Tell the reader how you did your research

The way you research can mean the difference in the validity of your ending. As such, it is necessary to include the means through which you got your information. Keep it simple, and don’t try to explain them. You don’t need to validate how you did it. For example - “I carried out both virtual and in-person meetings with over 50 people to gather information for this research.”

3. Showcase what you unearthed

Based on what you choose, there may be many results. In this case, choose what is most significant and write it down. Your analysis must be directly linked to this result. For example - “After conducting the interviews, my analysis shows that soccer and football are different sports.”

4. You also need the conclusion/limitations

When writing dissertation abstract, having an answer is crucial. Any reader must be able to understand what you are trying to achieve. While researching, if there were any limitations, you should include them as well. This way, you are giving a very accurate summation of your study. For example - “The study concluded that both sports shared similarities, but are inherently different sports. However, when it comes to the origination of each sport, there are mixed references.

Tips for Writing Doctoral Dissertation Abstracts

The biggest obstacle you will face while writing abstract for dissertation is the summation. 300 words aren’t much, and you may have a lot to condense. Your current university could be lenient about how many words it is, but this is probably not going to be the same everywhere. You should learn how to keep an abstract minimalized for any future work.

Below we have a few additional tips for how to write an abstract for a dissertation:

1. Spend time on every sentence

You will likely come across many things to write about in your research, but it doesn’t all need to be written down. Since this summation is so brief, every word should be rechecked. Keep the center of attention on the segments and try to explain them without going into detail. Also, don’t be excessive while writing and embellish the facts to fit your argument.

2. Do some reading

As mentioned earlier, looking through examples is a great way to learn how to write an abstract for thesis. Go online and search for those done by other people similar to what you are doing. You will surely learn a thing or two.

3. Stay away from including other people’s analysis

Yes, you will probably have additional literature done by others in the contents of your dissertation. However, you shouldn’t include that literature in your summation. Only write about things you did by yourself.

4. Keep it coherent

While it is important to compress, do not overdo it. You have to be able to communicate all your thoughts to the person reading them. Be mindful of missing out on crucial information and writing egregiously.

5. Keep rechecking once done

Always remember that your first attempt is your first draft. Take the time to go over what you wrote and rewrite in your paper anything that needs to be changed. You will likely identify places where you can improve your writing or make it more clear. To help with this, you should ask your peers to review your writing.

Tips on how to write Ph.D. dissertation abstracts

Despite the fact that most abstracts follow a similar pattern, a Ph.D. dissertation is written at a considerably greater degree of sophistication. Here are some other guidelines you should follow:

1. What is something new you accomplished

Your Ph.D. dissertation should showcase the unique perspective you added to the main argument. You haven’t achieved anything without this, and people are not likely to read it. If you need help with phd dissertation writing - welcome to Studybay! We would be glad to help you.

2. Avoid repetition

The information that is unnecessarily and repetitively provided is not something you need. Readers should be enticed to continue reading after reading your summary. Readers will become disinterested if you keep repeating material.

3. Avoid extensive detailing

The center of attention should be on your argument. You shouldn’t deviate too much from that. Don’t make a note of throwaway details or focus on unimportant information.


What are the things that I need to include in my dissertation abstract?

It should include the following: introduction, aims and objectives, methodology, results, and conclusion. Without these areas, it isn’t complete.

Does my dissertation need to have an abstract?

The abstract is an essential component of a dissertation. It helps the reader know if the paper includes information that they want to know. Without it, readers are likely to skip reading your dissertation.

I have a 10000-word dissertation – how long should its abstract be?

No matter how long your dissertation is, the abstract should not exceed more than 300 words. Always keep it between 200 and 300 words.

Where do I include an abstract? Does it come before the table of contents?

Yes, it will typically come before the table of contents page but after the title and acknowledgments.

Can an abstract be two paragraphs?

A typical abstract should always be only one paragraph that is double-spaced. But, this can vary depending on your topic and if the assignment calls for a longer text.

Do I need an introduction if I have an abstract?

Most academic papers do require both an introduction and an abstract. It should provide a more detailed description of the subject matter. However, it doesn’t delve into the points that you outline in the abstract such as methodology.

Can the abstract and introduction be on the same page?

The abstract is quite important, so it should get its own page on your research paper. Therefore, you will need two separate pages for the introduction and the abstract.

What should come after the abstract?

This will depend on your dissertation, but usually, the table of contents or the introduction follows the abstract.

Does the abstract go on its page?

Yes, the abstract should always be on its page. It should usually only take up about half of a double-spaced page.

How many keywords should be in an abstract?

Keywords are important terms that the reader should know before reading your dissertation. It is recommended to include between 3 and 5 keywords in the abstract.

Does an abstract have to be 250 words?

Exact word counts can vary between dissertations, but typically it should be 200 to 300 words.

Can an abstract be more than 250 words?

Yes, it can be more than 250 words, though it shouldn’t exceed more than 300. However, depending on your assignment or guidelines, this number can vary.

Are 400 words too long for an abstract?

For a typical abstract, yes, 400 words is a bit too long. However, you could push it to 400 words depending on your topic and assignment guidelines.

How long should a Ph.D. thesis abstract be?

All abstracts follow a similar number of words. Your Ph.D. thesis abstract should also be between 200 to 300 words.

Can an abstract be 100 words?

Most abstracts are between 200 and 300 words. However, there are certain papers that don’t require as many. Experimental research abstracts can be shorter than 100 words.

What are the 3 types of abstracts?

  • Indicative abstracts – These are usually short and simple
  • Informative abstracts – These are longer and more detailed
  • Evaluative abstracts – These are subjective abstracts that evaluate the details of your research

What should you put in an abstract?

  • The purpose and aim of your study
  • The research methods used
  • The results of your research
  • Your conclusion, as well as any limitations to your research

Should abstracts have results?

You should write down the most important findings of your research. However, you shouldn’t go into detail.

Do citations go in abstracts?

No, you should avoid citing it in the abstract. The abstract should only include information that you researched yourself.

What are the 5 parts of an abstract?

  • Aim or Purpose
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Conclusion
  • Limitations

What are the six steps to writing abstracts?

  • An introduction to the study
  • Some context on the problem
  • A summary of why the problem endures
  • The main point you are driving across
  • The results of your research
  • What is the meaning behind your results

How long does it take to write an abstract?

There is no set limit to how long it should take you. Since it is a crucial element of your paper, you need to spend some time perfecting every abstract you write.

How can you avoid common problems in writing abstracts?

The biggest problem with an abstract is associated with word count and formatting. Make sure you stick to the word count and don’t include unnecessary details. Conversely, don’t avoid including important information as well.

Should it be written in the first person?

Your abstract needs to be written in the third person and the present tense.

What is the best dissertation abstract length?

The best length will be anywhere between 200 and 300 words. This can vary slightly depending on the topic and type of paper.

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I studied sociology and marketing at Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany) and Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal). When I was a sophomore, back in 2018, I decided to put what I've learned into practice, so I got my first job in digital marketing. I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.

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