What is a dissertation abstract and how do I write one for my PhD?
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What is an abstract?
How do I write a good PhD abstract?
- What is the reason for writing the thesis?
- What are the current approaches and gaps in the literature?
- What are your research question(s) and aims?
- Which methodology have you used?
- What are the main findings?
- What are the main conclusions and implications?
But how can I write a great one?
- Give a good first impression by writing in short clear sentences
- Don't repeat the title in the abstract
- Don't cite references
- Use keywords from the document
- Respect the word limit
- Don't be vague - the abstract should be a self contained summary of the research, so don't introduce ambiguous words or complex terms
- Focus on just four or five essential points, concepts, or findings. Don't, for example, try to explain your entire theoretical framework
- Edit it carefully. Make sure every word is relevant (you haven't got room for wasted words) and that each sentence has maximum impact
- Avoid lengthy background information
- Don't mention anything that isn't discussed in the thesis
- Avoid overstatements
- Don't spin your findings, contribution or significance to make your research sound grander or more influential that it actually is.
Examples of a good and bad abstract
- It doesn't discuss the reason why the thesis was written
- It doesn't outline the gaps in the literature
- It doesn't outline the research questions or aims
- It doesn't discuss the methods
- It doesn't discuss the findings
- It doesn't discuss the conclusions and implications of the research.
- The reason why the thesis was written is stated: 'We do so to better enable policy makers and academics to understand the nuances of multi-level climate governance' and....'it informs our theoretical understanding of climate governance by introducing a focus on local government hitherto lacking, and informs our empirical understanding of housing and recycling policy.'
- The gap is clearly defined: 'The theory has neglected to account for the role of local governments.'
- The research question are laid out: 'We ask to what extent and in what ways local governments in the UK'...
- The methods are hinted at: 'Using a case study...'
- The findings are summarised: 'We show that local governments are both implementers and interpreters of policy. We also show that they make innovative contributions to and influence the direction of national policy.'
- The conclusions and implications are clear: 'The significance of this study is that it informs our theoretical understanding of climate governance by introducing a focus on local government hitherto lacking, and informs our empirical understanding of housing and recycling policy.'
Your PhD. Condensed.
I can't summarise my thesis, what do I do?
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