Thesis Abstract: How the Hell do you write it?

Categories: thesis, Writing

As a graduate student you will most likely need to provide a thesis in order to receive your degree and graduate your courses. And when you write your thesis you will absolutely need to write a thesis abstract since they will be the first thing that is read. But what is a thesis abstract and how do you write it? We’ve found the answers you will need in order to write your thesis abstract successfully and bring your entire thesis together in the best possible way.

What is a thesis abstract?

Many students are not aware of what a thesis abstract is until it comes time to prepare for and write their thesis. Because of this, they find themselves asking, what does abstract mean? The thesis abstract is a vital piece of the overall thesis that not only stands alone alongside the thesis, but also acts to summarize the entire thesis as well. Basically, the thesis abstract will be the bare bones of the overall thesis according the research and questions you will be presenting to your board or committee.
The thesis abstract will always occur at the beginning of the thesis. It acts as the first descriptive and substantive piece of information regarding the overall thesis. While it acts as a descriptive and informative introduction to the thesis itself, the thesis abstract is typically kept short, no more than seven hundred words. In addition, the thesis abstract is the chance for you to set your views as well as the expectations of the readers in an accurate way.
Since the thesis abstract’s purpose is to summarize the entire thesis, it needs to remain on point and accurate according to your research, questions, and/or theories you are presenting to the external examiners. This allows for the examiner to get the core information that will be in the thesis itself. Additionally, due to the fact that the thesis abstract is limited to no more than seven hundred words in most cases, this gives any readers ample information in cases of time and/or space limitations.
Understanding the purpose of the thesis abstract will allow you to write the thesis abstract in the correct style.

How to write an abstract

When it comes time to start drafting your thesis abstract, you will need to make sure that you know your research questions and keep them to a limit of no more than three. This limit of questions prevents your overall thesis from becoming too far off course. If however, you do find that you are having more than three questions, take a step back and re-examine your overall thesis. Find a way to narrow it down or make any changes or adjustments necessary in order to stay within the limit.
As you draft your thesis abstract, keep in mind to follow any guidelines set out by your educational institution. Many students will refer to a thesis abstract example from their course of studies from previous years. This practice can be helpful when you are beginning to format your thesis and your thesis abstract, especially if you are brand new to writing in this way.
While the guidelines, styles, and structures of the thesis abstract will vary from school to school, there are many similarities to be found. An abstract in thesis sample typically includes:

  • A maximum of seven hundred words
  • One double spaced page
  • A mirror of the overall thesis

One to two sentences for each section of the whole thesis. (For example, if your thesis has an intro, review, methodology, results, and conclusion within it, you will need to write one to two sentences for each one)
When you are writing your thesis abstract, you will also need to make sure you keep the following advice in mind to ensure success.

  • Keep it short, direct, and to the point.
  • Make sure it is coherent
  • Follow the structure set out by your school
  • Place your research questions at the beginning of your thesis abstract
  • Include a maximum of three questions only.

The process of writing your thesis abstract is actually more simple than students realize. Once you are familiar with the guidelines and structure, all you need to do is write a miniature thesis. In order to do that, you will need to include these five questions:

  1. What was done?
  2. Why was it done?
  3. How was it done?
  4. What was discovered?

What are the significance of these findings?
These questions will help you maintain your focus as you write as well as tie the overall thesis together. If you find you are struggling to answer one of these questions as you are formulating your thesis abstract, it will easily show where you are having a problem within the thesis and where you will need to re-conceptualize your ideas and/or research.
There are a few other important factors to consider as you are writing your thesis abstract as you do not want to forget about the results. The results are the information that needs to be presented first and foremost and many students fail to bring the results to the fore front for the examiners and the readers. It is also important to understand the purpose of the thesis abstract is not to tell your readers about what you have done, but what you have discovered.
Remember to open your thesis abstract with your research questions and allow the rest of the thesis abstract to act as the place to summarize and interpret your findings. Draft up your thesis abstract a couple times to become confident and familiar in your writing and the structure. It can also help to have a fellow colleague or professor to read and review your thesis abstract to get any insights or advice. In summary, keep your results at the forefront of your thesis abstract and follow structures accordingly. These two factors, excluding structure and formatting, are the most important to follow through with for a successful thesis abstract and overall thesis.

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