Pointers for Your Dissertation’s Abstract

As the entry point for your dissertation, it is important to have a well-written Abstract. It summarizes what your paper is all about so that interested parties will read further. Aside from possibly affecting your overall dissertation grade, a good Abstract may convince other researchers to consider your work as a potential resource for their studies - something that helps validate all the hard work you put in.

So take a look at these helpful pointers for your dissertation’s Abstract.

  1. Reread your work before you make the Abstract

The Abstract should be written after the dissertation has been completed. But because the Abstract is supposed to be short (300 to 350 words), you can only select key ideas per section to include in it. This is why it helps to reread your work, chapter by chapter, choosing the necessary highlights to include.

  1. Do not include technical terms or too many figures

Not everyone that reads your Abstract is an expert in your field. The reader’s expertise may be different, but they are drawn to your work because of the people you interviewed, the experiment you conducted, or the research methods you implemented.

So use terms that are easy to understand, regardless of the field. It is supposed to be within the dissertation that your reader is introduced to these important terms and their respective definitions.

Moreover, do not include so many figures in your Abstract. Since a 350-word summary is short, you will not be able to clearly explain the purpose of such figures in your Abstract. So it is best to leave these numbers out.

  1. Do not insert any new ideas

A mistake some Ph.D. candidates accidentally do is to include a new thought that is not mentioned in the paper. Your Abstract is like a movie trailer. If the trailer shows something to the potential viewer, the person will expect to see it in the movie as well. So don’t present a new idea in your Abstract so you don’t disappoint your reader.

  1. Check your work

Although it is a seemingly “minor” part of your dissertation, do not haphazardly create an Abstract for the sake of finishing. Spend time rechecking your work for the usual spelling and grammatical errors. But more importantly, ensure your Abstract compels future readers to take a look at your work.

Furthermore, since the focus of your Abstract should be the research done, not the researcher, it is best to use the passive voice. If you are having difficulty telling which is which, avail of the many online grammar checking programs out there that can help. If you prefer personalized editing, you can search for a good editor in your university or online.


Even though the Abstract just presents a glimpse of your overall work, as an entry point to your dissertation, you should spend sufficient time making it right. So please consider the four pointers above to create an Abstract worth viewing. Good luck!