The dissertation abstract is a decidedly strategic element of the dissertation. Not only is it the most widely read section of your dissertation, it is where that reader decides whether to read further. The abstract reveals to this researcher the relevance of the research as well as your skills in written composition. You want to impress your reader from the get-go, so take your time crafting this important element of the dissertation.
Since abstracts are widely read, they must appeal to the needs of a diverse audience while maintaining the integrity of the manuscript. In many ways, the abstract is the dispassionate (or objective) summary of the dissertation designed to inform any reader about the content and context of the research. Well-written abstracts provide a concise synopsis of the essential content and direction of the research, and any reader should be able to grasp the relevance of the material. Abstracts summarize and relate findings; however, they typically do not include any reference to tables, quotes, or data not included in the dissertation. Abstracts are also used by libraries and databases to help catalog published material.
Preparing to Write: First, think about your own researching process, the abstracts of the articles you’ve used helped define relevance, but also indirectly these abstracts helped cultivate your own awareness of the “values” and conventions of the discourse. What were some of the characteristics of the abstracts that impressed you.
Writing the Condensed Abstract (One Paragraph)
The dissertation abstract should be 150-350 word* paragraph and written in non-evaluative, objective style relating the focus and theoretical context of the research and its implications. Typically, dissertation abstracts have four segments: a lead into the topic and statement of the problem, the research method, the results or findings, and the conclusion or implications. Here’s a handy guide in writing abstracts:
- Introduction: compose a sentence (or two) defining the topic and identifying the value of the research.
- Context of Study: describe/discuss necessary information leading up to the study.
- Statement of the Problem: explicitly state the focus & context of your research.
- Methodology: provide a precise explanation of the methods chosen for the research.
- Results & Findings: write a few sentences explaining the results of your research and the implications to your field.
- Research: refer to your research and summarize your results or conclusions.
The abstract has its unique page in both the doctoral proposal and dissertation. First, follow the guidelines below:
TITLE OF DISSERTATION
Antioch University <School>
Beginning the text: Do not indent the first line. Avoid direct quotes and citations.** Remember, an abstract should be:
- A focused and condensed paragraph highlighting the aspects of the research study;
- A combined brief summary and analysis of the problem;
- Developed sufficiently to aid researchers in identifying the context & relevance of the research.
- At the end, include the requisite statement indicating the access of the dissertation on both AURA and Ohiolink (see below)
- Include Keywords relevant to the area of research (See below)
- All AU dissertation abstracts must conclude with this final statement: This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, http://aura.antioch.edu/ and Ohio Link ETD Center, https://etd.ohiolink.edu/.
- Below the abstract paragraph include the keywords relevant to your dissertation. There’s a limited “field” of 255 characters, so be selective. There’s also a strategy involved here: choose words for greater success in online research. Keywords are terms that relate to the dissertation topic, focus, population, methodology and area of study. Be selective with these terms as they will be used in the upload process of the dissertation and will be the terms that will bring your dissertation to other readers’ attention. So, think about the current terms of the field and their synonyms that will bring your dissertation up in a search. Also consider alternate spellings and conduct a Google Scholar Search prior to the final deposit on AURA. Avoid metaphorical words or abstractions. And when in doubt, consult a reference librarian. Here’s an example:
Dissertation Title: Nepotism and its Effects on Bullying in Corporate Environment: A Case Study Approach***
Keywords: workplace bullying, organizational trauma, corporate nepotism, case study
Peer Edit: Having an outside reader is sometimes the easiest way to ensure that your abstract is successful. Collaborate with other writers and share abstracts to see if the four segments listed above are included. Upon reading it, your reader should have a clear idea of the topic, conclusions, and direction of what follows. Should you want expert help, a WEX PhD editor/coach can help.
* The word count is limited to the “content paragraph(s)” are not included in the word count. Hyphenated words ( rock-forming, multi-disciplinary, etc.) are counted as 2 words.
**Any deviation may be approved by your committee chair.
***All examples are purely fictitious.