Open any academic paper or research or even a journal. In the first few pages, you will come across an abstract of the work in your hand. You might be seeing an abstract for the first time. Do you think people read it before they move on to the main body of the thesis? The answer is yes, people consider an abstract to be extremely important for a piece of work. A research paper needs to have an abstract.
Why do we need an abstract?
A thesis is a long piece of work. It takes months, or at times years to compile. It includes pages after pages of important detailed data. A thesis abstract is needed to sum up your research and give the basic information about your work to a curious reader. One can also choose whether to read a complete paper or not depending on the abstract. If the aim and results of your thesis are attractive and have some use for a reader, they will read your thesis. A reader can be enticed into reading the complete thesis by writing an impressionable abstract.
What is a thesis abstract?
A thesis abstract is the essence of a thesis. It summarizes your thesis in a couple of paragraphs. It gives the readers an idea of the thesis.
An abstract is written after the acknowledgments section, even before a thesis introduction. It is not supposed to have detailed explanations on why you decided to do what you did. It needs to mention your aim, apparatus, results, and analysis in short. It needs to be small and to the point.
An abstract usually has 150-300 words depending on the thesis. However, your university/institute/advisor would provide you with a word count to write your abstract. You need to be clear and state the point of your thesis from the very beginning. The abstract should contain a bit of all the other sections of your thesis. It should extract the most relevant points from your thesis and place them in the right order.
What is the difference between an abstract and an introduction for a thesis?
While reading what an abstract is, you might have found it a bit similar to a thesis introduction. However close the two might be placed in a thesis, they are not at all alike.
- An abstract sums up the entire thesis in a few paragraphs. But an introduction only introduces the thesis topic.
- An abstract enumerates the important points from different sections of a thesis (the aim, methodology, results, analysis). The introduction states just the point of the thesis, the context behind it, and other research papers that might have worked on the topic.
- The abstract can be used to understand a complete thesis. However, an introduction will just give you a basic idea of the topic that the thesis covers.
Hope this makes the difference between the two- an abstract and an introduction clear!
The key elements of a thesis abstract are:
- The aim of your thesis
All that you want to achieve through your thesis needs to be precisely stated in the abstract. This aim needs to be based on your thesis statement. Form your thesis statement after careful consideration of the topics that you want to cover and the perspective you plan to use for your thesis. Once you know what you want to cover, you can have rigid aims to be achieved through your research which will be stated in the thesis abstract.
- The methods used
A detailed methodology would be a separate section in your thesis. In that section, you can explain the methodology used. However, before going to that section, a reader needs to check which methodologies you would be using. They need to believe in the feasibility and appropriateness of those methods for your research. State the methodologies you would be using in your abstract. For example, I would be conducting multiple interviews across different demographics to see the effect of alcohol on the human body. I would also be referring to research papers available online to be able to analyze the effects in a better way.
- The results
Based on the methodology of your research you can collect data for your thesis and state the findings in a point-wise format in your thesis abstract. The findings of your research can be mentioned briefly in the abstract and explained later in the thesis. There would be a section dedicated to the results of your thesis. The abstract should only mention them.
- The analysis
The findings you come up with in the process of conducting research would lead you to analysis or discussion of the results. The important points in the analysis need to come up towards the end of your thesis abstract. They need not be explained logically in the abstract. You just need to enumerate them in your abstract.
How to write perfect thesis abstract?
- Refer to the guidelines given to you
Step 1 in writing good thesis abstract is to refer to the specific guidelines given to you by your advisor/university/institute. They will specify the format of the expected thesis abstract. Make your thesis abstract accordingly.
- Highlight and note down the important points made by your thesis
What is your thesis proving? What is it supposed to argue? Note down the key points in your thesis that work towards proving your thesis statement. Refer to your thesis and your collected data as you do so. Underline the most important among them.
- Make sure you have referred to all the sections of your thesis
The different sections of your thesis body, namely the introduction, methodology, results, analysis, and conclusion, work towards building your thesis statement. Each one has some important points to be covered in the abstract. Check whether you have mentioned all these significant details from their respective sections.
- Write sentences based on the important points
Once you have all the important points to be included in the thesis abstract, you can start writing sentences based on these points. You will need to paraphrase certain parts of your thesis to fit them into your abstract. Combine important points while writing an abstract. However, compile them in a logical order.
- Place the sentences in a logical order
A thesis abstract, just like the main thesis, should flow in a logical order. A reader should not be lost while going through the abstract. They should get a clear sense of the thesis by reading the abstract. Hence, points need to be placed in a logical order. The structure of your thesis will guide you in writing the thesis abstract.
- Form paragraphs
The sentences, placed logically in order need to be combined into paragraphs. Make a point with each paragraph. Do not put diverse sentences into the same paragraph. Separate them into two different paragraphs.
- Adhere to the word limit given to you and cut out unnecessary details
You might exceed the word limit as you write your thesis abstract. Cut out the unnecessary details or points that seem repetitive as you edit the information you provide. Adhere to the given word limit.
- Check your spelling and grammar
To have a good first impression of your thesis abstract on your advisor and reader, check your abstract for any grammatical or spelling mistakes that might have happened in the writing process. Correct them before submitting your abstract.
- Read through the abstract to make sure it flows
You are almost at the end of creating a good thesis abstract! Just read once through your abstract to get a sense of your thesis. You should be able to understand your thesis with the help of your abstract. Make sure you correct any mistakes before you submit your thesis abstract.
Your thesis abstract would be crucial in convincing your advisor to believe in your thesis idea. It will show how much your thesis has to offer. A clear and concise abstract would make a difference in getting your thesis idea approved by your professor. Despite being short, an abstract should convey the important points in a thesis. It should give the readers a clear idea of the research with its aims, methodologies, data points, findings, and analysis. Just follow the steps given above to write a good thesis abstract! You are good to go!