Writing A Dissertation Abstract: A Guide For Philosophy Students

An abstract is one of the most important components of a dissertation. It should be written with great care because it is used for some very important reasons which we will explain below.

Why do we write Abstracts for Dissertations?

Abstracts are usually written for two very distinct reasons.

The first is selection”. An abstract is written so that the reader can get a good idea of what is contained in the paper, if it is what they are looking for and whether they would like to read it.

The second reason is “indexing”. Most databases, including online ones, use abstracts as a way to index all the research papers they hold. Keywords included in the abstract are used to pull out a particular paper in response to a user’s search.

It is apparent from these two reasons why it is so important to write a great abstract. Here is a short guide on how to write a good abstract.

What makes an Abstract?

An Abstract informs the reader about what is in the paper. It includes the question being posed, the main arguments made in the paper, the experimentation done, its results and the writer’s conclusions in view of those results. One important thing to remember is that the abstract does not evaluate or critique the work. It is simply a description of it.

As a rule of thumb, the length of most Abstracts should be restricted to about 10 to 12% of the length of the longer work. There are, of course, exceptions but these are few and far between and it is better to keep to this rule.

What to remember when writing an Abstract.

When writing an abstract, it is important to remember the following key points:

It is best to state the most important points first. The language used in the main paper, including technical terms, should be the one used in the abstract. It is important to identify the key words, or key phrases, related to the longer work and include them in the abstract. The language used should not be too wordy or obtuse; it should be clear, concise and precise. Make sure your Abstract follows the same chronological order as the rest of your paper. This will help to keep the reader from getting lost and generate interest in the work as it will follow a familiar pattern.


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