Dissertation Abstract Template

USEFUL PHRASES

Useful phrases when writing a dissertation abstract

This section sets out some useful phrases that you can use and build on when writing your undergraduate or master's level dissertation abstract. As the section, How to structure your dissertation abstract explains, the abstract has a number of components, typically including: (a) study background and significance; (b) components of your research strategy; (c) findings; and (d) conclusions. The phrases below build on these four components.

COMPONENT #1
Build the background to the study

  • Introductory sentences

    This study (dissertation, research)?

    aims to illuminate?
    examines the role of...
    explores why...
    investigates the effects of...
    assesses the impact of...on...
    developed and tested the idea that...

    I...

    investigated the role of...
    outline how...
    introduce the concept of...
    extend prior work on...
    examine the relationship between...and...
    identify...
    evaluate these...by...

    In this study (dissertation, research) I...

    propose a model of...

  • Leading with research questions

    This study (dissertation, research)...

    is motivated by two research questions: (1) [Insert research question one]? (2) [Insert research question two]? To examine these questions, the study?

    "[Insert a research question]?" is a fundamental question in [the name of your area of interest]. We suggest [argue] that a new generation of research in this area needs to address the extended question: [Insert your research question]?

  • Leading with research hypotheses

    This study (dissertation, research)...

    offers two hypotheses: (1) [insert research hypothesis one]; and (2) [insert research hypothesis two].

    tested hypotheses regarding the relationship between...and...

    It was

    hypothesized that [insert variable] is negatively [positively] related to...

    hypothesized that [insert variable] is more negatively [positively] related to [insert variable] than [insert variable].

  • Leading with a dissertation aim or goals

    This study (dissertation, research)...

    has three goals: (1) [insert goal one], (2) [insert goal two], and (3) [insert goal three].

  • Literature component

    Previous research (extent research, previous studies, or prior studies)...

    indicates that...
    offers a descriptive account of...
    has shown that...

    Literature on [insert area of the literature] has focused almost exclusively on...

    Synthesizing [e.g., name of theories], this research built and tested a theoretical model linking...

    This model addresses X (e.g., 2) major gaps in the literature.

    Drawing on [insert name] research, we argue that...

    In bridging the two literature gaps, a model of [insert text] is proposed.

  • Significance of the study

    We develop theory to explain how...

    Our most important contribution is...

    This study advances our understanding of...

    To date, no systematic investigation has considered...

    We examine how organisations use [insert text] to overcome...

COMPONENT #2
Components of research strategy

We conducted...

in-depth case studies of [X number of private/public] enterprises in [country].

a laboratory experiment and a field study to test our hypotheses.

an inductive study of...

We employed...

multiple methods to test...

Using...

a sample of [X number of people, firms, data, objects, e.g., doctors, banks, songs], we collected data from three sources [e.g., X, Y and Z].

comparative case analysis, this research explored the role of...

To illustrate these ideas, [insert company name or type] was used as a case study to show how...

We tested these hypotheses using [e.g., student test score] data to measure [e.g., teacher performance].

We developed a 9-item scale to measure...

Using data from...

COMPONENT #3
Major findings

The findings from the research...

illustrate how...

show that the impact of [insert text] on [insert text] is more complex than previously thought/assumed.

address a controversial belief among practitioners that...

illustrate the antecedents and consequences of [insert text] and [insert text] in...

suggest that the effect of [variable X] on [variable Y] was moderated over time when...

A predicted, the...

Contrary to our expectations...

COMPONENT #4
Conclusion

The results, implications for managers, and future research are discussed.

Theoretical contributions and managerial implications of the findings are discussed.

The findings...

provide support for the key arguments.

support the prediction that...

support the model:

offer insights into...

prompt a re-thinking of [insert your area of interest]

We conclude that...

If you would like us to add more of these kinds of phrases, please leave us feedback.

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How to Write an Abstract for Your Thesis or Dissertation

What is an Abstract?

  • The abstract is an important component of your thesis. Presented at the beginning of the thesis, it is likely the first substantive description of your work read by an external examiner. You should view it as an opportunity to set accurate expectations.
  • The abstract is a summary of the whole thesis. It presents all the major elements of your work in a highly condensed form.
  • An abstract often functions, together with the thesis title, as a stand-alone text. Abstracts appear, absent the full text of the thesis, in bibliographic indexes such as PsycInfo. They may also be presented in announcements of the thesis examination. Most readers who encounter your abstract in a bibliographic database or receive an email announcing your research presentation will never retrieve the full text or attend the presentation.
  • An abstract is not merely an introduction in the sense of a preface, preamble, or advance organizer that prepares the reader for the thesis. In addition to that function, it must be capable of substituting for the whole thesis when there is insufficient time and space for the full text.

Size and Structure

  • Currently, the maximum sizes for abstracts submitted to Canada's National Archive are 150 words (Masters thesis) and 350 words (Doctoral dissertation).
  • To preserve visual coherence, you may wish to limit the abstract for your doctoral dissertation to one double-spaced page, about 280 words.
  • The structure of the abstract should mirror the structure of the whole thesis, and should represent all its major elements.
  • For example, if your thesis has five chapters (introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion), there should be one or more sentences assigned to summarize each chapter.
Clearly Specify Your Research Questions
  • As in the thesis itself, your research questions are critical in ensuring that the abstract is coherent and logically structured. They form the skeleton to which other elements adhere.
  • They should be presented near the beginning of the abstract.
  • There is only room for one to three questions. If there are more than three major research questions in your thesis, you should consider restructuring them by reducing some to subsidiary status.

Don't Forget the Results

  • The most common error in abstracts is failure to present results.
  • The primary function of your thesis (and by extension your abstract) is not to tell readers what you did, it is to tell them what you discovered. Other information, such as the account of your research methods, is needed mainly to back the claims you make about your results.
  • Approximately the last half of the abstract should be dedicated to summarizing and interpreting your results.

Updated 2008.09.11
© John C. Nesbit

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