Study Coach: What is an Abstract?

ANSWER: An Abstract is a summary of a research project or dissertation. The Abstract should outline the various issues found from undertaking the research project or dissertation. A Abstract should inform readers of the methodology used and present an overview of the findings. When writing the Abstract, you need to keep the content brief, use between 240-300 words. The Abstract should be written after completing the whole assignment. 

When presenting the research project or dissertation, you will place the Abstract at the beginning of the work, in other words you will position the Abstract before the Introduction, but you cannot write the Abstract until you know the findings. Meaning that you must complete writing the research project or dissertation in its entirety before considering writing the Abstract. Students sometimes find this confusing and will spend hours and days or weeks trying to write an Abstract; students will usually end up feeling stressed, frustrated, because they are unable to summarise the work and have nothing to write about research findings. Stop – in the name of sanity. The rule is that the Abstract is placed at the beginning of the completed literature review/project/dissertation, but the Abstract is written once the literature review/project/dissertation is completed and you have drawn a conclusion. For most UK Universities the Abstract word count of 240-300 is excluded from the overall research project/dissertation word count. 

The Abstract is in essence acting as a promotion for your work, giving potential readers reason for wanting to read your project/dissertation. Yes, we know that your tutor is obliged to read your work in order to give you a grade, but looking at the bigger picture, if your work were to be published, then the Abstract will serve to promote your work, to encourage the public to read further. Depending on the nature of your research project, the Abstract could highlight issues such as legislation, ethics, methodology, key issues, recommendations, findings and conclusion. 

When doing research do remember that there isn’t just one type of research methodology, for example methods used in law will differ to methods for sociology. Study Coach UK provides academic support to students doing research projects/dissertation, get in touch for support. Email: Morel Benard Phone: 07944 849271

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