What an abstract is?
Firstly, we should define what an abstract is. Often abstracts are called “summaries”, but, actually, this is not the same thing.
- An abstract is a shortened version of your thesis written for people who would like to get some information on your paper and to decide whether they want to read its the full version or not.
- A summary reviews the main conclusions and findings of the thesis. It is written for people who have already read the whole work.
There two types of abstracts usually used while thesis writing:
- Descriptive abstract. This type of abstract provides some kind of content list which presents what will be in the thesis. It is a synopsis of actual results. It contains general statements and can be written before the thesis itself is drafted.
- Informative abstract. The aim of this type is not just to describe what this paper is about, but also to give the factual information summary, your results and conclusions. Informative abstract is commonly used for original research theses. It is better to write such abstract when your writing is complete.
If you are hesitating about the type of the abstract you better to choose, ask your journal editor to make an advice. Commonly, in case of writing research thesis, informative abstract is preferred. But in some cases, if you want to reveal your results until the reader has read the whole paper, you may choose descriptive abstract or to mix these two types.
There is a difference between verb tenses used in these types:
- In a descriptive abstract it is normally used the present tense to make your general statements.
- In an informative abstract the past tense is used, because of an explanation of what you actually did and found.
The length of your thesis abstract is not fixed, but usually it consists of 100…300 words. Remember, it is important to give enough information for what the readers need to know.
The abstract writing is not less important than the main body writing, so you need to pay attention to it.