Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Guidelines for thesis/dissertation abstracts

Guidelines for Abstracts for MA Reports and MA or PhD Theses

The abstract should state the subject of the research, the problem or problems that the research addresses, the major topics to be considered, the basic argument of the report or thesis, and the conclusions that have been reached. If there are several topics or issues discussed, the abstract should establish the coherence of the work by explaining the relationship among those topics and the reasons they are brought together in the study.

The abstract should present the analytical methods or theory used to address the topic of the report or thesis and, unless it is obvious, explain the choice of approach.    

The abstract should describe the types of evidence utilized. Since the study is not likely to consider all possible evidence relating to a topic, the abstract should state the principles of data collection and evidence selection.

The abstract should briefly summarize previous work on the topic, explain how the report or thesis builds on that work, and state its specific contribution. A Doctoral dissertation must make an original contribution; a Master’s report may be a synthesis and critical appraisal of previous work.

The abstract should address itself to a general scholarly audience, not just to specialists in the field of the research. Therefore, it should provide essential information about the subject of the research and the theoretical underpinnings of the study if this information is not likely to be commonly known.

Above all, the abstract should be clear about what the report or thesis will accomplish. What will we know after the work is done that we do not know now?