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Write a successful abstract

The abstract for your dissertation or thesis is a short but highly important bit of prose. Aim to make your sentences punchy, super-clear and concise. Here are some tips for structuring your abstract.

Example subject:

A comparison of field observations of coral bleaching and mortality with satellite observation data

Image credit: Pixabay

1 Tell the story of your dissertation

Think about where the story begins. What is the main issue?

Coral bleaching events on a global scale have been increasing in frequency in the last 30 years, leading to loss of coral cover. This causes a decline of fish abundance and diversity and a significant reduction in coral-reef ecosystem complexity. 

2 What is the significance?

Say what you’re examining, and why.

Essential mitigation of environmental damage to reef systems has been hampered by a lack of quantitative data. This research demonstrates how selective field observation of the severe heat stress and mass bleaching event along the Great Barrier Reef of Australia in early 2020 is reinforced by data from newly available daily global 5 km satellite observation.

3  Tell the reader what your research achieves

 A good story ends by showing what can be changed.

Understanding more fully the extent, distribution and nature of recent coral bleaching will help provide a solid basis for future preventive action.

Lastly, when you have finished writing your abstract, read it aloud. It’s the best way to check that it is clear and easy to read.

Julian Evans

3 March 2022

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