How to write a simple abstract for your Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis in 4 easy steps


Introduction

Although the Abstract is probably the shortest part of your thesis, it’s not the easiest! How should you condense your complete Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis to a short summary of about 100-150 words? Let me make your life a bit easier: a good abstract always answers the following 4 questions:

  1. What did you study?
  2. How did you study that?
  3. What were your results?
  4. What does that mean?

At the end of this post, I’ll also share a complete example of a Thesis Abstract that applies these four questions!

1. What did you study

The best way to start your Abstract is to simply state what you studied. One option is to repeat the research question of your thesis, in which case you start your Abstract with a question. For example:

  • Does having a smart room mate increase the grade-point average of students?
  • Why do children of alcoholic parents have a higher probability of becoming alcoholics themselves?
  • Does Twitter-use hurt a company’s stock-market performance?

Another option is to write down your research question without using a question. For example:

Example

In this thesis, I study whether the Twitter-behavior of chief executive officers (CEO) has negative effects on a company’s stock performance.


2. How did you study that

Next, you discuss the research method you used, and the data you have collected to answer your research question. One to two sentences should be plenty to answer “How you studied that”. For example:

Example

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motor Company, is used as a case-study. Personal tweets from 2017-18 are collected and analyzed against Tesla’s hourly stock returns in an event-study setting.


3. What were your results

Every research has results. In 1-2 sentences, describe what you found in your study. For example:

Example

I find that controversial tweets, those that are discussed and shared intensively on the Twitter-platform, initially cause the stock-return to show signs of significant abnormality. However, most abnormalities vanish within a matter of days, after which the stock-returns revert back to their moving-average.


4. What does that mean

Most researchers end their Abstract with a short statement that describes the implications of their results. For example, given that you have found these results, what does that mean for other researchers that study your topic? Or what are the implications of your results for patients? Or what will stock-market investors take away from your thesis? For example:

Example

Although tweets may have an impact in the short-run, I do not find a lasting negative or positive impact on the stock’s performance.


Example Thesis Abstract

With these questions answered, our end-result would look something like this:

Abstract

In this thesis, I study whether the Twitter-behavior of chief executive officers (CEO) has negative effects on a company’s stock performance. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motor Company, is used as a case-study. Personal tweets from 2017-18 are collected and analyzed against Tesla’s hourly stock returns in an event-study setting. I find that controversial tweets, those that are discussed intensively on the Twitter-platform, initially cause the stock-return to show signs of significant abnormality. However, most abnormalities vanish within a matter of days, after which the stock-returns revert back to their moving-average. Although tweets may have an impact in the short-run, I do not find a lasting negative or positive impact on the stock’s performance.

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