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How to Write a Research Synopsis: Template, Examples, & More

Last Updated: February 12, 2024 Fact Checked

Research Synopsis Template

  • Organizing & Formatting
  • Writing Your Synopsis
  • Reviewing & Editing

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner and by wikiHow staff writer, Raven Minyard, BA . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 211,064 times.

A research synopsis describes the plan for your research project and is typically submitted to professors or department heads so they can approve your project. Most synopses are between 3,000 and 4,000 words and provide your research objectives and methods. While the specific types of information you need to include in your synopsis may vary depending on your department guidelines, most synopses include the same basic sections. In this article, we’ll walk you step-by-step through everything you need to know to write a synopsis for research.

Things You Should Know

  • Begin your research synopsis by introducing the question your research will answer and its importance to your field.
  • List 2 or 3 specific objectives you hope to achieve and how they will advance your field.
  • Discuss your methodology to demonstrate why the study design you chose is appropriate for your research question.

how to write synopsis for dissertation

Organizing Your Research Synopsis

Step 1 Follow the formatting guidelines provided by your instructor.

  • Find out what citation format you’re supposed to use, as well as whether you’re expected to use parenthetical references or footnotes in the body of your synopsis.
  • If you have questions about anything in your guidelines, ask your instructor or advisor to ensure you follow them correctly.

Step 2 Set up the headings for your sections.

  • Title: the title of your study
  • Abstract: a summary of your research synopsis
  • Introduction: identifies and describes your research question
  • Literature Review: a review of existing relevant research
  • Objectives: goals you hope to accomplish through your study
  • Hypotheses: results you expect to find through your research
  • Methodology and methods: explains the methods you’ll use to complete your study
  • References: a list of any references used in citations

Tip: Your synopsis might have additional sections, depending on your discipline and the type of research you're conducting. Talk to your instructor or advisor about which sections are required for your department.

Step 3 Format your references.

  • Keep in mind that you might not end up using all the sources you initially found. After you've finished your synopsis, go back and delete the ones you didn't use.

Writing Your Research Synopsis

Step 1 Format your title page following your instructor’s guidelines.

  • Your title should be a brief and specific reflection of the main objectives of your study. In general, it should be under 50 words and should avoid unneeded phrases like “an investigation into.”
  • On the other hand, avoid a title that’s too short, as well. For example, a title like “A Study of Urban Heating” is too short and doesn’t provide any insight into the specifics of your research.

Step 2 Identify your research problem with the introduction.

  • The introduction allows you to explain to your reader exactly why the question you’re trying to answer is vital and how your knowledge and experience make you the best researcher to tackle it.
  • Support most of the statements in your introduction with other studies in the area that support the importance of your question. For example, you might cite a previous study that mentions your problem as an area where further research needs to be done.
  • The length of your introduction will vary depending on the overall length of your synopsis as well as the ultimate length of your eventual paper after you’ve finished your research. Generally, it will cover the first page or two of your synopsis.

Step 3 In your literature review, describe the work done by other researchers.

  • For example, try finding relevant literature through educational journals or bulletins from organizations like WHO and CDC.
  • Typically, a thorough literature review discusses 8 to 10 previous studies related to your research problem.
  • As with the introduction, the length of your literature review will vary depending on the overall length of your synopsis. Generally, it will be about the same length as your introduction.
  • Try to use the most current research available and avoid sources over 5 years old.

Step 4 Set forth the goals or objectives for your research project.

  • For example, an objective for research on urban heating could be “to compare urban heat modification caused by vegetation of mixed species considering the 5 most common urban trees in an area.”
  • Generally, the overall objective doesn’t relate to solving a specific problem or answering a specific question. Rather, it describes how your particular project will advance your field.
  • For specific objectives, think in terms of action verbs like “quantify” or “compare.” Here, you’re hoping to gain a better understanding of associations between particular variables.

Step 5 List your hypotheses for your research project.

  • Specify the sources you used and the reasons you have arrived at your hypotheses. Typically, these will come from prior studies that have shown similar relationships.
  • For example, suppose a prior study showed that children who were home-schooled were less likely to be in fraternities or sororities in college. You might use that study to back up a hypothesis that home-schooled children are more independent and less likely to need strong friendship support networks.

Step 6 Discuss the methodology and methods you’ll use in your research.

  • Expect your methodology to be at least as long as either your introduction or your literature review, if not longer. Include enough detail that your reader can fully understand how you’re going to carry out your study.
  • This section of your synopsis may include information about how you plan to collect and analyze your data, the overall design of your study, and your sampling methods, if necessary. Include information about the study setting, like the facilities and equipment that are available to you to carry out your study.
  • For example, your research work may take place in a hospital, and you may use cluster sampling to gather data.

Step 7 Complete your abstract last.

  • Use between 100 and 200 words to give your readers a basic understanding of your research project.
  • Include a clear statement of the problem, the main goals or objectives of your study, the theories or conceptual framework your research relies upon, and the methods you’ll use to reach your goals or objectives.

Tip: Jot down a few notes as you draft your other sections that you can compile for your abstract to keep your writing more efficient.

Reviewing and Editing Your Research Synopsis

Step 1 Take a break before you start editing.

  • If you don’t have that kind of time because you’re up against a deadline, at least take a few hours away from your synopsis before you go back to edit it. Do something entirely unrelated to your research, like taking a walk or going to a movie.

Step 2 Edit for clarity and concision.

  • Eliminate sentences that don’t add any new information. Even the longest synopsis is a brief document—make sure every word needs to be there and counts for something.
  • Get rid of jargon and terms of art in your field that could be better explained in plain language. Even though your likely readers are people who are well-versed in your field, providing plain language descriptions shows you know what you’re talking about. Using jargon can seem like you’re trying to sound like you know more than you actually do.

Tip: Free apps, such as Grammarly and Hemingway App, can help you identify grammatical errors as well as areas where your writing could be clearer. However, you shouldn't rely solely on apps since they can miss things.

Step 3 Check the format of your references.

  • Reference list formatting is very particular. Read your references out loud, with the punctuation and spacing, to pick up on errors you wouldn’t have noticed if you’d just read over them.
  • Compare your format to the one in the stylebook you’re using and make sure all of your entries are correct.

Step 4 Proofread your synopsis carefully.

  • Read your synopsis backward by starting on the last word and reading each word separately from the last to the first. This helps isolate spelling errors. Reading backward sentence by sentence helps you isolate grammatical errors without being distracted by the content.
  • Print your synopsis and circle every punctuation mark with a red pen. Then, go through them and focus on whether they’re correct.
  • Read your synopsis out loud, including the punctuation, as though you were dictating the synopsis.

Step 5 Share your paper with classmates and friends for review.

  • Have at least one person who isn’t familiar with your area of study look over your synopsis. If they can understand your project, you know your writing is clear. If any parts confuse them, then that’s an area where you can improve the clarity of your writing.

Step 6 Do a second round of editing and proofreading.

Expert Q&A

  • If you make significant changes to your synopsis after your first or second round of editing, you may need to proofread it again to make sure you didn’t introduce any new errors. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write synopsis for dissertation

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  • ↑ https://admin.umt.edu.pk/Media/Site/iib1/FileManager/FORMAT%20OF%20SYNOPSIS%2012-10-2018.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.scientificstyleandformat.org/Tools/SSF-Citation-Quick-Guide.html
  • ↑ https://numspak.edu.pk/upload/media/Guidelines%20for%20Synopsis%20Writing1531455748.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279917593_Research_synopsis_guidelines
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
  • ↑ https://www.cornerstone.edu/blog-post/six-steps-to-really-edit-your-paper/

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How to Write a Great Synopsis for Thesis

A synopsis is a structured outline of a research thesis and the steps followed to answer the research question. The goal of writing a synopsis is to clearly and thoroughly explain the need to investigate a certain problem using particular practical methods to conduct the study. One of the main components of this written work is an extensive literature review containing strong evidence that the proposed research is feasible.

Establishing the Background

A supervisor may ask you to write a synopsis for one or more reasons:

  • to help you improve your critical thinking and writing skills
  • to help you understand how to design a comprehensive synopsis
  • to encourage you to write a comprehensive literature review to make sure that the research problem has not been answered yet
  • to make you conduct a logical analysis of the steps that should be followed to meet the objectives of the research

A synopsis should be coherent in terms of research design. Thus, you should ensure that the research problem, aims, and research methods are logically linked and well-considered. Note that all synopses should contain answers for several crucial questions:

  • Why should research on the proposed problem be undertaken?
  • What is expected to be achieved?
  • What has been done by other researchers on the proposed topic?
  • How will the objectives of the study be achieved?

The Writing Process

Before proceeding, consider answering the following questions:

  • Why am I going to study this topic?
  • Why do I consider it to be important?
  • Have I conducted an extensive literature review on the topic?
  • What problem will the research help to solve?
  • How do I incorporate previous studies on the topic?

The structure of a synopsis should correspond to the structure of qualifying research work, and the word count should be 2,500–3,000 words (Balu 38). The basic elements of a synopsis include a title page, contents page, an introduction, background, literature review, objectives, methods, experiments and results, conclusions, and references.

Introduction

As this comprises the first part of the main text, the introduction should convince readers that the study addresses a relevant topic and that the expected outcomes will provide important insights. Also, this section should include a brief description of the methods that will be used to answer the research question. Usually, the introduction is written in 1–3 paragraphs and answers the following questions:

  • What is the topic of the research?
  • What is the research problem that needs to be meaningfully understood or investigated?
  • Why is the problem important?
  • How will the problem be studied?

In this section, you should set the scene and better introduce the research topic by proving its scientific legitimacy and relevance. It is important to establish a clear focus and avoid broad generalizations and vague statements. If necessary, you may explain key concepts or terms. Consider covering the following points in this section:

  • Discuss how the research will contribute to the existing scientific knowledge.
  • Provide a detailed description of the research problem and purpose of the research.
  • Provide a rationale for the study.
  • Explain how the research question will be answered.
  • Be sure to discuss the methods chosen and anticipated implications of the research.

Literature Review

A review of existing literature is an important part of a synopsis, as it:

  • gives a more detailed look at scientific information related to the topic
  • familiarizes readers with research conducted by others on a similar subject
  • gives insight into the difficulties faced by other researchers
  • helps identify variables for the research based on similar studies
  • helps double-check the feasibility of the research problem.

When writing the literature review, do not simply present a list of methods researchers have used and conclusions they have drawn. It is important to compare and contrast different opinions and be unafraid to criticize some of them. Pay attention to controversial issues and divergent approaches used to address similar problems. You may discuss which arguments are more persuasive and which methods and techniques seem to be more valid and reliable. In this section, you are expected not to summarize but analyze the previous research while remembering to link it to your own purpose.

Identify the objectives of the research based on the literature review. Provide an overall objective related to the scientific contribution of the study to the subject area. Also include a specific objective that can be measured at the end of the research.

When writing this section, consider that the aim of the research is to produce new knowledge regarding the topic chosen. Therefore, the research methodology forms the core of your project, and your goal is to convince readers that the research design and methods chosen will rationally answer the research questions and provide effective tools to interpret the results correctly. It may be appropriate to incorporate some examples from your literature review into the description of the overall research design.

When describing the research methodology, ensure that you specify the approaches and techniques that will be used to answer the research question. In addition, be specific about applying the chosen methods and what you expect to achieve. Keep in mind that the methods section allows readers to evaluate the validity and feasibility of the study. Therefore, be sure to explain your decision to adopt specific methods and procedures. It is also important to discuss the anticipated barriers and limitations of the study and how they will be addressed. Specify what kind of contribution to the existing knowledge on the topic is expected, and discuss any ethical considerations that are relevant to the research.

Experiments and Results

Logically present and analyze the results of the study using tables or figures.

In this section, you should again state the significance of the research and summarize the study. Be sure to mention the study objectives and methods used to answer the research questions. Also, discuss how the results of the study contribute to the current knowledge on the problem.

A synopsis should contain a list of all references used. Make sure the references are formatted according to the chosen citation style and each source presented in this section is mentioned within the body of the synopsis.

The purpose of writing a synopsis is to show a supervisor a clear picture of a proposed project and allow him or her to find any gaps that have not been considered previously. A concisely written synopsis will help you gain approval to proceed with the actual research. While no rigid rules for writing this type of paper have been established, a synopsis should be constructed in a manner to help a supervisor understand the proposed research at first glance.

Balu, R. “Writing a Good Ph.D Research Synopsis.” International Journal of Research in Science and Technology, vol. 5, no. 4, 2015, pp. 38–48.

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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

how to write synopsis for dissertation

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

how to write synopsis for dissertation

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This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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how to write synopsis for dissertation

Learn how to prepare and write a synopsis assignment.

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A synopsis is a brief summary which gives readers an overview of the main points. In an academic context, this is usually a summary of a text (a journal article, book, report etc) but in some instances you might be writing a synopsis of a talk, film or other form of presentation. A synopsis is a neutral summary, objectively capturing the main points, rather than your own perspective or critique, and it focusses directly on the text you’re summarising rather than being a wider discussion of a topic, as an essay might be.

A synopsis aims to give the reader a full, if brief, account of the whole text so that they can follow its main points without having to read it themselves. It’s not a ‘trailer’ designed to tempt your audience to read the text itself, so you don’t have to worry about ‘hooking’ them in with hints and high points or ‘spoiling the ending’ - give the whole text equal coverage, including the conclusions. You could add some commentary which gives the reader a bit of context about the text, including the authors and circumstances it was written in (for example, if it is part of a debate, particular school of thought or its significance and what impact it’s had).

Writing a good synopsis is a skill, and there are a number of challenges: 

  • Separating the main points from the minor detail
  • Knowing what to leave out as well as what to include
  • Giving a sense of the overall narrative as well as listing the key points
  • Covering the whole text within a small word limit
  • Knowing how closely to stick to the original, especially in terms of the wording
  • Whether to give all key points equal treatment, or cover some more briefly, even combining them
  • Rephrasing things concisely without losing the meaning or misrepresenting it
  • Not leaving out anything crucial to understanding the whole overall message

A good synopsis will allow the reader to feel as if they’d skimread the whole text themselves, understanding the overall gist and highlighting what they need to know. A poor synopsis will get bogged down in detail, giving a confused account of the whole story by just listing points, miss out major points or give an inaccurate or one-sided account or stick so closely to the original that it becomes plagiarism without demonstrating a real understanding by the person summarising it.  

How to prepare a synopsis

Boiling down the key points and overall narrative of the original means good reading and note-taking skills which aim to identify and boil down key points to their essence. You could try some of the following approaches: 

  • Read the whole text, and afterwards, without re-reading, jot down your first initial summary in 50 words to capture its overall point. You can check it back for accuracy or anything you left out, but stick within ca 50 words
  • Read the introduction and first line of each paragraph to get a sense of the overall structure and key points within it
  • Highlight one sentence in each paragraph that you think is essential detail to understanding that section
  • Alternatively, with a marker pen, cross out anything that isn’t essential to an understanding of the whole section or text 
  • Jot down only key words as a summary of each point rather than whole sentences
  • Read each paragraph and summarise it without looking, in one sentence of your own 
  • Consider how many points you can make within your word count, and reduce or combine your list of summarised points down to this number

You could start small, identifying just keywords or sentences at first and then work them up into phrases, bullet points and sentences as a rough plan or draft, or you could start big with the original text and reduce each section, paragraph and sentence summary again and again until you have boiled it down to its essence.  

When you start to prepare your first plan or draft, try to use your notes or memory and step away from the original as much as you can. You can go back and check it afterwards, but you need to create some distance to be able to create your own account and have confidence in the points you have identified as essential.

Writing a synopsis

The main decisions facing you as you write up your summary are about how closely to stick to the original in terms of structure and style, and how much attention to give to each point. 

  • You could begin your synopsis with a brief context, explaining who the authors are, the context and significance of their work, as well as anything you think might help the reader to understand the following summary
  • The most common structure is to follow that of the original text, to give a sense of its narrative flow as well as the key points within it. You could choose to depart from it a little though, perhaps glossing over some points faster than others, combining two sections which go together or aren’t enough in their own right, possibly even changing the order a little where it helps to combine two similar points. Careful use of signposting language will help the reader clearly follow the structure (and note anywhere you’ve changed it from the original) so they can identify the bit you’re talking about in the original if they want to
  • The style will naturally be strongly influenced by the original wording, but you should phrase it in your own words wherever possible. It’s harder to nibble away words from a much longer original than it is to start again and use your own concise phrasing, and you want to demonstrate your own understanding to the reader. You could use the odd original phrase or quotation here or there, but the synopsis needs to be more than a collage of quotations; it’s a thing in its own right rather than a cut-down version of the original
  • You can also show your own response to the text in the way you use language to guide the reader to what you feel are the key points and (briefly) why. Your own voice doesn’t need to be very obvious in the synopsis, as it’s about the text rather than your reaction to it, but you have made analytical decisions about what is important, and might want to explain to the reader why these points are significant in understanding the whole
  • What is the main purpose of this text? What did it aim to discover, explain or prove?
  • Why was this research done? How significant is it?
  • How was the research conducted? What kind of research is it?
  • What were the three (or four, five) main things I should be aware of from this paper?
  • What is their line of argument?
  • What is their overall conclusion, recommendation, finding? Why is that important?

Managing word count

The trick to writing a concise synopsis which keeps within your word limit is not to start from the much bigger original text, but from your own boiled down notes. If you’re over the word count, you could start cutting out words that don’t seem essential, but if you go too far, you end up with a text which does not read well and doesn’t hang together. It might be better to remove whole sentences and perhaps whole points, than nibble away at words here and there.

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on November 23, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Summarizing , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or evaluating the source . You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about summarizing.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarize an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyze or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarizing is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organized into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction , methods , results , and discussion .

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

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Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarize this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Davis et al. (2015) set out to empirically test the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are often used to represent a healthy lifestyle, and research has shown their nutritional properties could be beneficial for various aspects of health. The authors’ unique approach is to take the saying literally and ask: do people who eat apples use healthcare services less frequently? If there is indeed such a relationship, they suggest, promoting apple consumption could help reduce healthcare costs.

The study used publicly available cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were categorized as either apple eaters or non-apple eaters based on their self-reported apple consumption in an average 24-hour period. They were also categorized as either avoiding or not avoiding the use of healthcare services in the past year. The data was statistically analyzed to test whether there was an association between apple consumption and several dependent variables: physician visits, hospital stays, use of mental health services, and use of prescription medication.

Although apple eaters were slightly more likely to have avoided physician visits, this relationship was not statistically significant after adjusting for various relevant factors. No association was found between apple consumption and hospital stays or mental health service use. However, apple eaters were found to be slightly more likely to have avoided using prescription medication. Based on these results, the authors conclude that an apple a day does not keep the doctor away, but it may keep the pharmacist away. They suggest that this finding could have implications for reducing healthcare costs, considering the high annual costs of prescription medication and the inexpensiveness of apples.

However, the authors also note several limitations of the study: most importantly, that apple eaters are likely to differ from non-apple eaters in ways that may have confounded the results (for example, apple eaters may be more likely to be health-conscious). To establish any causal relationship between apple consumption and avoidance of medication, they recommend experimental research.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or meta analysis you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Using national survey data, Davis et al. (2015) tested the assertion that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and did not find statistically significant evidence to support this hypothesis. While people who consumed apples were slightly less likely to use prescription medications, the study was unable to demonstrate a causal relationship between these variables.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarizing many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing

 Plagiarism

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  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words. Want to make your life super easy? Try our free text summarizer today!

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarizing, and on the purpose of the summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarize or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarizing an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Cite the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarize the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarize a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

All can be done within seconds with our free text summarizer .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, May 31). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-summarize/

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The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey

How to Write a Dissertation Summary

How to Write High School Research Papers

How to Write High School Research Papers

Imagine summing up all your life’s work and experience in a single paper. This is what goes into writing a dissertation. These papers represent the culmination of years of study, research and experience, and are required before receiving a terminal degree, such as a doctorate. Dissertation papers usually begin with abstracts, which are summaries that preview the information in the paper. An accurate and interesting summary briefly presents your study's purpose, results, conclusions and recommendations.

Compose most, if not all, of your dissertation before you begin the summary. Review the dissertation with the intention of writing an abstract to help you pick out the most vital and interesting parts that will grab your reader’s interest.

Pre-write the abstract, focusing on listing your thesis topic or purpose, your research methods and the general results and conclusions you drew from the research discussed in your dissertation. At this early stage, you can simply write notes that you take as you read your dissertation or full sentences you can use in your introduction.

Avoid using direct references to your research in the introduction. Use the abstract to clearly and concisely state your ideas and conclusions.

Revise your prewriting. Put all the information into grammatically correct sentences with proper spelling.

Re-read your abstract and make any further adjustments. Check that the organization is logical, starting with your thesis and ending with your conclusions and recommendations.

Ask a friend, professor or someone familiar with your research to read the summary. A new set of eyes may catch structural or organizational errors, or missing content.

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  • Purdue University: How to Write a Dissertation

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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Better Thesis

  • Getting started
  • Criteria for a problem formulation
  • Find who and what you are looking for
  • Too broad, too narrow, or o.k.?
  • Test your knowledge
  • Lesson 5: Meeting your supervisor
  • Getting started: summary
  • Literature search
  • Searching for articles
  • Searching for Data
  • Databases provided by your library
  • Other useful search tools
  • Free text, truncating and exact phrase
  • Combining search terms – Boolean operators
  • Keep track of your search strategies
  • Problems finding your search terms?
  • Different sources, different evaluations
  • Extract by relevance
  • Lesson 4: Obtaining literature
  • Literature search: summary
  • Research methods
  • Combining qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Collecting data
  • Analysing data
  • Strengths and limitations
  • Explanatory, analytical and experimental studies
  • The Nature of Secondary Data
  • How to Conduct a Systematic Review
  • Directional Policy Research
  • Strategic Policy Research
  • Operational Policy Research
  • Conducting Research Evaluation
  • Research Methods: Summary
  • Project management
  • Project budgeting
  • Data management plan
  • Quality Control
  • Project control
  • Project management: Summary
  • Writing process
  • Title page, abstract, foreword, abbreviations, table of contents
  • Introduction, methods, results
  • Discussion, conclusions, recomendations, references, appendices, layout
  • Use citations correctly
  • Use references correctly
  • Bibliographic software
  • Writing process – summary
  • Getting started /

Lesson 4: Synopsis

In order to clarify your thoughts about the purpose of your thesis and how you plan to reach your research goals, you should prepare a synopsis. A synopsis is a short, systematic outline of your proposed thesis, made in preparation for your first meeting with your supervisor. It serves to ensure that your supervisor gets a clear picture of your proposed project and allows him or her to spot whether there are gaps or things that you have not taken into account.

Your synopsis will work as a kind of protocol for the further steps you need to take to ensure that your thesis reaches the required academic level – and that you finish on time.

Although there are no rigid rules for how a synopsis should look, it must contain:

  • Rationale – should address the gaps/problems/issues observed as part of the background section and thus present the argument/justification for completing the study – as described in the lesson of the same name.
  • Problem  formulation – the problem you aim to address in your thesis,as described in the lesson of the same name.
  • Overall and specific objectives – the actions to be taken in order to address the problem, as described in the lesson of the same name.
  • Method outline: What type of study is best suited to support the actions stated in the specific objectives? What kind of data (qualitative, quantitative) will your study require? What is your geographical study area and who is your target group(s)? Are there ethical considerations you have to make? Etc.
  • Time plan: In the beginning, a rough timeline showing a plan on how your work will be divided over time. When is your deadline for e.g. literature search, potential fieldwork (e.g. interviews and/or questionnaire administration), data analysis, writing and layout? Once your problem formulation and objectives are approved by your supervisor, all details should be added to your time plan.
  • References : Create a short list of the major references on which your rationale is based. Make sure that your in-text citations and reference list are completed correctly, both in support of your subsequent work, but also to demonstrate that you have a serious, scientific and methodical approach to your work. See how to use references correctly in the lesson of the same name in the module: Writing process.

At the beginning of your thesis period, your synopsis will be limited in scope and detail, but as you work your way deeper into your topic and you get a clearer picture of your objectives, methods and references, the more complete and detailed your synopsis will become.

A rule of thumb is that the length of your synopsis can vary from two to five pages, but the precise length and exact requirements of your synopsis can vary from institute to institute and from supervisor to supervisor.

Most study programmes will require that you present a final synopsis before starting data collection. However, the first version of your synopsis for discussion with your supervisor should not be an informal draft. Carefully performed work creates respect and motivation and saves a lot of you and your supervisor’s time.

A good approach from the very beginning is to establish a practice of how to write headings, references, names of species, etc. And be consistent. This will help you save time and importantly, lead to a better overall assessment of your final work.

Do you now know how to write a synopsis. Test yourself in the following.

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how to write synopsis for dissertation

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How to write Dissertation and synopsis

How to write Dissertation and synopsis

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What is the importance of your research?

Which type of problem your dissertation is going to challenge or raise?

Why is it a problem for the research, academic, scientific, technical, the management, or legal community?

Why is it important for you to find a solution?

How are you going to search for the answers?

YouTube video on the topic is shared below:

A step before the Dissertation - How to write a synopsis

Dissertation topic - The topic is the most important thing for research which should be selected wisely, e.g.:-

It should be specific, unambiguous, and explicit.

It should not be vague or prolonged.

It should be about the general, legal, informative, or technical issues at the national or international level.

Introduction - It should provide a brief description of the area of the proposed research work in a very concrete, concise, and accurate manner. It must be clear rather than fuzzy and general.

Review of Literature – The meaning of ‘Research’ is ‘to search again’. That’s why ‘review of the literature’ is an essential and very important part of any research work, which explicit the research work was done previously in the same area of the proposed research. It is essential to plan further research efficiently and in an appropriate manner. The information given in the review should be supported by references.

Objectives of research - There must be comprehensive objectives of the research work. These objectives will indicate the aim, major aspects, and the overall purpose of the study. It should be clearly and concisely defined. These are broad statements of desired outcomes, or the general intentions of the research, which 'paint a picture' of your research work. The maximum aim or objectives should be up to three. If should not be too extensive. Make accurate use of concepts, which must be sensible and precisely described.

Justification of the problem - Every objective needs justification. In research, it is essential to justify your objective in a concrete and impressive and remarkable manner. You may take help from the previous research work, cases, reports, etc. There is a possibility to predict the specific and general benefits likely to be achieved as a result of the completion of the proposed research by making comparisons and citing references of the previous works.

The hypothesis of Study- Hypothesis is a statement that is to be tested for possible acceptance or rejection. Hypothesis are of two types i.e.:-

Null (Ho) - Null hypothesis is tested for possible rejection.

Alternative (H1)., which is tested for possible acceptance.

Significance of Study - It emphasized the significance/ importance of the research work/study i.e. reason and aim of the selection of the topic of research.

Statement of Problem - The researcher has to clearly identify the problem/issue selected for the thesis/ dissertation.

Research Methodology - It means a plan of work describing the various aspects of the study in a logical sequence along with the methodologies to be employed. It helps to validate that the researcher has a fairly good idea about the nature of work likely to be involved. The methodology includes the following:-

Sources of data : Factual information is called quantitative data. Information collected about opinions and views is called qualitative data. There are two methods for this:

Primary research (field research) involves gathering new data that has not been collected before. For e.g., surveys using questionnaires or interviews with groups of people in a focus group and observations.

Secondary research (desk research) involves gathering existing data that has already been produced. For example, researching the newspapers and company reports, case studies, diaries, critical incidents, portfolios, books, journals, periodicals, abstracts, indexes, directories, research reports, conference papers, market reports, annual reports, internal records of organizations, newspapers & magazines, CD-ROMs, on-line databases, Internet, videos & broadcasts.

References and Bibliography - Synopsis should contain at the end a list of references and a bibliography if required. These should be written on a standard pattern.

Length of a synopsis - It will be difficult to define an overall length for a synopsis for legal research in such varied fields of study. However, it should be concise as far as possible and avoid repetitions. The total length of a synopsis may run from 1500 to a few thousand words.

Click YouTube video link for Structure of footnote and bibliography below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUnbGpOctLk

Introduction - The first chapter should include a background of the problem, and a statement of the issue. There must be clarity of the purpose of the study, followed by the research questions. Your whole research work and other chapters should be the answers to the research question you raised. You should provide clear definitions of the terms related to the work. You will also expose your assumptions and expectations of the final results.

Literature Review –This is the most important and significant part of your research. In this chapter of the dissertation, you will review the research process in the same manner as described earlier. This part reflects your work and efforts.

Methodology -This part of the dissertation is focused on the way you located the resources and the methods of implementation of the results. If you're writing a qualitative dissertation, you will expose the research questions, setting, participants, data collection, and data analysis processes. If, on the other hand, you're writing a quantitative dissertation, you will focus this chapter on the research questions and hypotheses, information about the population and sample, instrumentation, collection of data, and analysis of data.

Sample size: The sample size should be normal neither too small nor too large.

Data Collection Techniques : (Registration, Questionnaires, interviews, Direct Observations) Analysis of Data: Data is to be analyzed according to the requirement of the topic. After collecting the data, it is to be tabulated. The total variables used are to be included in the study and then the relationship between variables will be analyzed.

Findings - This is an again very important point in the whole process of the research, for the reason that it reflects your cerebral aptitude or intellectual ability. In findings, you reiterate the research questions and discuss the outcomes.

Conclusions - In the final chapter of the dissertation, you will summarize the study and briefly report the results and outcomes. Make an emphasis to explain how your findings make a difference in the academic community and how they are implied in practice.

Recommendations/ Suggestions - This part is the end chapter of your research, which includes a "Recommendations for future research“, where you propose future research that will clarify the issues further. Explain why you suggest this research and what form it should take.

Bibliography -Use the recommended citation style for your field of study, and make sure to include all sources you used during the research and writing stages.

Difference between footnotes, references, and bibliography

Footnotes, endnotes, references, and bibliographies are the sources and references of the materials used in the research work which is mandatory to acknowledge. If the sources are not acknowledged than it falls under the category of plagiarism.

Footnotes - These are always mentioned at the bottom of the page only under the footer. It reflects references for each page separately.

References/ endnotes - These are located at the end of articles or in chapters.

Bibliography - It is always located at the end of research which is the list of all the sources and references.

BLUE BOOK (19th ed.) CITATION FORMAT EXAMPLES

Times New Roman, Size 10/12, 1 line spacing, Justified.

Add full stop after every footnote.

Months should be written in abbreviated forms: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Volume No. (if any) NAME OF AUTHOR, TITLE OF THE BOOK pg. cited (Editors/Translators Name, edition cited year). Eg:

2, FREDERICK POLLOCK & FREDERIC WILLIAM MAITLAND, THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH LAW 205-06 (2d ed. 1911).

CHARLES DICKENS, BLEAK HOUSE 49-55 (Norman Page ed., Penguin Books 1971) (1853).

Rules & Exceptions

Follow the font format as has been illustrated above, for e.g. the name of the author must be in SMALL CAPS.

The first name must always be written before the surname.

For two authors, write both their names separated by „&?.

In case of citing a book that has been edited, write „ed. or „eds. after the name of the editor. If translated, write trans. after the name of the translator. If both, then first write the editor’s name and then the translator’s name.

For more than two authors, editors or translators write the name of the author, editor, or translator that appears first followed by “ et al.”

Do not add „p? or „pp? before the page number. Just write the numerical.

In case the book is being published by more than one publishing house, write the name of the publisher cited after the name of the editor in sentence case.

JOURNAL ARTICLE

a) For consecutively paginated journals (Where the periodical is organized by volume and page numbers continue throughout the volume, it is a consecutively paginated periodical) Name of Author, “Title of Article”, Journal volume no. ABBREVIATION OF JOURNAL Page on which Article Begins, Page Cited (Year). Eg.

Charles A. Reich, “The New Property”, 73 YALE L.J. 733, 737-38 (1964).

For more than two authors write the name of the author that appears first followed by “et al.”

b) For non-consecutively paginated journals (works appearing in periodicals that are separately paginated within each issue)

Name of Author, “Title of Article”, ABBREVIATION OF JOURNAL, date of issue as appears in the cover, at the first page of work, page cited. E.g.

Barbara Ward,” Progress for a Small Planet”, HARV. BUS. REV., Sept.-Oct. 1979, at 89, 90.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE

Author's name, Name of Article/ news report, ABBRV. OF NAME OF NEWSPAPER, Month Date, Year, at pg. no. Eg.

Ari L. Goldman, O'Connor Warns Politicians Risk Excommunication over Abortion, N.Y. TIMES, June 15, 1990, at A1.

When an authenticated official or exact copy of the source is available online, citation can be made as if to the original print source without any URL info appended.)

Name of the Author, Name of the article, INSTITUTIONAL OWNER OF DOMAIN (Month date, year, time), URL. Visited on a date. Eg:

Eric Posner, More on Section 7 of the Torture Convention, THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY (Jan. 29, 2009, 10:04 AM), http://www.volokh.com/posts/1233241458.html. visited on 21/01/18.

Format for a time as illustrated.

Don’t write available at or before the URL.

Write the entire URL as appears in the address bar of the browser, remove the hyperlink.

a) U.S. cases:

First Party v. Second Party, Reporter Vol. No., Reporter Abbreviation, First Page of Case, Specific Page Reference (Year).

Eg: Meritor Sav. Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 60 (1986).

b) Indian cases:

Case name, (year of a reporter) Vol No. Reporter Abbreviation, First page (year of a decision if different from year of a reporter (India, if not evident from context) Eg:

Charan Lal Sahu v Union Carbide, (1989) 1 S.C.C. 674 (India). Reporters that depart from this format shall be written in their own format. Eg:

Jabalpur v. Shukla, A.I.R. 1976 S.C. 1207 (India).

Rules & Exceptions:

Do not italicize the case name.

If there is more than one party, list only the first party.

Italicize the procedural phrases, e.g., In re, Ex parte , etc.

a) U.S. Law

The official name of the act, U.S.C. title number Abbreviation of Code cited sections symbols and span of sections containing statute (Date of Code edition cited). Eg:

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675 (2006).

b) U.S. Constitution

Abbreviation of Constitution cited Abbreviation for Amendment No of amendment cited, section symbol and no. of section cited. Eg

U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 2.

LA. CONST. art. X, pt. IV. c)

c) Indian Law

Act name, Act No., Acts of Parliament, Year of Volume (India, if not evident from context). Eg:

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1992, No. 13, Acts of Parliament, 1992 (India).

d) Indian Constitution

INDIA CONST. art. 1, cl. 2.

Abbreviations

"Ibid and Op.cit"

Ibid. (abbreviation for the Latin Ibidem, meaning "The same").

Refers to the same author and source (e.g., book, journal) in the immediately preceding reference.

op. cit. (abbreviation for the Latin opus citatum, meaning "the work cited").

This refers to the reference listed earlier by the same author.

Ibid. refers to the immediately preceding reference; op. cit. refers to the prior reference by the same author.

R. Poirer, "Learning physics," (Academic, New York, 1993), p. 4.

Ibid., p. 9.

T. Eliot, "Astrophysics," (Springer, Berlin, 1989), p. 141.

R. Builder, J Phys Chem 20(3) 1654-57, 1991.

Eliot, op. cit., p.148.

"Id." is an all-purpose short form citation that may be used for any cited authority except internal cross-references.

"Id." always refers to the immediately preceding cited authority, either in the same footnote or the previous footnote so long as it is the only authority cited in the proceeding footnote.

Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 632 (1950).

NOTE: Sources cited in explanatory parentheticals or phrases or as part of the case prior or subsequent history are not counted as intervening authorities preventing the use of "Id."

Any change in what is being cited, such as page numbers, needs to be indicated after "Id."

"Supra" may be used to refer to certain types of previously cited materials as well as internal cross-references. Rule 4.2 contains a complete, detailed list of which materials may and may not be cited to using "Supra." Note, however, that in general most forms of primary legal authority (cases, statutes, etc.) should not be referred to using "Supra."

NOTE: This is also true for materials such as restatements, legislative documents (other than hearings), and model codes that typically have similar citation formats.

"Supra" citations are most commonly used for secondary authority, such as books and periodicals. Therefore, the most common format for a Supra short form citation consists of the author's last name followed "supra," offset by a comma. Immediately after "supra" is the word "note" in ordinary type, followed by the number of the footnote in which the authority was first cited in full:

15. Philip D. O'Neill, Jr., Verification in an Age of Insecurity: The Future of Arms Control Compliance 45 (2010).

25. O'neil, supra note 15.

A pincite offset by a comma should indicate changes in what portion of the authority is being cited. An "at" is typically necessary to avoid confusion:

28. O'neil, supra note 15, at 52.

If a work has an institutional author, use the complete institutional name; works without an author may be cited to by the title, while unsigned student-authored law journal works should be cited by the appropriate designation such as "Note" or "Comment."

NOTE: The typeface convention from the original source should be used for the author's name or title in a "supra" citation.

"hereinafter"

The term 'hereinafter' is used when using another short form would be impractical, cumbersome, or confusing.

Two typical circumstances where a "hereinafter" is appropriate are when an author name or title is long and unwieldy for a normal "supra" short-form citation and to distinguish between two or more authorities cited originally in the same footnote which could easily confuse with each other.

To use "hereinafter," at the end of the first full citation and enclosed in square brackets, but before any explanatory parenthetical, and write "hereinafter" followed by a shortened form of the authority, typically a paraphrase of the title or designation of the type of document as long as unambiguous.

NOTE: The shortened hereinafter form should be in the same typeface as the original.

Subsequent citations to the authority will function as supra citations but will use the hereinafter designation in place of the full author or title.

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How to Write a Good Synopsis for Thesis

How to Write a Good Synopsis

After countless hours studying, hundreds of exams and tests, millions of words written in essays and projects, here you are at the final boss of your PhD or MBA program; your thesis. This is what stands between you and your degree and nothing may be more daunting a task than this one. Luckily for you, there are several ways of attacking this, and one of the major steps in doing so is writing a clear and effective synopsis for your thesis.

For those of you unfamiliar or wanting to know more, a thesis is a scholarly essay based upon your own personal research on a topic you have discovered or learned about during your time at school. In order to receive a Master’s degree or a PhD, a thesis is required, as it proves that you have critical thinking skills about your area of expertise and can prove your thesis through the research you have done. This is what separates you from the rest, your professors will see all the work you have done and the knowledge you have acquired throughout your journey to this point. 

What is a Synopsis?

Generally speaking, a synopsis is a general discussion or survey of a piece of work, explaining only the essential information in an easy, readable way. The function is to explain the main idea before a reader begins to read the thesis. Beyond that, a synopsis for a thesis has more function and importance than just a brief summary. 

The synopsis first of all, is not so brief. It gives a detailed description of your thesis, including the purpose of your research and methods you used as well as the process you used to explore the topic in depth. It introduces your thesis in a way that your readers know what to expect, but still surprised at the amount of work and detail presented within. 

This helps your supervisor see the possible strengths and weaknesses of your thesis and can give you helpful ideas on how to fill in those gaps. It’s a protocol used by your supervisor to ensure that you are on the right track to completing your thesis and you’ll finish on time. This is an essential step before writing your actual thesis. Make sure you complete your synopsis before you begin your research, as you may not need all the information you think you need. 

So, what makes a good Synopsis?

A good synopsis details everything related to your topic, but a great synopsis ensures that not only is the content there, but it is presented in a logical manner and easy to follow. Your outlined thesis should include the following:

  • The title of the topic 
  • The abstract 
  • The necessity of the topic – the background 
  • All related literature concerning the topic 
  • Methods and Materials of your research

Once these headings are established, it helps you to go through each stage, making sure that no information is left off or missed. The scope of your thesis is broad, but has a direction. As you progress through your synopsis, the details fall into place and allows you to start doing your research and collecting your data. 

Establish your background

Your loose thoughts should be filtered and sorted and should be organized based on how they are all linked together. The aims and goals of your topic should be apparent, so make sure to ask yourself these questions:

“Why should someone research this topic” “What are my expectations of this topic” “What have others contributed to the research of this topic” “How will I reach the goals and objectives of my topic”

Once the background is established, you can start thinking about the actual content.

Identify your Objectives

The background can help you decide the main reasons why you are undergoing this research into this topic. What good will this do for the world? What good will this do for professionals in this field? What good will it do for the communities surrounding this field? Having a measurable objective will pave the way to a better thesis. 

Consider your Methods 

The aim of the thesis is to provide novel information about your topic, something original or groundbreaking. This is important as it gives the reader something to analyze and think about. The way you deliver your information should provoke thoughts, or leave a trail to be followed into a thought process. Your approach should be able to answer any and all questions regarding your thesis, whether or not your ideas hold validity and some substance. Explaining your decisions and thought processes are much easier if you set your boundaries and barriers that you can address in your synopsis. 

Present your Experiments and Analysis

This is an important step once everything else has been established. Detail the research you will do and the experiments you will be observing and analyze them in detail. You should link the results to your findings and your knowledge about the topic. This is where you earn your money, the way you can tie in numbers and facts to the knowledge you already know to solidify your thesis. The better your analysis is, the more your reader will understand. 

Conclude and Summarize

Your supervisor should have already read your synopsis up to this point and understood the concept and scope of your thesis. But you should reiterate your main idea in case your supervisor got lost or that you had a different idea than they had. Once you’ve summed it up, your supervisor can give you helpful hints and tips to solidify the rest of your thesis and smooth out the potential problems or holes in your thesis. 

So, what now?

Begin writing your synopsis with these key facts in mind. Know that your synopsis is a tool for you to organize your thoughts and for your supervisor to advise you on your direction and objectives. Be concise and be knowledgeable, so that you may get the best possible feedback on your synopsis.

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How to Write a Dissertation Summary

Your dissertation summary or abstract is an essential introduction that appears at the beginning of your work, providing your reader with a concise synopsis of your research while also offer a compelling reason for them to keep reading. Knowing the components of a well-written dissertation summary can help you achieve these characteristics in your own abstract.

Hook Your Reader

Your opening summary sentence should provide a captivating reason why the reader should want to continue. You can accomplish this by stating a research problem or gap in current research that you aim to correct in your dissertation study. Avoid flowery or gimmicky phrasing in this introductory sentence; you can still hook your reader using a straightforward statement.

Restate Your Thesis Statement

The second sentence of your summary should recap your dissertation's thesis statement. Use precise language when reiterating your thesis, as it is safe to assume your dissertation reader is familiar with your field and will follow your premise.

Summarize Research Methods and Conclusions

The remaining two or three sentences of your abstract should summarize the research methodologies or objectives you used in your research as well as the significant outcomes or contributions your dissertation offers to your field. Limit technical jargon as your recount your methods and conclusions, and while you can cite sources that were influential, avoid quoting these sources in the abstract section.

Other Considerations

Your dissertation summary is intended to be succinct, somewhere from 100 to 300 words long. Make sure it contains the most relevant information about your research and what sets it apart from previous work. Because dissertations can change focus over the course of your research, you might find it easier to write your abstract once you have completed your writing. Having solidified your research accomplishments in your dissertation conclusion can make it easier to summarize your results in abstract form. You can include keywords as part of your abstract, which will increase accessibility to scholars searching online.

  • Winthrop University Department of English: Abstract Tips
  • American Studies Association: Doctoral Dissertation Abstracts
  • Kansas University Writing Center: Abstract
  • The University of Wisconsin Madison Writing Center: Abstracts
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: Abstracts

Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.

Thesis Helpers

how to write synopsis for dissertation

Find the best tips and advice to improve your writing. Or, have a top expert write your paper.

Thesis Summary: A Detailed Academic Writing Guide

thesis summary

A thesis summary is a highly condensed version of the longer paper. It highlights the main points that have been covered in the paper while concisely describing the content of the thesis. In most cases, the summary of a thesis and the abstract serve the same purpose. They provide an overview of all the major points of a thesis. Thus, a reader can quickly see the main content of your thesis when they read the summary. This enables them to determine whether they are interested in your work or not.

What is Included in a Thesis Summary?

When asked to summarize something, you’re simply required to condense the text to the main points. As such, a good summary of thesis research should include important elements only. It should capture the main idea in the paper and the supporting points that may be interwoven with content that is of lesser importance.

Many learners confuse a thesis statement summary with an analysis. An analysis is a discussion of the techniques, ideas, and meaning in the text. On the other hand, a summary does not entail responding or critiquing the ideas in the text. Analyzing a paper entails summarizing its content to establish the ideas that you will be analyzing. A summary does not substitute for analysis.

Here are some of the things that a Ph.D. or master thesis summary should include: A title that is similar to that of your thesis The main purpose of your thesis The main topic of your thesis The research methods used to gather the information The sub-sections of your thesis Recommendations, results, and conclusions

Essentially, a summary should present the points of the author in a straightforward structure. Therefore, read the thesis carefully to determine the major and minor components or points of the argument and summarize them in an organized manner.

A point that the author makes at the beginning and another one at the end should concisely be included in a summary of thesis to convey the main argument of the author. Thus, you should read, understand, and reconstruct the thesis into a more concise, shorter form.

How to Write an Executive Summary for Thesis

Perhaps, you have written a short thesis that is not longer than ten pages. In that case, follow these steps to write a summary thesis:

  • Summarize every paragraph in one sentence
  • Summarize the entire text in a single sentence
  • Write a single paragraph that starts with a sentence that summarizes the entire text followed by a paragraph of summary sentences
  • Rewrite and rearrange your paragraph to ensure that it’s concise and clear.
  • Eliminate relatively minor and repetitive points and include transitions.

Make sure that the final summary is complete, coherent, and unified.

How to Write Summary of Ph.D. Thesis and Longer Texts

A longer text like a Ph.D. requires time to summarize. That’s because you have to read and understand the document before you summarize it. Here’s how to write a summary thesis for longer papers.

  • Outline the thesis by breaking it down into different major sections. To do this, group the paragraphs that focus on a similar topic and then list down the supporting points for different sections.
  • Write a sentence or two that summarizes every section.
  • Create a single sentence that summarizes the entire text. Look for the topic sentence in the thesis to guide you.
  • Write one paragraph or several to start the overall summary sentence. Follow it with sentences that summarize different sections.
  • Rearrange and rewrite the paragraphs to make the text concise and clear while eliminating repetitious and relatively minor points. Also, include transitions in your summary.

The final summary should include the main supporting points of every idea. Make the final version coherent, unified, and complete.

When is the Summary of Findings in Thesis Necessary?

The summary and conclusion thesis serves the purpose of providing an overview of the paper. As such, students are required to write a summary in many instances. In some cases, an educator can assign learners to write a page or two after reading a paper or article. They can also be asked to come up with a summary of their text as part of their critique or response after reading a paper.

Students can also write article summaries as a part of their planning or note-taking process when writing a research paper. These summaries or their parts can be included in the final papers. When writing a research paper, an author can depend on the summary as their reference to source materials. A summary enables a writer to condense broad information so that they can explain and present the relevance of the sources that deal with a similar subject.

A paper can also be summarized in the introduction to present a precise and concise overview of the main ideas to be discussed in the rest of the text. The length of a summary should depend on the complexity and length of the paper. Additionally, the purpose of a summary should determine whether it will be a few sentences, a shorter paragraph, or even several paragraphs. You can even come across a thesis summary sample that looks like an entire paper.

Qualities of a Good Summary Thesis Sample

When learning how to write summary and conclusion in thesis, many students use samples as their guides. But, how do you know that you’re using a good thesis summary example? Here are the qualities to look for:

  • Comprehensiveness : A good summary should be comprehensive. All important points should be isolated from the original passage and noted down in a brief list. These are the ideas that should form the summary because they are indispensable to the development of the thesis.
  • Conciseness : An ideal summary should be free of repetitions. Do not repeat the same points even if they have been restated in the main document. The summary should be shorter while providing a brief overview of the paper. Therefore, avoid repetition of the main point and supporting ideas.
  • Coherence : A good summary makes sense. It’s not a piece that looks like it’s been taken from the main document. It should also not sound like a collection of disjointed sentences from the main document that is being summarized.
  • Independence : When writing a summary, your work is not to imitate the main text’s author. Instead, you are expected to showcase your style and voice in the summary. Thus, you should not just quote the main text’s author. Instead, express how you understand the document in your words. A summary should be based on your understanding and interpretation of the main ideas or points of the writer. Nevertheless, a good summary does not create distortion or misrepresentation through the introduction of criticisms or comments.

It’s also crucial to note that a good summary thesis example uses a structure that features an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. It presents the goal or purpose, results, and conclusion or recommendations. What’s more, it features logical connections of the included information without adding new information.

To write a great summary, work on this part after completing your thesis. Make sure that you’re guided by the main points of your thesis. What’s more, use a good executive summary for thesis sample to guide you. The length of your summary should depend on its purpose and the length of the main document. Once you have written the summary, read it carefully, and eliminate all errors when proofreading and editing it. Alternatively, ask our thesis editors to proofread the summary for you.

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Guidelines for writing a research project synopsis or protocol

"Success is often the result of taking a mis - step in the right direction. "

Al Bernstein

A protocol or a synopsis of a research project is a document submitted to an authority or an institution for the purpose of

  • Ethical clearance
  • Formal registration to universities for the award of a degree or doctorate
  • Peer review
  • Financial assistance from organizations like ICMR, DST, NACO, DGHS, and MHRD

Synopsis is the gist of your planned project submitted for approval from competent authorities. It gives a panoramic view of your research for quick analysis by the reviewers.

Thus, a protocol or a synopsis forms an integral part of a research project or a thesis. Many universities have made it mandatory for the postgraduate degree student to prepare a thesis as a part of their postgraduate training. A good knowledge about how a protocol or a synopsis is written is imperative to all people involved in medical research.

Literally, protocol (Greek word, protokollon - first page) means a format procedure for carrying out a scientific research. Synopsis (Greek word, sun - together, opsis - seeing) means brief summary of something. Frequently, both the terms are used as synonyms but the term ′synopsis′ is used more often.

A synopsis should be constructed in a manner that facilitates the reviewer to understand the research project at a glance. It should be brief but precise. A synopsis can be structured in the following manner:

  • Statement of the problem and hypothesis
  • Aims and objectives
  • Review of literature
  • Research methodology
  • Official requirements

Title The title of the research project should be brief but informative; sensationalization of the title is best avoided. It should neither be too short nor too long. Any name of the institution, the number of cases to be studied should not be included. The hypothesis to be studied can be included.

a. "Study of ectopic pregnancy"

This was a title chosen for university registration. The title is too short. It does not state the problem or the hypothesis and is least informative. More meaningful title shall be, "Study of ectopic pregnancy in relation to morbidity, mortality, and intervention in a referral hospital".

b. "A novel sustained release matrix based on biodegradable poly (esteramides) and, impregnated with bacteriophages and an antibiotic shows promise in management of infected venous stasis ulcer and other poorly healing wounds", (Int. J Dermat vol 8 2002). The title is long and ill conceived. It gives a confusing picture about the study problem. Such long titles are best avoided. Certain amount of sensationalization is also present by using term ′novel′. More meaningful title shall be, "Response of venous stasis ulcers and other poorly healing wounds to a biodegradable matrix impregnated with bacteriophages and an antibiotic". The other details about the new method can be mentioned while stating the problem.

c. "Fine needle aspiration, as a diagnostic tool for papulonodular skin lesions". This is an acceptable, informative, and precise title. It states the hypothesis correctly.

Statement of the problem or hypothesis The problem being studied should be mentioned in precise and clear terms. Understanding the problem aids the researcher in constructing the research proposal. It also allows the person to formulate the hypothesis. The problem under study should be relevant to the present. A brief account of its utility at the local or national level has to be discussed. The present status of the problem and the necessity for taking up the study needs to be mentioned.

Hypothesis is mentioned as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. Hypothesis should not be a haphazard guess but should reflect the knowledge, imagination, and experience of the investigator. Hypothesis can be formulated by understanding the problem, reviewing the literature on it, and considering other factors. A researcher can state the problem and the hypothesis in about 200 words covering all the aspects described above.

Aims and objectives All research projects should have objectives and aims and every effort should be made to achieve them. The objectives and aims should be only a few (2-3). They must pertain to the study problem. Usages of terms like "first study", "the only study", etc. should be avoided.

Review of literature Review of literature is a very important part of a research project. It achieves the following:

  • Familiarizes the reader to the problem under study.
  • It describes the work done by others either at local or international level on it or similar subject.
  • It helps the researcher to understand the difficulties faced by others and the corrective steps taken or modifications made by them. The researcher can anticipate similar or additional problems during the study and review of literature helps him in anticipating them.
  • Research methodology of the researcher can be structured and modified after reviewing the literature.
  • The review assists in identifying various variables in the research project and conceptualizes their relationship.
  • Review of literature in a synopsis helps the reviewer in assessing the knowledge of the researcher. The reviewer can assess the work put in by the researcher and also assists in assessing the feasibility of the study.

The review of literature in a synopsis need not be exhaustive. The relevant information should be covered in about 300 words quoting 8-10 authentic, easily retrievable references. Literature can be reviewed by using various scientific-information-gathering methods. These are journals, national or international; bulletins of organizations like WHO, CDC, and ICMR; books; computer-assisted searches like Medline and Medlar; and personal communications with other researchers. Internet provides a vast avenue for information gathering. Care must be taken to retrieve only relevant information. In this era of information technology review of literature is literally "just a click away".

Research methodology In a synopsis the research methodology adopted should be mentioned in about 150-200 words. The research methodology forms the core of the research project. The methodology should cover the following aspects:

  • Study design

Study settings

  • Study methods - examinations or investigations
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis

Study design The methodology starts with selection of study design. A single study design or a combination can be selected e.g.:

Descriptive designs

Cross-sectional study or survey

Epidemiological description of disease occurrence

Community diagnosis

Study of natural history of a disease

Observational analytical designs

Prospective study

Retrospective study

Follow-up study

Experimental designs

Animal studies

Therapeutic clinical trials - drugs

Prophylactic clinical trials- vaccines

Field trials

Operational designs

A mention about the research setting should be made. This includes information about the institution, facilities available, time of study, and population of study.

Sampling Sampling is selecting a sample of appropriate size for the study. The sample size depends on the study design. The study population can be population of cases, population of people, or population of recipients of certain treatment.

There are many methods for sampling like simple random, systemic and stratified sampling, cluster sampling, etc. Care should be taken to ensure that the sample size is adequate to produce meaningful results. The sample size should be adequate to apply all relevant tests of statistical significance. The samples should be representative of the population and should be reliable. This minimizes sampling errors.

Variables Variables are the factors that can change. These changes can affect the outcome of a research project. Thus, it is important to identify the variables at the planning stage. They should be quantified with a measurable unit. Knowledge of the various variables in a research project will assist in refining the objectives. Usually, objectives of a research will be to see the effect of independent variables on dependent variables. There are four types of variables.

Independent variables

These are the variables that can be manipulated by the researcher and the effects of that are observed on the other variables. For example, predisposing factors, risk factors and cause.

Dependent variables

The changes occur as a result of independent variables. For example, disease and outcome.

Intervening variables

These may influence the effect of independent variables on the dependent variables. For example, while studying the response of HIV-AIDS to HAART the outcome may be influenced by the presence of antitubercular drugs.

Background variables

These are changes that are relevant in the groups or population under study. These need to be included in the study. For example, age, sex, and ethnic origin.

Controls Control groups increase the validity of the research project. They usually consist of units of same population but differ in some respects. Controls are not necessary for all research projects. As far as possible they should be used in all analytical studies, drug trials, and intervention programs.

Study methods Here the researcher will have to describe the method of data collection, which may be in the form of:

  • Questionnaire
  • Medical examination
  • Laboratory investigations
  • Screening procedures

A sample of the proforma should be prepared and attached. The possible cost involved and any financial assistance received must be mentioned.

Data collection A brief note on how data are collected should be included. The information should be about:

  • The organizational setup
  • Training to data collecting team
  • Logistic support
  • Plans for collaboration with other organization should be included

Data analysis Data analysis is an important part of a research project. A good analysis leads to good results. The plans for data analysis should be mentioned under the following heads Statistical methods, Computer program used, and Data sorting method. A general statement "appropriate statistical methods will be used." must be avoided.

Ethical clearance Wherever necessary, ethical committee clearance from the institute should be obtained. The certificate must be attached. Ethical clearance is required in all human and animal studies.

References All references quoted in review of literature and anywhere else in the synopsis should be listed here. There are two styles for writing references, Vancouver style and Harvard style. Vancouver style is easy to follow as it depends on the numbers as quoted in text.

Official requirements A synopsis is incomplete if it does not contain the following information:

  • Name of the researcher and designation
  • Name and designation of the guide
  • Name and designation of head of department\institution
  • Name of the institution
  • Signatures of all with official seal

Synopsis writing is an important step in a research project. A good synopsis will give maximum information in minimum words. A well-conceived synopsis will go a long way in convincing the reviewer about the ability of the researcher to conduct the project. In cases of need for financial assistance, the request will be considered favorably. Thus, all research workers should make efforts to prepare a well-structured synopsis.

Acknowledgments

The author is thankful to M/s Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers for their permission to reproduce this article from the "Handbook on Health Professional Education" published by them. [21] [Table 1]

Suggested read for related articles:

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© Copyright 2024 – Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology – All rights reserved. Published by Scientific Scholar on behalf of Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists & Leprologists (IADVL), India.

ISSN (Print): 0378-6323 ISSN (Online): 0973-3922

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  1. Why it's essential to know yourself as a thesis writer

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  3. How to Write Dissertation Introduction

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  6. How to write dissertation for M.Ed

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Synopsis for Research: A Step-By-Step Guide

    1. Format your title page following your instructor's guidelines. In general, the title page of a research synopsis includes the title of the research project, your name, the degree and discipline for which you're writing the synopsis, and the names of your supervisor, department, institution, and university.

  2. Q: What is the format for the synopsis of a thesis?

    The synopsis for a thesis is basically the plan for a research project, typically done when pursuing a doctorate. It outlines the focus areas and key components of the research in order to obtain approval for the research. Here is a listing of the sections that typically are a part of the synopsis. Do check with your guide/supervisor for those ...

  3. PDF A Complete Dissertation

    dissertation. Reason The introduction sets the stage for the study and directs readers to the purpose and context of the dissertation. Quality Markers A quality introduction situates the context and scope of the study and informs the reader, providing a clear and valid representation of what will be found in the remainder of the dissertation.

  4. What Is a Dissertation?

    The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it's one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience. Tip Write your abstract at the very end, when you've completed the rest of your dissertation. Your abstract ...

  5. How to Write a Great Synopsis for Thesis [2020 Updated]

    The structure of a synopsis should correspond to the structure of qualifying research work, and the word count should be 2,500-3,000 words (Balu 38). The basic elements of a synopsis include a title page, contents page, an introduction, background, literature review, objectives, methods, experiments and results, conclusions, and references.

  6. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  7. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus. It describes what or who you want to examine, delving into why, when, where, and how you will do so, stemming from your research question and a relevant topic. The proposal or prospectus stage is crucial for the development ...

  8. How to Write a Dissertation

    Acknowledgements. The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. Abstract. The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long.

  9. Writing a Synopsis

    Writing a Synopsis. A synopsis is a brief summary which gives readers an overview of the main points. In an academic context, this is usually a summary of a text (a journal article, book, report etc) but in some instances you might be writing a synopsis of a talk, film or other form of presentation. A synopsis is a neutral summary, objectively ...

  10. How to Write a Thesis Summary

    Elaborate a thesis statement. The thesis statement. is the most important part. This is a sentence usually placed at the beginning of the summary and it is aimed at clarifying the main research questions of your work. The thesis statement must be clear and concise. MA theses, but also PhD dissertations, usually concern very narrow topics.

  11. How to Write a Summary

    When to write a summary. Step 1: Read the text. Step 2: Break the text down into sections. Step 3: Identify the key points in each section. Step 4: Write the summary. Step 5: Check the summary against the article. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about summarizing.

  12. How to Write a Dissertation Summary

    Step 2. Pre-write the abstract, focusing on listing your thesis topic or purpose, your research methods and the general results and conclusions you drew from the research discussed in your dissertation. At this early stage, you can simply write notes that you take as you read your dissertation or full sentences you can use in your introduction.

  13. Lesson 4: Synopsis

    Lesson 4: Synopsis. In order to clarify your thoughts about the purpose of your thesis and how you plan to reach your research goals, you should prepare a synopsis. A synopsis is a short, systematic outline of your proposed thesis, made in preparation for your first meeting with your supervisor. It serves to ensure that your supervisor gets a ...

  14. How to write Dissertation and synopsis

    How to write Synopsis and Dissertation. Share. Watch on. It should provide a brief description of the area of the proposed research work in a very concrete, concise, and accurate manner. It must be clear rather than fuzzy and general.

  15. How can we write a summary of a thesis?

    2 Answers to this question. Answer: A summary of a thesis is like an abstract of a research paper. Basically, the purpose of the summary is to give the reader an overview of the main points of your thesis. The summary should include the following points:

  16. How to write Synopsis and Dissertation

    This video explains in a concise manner about writing synopsis and dissertation.#synopsis #dissertation #researchpaper #researchOur Social media platforms:we...

  17. PDF Guidelines for preparation of Synopsis for the Ph.D. thesis

    of the synopsis. The primary objective of the synopsis is to enable the reader to judge whether a prima facie case exists for accepting the proposed Ph.D. thesis for the award of the Ph.D. degree. The synopsis should therefore, list, clearly, the contributions resulting from the investigations carried out by the candidate, which have led to

  18. (PDF) Research synopsis guidelines

    Guidelines for Thesis Preparation 1. June 2015. Isam Mohammed Abdel-Magid. Tasneem Abdel-Magid. These guidelines have been written and prepared solely to assist students (Diploma, B.Sc., M.Sc. and ...

  19. How to Write a Good Synopsis for Thesis

    A good synopsis details everything related to your topic, but a great synopsis ensures that not only is the content there, but it is presented in a logical manner and easy to follow. Your outlined thesis should include the following: The title of the topic. The abstract. The necessity of the topic - the background.

  20. How to Write a Dissertation Summary

    Hook Your Reader. Your opening summary sentence should provide a captivating reason why the reader should want to continue. You can accomplish this by stating a research problem or gap in current research that you aim to correct in your dissertation study. Avoid flowery or gimmicky phrasing in this introductory sentence; you can still hook your ...

  21. How to write Research Synopsis

    A research synopsis is a short outline of what your research thesis is and all the steps you propose to follow in order to achieve them. It gives you and you...

  22. Thesis Summary

    In that case, follow these steps to write a summary thesis: Summarize every paragraph in one sentence. Summarize the entire text in a single sentence. Write a single paragraph that starts with a sentence that summarizes the entire text followed by a paragraph of summary sentences. Rewrite and rearrange your paragraph to ensure that it's ...

  23. Guidelines for writing a research project synopsis or protocol

    Thus, a protocol or a synopsis forms an integral part of a research project or a thesis. Many universities have made it mandatory for the postgraduate degree student to prepare a thesis as a part of their postgraduate training. A good knowledge about how a protocol or a synopsis is written is imperative to all people involved in medical research.