Your report, thesis or article in a journal or a book must begin with an abstract; usually the abstract is in Finnish and English, possibly also in Swedish. The abstract precedes the actual text of your thesis or article (or other form of production), and the maximum length is one page or less. In journals and conference proceedings, the length is usually determined quite specifically; it is typically between 150 and 200 words.
The abstract should sell your thesis or article (or other proof of learnedness); it should convince someone browsing databases that your text is worth reading in its entirety. The abstract must be informative, crisp, down to the point and succinct. Within the given word limit, the abstract must summarize your work efficiently.
The abstract must read without the thesis report; it has to function on its own. Note that the abstract is not the same thing as the introduction. The abstract is written (or finished) after the writing of the thesis report.
The abstract contains the following identity information above the actual body text.
Author(s) of the the
Semester and year of graduation
Name of university
Degree programme, option and degree title
An example is the following (see the appendix for degree programmes, options and degree titles):
Meikäläinen, Matti & Teikäläinen, Teija. Work satisfaction and special diaconal work – experiences of the Keskimaa Institute nursing staff. Spring 2015. 56 p. Two appendices. Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Degree Programme in Nursing, Option in Diaconal Nursing, Nurse (UAS).
The content of the abstract varies according to whether the thesis is a research report or another form of carrying out the thesis work, for example, a product/project. The following aspects may be included:
-> linking the thesis with information retrieval and literature databases
-> helping information seekers to find the thesis
-> YSO keywords
The following instructions may be useful.
1. Use the passive voice. Do not write In this thesis I studied; instead, write In this thesis … was studied. You can also write This thesis studied/investigated….
2. Do not use s-genetives in a row. Do not write the informants’ answers’ main content; instead, write the main content of the informants’ answers.
3. The definite article is usually appropriate when referring to your informants, research methods, research, etc.
4. The past tense is used when describing what was studied, how the study was carried out or how the production was accomplished. As for the conclusions, the present tense can be used. In the conclusion, regarding further research avenues, the future tense is, of course, appropriate.
5. Do not use abbreviations; preferably do not use acronyms. If you must include them, explain them, too. As regards the KIKY agreement and the SOTE reform… -> As regards the Competitiveness Agreement (KIKY) and the Social and Health Services (SOTE) Reform
6. Do not hyphenate. WORD will do it for you if needed.
7. Avoid colloquial expressions (kids -> children; freaked out -> puzzled, overwhelmed, etc).
8. If you use non-English words in the text (as data examples, for example), use italics, e.g. the Mahis project.
9. Do not translate Finnish terms unless they have obvious or official translation equivalents in English, e.g. the Mahis project.
10. Use the language check tool in WORD. Do not rely on Google Translate or other translation software; they do not produce a publication-ready translation. Readability index tools and other digital tools can be useful for advanced language revision purposes (see below).
11. Have someone read you text and give you constructive criticism.
12. Read abstract in theses and published work in your field.
The abstract contains, depending on the nature of the work, all or some of the following. Useful thesis-related vocabulary and phraseology is presented below. Note that these are not sub-headings in the abstract; they just describe things that may be included the abstract.
- the aim of this thesis is to
- the taking-off point of this thesis is to…
- this thesis aims to….
- the thesis work arose from the social observation that…
- the question of children’s position in this situation was behind the development work idea to…
- a development work proposal in the social work with immigrants was the basis of…
- the thesis work idea centered around the development needs in early childhood education…
CONCLUSION AND FURTHER RESEARCH
The writer of the English abstract should remember to try to make the English terms in the text as precise and appropriate as the Finnish ones. Simply to translate a term from Finnish into English may not be enough. The writer should check that the English term makes sense in the English language on its own; there is otherwise the danger that the term is a vague expression in the target language. Terms like KIKY-sopimus and SOTE-uudistus are such cases: it may be necessary to explain them to some extent instead of just coming up with a translation.
Language technology is progressing very rapidly today. Thus the writer of almost any text, but particularly the writer of a formal text, has access to may programmes and algorithms checking, evaluating and also improving the text. Readability indexes indicate the readability and fluency of the text and point how they could be improved. The writer of the English abstract should keep an eye on this development; the future language checking applications will be structured and field-specific and they can automatically suggest the appropriate term or phrase in the particular field. Therefore, vague translations and inappropriate terms may be something the technology will take care of. Still, the thinking and creative writing tasks remain.
Degree Programme in Nursing - Option in Nursing (degree title: Nurse) - Option in Diaconal Nursing (degree title: Nurse) - Option in Health Care (degree title: Public Health Nurse)
Degree Programme in Social Services (Degree title: Bachelor of Social Services)
Option in Social Services and Education - Option in Christian Youth Work - Option in Diaconal Social Work
Degree Programme in Sign Language Interpretation (Degree title: Sign Language Interpreter)
Degree Programme in Community Interpretation (Degree title: Community Interpreter)