The research report: The abstract, acknowledgment and dedication

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THE last sections to write in a research report are the abstract, the acknowledgments and dedication. The abstract “follows directly after the title page and precedes the main body of the paper.” Written in the past tense, the abstract is recommended to be written after the rest of the research paper has been completed. It is a clear, concise, coherent and self-contained one paragraph digest or summary of all the major elements of the research—that is, the research “purpose, main points, method, findings, and conclusions.” <http://writingcommons.org/open-text/writing-processes/format/apa-format/1100-formatting-the-abstract-page-apa-sp-770492217> It is a mini version of a research paper, a short statement of the research “designed to give the reader a complete, yet concise, understanding of (the) research and its findings.” <https://www.honors.umass.edu/capstone-experience-guidelines-abstract-writing> One or more concise sentences in the abstract should be a summary of each chapter of a thesis or dissertation. No need to repeat figures and tables, abbreviations and literature review or reference citations.

If a school does not issue guidelines on formatting the abstract and keywords, one may source from among several hyperlinks from the web. One source presents a step-by-step instruction in formatting based on the American Psychological Association or APA, as it is better known among students writing their research papers. The length of abstracts varies in universities here and abroad. Currently, the maximum sizes for abstracts submitted to Canada’s National Archive are 150 words for the thesis and 350 words for the doctoral dissertation. <http://www.sfu.ca/~jcnesbit/HowToWrite Abstract.htm> However, at Cornell University, the thesis should not exceed 600 words while the dissertation should not exceed 350 words. At England’s University of Exeter and at Scotland’s St. Andrews U, the Universities of Singapore, of Malaya, of the Philippines, at the Ateneo de Manila U and de La Salle U, the length of abstracts for either thesis or dissertation is from 300 to 350 words. (The hyperlinks on these universities for “length of theses/dissertations abstracts” are easily available on the web.)

For purposes of the orals in the Graduate School, it is safe for the candidate to adhere to the standard style of following the sequence of chapters in presenting the abstract.
However, there are instances when the order of content in the abstract may deviate from the standard order, such as when after a successful orals, the Graduate School may require a rewriting of the research for journal publication. For this purpose, the successful candidate may need to restyle the structure of the abstract. Although the “general structure of the abstract should mirror the structure of the whole thesis, and should represent all its major elements,” this is one instance where the abstract may be restructured. The research questions and the findings could be at the beginning instead of following the sequence of chapters. This rearrangement depends on a style suitable to the kind of readers addressed by the abstract. As “an important component” and “the first substantive description of a research paper,” one may restyle it to attract an interested researcher but should retain its being able to substitute for the full text of the whole thesis. As stressed by our source, the abstract is “not merely an introduction in the sense of a preface, preamble, or advance organizer that prepares the reader for the thesis.” The abstract also provides one “an opportunity to set accurate expectations of one’s research accomplishment.”

Acknowledgments. Acknowledgments are written expressions of appreciation for guidance and assistance received from individuals and institutions. While there is no strict protocol for this section, it is only logical that those who have had major support in various forms and meaningful contribution to the thesis or dissertation are to be mentioned first in the Acknowledgments. Examples of these are funding organizations, libraries and other external bodies that gave material and other forms of support and individuals with whom the researcher has collaborated, and led to the accomplishment of the research. These are the heads who allowed data collection in their organizations, the respondents, research supervisors, mentors, panels, other research advisers, colleagues who helped in data collection or in some other useful way, proofreaders and editors. Finally, what the acknowledgements declare should be “factual, true, valuable” and genuinely appreciated. <https://www.grad.ubc.ca/current-students/dissertation-thesis-preparation/structure-theses-dissertations>


Dedication. While a Dedication page/section is optional in a thesis or dissertation, Filipino value of utang na loob would ensure that such a section is included in our research paper as an opportunity to offer our warmest gratitude to formal bodies like external and internal organization for research funding, for scholarships, to one’s professor/s, mentor/s as well as to informal ones, such as our parents, siblings, kin and peers—for the wholehearted assistance in various forms—material, moral, spiritual and emotional, in our academic pursuit. Rather than the usual statements expressing gratitude and appreciation, such feelings may also be expressed through quotes or poems or a combination of statements ending with a quote. A Dedication may begin with “This is dedicated to …” or “I would like to dedicate my work to…” or “It is my genuine gratitude and warmest regard that I dedicate this work to…” <http://www.writeawriting.com/academic-writing/write-dedication-page-thesis-dissertation-research-paper/> “Not every dissertation/thesis has a Dedication section but it is a good idea, if the researcher is clear about who should be thanked.” The advice is “don’t just include one because you feel you ought to.”
(Last of a series of eight on the research report. Next, research mentorship 1 and 2)

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, an internationalization consultant and professorial lecturer on-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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  1. Please do us a favor. In your past and present articles about research, do the correct citations be it APA or MLA. You have been writing articles about research which are not original and should cite the source of your information. In addition, you should also use the correct format for citing the source of your information from the web sites you took/(copied?). Your ideas of research are not your original ideas but a common knowledge or copied from another source. What a shame!!! Do you remember what Senator Sotto did when he copied/pasted his speech from someone else?