When asked for a 15-page summary of the thesis/research paper, should I write it by chapter (Introduction, Methodology, etc) ?

The only guideline given is to include introduction, research objectives, methodology, etc. But no specific format was given.

The summary was a requirement for a colloquium.


  • 4
    Welcome to Writers. We have some people who know more about academic writing than I do, but I'll ask the obvious question: Does your school or department have any guidance on this, like a style sheet or a style guide you follow? Oct 19, 2015 at 15:51
  • Probably more suited for: academia.stackexchange.com
    – Therac
    Aug 17, 2018 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


It actually depends on the field you are working on, but here are a few general pointers.

If done right, your thesis probably looks like this:

  • Chapter 1. Introduction, in particular motivation, i.e. why you're working on that particular topic, What applications are there for your invention or your ideas, why is it relevant for society, for your institution, for your readership; what your expectations were when you started working on it, whether you achieved what you expected.

  • Chapter 2. Basics, i.e. an introduction to the main topic, in particular all the knowledge your readers require to even understand the rest of the thesis.

  • Chapters 3 – 10. Your actual dissertation. Probably these chapters are more or less independent from each other, so each chapter will replicate the general structure of the thesis within the chapter; i.e. the chapter starts explaining why the topic of the chapter is necessary, then you introduce the basic concepts, then you introduce and develop your contribution (i.e. discuss your novel ideas, or introduce your new invention, explain how you developed it, what methods you used, etc). Then you prove that your contribution is sound and why it is worth publishing it. Finally, you summarise what you have done in the chapter and maybe already explain why the next chapter is necessary.

  • Chapter 11. The final evaluation of all the new concepts and ideas (your contribution). Here's where you put everything into perspective and formally prove that your whole work is worth something.

  • Chapter 12. The big conclusion. First, you briefly summarise Chapter 1, then you briefly list the most important achievements and conclusions of Chapters 3 – 10; then, you summarise Chapter 11. Finally, you provide an outlook. What will future work look like, or what will the impact of your thesis be.

Now, if you have to summarise all this, this is what you do:

  • Chapter 1. Keep most of it, if not all of it. The audience wants to understand why they should keep reading a 15-page summary or your whole thesis.

  • Chapter 2. Skip completely, unless you fear that what's to come can't be understood without a few basics. In that case, include only the most necessary stuff.

  • Chapters 3 – 10. For each chapter, your summary should include the chapter's introduction and motivation, a brief summary of your contribution, but not the details that nobody is going to understand anyway. You have probably worked on this for years. It may all be crystal clear to you, but for people seeing it for the first time, it may be very complex. Keep it simple and concentrate more on the relevance of the results than on how exactly you achieved them.

  • Chapters 11 - 12. Include only the things that prove that your work has relevance and how it will impact the audience.

Final remark: In general, make summaries easy to read and understand. You might even consider using a bullet list instead of proper prosa.

  • What would be the possible title of chapter 2?
    – Mohammad
    Apr 24, 2018 at 17:32

Putting section-titles will help give your summary structure so you can focus on summarizing different aspects in different subjects. Just remember that a summary is supposed to be short and very broad, using only relevant information.


Think of your audience.

Your summary should serve as a brief introduction into and overview of your research. The purpose of that summary is to allow your audience to understand your research, discuss it with you, and give you helpful feedback.

Just condensing your dissertation may not help them with their task of helping you.

What I would do is create an interesting narrative. Look at some TED talks to give you an idea what that might entail. Generally, it begins with a very brief (one to a few sentences) summary of what you research, goes on to explain why you research this (i.e. why is this important and to whom), then you explain how you research it, but keep your explanations general and avoid jargon, to that an intelligent non-expert can understand it (imagine that you write for the New York Times), and finally you explain the problems that you currently face and ask your audience for ideas in how to solve them.

That is, on every level of your narrative you draw your audience in. First you make your research relevant to them. Then you explain it in a non-boring way, then you ask them to get thinking about how to do it better.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.