I sent my committee members an updated outline of my dissertation last week, along with a date of when I will get them a complete draft. Now I am wondering if I should write an abstract of each chapter first, or not. Abstracts at the front of each chapter are a very nice convention, in that it gives the reader a better impression than the title does of the content of a chapter, but on the other hand, if the chapter is not too long, had subheadings throughout, and is well written, one would think an abstract ought not be necessary. My committee had no hard and fast rule about it, though when I actually submit my dissertation, I am quite certain an abstract of the book as a whole will be necessary. Though it is a difficult mental exercise to distill an argument into a few short sentences, it is often a helpful mental exercise.