Writing Research Abstracts

Phadet Kakham*


Abstracts are concise summaries that provide a glimpse into the content of a scholarly article or paper. They serve as a vital tool for readers to quickly gauge the relevance and significance of a work before delving into the full text. While abstracts traditionally summarize the main points of a paper, incorporating references can further enrich the abstract, offering readers insight into the broader context and supporting evidence of the research. In this artcle, we’ll explore the key components of writing an abstract, and provide tips for crafting a compelling summary of your academic work.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work such as a thesis, dissertation or research paper. The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes as follows:

1.       An abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;

An abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
An abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.
It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

*Lecturer in Educational Management for Sustainable Development Program, Graduate School, Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University


Main Components of Abstracts

The structure of a research abstract typically follows a specific format, including key elements that provide a concise summary of the research study. While variations may exist depending on the specific requirements of a journal, conference, or academic discipline, a common structure often includes the following components:

Introduction: A brief discussion that clearly states the purpose of your research or creative project. This should give general background information on your work and allow people from different fields to understand what you are talking about. Use verbs like investigate, analyze, test, etc. to describe how you began your work.

Methods: Describe the research design and methodology. Highlight key methods, procedures, and techniques used in the study. Include information on participants, materials, and data collection.

Results: Summarize the main findings or outcomes of the research. Try to include only the most important findings of your research that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions. If you have not completed the project, talk about your anticipated results and what you expect the outcomes of the study to be. Use quantitative or qualitative data to support key results. Include relevant statistical information if applicable.

Discussion: Interpret the results and discuss their significance. Relate findings to the research objective or hypothesis. Consider limitations and potential implications of the study.

Conclusion: Summarize the key points discussed in the abstract. Emphasize the importance of the research and its potential contributions. This is the final section of your abstract where you summarize the work performed. This is where you also discuss the relevance of your work and how it advances your field and the scientific field in general.

Keywords: Include a list of keywords that capture the main concepts and topics addressed in the research. This helps with indexing and information retrieval.

Keep in mind that the length and specific requirements of an abstract may vary depending on the guidelines provided by the publication or conference. It’s essential to carefully review and follow these guidelines to ensure that the abstract meets the standards of the intended audience and platform.



Phrases often Used in Research Abstracts

When writing a research abstract, certain phrases are commonly used to convey specific information concisely. Here are some phrases often found in research abstracts, organized by the section they are commonly associated with:


“This study investigates/examines/analyzes………”

“The purpose of this research is to………”

“In response to the need for………”

“This research aims to achieve the following objectives………”

“The primary goals of this study are………”

“To investigate………”

“To analyze and determine………”


“A [quantitative/qualitative] research design was employed.”

“Participants were selected using [specific criteria].”

“Data was collected through [methods] and analyzed using [statistical techniques].”

“This study employs a [quantitative/qualitative/mixed-methods] approach.”

“Data collection was conducted through………”

“Statistical analysis was performed using………”

“The research design involved………”


“The findings reveal that………”

“Statistical analysis indicates that………”

“Key results include………”

“A significant correlation was found between………”

“The data demonstrate that………”

“Key results indicate………”

“Analysis uncovered significant trends in………”


“Implications of the results suggest that………”

“This study contributes to the understanding of………”

“The findings are consistent with/contrary to previous research.”

“Limitations of the study include………”


“In conclusion, this research highlights………”

“The study provides insights into………”

“Future research should focus on………”

“This work has implications for [specific field/industry].”

“This research contributes to the understanding of………”

“The implications of this study extend to………”

“These findings have important implications for………”

“In conclusion, this study suggests that………”

Keywords: “Keywords: [list of relevant keywords].”

These phrases help to structure the abstract and communicate key information efficiently. It’s important to use clear and precise language, avoiding unnecessary jargon, and ensuring that each sentence contributes to conveying the essential elements of the research. Additionally, adhering to the specific guidelines provided by the target publication or conference will help in crafting an abstract that meets their requirements.

Verb Tense often Used in Research Abstracts

In general, when writing an abstract, you should use the simple present tense when stating facts and explaining the implications of your results. Use the simple past tense when describing your methodology and specific findings from your study. Either of these two tenses can be used when writing about the purpose of your study. Finally, you can use the present perfect tense or the present perfect progressive tense when explaining the background or rationale of your study.

Verb tense in research abstracts generally follows a specific convention to effectively convey information about the study. While variations exist depending on the specific guidelines of a journal or conference, the following tense guidelines are commonly observed:

Introduction: Use the present tense to state the research problem, objective, or purpose.

Example: “This study investigates the impact of…”

Past tense can be used to provide background information or refer to previous research.

Example: “Previous studies have shown that…”

Methods: Use the past tense to describe the research design, methods, and procedures employed.

Example: “Participants were selected using…”

Example: “Data was collected through…”

Results: Use the past tense to report the findings.

Example: “The results revealed that…”

Present perfect tense can be used for ongoing relevance.

Example: “Recent research has identified…”

Discussion: Use the present tense to discuss and interpret the results.

Example: “The findings suggest that…”

Present perfect tense may be used to connect current findings with past research.

Example: “These results support previous studies that have…”



Conclusion: Use the present tense to summarize the key points and highlight the significance of the study.

Example: “In conclusion, this research contributes to…”

Present perfect tense may be used for broader implications.

Example: “This work has implications for future research in…”

Consistency in verb tense is essential for clarity and coherence in the abstract. It’s advisable to check the specific guidelines of the target publication or conference, as they may have preferences for certain tenses. Additionally, maintaining a clear timeline of actions and findings helps readers understand the flow of the research and its contributions to the existing body of knowledge.


In conclusion, mastering the art of writing an abstract is essential for effective scholarly communication. A well-crafted abstract not only condenses the essence of your research but also serves as a powerful tool to engage readers and communicate the significance of your work. By following to the principles outlined in this guide, including understanding the purpose of an abstract, identifying key elements, incorporating references carefully, maintaining conciseness, revising diligently, seeking feedback, and following to journal guidelines, academic writers can ensure their abstracts make a persuasive impact. Whether submitting to a journal, conference, or thesis committee, the abstract serves as the gateway to your research, inviting readers to explore the depth and breadth of your scholarly contribution.



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