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24 popular academic phrases to write your abstract (+ real examples)

A helpful strategy to write an academic abstract is to incorporate key academic phrases commonly used in abstracts of published papers. This way, you can learn from real examples and improve your abstract writing skills.

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The different components of academic abstracts

Abstracts are brief summaries of conducted studies or research that are used in academic papers, theses, and dissertations. They tend to be around 100-300 words long, and are usually positioned right under the research title and before the introduction.

Writing an abstract can be challenging because abstracts have to contain a lot of information: An abstract has to address all parts of a research, from the introduction, to the methods, results and conclusions.

Nonetheless, guidelines for writing an abstract are pretty simple:

A straightforward process can be followed when writing an abstract since abstracts are generally structured similarly and address several key components.

Academic abstracts typically include five key components:

  • An introduction to the topic, which often highlights its societal relevance or a gap in the existing literature
  • The aim or objective of the research that has been conducted
  • The research methodology, which tends to involve a description of the research design, methods and data
  • The results or key findings of the research
  • The main conclusions of the research, which often highlight its contribution for theory and/or practice

Abstracts can be written in a structured or an unstructured format. Structured abstracts provide clear headings to organize the content, such demonstrated in the following example:

Example of a structured abstract by Gao et al., 2020

Abstracts that are written in an unstructured format, on the other hand, do not use headings to divide the text. Instead, unstructured abstracts are written in one block or paragraph, which is demonstrated in this example:

Example of an unstructured abstract by Wallis and Loy, 2021

Even though unstructured abstracts do not use headings, they still adhere to a specific structure and address all key components that should be included.

So if you want to write your abstract, make sure you take over a firm structure, regardless of whether you opt for a structured or an ‘unstructured’ format.

Academic key phrases to highlight a research gap in an abstract

Existing studies have failed to address…

Example:University–industry relations (UIR) are usually analysed by the knowledge transfer channels, but existing studies have failed to address what knowledge content is being transferred – impacting the technology output aimed by the partnership.” (Dalmarco et al. 2019, p. 1314)

Yet, it remains unknown how…

Example:Yet, it remains unknown how findings from aeolian landscapes translate to aquatic systems and how young clonally expanding plants in hydrodynamically exposed conditions overcome these establishment thresholds by optimizing shoot placement. (Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1339)

There is, however, still little research on…

Example: “There is, however, still little research on what integrated STEM approaches require from schools and teachers, and on the potential obstacles that may prevent teachers from running this kind of teaching.” (Bungum and Mogstad, 2022, p. 2)

If you are looking to elevate your writing and editing skills, I highly recommend enrolling in the course “Good with Words: Writing and Editing Specialization“, which is a 4 course series offered by the University of Michigan. This comprehensive program is conveniently available as an online course on Coursera, allowing you to learn at your own pace. Plus, upon successful completion, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a valuable certificate to showcase your newfound expertise!

Academic key phrases to highlight the relevance of a study in an abstract

The topic gained considerable attention in the academic literature in…

Example: The relationship between BITs and FDI gained considerable attention in the academic literature in the last two decades.” (Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 173)

New approaches are needed to address…

Example: Accurate computational approaches are needed to address this gap and to enable large-scale structural bioinformatics.” (Jumper et al. 2021,p. 583)

The proposed framework overcomes….

Example: The proposed framework overcomes existing definitional fragmentation and raises awareness of the temporal dimension in the conceptualisation of the resilience of firms.” (Conz and Magnani, 2020, p. 400)

Understanding… is critical to…

Example: Understanding changes in infectiousness during SARS-COV-2 infections is critical to assess the effectiveness of public health measures such as contact tracing.” (Hart et al., 2020, p. 1)

Academic key phrases to explain the research aim or objectives in an abstract

The objective of this study is to…

Example: “The objective of this study is to identify the main clinicopathological characteristics of this tumor in a case series of oral lipomas (OL) in a population from Spain and Brazil.” (Perez-Sayáns et al., 2019, p. 499)

The aim is to shed light on…

Example:  “The aim is to shed light on the factors affecting SLO at national level in Finland and to add to the growing body of research seeking to understand the mining industry’s SLO at national level in diverse social, economic and political settings.” (Jartti et al., 2020, p. 97)

This study aims to answer the following research question:

Example:This study aims to answer the following research question: how is the resilience of firms defined in the business and management field?” (Conz and Magnani, 2020, p. 400)

In this study, we develop…

Example: “In this study, we develop the first, to our knowledge, computational approach capable of predicting protein structures to near experimental accuracy in a majority of cases.” (Jumper et al. 2021,p. 583)

This research examines…

Example:Grounded in social support theory and the job-demand resource model of job stress, this research examines the role of supervisor support in explaining the degree of perceived uncertainties and emotional exhaustion that employees experience due to the COVID-19 crisis.” (Charoensukmongkol and Phungsoonthorn, 2020, p. 1)

Academic key phrases to describe the research methodology in an abstract

We assess… through using…

Example:Exploiting bilateral data on asylum seeking applications for 157 countries over the period 2006–2015, we assess the determinants of refugee flows using a gravity model which accounts for endogenous selection in order to examine the causal link between climate, conflict and forced migration.” (Abel et al., 2019, p. 239)

Hypotheses were tested through…

Example: Hypotheses were tested through multilevel moderated mediation modeling using diary data collected during 14 consecutive workdays with 81 employees (N = 678 data points).” (Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1843)

By exploiting a unique sample of…

Example: By exploiting a unique sample of foreign affiliates in nineteen Sub-Saharan Africa countries, we show that the presence of a bilateral investment treaty between FDI origin and destination countries is positively related to the propensity of foreign investors to generate linkages to local suppliers.“(Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 172)

We develop a novel approach…

Example:Here, we develop a novel mechanistic approach to infer the infectiousness profile of SARS-COV-2-infected individuals using data from known infector–infectee pairs.” (Hart et al., 2020, p. 1)

Academic key phrases to summarize the results in an abstract

The conducted experiments demonstrate…

Example: “The conducted experiments demonstrate a strong influence of the catalyst in use on the one hand on the conversion rate of methane and on the other hand on the properties of the produced carbon.” (Scheiblehner et al. 2023, p. 6233)

The analysis revealed that…

Example: The analysis revealed that festival activities (program, entertainment, thematic activities) and environment (atmosphere, convenience, facilities) are the most important determinants of satisfaction and loyalty.” (Tanford and Jung, 2017, p. 209)

The findings shed new light on…

Example: “These findings shed new light on how plant traits interact with their environment to shape the landscape and pave the way for improved restoration designs by mimicking the natural shoot organization of establishing vegetation.” (Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1339)

Our results indicate that…

Example:Our results indicate that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, played a significant role as an explanatory factor for asylum seeking in the period 2011–2015.” (Abel et al., 2019, p. 239)

Academic key phrases to present research conclusions in an abstract

This research offers significant and timely insight…

Example: This research offers significant and timely insight to AI technology and its impact on the future of industry and society in general, whilst recognising the societal and industrial influence on pace and direction of AI development.” (Dwivedi et al. 2021, p. 2)

The findings support the use of…

Example: “The findings support the use of legal referral pathways that can limit the negative impacts of carceral system involvement while highlighting the need for better strategies to engage and retain RVIP clients who have no court involvement.” (Evans et al. 2022, p. 1)

Further research is needed…

Example: Further research is needed to evaluate the positive, neutral, and sometimes negative impact of patient–provider concordance.” (Otte, 2022, p. 1)

We conclude by…

Example:How such spaces are developed and sustained remains a central question for future research on games and learning, and we conclude by identifying key areas for further investigation.” (Gee and Gee, 2012, p. 129)

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