Writing winning abstracts

An abstract provides a summary of the key information from a full-length research publication. When written effectively, abstracts should provide sufficient information to allow readers to have a thorough understanding of the research and its outcomes without reading the whole paper. This allows readers to efficiently classify papers as relevant or not relevant to their interests.

Key points covered in this guide

  • The purpose and importance of abstracts
  • The key information which should be included in an abstract 
  • The common pitfalls of abstract writing

First Published: 25 October 2022

What makes a winning abstract submission?

What are common features of effective abstracts? And which common pitfalls should you avoid...?

A good abstract will…

  • Adhere to ALL of the submission criteria as outlined in the abstract guidance documents
  • Be an accurate reflection of the research study, ensuring that information is featured in the correct section:
    • The introduction clearly describes the background and states the purpose of the study in the form of the research problem
    • The aims are relevant and have been addressed by the study
    • There is sufficient information about the method(s) used e.g. sampling strategy, response rate, ethical considerations, etc.
    • The results are clearly articulated in the context of the study aim
    • The discussion is clearly articulated in the wider context
    • The conclusions are appropriate and based on the results
  • Be well written, using clear and concise language and appropriate style, i.e. using:
    • A professional, academic writing style
    • The past tense
    • The expanded form of abbreviations and acronyms when first referred to
    • Proofread on at least two occasions prior to submission.

Common pitfalls

Our Abstract Review Committee has listed the most common reasons for abstract rejection:


  • Abstract title does not accurately reflect the study undertaken


  • Introduction does not fully relate to the study or include the research problem/question
  • Introduction does not explain the rationale and significance of the study


  • Aims of the study are unclear


  • Method and sampling approach are unclear
  • Methods do not fully address the aim
  • Insufficient methodological detail
  • Ethics approval was required but not sought


  • Data analysis is not clearly described
  • No results or preliminary results provided
  • Results are poorly articulated
  • Results do not fully address the aim
  • Results reported do not align with the methods used


  • Discussion does not link to the results reported
  • Lack of information to place the results into a wider context


  • Study strengths and limitations are not identified
  • Conclusion is not specific or aligned to the discussion


We offer a range of research support services to help you develop your research potential.

If you need help getting started, get in touch with our research team at [email protected].