An abstract is a short (150-250 word) summary of a research paper, written so that readers can quickly find the main points of a study.

Abstracts are also used at academic conferences to attract participants to attend your research presentation (usually called a 'paper session'). In this case, the abstract is an overview of your presentation.

For research papers, the abstract is written just after finishing the study. You should therefore use past tense when referring to what you have done in your study, e.g. the data for this study was gathered using questionnaires..., or In this study, I found that.... On the other hand, when introducing the reader to the topic of your thesis or describing the contents of the paper, you should use present tense, e.g. this study concerns attitudes towards English in... or In this paper, I argue that....

For the Bachelor's and Master's theses, you should write the abstract in Finnish, if your first language is Finnish. The official form for abstracts at the Language Department can be found here .

The structure of the abstract follows roughly the same structure as your thesis:

  • A line or two leading into the topic area
  • The aims of your study
  • The methods of your study
  • The main results of your study
  • A line or two in conclusion, e.g. explaining the possible implications of your findings.

Sometimes, however, abstracts begin very directly, with a general statement of the topic or aim of the study, e.g. this study investigated the norms of academic writing....  They then continue with some background, methods etc.


Look through the abstracts of published research articles or former students' theses to learn more about their typical content, language and structure. Former Bachelor's theses in English can be found here.