In search for a synthetic understanding, a scenario for the evolution of the star formation rate and the chemical abundances in galaxies is proposed, combining gas infall from galactic haloes, outflow of gas by supernova explosions, and an oscillatory star formation process. The oscillatory star formation model is a consequence of the modelling of the fractional masses changes of the hot, warm and cold components of the interstellar medium. The derived periods of oscillation vary in the range (0.1-3.0) × 107 yr depending on various parameters existing from giant to dwarf galaxies. The evolution of metallicity varies in giant and dwarf galaxies and depends on the outflow process. Observed abundances in dwarf galaxies can be reproduced under fast outflow together with slow evaporation of cold gases into hot gas whereas slow outflow and fast evaporation is preferred for giant galaxies. The variation of metallicities in dwarf galaxies supports the fact that low rate of SNII production in dwarf galaxies is responsible for variation in metallicity in dwarf galaxies of similar masses as suggested by various authors. © 2016 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.