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Article Contents

Primacy of the research question, structure of the paper, writing a research article: advice to beginners.

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Thomas V. Perneger, Patricia M. Hudelson, Writing a research article: advice to beginners, International Journal for Quality in Health Care , Volume 16, Issue 3, June 2004, Pages 191–192, https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzh053

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Writing research papers does not come naturally to most of us. The typical research paper is a highly codified rhetorical form [ 1 , 2 ]. Knowledge of the rules—some explicit, others implied—goes a long way toward writing a paper that will get accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.

A good research paper addresses a specific research question. The research question—or study objective or main research hypothesis—is the central organizing principle of the paper. Whatever relates to the research question belongs in the paper; the rest doesn’t. This is perhaps obvious when the paper reports on a well planned research project. However, in applied domains such as quality improvement, some papers are written based on projects that were undertaken for operational reasons, and not with the primary aim of producing new knowledge. In such cases, authors should define the main research question a posteriori and design the paper around it.

Generally, only one main research question should be addressed in a paper (secondary but related questions are allowed). If a project allows you to explore several distinct research questions, write several papers. For instance, if you measured the impact of obtaining written consent on patient satisfaction at a specialized clinic using a newly developed questionnaire, you may want to write one paper on the questionnaire development and validation, and another on the impact of the intervention. The idea is not to split results into ‘least publishable units’, a practice that is rightly decried, but rather into ‘optimally publishable units’.

What is a good research question? The key attributes are: (i) specificity; (ii) originality or novelty; and (iii) general relevance to a broad scientific community. The research question should be precise and not merely identify a general area of inquiry. It can often (but not always) be expressed in terms of a possible association between X and Y in a population Z, for example ‘we examined whether providing patients about to be discharged from the hospital with written information about their medications would improve their compliance with the treatment 1 month later’. A study does not necessarily have to break completely new ground, but it should extend previous knowledge in a useful way, or alternatively refute existing knowledge. Finally, the question should be of interest to others who work in the same scientific area. The latter requirement is more challenging for those who work in applied science than for basic scientists. While it may safely be assumed that the human genome is the same worldwide, whether the results of a local quality improvement project have wider relevance requires careful consideration and argument.

Once the research question is clearly defined, writing the paper becomes considerably easier. The paper will ask the question, then answer it. The key to successful scientific writing is getting the structure of the paper right. The basic structure of a typical research paper is the sequence of Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (sometimes abbreviated as IMRAD). Each section addresses a different objective. The authors state: (i) the problem they intend to address—in other terms, the research question—in the Introduction; (ii) what they did to answer the question in the Methods section; (iii) what they observed in the Results section; and (iv) what they think the results mean in the Discussion.

In turn, each basic section addresses several topics, and may be divided into subsections (Table 1 ). In the Introduction, the authors should explain the rationale and background to the study. What is the research question, and why is it important to ask it? While it is neither necessary nor desirable to provide a full-blown review of the literature as a prelude to the study, it is helpful to situate the study within some larger field of enquiry. The research question should always be spelled out, and not merely left for the reader to guess.

Typical structure of a research paper

Introduction
    State why the problem you address is important
    State what is lacking in the current knowledge
    State the objectives of your study or the research question
Methods
    Describe the context and setting of the study
    Specify the study design
    Describe the ‘population’ (patients, doctors, hospitals, etc.)
    Describe the sampling strategy
    Describe the intervention (if applicable)
    Identify the main study variables
    Describe data collection instruments and procedures
    Outline analysis methods
Results
    Report on data collection and recruitment (response rates, etc.)
    Describe participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)
    Present key findings with respect to the central research question
    Present secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)
Discussion
    State the main findings of the study
    Discuss the main results with reference to previous research
    Discuss policy and practice implications of the results
    Analyse the strengths and limitations of the study
    Offer perspectives for future work
Introduction
    State why the problem you address is important
    State what is lacking in the current knowledge
    State the objectives of your study or the research question
Methods
    Describe the context and setting of the study
    Specify the study design
    Describe the ‘population’ (patients, doctors, hospitals, etc.)
    Describe the sampling strategy
    Describe the intervention (if applicable)
    Identify the main study variables
    Describe data collection instruments and procedures
    Outline analysis methods
Results
    Report on data collection and recruitment (response rates, etc.)
    Describe participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)
    Present key findings with respect to the central research question
    Present secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)
Discussion
    State the main findings of the study
    Discuss the main results with reference to previous research
    Discuss policy and practice implications of the results
    Analyse the strengths and limitations of the study
    Offer perspectives for future work

The Methods section should provide the readers with sufficient detail about the study methods to be able to reproduce the study if so desired. Thus, this section should be specific, concrete, technical, and fairly detailed. The study setting, the sampling strategy used, instruments, data collection methods, and analysis strategies should be described. In the case of qualitative research studies, it is also useful to tell the reader which research tradition the study utilizes and to link the choice of methodological strategies with the research goals [ 3 ].

The Results section is typically fairly straightforward and factual. All results that relate to the research question should be given in detail, including simple counts and percentages. Resist the temptation to demonstrate analytic ability and the richness of the dataset by providing numerous tables of non-essential results.

The Discussion section allows the most freedom. This is why the Discussion is the most difficult to write, and is often the weakest part of a paper. Structured Discussion sections have been proposed by some journal editors [ 4 ]. While strict adherence to such rules may not be necessary, following a plan such as that proposed in Table 1 may help the novice writer stay on track.

References should be used wisely. Key assertions should be referenced, as well as the methods and instruments used. However, unless the paper is a comprehensive review of a topic, there is no need to be exhaustive. Also, references to unpublished work, to documents in the grey literature (technical reports), or to any source that the reader will have difficulty finding or understanding should be avoided.

Having the structure of the paper in place is a good start. However, there are many details that have to be attended to while writing. An obvious recommendation is to read, and follow, the instructions to authors published by the journal (typically found on the journal’s website). Another concerns non-native writers of English: do have a native speaker edit the manuscript. A paper usually goes through several drafts before it is submitted. When revising a paper, it is useful to keep an eye out for the most common mistakes (Table 2 ). If you avoid all those, your paper should be in good shape.

Common mistakes seen in manuscripts submitted to this journal

The research question is not specified
The stated aim of the paper is tautological (e.g. ‘The aim of this paper is to describe what we did’) or vague (e.g. ‘We explored issues related to X’)
The structure of the paper is chaotic (e.g. methods are described in the Results section)
The manuscripts does not follow the journal’s instructions for authors
The paper much exceeds the maximum number of words allowed
The Introduction is an extensive review of the literature
Methods, interventions and instruments are not described in sufficient detail
Results are reported selectively (e.g. percentages without frequencies, -values without measures of effect)
The same results appear both in a table and in the text
Detailed tables are provided for results that do not relate to the main research question
In the Introduction and Discussion, key arguments are not backed up by appropriate references
References are out of date or cannot be accessed by most readers
The Discussion does not provide an answer to the research question
The Discussion overstates the implications of the results and does not acknowledge the limitations of the study
The paper is written in poor English
The research question is not specified
The stated aim of the paper is tautological (e.g. ‘The aim of this paper is to describe what we did’) or vague (e.g. ‘We explored issues related to X’)
The structure of the paper is chaotic (e.g. methods are described in the Results section)
The manuscripts does not follow the journal’s instructions for authors
The paper much exceeds the maximum number of words allowed
The Introduction is an extensive review of the literature
Methods, interventions and instruments are not described in sufficient detail
Results are reported selectively (e.g. percentages without frequencies, -values without measures of effect)
The same results appear both in a table and in the text
Detailed tables are provided for results that do not relate to the main research question
In the Introduction and Discussion, key arguments are not backed up by appropriate references
References are out of date or cannot be accessed by most readers
The Discussion does not provide an answer to the research question
The Discussion overstates the implications of the results and does not acknowledge the limitations of the study
The paper is written in poor English

Huth EJ . How to Write and Publish Papers in the Medical Sciences , 2nd edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1990 .

Browner WS . Publishing and Presenting Clinical Research . Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1999 .

Devers KJ , Frankel RM. Getting qualitative research published. Educ Health 2001 ; 14 : 109 –117.

Docherty M , Smith R. The case for structuring the discussion of scientific papers. Br Med J 1999 ; 318 : 1224 –1225.

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Structuring your article correctly

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Anthony Newman

About this module

One of the key goals when writing a journal article is to communicate the findings clearly. In order to help researchers achieve that objective, scientific papers share a common structure (with slight variations per journal). Clear communication isn’t the only reason these article elements are so important; for example, the title, abstract, and keywords all help to ensure the article is found, indexed, and advertised to potential readers.

In this interactive module, we walk early career researchers through each of the building blocks. We help you understand the type of content each element should contain. We also share tips on how you can maximize their potential, such as key points to consider when writing your article title.

You will come away with the detailed knowledge you need to write an effective scientific article, increasing your chances of publication success.

About the presenter

Thumbnail

Senior Publisher, Life Sciences, Elsevier

Anthony Newman is a Senior Publisher with Elsevier and is based in Amsterdam. Each year he presents numerous Author Workshops and other similar trainings worldwide. He is currently responsible for fifteen biochemistry and laboratory medicine journals, he joined Elsevier over thirty years ago and has been Publisher for more than twenty of those years. Before then he was the marketing communications manager for the biochemistry journals of Elsevier.  By training he is a polymer chemist and was active in the surface coating industry before leaving London and moving to Amsterdam in 1987 to join Elsevier.

Writing a Scientific Paper: From Clutter to Clarity

Elements of style for writing scientific journal articles, preparing to write for an interdisciplinary journal, how to get published, how to publish in scholarly journals.

Elsevier Early Career Resources -- Advice for young and ambitious scientists

Elsevier Early Career Resources -- Look for the seed of brilliance

How to Write Great Papers (workshop on edition & publication)

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Author Services

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How to write and structure a journal article

Sharing your research data  can be hugely  beneficial to your career , as well as to the scholarly community and wider society. But before you do so, there are some important ethical considerations to remember.

What are the rules and guidance you should follow, when you begin to think about how to write and structure a journal article? Ruth First Prize winner Steven Rogers, PhD said the first thing is to be passionate about what you write.

Steven Nabieu Rogers, Ruth First Prize winner.

Let’s go through some of the best advice that will help you pinpoint the features of a journal article, and how to structure it into a compelling research paper.

Planning for your article

When planning to write your article, make sure it has a central message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology that you have in your PhD study, a new theory, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings.

2018 NARST Award winner Marissa Rollnick advised that you should decide what this central focus is, then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:

Isolate a manageable size

Create a coherent story/argument

Make the argument self-standing

Target the journal readership

Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis

Vector illustration of 4 puzzle pieces, three are shades of blue, one is pink.

Get familiar with the journal you want to submit to

It is a good idea to choose your target journal before you start to write your paper. Then you can tailor your writing to the journal’s requirements and readership, to increase your chances of acceptance.

When selecting your journal think about audience, purposes, what to write about and why. Decide the kind of article to write. Is it a report, position paper, critique or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might the paper add value to the field?

If you need more guidance on how to choose a journal,  here is our guide to narrow your focus.

structure of a research journal article

Once you’ve chosen your target journal, take the time to read a selection of articles already published – particularly focus on those that are relevant to your own research.

This can help you get an understanding of what the editors may be looking for, then you can guide your writing efforts.

The  Think. Check. Submit.  initiative provides tools to help you evaluate whether the journal you’re planning to send your work to is trustworthy.

The journal’s  aims and scope  is also an important resource to refer back to as you write your paper – use it to make sure your article aligns with what the journal is trying to accomplish.

Keep your message focused

The next thing you need to consider when writing your article is your target audience. Are you writing for a more general audience or is your audience experts in the same field as you? The journal you have chosen will give you more information on the type of audience that will read your work.

When you know your audience, focus on your main message to keep the attention of your readers. A lack of focus is a common problem and can get in the way of effective communication.

structure of a research journal article

Stick to the point. The strongest journal articles usually have one point to make. They make that point powerfully, back it up with evidence, and position it within the field.

How to format and structure a journal article

The format and structure of a journal article is just as important as the content itself, it helps to clearly guide the reader through.

How do I format a journal article?

Individual journals will have their own specific formatting requirements, which you can find in the  instructions for authors.

You can save time on formatting by downloading a template from our  library of templates  to apply to your article text. These templates are accepted by many of our journals. Also, a large number of our journals now offer  format-free submission,  which allows you to submit your paper without formatting your manuscript to meet that journal’s specific requirements.

General structure for writing an academic journal article

The title of your article is one of the first indicators readers will get of your research and concepts. It should be concise, accurate, and informative. You should include your most relevant keywords in your title, but avoid including abbreviations and formulae.

Keywords are an essential part of producing a journal article. When writing a journal article you must select keywords that you would like your article to rank for.

Keywords help potential readers to discover your article when conducting research using search engines.

The purpose of your abstract is to express the key points of your research, clearly and concisely. An abstract must always be well considered, as it is the primary element of your work that readers will come across.

An abstract should be a short paragraph (around 300 words) that summarizes the findings of your journal article. Ordinarily an abstract will be comprised of:

What your research is about

What methods have been used

What your main findings are

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements can appear to be a small aspect of your journal article, however it is still important. This is where you acknowledge the individuals who do not qualify for co-authorship, but contributed to your article intellectually, financially, or in some other manner.

When you acknowledge someone in your academic texts, it gives you more integrity as a writer as it shows that you are not claiming other academic’s ideas as your own intellectual property. It can also aid your readers in their own research journeys.

structure of a research journal article

Introduction

An introduction is a pivotal part of the article writing process. An introduction not only introduces your topic and your stance on the topic, but it also (situates/contextualizes) your argument in the broader academic field.

The main body is where your main arguments and your evidence are located. Each paragraph will encapsulate a different notion and there will be clear linking between each paragraph.

Your conclusion should be an interpretation of your results, where you summarize all of the concepts that you introduced in the main body of the text in order of most to least important. No new concepts are to be introduced in this section.

References and citations

References and citations should be well balanced, current and relevant. Although every field is different, you should aim to cite references that are not more than 10 years old if possible. The studies you cite should be strongly related to your research question.

Clarity is key

Make your writing accessible by using clear language. Writing that is easy to read, is easier to understand too.

You may want to write for a global audience – to have your research reach the widest readership. Make sure you write in a way that will be understood by any reader regardless of their field or whether English is their first language.

Write your journal article with confidence, to give your reader certainty in your research. Make sure that you’ve described your methodology and approach; whilst it may seem obvious to you, it may not to your reader. And don’t forget to explain acronyms when they first appear.

structure of a research journal article

Engage your audience. Go back to thinking about your audience; are they experts in your field who will easily follow technical language, or are they a lay audience who need the ideas presented in a simpler way?

Be aware of other literature in your field, and reference it

Make sure to tell your reader how your article relates to key work that’s already published. This doesn’t mean you have to review every piece of previous relevant literature, but show how you are building on previous work to avoid accidental plagiarism.

structure of a research journal article

When you reference something, fully understand its relevance to your research so you can make it clear for your reader. Keep in mind that recent references highlight awareness of all the current developments in the literature that you are building on. This doesn’t mean you can’t include older references, just make sure it is clear why you’ve chosen to.

How old can my references be?

Your literature review should take into consideration the current state of the literature.

There is no specific timeline to consider. But note that your subject area may be a factor. Your colleagues may also be able to guide your decision.

Researcher’s view

Grasian Mkodzongi, Ruth First Prize Winner

Top tips to get you started

Communicate your unique point of view to stand out. You may be building on a concept already in existence, but you still need to have something new to say. Make sure you say it convincingly, and fully understand and reference what has gone before.

Editor’s view

Professor Len Barton, Founding Editor of Disability and Society

Be original

Now you know the features of a journal article and how to construct it. This video is an extra resource to use with this guide to help you know what to think about before you write your journal article.

Expert help for your manuscript

Taylor & Francis Editing Services  offers a full range of pre-submission manuscript preparation services to help you improve the quality of your manuscript and submit with confidence.

Related resources

How to write your title and abstract

Journal manuscript layout guide

Improve the quality of English of your article

How to edit your paper

structure of a research journal article

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Reading for Research: Social Sciences

Structure of a research article.

  • Structural Read

Guide Acknowledgements

How to Read a Scholarly Article from the Howard Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University

Strategic Reading for Research   from the Howard Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University

Bridging the Gap between Faculty Expectation and the Student Experience: Teaching Students toAnnotate and Synthesize Sources

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Academic writing has features that vary only slightly across the different disciplines. Knowing these elements and the purpose of each serves help you to read and understand academic texts efficiently and effectively, and then apply what you read to your paper or project.

Social Science (and Science) original research articles generally follow IMRD: Introduction- Methods-Results-Discussion

Introduction

  • Introduces topic of article
  • Presents the "Research Gap"/Statement of Problem article will address
  • How research presented in the article will solve the problem presented in research gap.
  • Literature Review. presenting and evaluating previous scholarship on a topic.  Sometimes, this is separate section of the article. 

​Method & Results

  • How research was done, including analysis and measurements.  
  • Sometimes labeled as "Research Design"
  • What answers were found
  • Interpretation of Results (What Does It Mean? Why is it important?)
  • Implications for the Field, how the study contributes to the existing field of knowledge
  • Suggestions for further research
  • Sometimes called Conclusion

You might also see IBC: Introduction - Body - Conclusion

  • Identify the subject
  • State the thesis 
  • Describe why thesis is important to the field (this may be in the form of a literature review or general prose)

Body  

  • Presents Evidence/Counter Evidence
  • Integrate other writings (i.e. evidence) to support argument 
  • Discuss why others may disagree (counter-evidence) and why argument is still valid
  • Summary of argument
  • Evaluation of argument by pointing out its implications and/or limitations 
  • Anticipate and address possible counter-claims
  • Suggest future directions of research
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  • URL: https://researchguides.library.vanderbilt.edu/readingforresearch

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Structuring your manuscript

Once you have completed your experiments it is time write it up into a coherent and concise paper which tells the story of your research. Researchers are busy people and so it is imperative that research articles are quick and easy to read. For this reason papers generally follow a standard structure which allows readers to easily find the information they are looking for. In the next part of the course we will discuss the standard structure and what to include in each section.

Overview of IMRaD structure

IMRaD refers to the standard structure of the body of research manuscripts (after the Title and Abstract):

  • I ntroduction
  • M aterials and Methods
  • D iscussion and Conclusions

Not all journals use these section titles in this order, but most published articles have a structure similar to IMRaD. This standard structure:

  • Gives a logical flow to the content
  • Makes journal manuscripts consistent and easy to read
  • Provides a “map” so that readers can quickly find content of interest in any manuscript
  • Reminds authors what content should be included in an article

Provides all content needed for the work to be replicated and reproduced Although the sections of the journal manuscript are published in the order: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion, this is not the best order for writing the sections of a manuscript. One recommended strategy is to write your manuscript in the following order:

1. Materials and Methods

These can be written first, as you are doing your experiments and collecting the results.

3. Introduction

4. Discussion

5. Conclusion

Write these sections next, once you have had a chance to analyse your results, have a sense of their impact and have decided on the journal you think best suits the work

7. Abstract

Write your Title and Abstract last as these are based on all the other sections.

Following this order will help you write a logical and consistent manuscript.

Use the different sections of a manuscript to ‘tell a story’ about your research and its implications.

Back │ Next

This document originally came from the Journal of Mammalogy courtesy of Dr. Ronald Barry, a former editor of the journal.

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HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE

Barbara j. hoogenboom.

1 Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Robert C. Manske

2 University of Wichita, Wichita, KS, USA

Successful production of a written product for submission to a peer‐reviewed scientific journal requires substantial effort. Such an effort can be maximized by following a few simple suggestions when composing/creating the product for submission. By following some suggested guidelines and avoiding common errors, the process can be streamlined and success realized for even beginning/novice authors as they negotiate the publication process. The purpose of this invited commentary is to offer practical suggestions for achieving success when writing and submitting manuscripts to The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and other professional journals.

INTRODUCTION

“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” Albert Einstein

Conducting scientific and clinical research is only the beginning of the scholarship of discovery. In order for the results of research to be accessible to other professionals and have a potential effect on the greater scientific community, it must be written and published. Most clinical and scientific discovery is published in peer‐reviewed journals, which are those that utilize a process by which an author's peers, or experts in the content area, evaluate the manuscript. Following this review the manuscript is recommended for publication, revision or rejection. It is the rigor of this review process that makes scientific journals the primary source of new information that impacts clinical decision‐making and practice. 1 , 2

The task of writing a scientific paper and submitting it to a journal for publication is a time‐consuming and often daunting task. 3 , 4 Barriers to effective writing include lack of experience, poor writing habits, writing anxiety, unfamiliarity with the requirements of scholarly writing, lack of confidence in writing ability, fear of failure, and resistance to feedback. 5 However, the very process of writing can be a helpful tool for promoting the process of scientific thinking, 6 , 7 and effective writing skills allow professionals to participate in broader scientific conversations. Furthermore, peer review manuscript publication systems requiring these technical writing skills can be developed and improved with practice. 8 Having an understanding of the process and structure used to produce a peer‐reviewed publication will surely improve the likelihood that a submitted manuscript will result in a successful publication.

Clear communication of the findings of research is essential to the growth and development of science 3 and professional practice. The culmination of the publication process provides not only satisfaction for the researcher and protection of intellectual property, but also the important function of dissemination of research results, new ideas, and alternate thought; which ultimately facilitates scholarly discourse. In short, publication of scientific papers is one way to advance evidence‐based practice in many disciplines, including sports physical therapy. Failure to publish important findings significantly diminishes the potential impact that those findings may have on clinical practice. 9

BASICS OF MANUSCRIPT PREPARATION & GENERAL WRITING TIPS

To begin it might be interesting to learn why reviewers accept manuscripts! Reviewers consider the following five criteria to be the most important in decisions about whether to accept manuscripts for publication: 1) the importance, timeliness, relevance, and prevalence of the problem addressed; 2) the quality of the writing style (i.e., that it is well‐written, clear, straightforward, easy to follow, and logical); 3) the study design applied (i.e., that the design was appropriate, rigorous, and comprehensive); 4) the degree to which the literature review was thoughtful, focused, and up‐to‐date; and 5) the use of a sufficiently large sample. 10 For these statements to be true there are also reasons that reviewers reject manuscripts. The following are the top five reasons for rejecting papers: 1) inappropriate, incomplete, or insufficiently described statistics; 2) over‐interpretation of results; 3) use of inappropriate, suboptimal, or insufficiently described populations or instruments; 4) small or biased samples; and 5) text that is poorly written or difficult to follow. 10 , 11 With these reasons for acceptance or rejection in mind, it is time to review basics and general writing tips to be used when performing manuscript preparation.

“Begin with the end in mind” . When you begin writing about your research, begin with a specific target journal in mind. 12 Every scientific journal should have specific lists of manuscript categories that are preferred for their readership. The IJSPT seeks to provide readership with current information to enhance the practice of sports physical therapy. Therefore the manuscript categories accepted by IJSPT include: Original research; Systematic reviews of literature; Clinical commentary and Current concept reviews; Case reports; Clinical suggestions and unique practice techniques; and Technical notes. Once a decision has been made to write a manuscript, compose an outline that complies with the requirements of the target submission journal and has each of the suggested sections. This means carefully checking the submission criteria and preparing your paper in the exact format of the journal to which you intend to submit. Be thoughtful about the distinction between content (what you are reporting) and structure (where it goes in the manuscript). Poor placement of content confuses the reader (reviewer) and may cause misinterpretation of content. 3 , 5

It may be helpful to follow the IMRaD format for writing scientific manuscripts. This acronym stands for the sections contained within the article: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each of these areas of the manuscript will be addressed in this commentary.

Many accomplished authors write their results first, followed by an introduction and discussion, in an attempt to “stay true” to their results and not stray into additional areas. Typically the last two portions to be written are the conclusion and the abstract.

The ability to accurately describe ideas, protocols/procedures, and outcomes are the pillars of scientific writing . Accurate and clear expression of your thoughts and research information should be the primary goal of scientific writing. 12 Remember that accuracy and clarity are even more important when trying to get complicated ideas across. Contain your literature review, ideas, and discussions to your topic, theme, model, review, commentary, or case. Avoid vague terminology and too much prose. Use short rather than long sentences. If jargon has to be utilized keep it to a minimum and explain the terms you do use clearly. 13

Write with a measure of formality, using scientific language and avoiding conjunctions, slang, and discipline or regionally specific nomenclature or terms (e.g. exercise nicknames). For example, replace the term “Monster walks” with “closed‐chain hip abduction with elastic resistance around the thighs”. You may later refer to the exercise as “also known as Monster walks” if you desire.

Avoid first person language and instead write using third person language. Some journals do not ascribe to this requirement, and allow first person references, however, IJSPT prefers use of third person. For example, replace “We determined that…” with “The authors determined that….”.

For novice writers, it is really helpful to seek a reading mentor that will help you pre‐read your submission. Problems such as improper use of grammar, tense, and spelling are often a cause of rejection by reviewers. Despite the content of the study these easily fixed errors suggest that the authors created the manuscript with less thought leading reviewers to think that the manuscript may also potentially have erroneous findings as well. A review from a second set of trained eyes will often catch these errors missed by the original authors. If English is not your first language, the editorial staff at IJSPT suggests that you consult with someone with the relevant expertise to give you guidance on English writing conventions, verb tense, and grammar. Excellent writing in English is hard, even for those of us for whom it is our first language!

Use figures and graphics to your advantage . ‐ Consider the use of graphic/figure representation of data and important procedures or exercises. Tables should be able to stand alone and be completely understandable at a quick glance. Understanding a table should not require careful review of the manuscript! Figures dramatically enhance the graphic appeal of a scientific paper. Many formats for graphic presentation are acceptable, including graphs, charts, tables, and pictures or videos. Photographs should be clear, free of clutter or extraneous background distractions and be taken with models wearing simple clothing. Color photographs are preferred. Digital figures (Scans or existing files as well as new photographs) must be at least 300dpi. All photographs should be provided as separate files (jpeg or tif preferred) and not be embedded in the paper. Quality and clarity of figures are essential for reproduction purposes and should be considered before taking images for the manuscript.

A video of an exercise or procedure speaks a thousand words. Please consider using short video clips as descriptive additions to your paper. They will be placed on the IJSPT website and accompany your paper. The video clips must be submitted in MPEG‐1, MPEG‐2, Quicktime (.mov), or Audio/Video Interface (.avi) formats. Maximum cumulative length of videos is 5 minutes. Each video segment may not exceed 50 MB, and each video clip must be saved as a separate file and clearly identified. Formulate descriptive figure/video and Table/chart/graph titles and place them on a figure legend document. Carefully consider placement of, naming of, and location of figures. It makes the job of the editors much easier!

Avoid Plagiarism and inadvertent lack of citations. Finally, use citations to your benefit. Cite frequently in order to avoid any plagiarism. The bottom line: If it is not your original idea, give credit where credit is due . When using direct quotations, provide not only the number of the citation, but the page where the quote was found. All citations should appear in text as a superscripted number followed by punctuation. It is the authors' responsibility to fully ensure all references are cited in completed form, in an accurate location. Please carefully follow the instructions for citations and check that all references in your reference list are cited in the paper and that all citations in the paper appear correctly in the reference list. Please go to IJSPT submission guidelines for full information on the format for citations.

Sometimes written as an afterthought, the abstract is of extreme importance as in many instances this section is what is initially previewed by readership to determine if the remainder of the article is worth reading. This is the authors opportunity to draw the reader into the study and entice them to read the rest of the article. The abstract is a summary of the article or study written in 3 rd person allowing the readers to get a quick glance of what the contents of the article include. Writing an abstract is rather challenging as being brief, accurate and concise are requisite. The headings and structure for an abstract are usually provided in the instructions for authors. In some instances, the abstract may change slightly pending content revisions required during the peer review process. Therefore it often works well to complete this portion of the manuscript last. Remember the abstract should be able to stand alone and should be as succinct as possible. 14

Introduction and Review of Literature

The introduction is one of the more difficult portions of the manuscript to write. Past studies are used to set the stage or provide the reader with information regarding the necessity of the represented project. For an introduction to work properly, the reader must feel that the research question is clear, concise, and worthy of study.

A competent introduction should include at least four key concepts: 1) significance of the topic, 2) the information gap in the available literature associated with the topic, 3) a literature review in support of the key questions, 4) subsequently developed purposes/objectives and hypotheses. 9

When constructing a review of the literature, be attentive to “sticking” or “staying true” to your topic at hand. Don't reach or include too broad of a literature review. For example, do not include extraneous information about performance or prevention if your research does not actually address those things. The literature review of a scientific paper is not an exhaustive review of all available knowledge in a given field of study. That type of thorough review should be left to review articles or textbook chapters. Throughout the introduction (and later in the discussion!) remind yourself that a paper, existing evidence, or results of a paper cannot draw conclusions, demonstrate, describe, or make judgments, only PEOPLE (authors) can. “The evidence demonstrates that” should be stated, “Smith and Jones, demonstrated that….”

Conclude your introduction with a solid statement of your purpose(s) and your hypothesis(es), as appropriate. The purpose and objectives should clearly relate to the information gap associated with the given manuscript topic discussed earlier in the introduction section. This may seem repetitive, but it actually is helpful to ensure the reader clearly sees the evolution, importance, and critical aspects of the study at hand See Table 1 for examples of well‐stated purposes.

Examples of well-stated purposes by submission type.

Type of SubmissionExample purpose
Original ResearchTherefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the volume of pitching for pitchers from multiple college teams at the Division I level.
Systematic Review of the LiteratureTherefore, the purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the association between training characteristics and running related injuries.
Clinical Commentary/Current Concepts ReportThe purpose of this clinical commentary is to examine the risk factors contributing to the high recurrence rate of hamstring injuries, and propose a unique rehabilitation strategy addressing these factors in order to decrease the rate of reinjury.
Case ReportThe purpose of this case report is to describe the non-surgical management of a professional athlete with the characteristic signs and symptoms of a sports hernia.
Clinical SuggestionThe purpose of this clinical commentary is to review types of integumentary wounds that may occur in sport, and their acute management.

The methods section should clearly describe the specific design of the study and provide clear and concise description of the procedures that were performed. The purpose of sufficient detail in the methods section is so that an appropriately trained person would be able to replicate your experiments. 15 There should be complete transparency when describing the study. To assist in writing and manuscript preparation there are several checklists or guidelines that are available on the IJSPT website. The CONSORT guidelines can be used when developing and reporting a randomized controlled trial. 16 The STARD checklist was developed for designing a diagnostic accuracy study. 17 The PRISMA checklist was developed for use when performing a meta‐analyses or systematic review. 18 A clear methods section should contain the following information: 1) the population and equipment used in the study, 2) how the population and equipment were prepared and what was done during the study, 3) the protocol used, 4) the outcomes and how they were measured, 5) the methods used for data analysis. Initially a brief paragraph should explain the overall procedures and study design. Within this first paragraph there is generally a description of inclusion and exclusion criteria which help the reader understand the population used. Paragraphs that follow should describe in more detail the procedures followed for the study. A clear description of how data was gathered is also helpful. For example were data gathered prospectively or retrospectively? Who if anyone was blinded, and where and when was the actual data collected?

Although it is a good idea for the authors to have justification and a rationale for their procedures, these should be saved for inclusion into the discussion section, not to be discussed in the methods section. However, occasionally studies supporting components of the methods section such as reliability of tests, or validation of outcome measures may be included in the methods section.

The final portion of the methods section will include the statistical methods used to analyze the data. 19 This does not mean that the actual results should be discussed in the methods section, as they have an entire section of their own!

Most scientific journals support the need for all projects involving humans or animals to have up‐to‐date documentation of ethical approval. 20 The methods section should include a clear statement that the researchers have obtained approval from an appropriate institutional review board.

Results, Discussion, and Conclusions

In most journals the results section is separate from the discussion section. It is important that you clearly distinguish your results from your discussion. The results section should describe the results only. The discussion section should put those results into a broader context. Report your results neutrally, as you “found them”. Again, be thoughtful about content and structure. Think carefully about where content is placed in the overall structure of your paper. It is not appropriate to bring up additional results, not discussed in the results section, in the discussion. All results must first be described/presented and then discussed. Thus, the discussion should not simply be a repeat of the results section. Carefully discuss where your information is similar or different from other published evidence and why this might be so. What was different in methods or analysis, what was similar?

As previously stated, stick to your topic at hand, and do not overstretch your discussion! One of the major pitfalls in writing the discussion section is overstating the significance of your findings 4 or making very strong statements. For example, it is better to say: “Findings of the current study support….” or “these findings suggest…” than, “Findings of the current study prove that…” or “this means that….”. Maintain a sense of humbleness, as nothing is without question in the outcomes of any type of research, in any discipline! Use words like “possibly”, “likely” or “suggests” to soften findings. 12

Do not discuss extraneous ideas, concepts, or information not covered by your topic/paper/commentary. Be sure to carefully address all relevant results, not just the statistically significant ones or the ones that support your hypotheses. When you must resort to speculation or opinion, be certain to state that up front using phrases such as “we therefore speculate” or “in the authors' opinion”.

Remember, just as in the introduction and literature review, evidence or results cannot draw conclusions, just as previously stated, only people, scientists, researchers, and authors can!

Finish with a concise, 3‐5 sentence conclusion paragraph. This is not just a restatement of your results, rather is comprised of some final, summative statements that reflect the flow and outcomes of the entire paper. Do not include speculative statements or additional material; however, based upon your findings a statement about potential changes in clinical practice or future research opportunities can be provided here.

CONCLUSIONS

Writing for publication can be a challenging yet satisfying endeavor. The ability to examine, relate, and interlink evidence, as well as to provide a peer‐reviewed, disseminated product of your research labors can be rewarding. A few suggestions have been offered in this commentary that may assist the novice or the developing writer to attempt, polish, and perfect their approach to scholarly writing.

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Module 4: Strategic Reading

The Structure of an Academic Article

Generally speaking, there is a common flow to scholarly articles. While not a template per se, you can be assured that the following components will be present in most articles. Learning to identify each component is a key step in the strategic reading process, and will help you save time as you screen articles for relevance. Check out the interactive example below that describes each section.

Click on the purple question marks to learn more about each component of an academic article.

Structure of an Academic Article by Emma Seston. Licenced under Creative Commons CC BY-NC 4.0 .

Key Takeaways

Learning to identify each component is a key step in the strategic reading process, and will help you save time as you screen articles for relevance.

Advanced Research Skills: Conducting Literature and Systematic Reviews Copyright © 2021 by Kelly Dermody; Cecile Farnum; Daniel Jakubek; Jo-Anne Petropoulos; Jane Schmidt; and Reece Steinberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Structure of a journal article

A journal is a collection of articles on a specific subject area as selected by an editorial board. Journals are published periodically, often throughout a year.  Learn about the differences between an academic journal and trade journal.

Components of a journal article

While academic journal articles will vary depending on discipline or type of research, they usually contain the following elements:

  • The title of the article should give some idea of the topic.

Author details

  • Author names will usually be listed in full under the title.
  • Author affiliations may be listed under the title or at the end of the article.
  • Conflicts of interest held by the authors or other involved parties may also be listed towards the end of an article.
  • why it was written
  • how the research was conducted
  • an indication of the findings.
  • Keywords are assigned by the author or database to identify the subject of the article.

Introduction

  • why the research was conducted
  • the aims of the research
  • what will be covered in the article.

Literature review

  • justifies the need for the article’s own research
  • positions the article’s research within a gap in existing literature
  • introduces theories and provides context to the audience.
  • In secondary review articles , the literature review is the focus of the research instead of the background to primary research and is therefore detailed in the methodology and results sections.

Methodology

  • In primary research articles , this is a detailed section describing how the research was conducted, the reasons why certain methodologies were used, and limitations of the chosen approach.
  • In secondary review articles , this section may outline the search strategy, which databases were used, and how results were analysed. It may also include the research methodology used to construct a case study.
  • This section presents the outcomes of the research and may include charts and data.
  • This section includes observations from applying the chosen methodology, interpretation and analysis of findings, and reflections on insights gained from the research.
  • This section provides a summary of the article, with particular focus on key findings and suggestions for future research.

Reference list

  • A reference list contains the details of all information sources cited in the article.
  • A bibliography additionally includes suggested further reading and information. Note that a bibliography is not the same as a reference list. Academic literature should have a reference list, although some academic books may have a bibliography as well.
  • An appendix provides supplementary details, usually regarding how the research was carried out or analysed.
  • This section may include search strategies, survey or interview questions, or full sets of results.

Related information

For more help, review the Learning Hub’s online resources and workshops.

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Structure of a Research Paper: Tips to Improve Your Manuscript

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You’ve spent months or years conducting your academic research. Now it’s time to write your journal article. For some, this can become a daunting task because writing is not their forte. It might become difficult to even start writing. However, once you organize your thoughts and begin writing them down, the overall task will become easier.

We provide some helpful tips for you here.

Organize Your Thoughts

Perhaps one of the most important tasks before you even begin to write is to get organized. By this point, your data is compiled and analyzed. You most likely also have many pages of “notes”. These must also be organized. Fortunately, this is much easier to do than in the past with hand-written notes. Presuming that these tasks are completed, what’s next?

Related: Ready with your title and looking forward to manuscript submission ? Check these journal selection guidelines  now!

When suggesting that you organize your thoughts, we mean to take a look at what you have compiled. Ask yourself what you are trying to convey to the reader. What is the most important message from your research? How will your results affect others? Is more research necessary?

Write your answers down and keep them where you can see them while writing. This will help you focus on your goals.

Aim for Clarity

Your paper should be presented as clearly as possible. You want your readers to understand your research. You also do not want them to stop reading because the text is too technical.

Keep in mind that your published research will be available in academic journals all over the world. This means that people of different languages will read it. Moreover, even with scientists, this could present a language barrier. According to a recent article , always remember the following points as you write:

  • Clarity : Cleary define terms; avoid nonrelevant information.
  • Simplicity : Keep sentence structure simple and direct.
  • Accuracy : Represent all data and illustrations accurately.

For example, consider the following sentence:

“Chemical x had an effect on metabolism.”

This is an ambiguous statement. It does not tell the reader much. State the results instead:

“Chemical x increased fat metabolism by 20 percent.”

All scientific research also provide significance of findings, usually presented as defined “P” values. Be sure to explain these findings using descriptive terms. For example, rather than using the words “ significant effect ,” use a more descriptive term, such as “ significant increase .”

For more tips, please also see “Tips and Techniques for Scientific Writing”. In addition, it is very important to have your paper edited by a native English speaking professional editor. There are many editing services available for academic manuscripts and publication support services.

Research Paper Structure

With the above in mind, you can now focus on structure. Scientific papers are organized into specific sections and each has a goal. We have listed them here.

  • Your title is the most important part of your paper. It draws the reader in and tells them what you are presenting. Moreover, if you think about the titles of papers that you might browse in a day and which papers you actually read, you’ll agree.
  • The title should be clear and interesting otherwise the reader will not continue reading.
  • Authors’ names and affiliations are on the title page.
  • The abstract is a summary of your research. It is nearly as important as the title because the reader will be able to quickly read through it.
  • Most journals, the abstract can become divided into very short sections to guide the reader through the summaries.
  • Keep the sentences short and focused.
  • Avoid acronyms and citations.
  • Include background information on the subject and your objectives here.
  • Describe the materials used and include the names and locations of the manufacturers.
  • For any animal studies, include where you obtained the animals and a statement of humane treatment.
  • Clearly and succinctly explain your methods so that it can be duplicated.
  • Criteria for inclusion and exclusion in the study and statistical analyses should be included.
  • Discuss your findings here.
  • Be careful to not make definitive statements .
  • Your results suggest that something is or is not true.
  • This is true even when your results prove your hypothesis.
  • Discuss what your results mean in this section.
  • Discuss any study limitations. Suggest additional studies.
  • Acknowledge all contributors.
  • All citations in the text must have a corresponding reference.
  • Check your author guidelines for format protocols.
  • In most cases, your tables and figures appear at the end of your paper or in a separate file.
  • The titles (legends) usually become listed after the reference section.
  • Be sure that you define each acronym and abbreviation in each table and figure.

Manuscript

Helpful Rules

In their article entitled, “Ten simple rules for structuring papers,” in PLOS Computational Biology , authors Mensh and Kording provided 10 helpful tips as follows:

  • Focus on a central contribution.
  • Write for those who do not know your work.
  • Use the “context-content-conclusion” approach.
  • Avoid superfluous information and use parallel structures.
  • Summarize your research in the abstract.
  • Explain the importance of your research in the introduction.
  • Explain your results in a logical sequence and support them with figures and tables.
  • Discuss any data gaps and limitations.
  • Allocate your time for the most important sections.
  • Get feedback from colleagues.

Some of these rules have been briefly discussed above; however, the study done by the authors does provide detailed explanations on all of them.

Helpful Sites

Visit the following links for more helpful information:

  • “ Some writing tips for scientific papers ”
  • “ How to Structure Your Dissertation ”
  • “ Conciseness in Academic Writing: How to Prune Sentences ”
  • “ How to Optimize Sentence Length in Academic Writing ”

So, do you follow any additional tips when structuring your research paper ? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Enago, is a good sources of academics presentation and interpretation tools in research writing

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What an editor wants from your manuscript

The correct format of the research article  is crucial to good scientific writing. The sequence of Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion is the essential structure of a typical research report (sometimes abbreviated as AIMRaD). Each segment focuses on a distinct goal. In the introduction, the authors state: (i) the problem they aim to address—in other words, the research question; (ii) what they did to answer the question in the Methods section; (iii) what they observed in the Results section; and (iv) what the results suggest in the Discussion section (1) .

Research paper structure

This technique of research structure used by scientists. An organized procedure of experimental design, observation, and hypothesis testing are used to improve knowledge in this technique of inquiry. Now that you’ve considered those mentioned above, you may concentrate on structure. Scientific articles are divided into parts, each with its objective and here accumulated a list of them for you.

Table .1 Research structure papers (2)

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A good title should be straightforward, concise, and precise. It should represent the study’s goal, rather than the study’s results, by mentioning the issue(s) that the research addressed. It shouldn’t be in the form of a question, and it shouldn’t include any creative or catchy terms or phrases.

The Abstract is the final part to be written, but it is probably the most essential because it is generally the first thing that people read, and it often determines whether or not they will read the whole essay. The Abstract is not a mini-paper but rather a brief overview of the text. The Journal requires a structured abstract of Hand Surgery to focus and emphasize key information.

  • Introduction

The introduction starts with a wide perspective. The beginning point for your introduction should be one those displeasures the attention of the audience you’re trying to reach: worldwide readers of your chosen publication. The introduction concludes with an emphasis that is identical to that of the Results: this is frequently a declaration of the paper’s goal or purpose or main results or activities.

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  • Materials and methods

The Materials and Methods segment explains how the research was carried out. It’s the portion that’s the toughest to write. Many authors struggle to translate technical ideas and concepts into language that the reader can comprehend and relate to.

The structured display of the collected data is the single most important aspect of the Results section. This is usually the simplest section to write. The introduction has a clear declaration of aim, and the Materials and Methods section has a clear description of the measurement parameters used to assess that purpose.

The author has a lot of liberty in how they structure the Discussion section. Authors should summarise data and offer critical interpretations and findings in general. In addition, the present study’s findings should be compared to those previously published in the literature, with similarities and differences noted.

  • Limitations

The clinical significance of experimental findings should be discussed in a basic science study, especially in a journal read primarily by practitioners. Finally, the authors should recognize the study’s limitations.

  • Acknowledgement

You can thank people who helped with the manuscript here, but not to the point where authorship is justified. For instance, you can include technical assistance as well as writing and proofreading assistance in this section. The essential thing is to express gratitude to the funding agency or the organization that provided you with a grant proposal or scholarship.

References, on average, include more errors than any other element of the article. It’s one of the most infuriating issues, and it gives editors a lot of grief. Because there are several tools accessible, it is now easy to prevent these issues. All scientific articles on which your work is based must be cited in the text. However, don’t over-inflate the document with too many references — it won’t improve it! Excessive self-citations and citations of research publications from the same location should be avoided (3) .

Table .2 Simple rules for structuring paper (4)

State why the problem you address is important 
State what is lacking in the current knowledge 
State the objectives of your study or the research question 
Describe the context and background of the study 
Specify the study design 
Describe the ‘population’ (patients, doctors, hospitals, etc.) 
Describe the sampling strategy 
Describe the intervention (if applicable) 
Identify the main study variables 
Describe data collection instruments and procedures 
Outline analysis methods 
Report on and recruitment (response rates, etc.) 
Describe participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.) 
Present key findings to the central research question 
Present secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.) 
State the main findings of the study 
Discuss the main results concerning previous research 
Discuss policy and practise implications of the results 
Analyze the strengths and limitations of the study 
Offer perspectives for future work 

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  • Cargill, Margaret, and Patrick O’Connor.  Writing scientific research articles: Strategy and steps . John Wiley & Sons, 2021.
  • Manske, Paul R. “Structure and format of peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts.”  Journal of Hand Surgery  31.7 (2006): 1051-1055.
  • Montine, K. S. “Book Review: Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps.” (2013): 1154-1155.
  • Thomas V. Perneger, Patricia M. Hudelson, Writing a research article: advice to beginners,  International Journal for Quality in Health Care , Volume 16, Issue 3, June 2004, Pages 191–192,

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Structuring your manuscript

Overview of article structure.

Details on the structure of manuscripts published in BMC journals can be found in the instructions for authors for each journal. The standard structure of the body of research articles (after the Title and Abstract) is:

The article structure:

  • Gives a logical flow to the content
  • Makes journal manuscripts predictable and easy to read
  • Provides a "map" so that readers can quickly find content of interest in any manuscript
  • Reminds authors what content should be included

BUT ... although the sections of the journal manuscript are published in the order: Title, Abstract, Background, Methods, Results, Discussion,and Conclusion, this is NOT the best order for writing the sections of a manuscript. One strategy is to write your manuscript in the following order:

  • Materials and Methods

These can be written first, as you are doing your experiments and collecting the results.

  • Introduction

Write these sections next, once you have decided on your target journal.

Write your Title and Abstract based on all the other sections

Following this order will help you write a logical and consistent manuscript. Use the different sections of a manuscript to 'tell a story' about your research and its implications.

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Scholarly Journal Articles: Structure and Function

  • Scholarly Publications
  • Forms of Literature
  • Peer-review
  • Structure of a research article
  • Sample Articles
  • Title and Abstract
  • Authors and Funding
  • Introduction and Methods
  • Results and Discussion

The article title provides a succinct description of the content of the article. Each word is carefully chosen to convey the most information in the smallest package possible, with the goal of attaining maximum "findability" in journal article databases and internet search engines. By carefully reading the full title of an article, you can tease out valuable clues as to its content.

⇒ For example, you can get a good idea of the content of the Villamil-Gomez, et al., article entitled "Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya Co-infection in a Pregnant Woman from Columbia " before you've read a single word of the article. The title tells you what diseases are under study (zika, dengue, and chikungunya), and suggests the article is probably a case report of one patient in Columbia. Journals typically receive many more submissions for case reports than they have room to publish, so they must be very choosy about which they will accept.

  • Given the title, what do you think was so unusual about this case that it warranted being written up and submitted for publication?

⇒ Likewise, the title of the Granath article entitled " Recurrent Acute Otitis Media: What Are the Options for Treatment and Prevention? " suggests that it is a review article that will provide a summary of the current treatment options for recurrent acute otitis media.

  • Considering the journal in which it is published, for what group of people do you think this article was written?

⇒ Finally, it is clear from the Warren, et al., article entitled "Long-term Outcome of Patients with Liver Cirrhosis Admitted to a General Intensive Care Unit " that it is an epidemiological study, quite likely a prospective cohort study. The article is apt to be fairly lengthy, with abundant charts and statistics, and may prove to be of particular interest to hospital administrators.

Abstract and Keywords

The abstract provides a concise description of the objective of the study, the methods used, the primary findings, and the chief conclusions. The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the article in sufficient detail so that the reader can decide whether to read the entire article. The article itself must be read to determine the soundness of the methodology and the validity of the conclusions.

The abstract precedes the body of the paper. Because of length restrictions, each word of the abstract is chosen with utmost care. The abstract is often provided, wholly or in part, with the citation in online databases such as MEDLINE and CINAHL. Not all articles have abstracts, including news items, editorials, letters-to-the-editor, and some review articles.

Many journals require "structured abstracts", which are written in a standardized format, often patterned after the IMRaD format. This further aids the reader in rapidly finding the critical elements.

⇒ The sample article by Villamil-Gomez, et al., provides an example of a very brief abstract, consisting of only three sentences, written in paragraph form.

⇒ In contrast, the sample article by Warren, et al., provides an excellent example of a structured abstract.

  • What are the seven sections of this structured abstract ?

Some journals ask the authors to provide keywords to describe their article. These are generally listed directly after the abstract at the beginning of the article. The keywords may be drawn from the MEDLINE or CINAHL subject heading lists (thesauri), or they may be commonly used terms chosen by the author.

  • For the sample article by Warren, et al., what five keywords are listed?
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How to Read a Scientific Paper: Structure of an Article

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STOP:  Reading a scientific article is not like reading a book, trying to plow right through is often overwhelming. Some of the research might be new to you or beyond your level of expertise. However, reading scientific articles is good practice to learn how to identify the important points and conclusions made by the authors and critically evaluate those ideas as well.

INSTEAD : Articles are meant to be skimmed and perused first. For example: look at the abstract, see if it interests you, jump to the discussion and conclusions, what did the authors learn? Do you want to know more then pop back to the methods and see how they did it or look at the results and see if the discussion accurately captures the findings. 

The Abstract of an article is a short summary of the article's contents. Often it includes the focus, results, and conclusions of the study. Since the abstract does not contain all the information found in the article, it's best to view it as a tool for deciding if you should investigate the article further. An article's abstract will always be freely available to view. 

Questions to ask while reading the abstract :

  • Does this interest me?
  • Is this related to my area of research?

Introduction and Literature Review

The Introduction of an article explains the idea being investigated, and gives background information if necessary. The introduction should also indicate why the study done in this particular article is unique, or how it adds to the overall discussion. The latter part of the introduction will also contain a literature review, this is a brief summary of related research that occurred before this article was written and that this article seeks to expand on.

Questions to ask while reading the introduction :

  • What is the author's goal in writing this article?
  • What area is the article building on?
  • How is this research unique?
  • Will this article tell me anything new?

Materials and Methods

The Materials and Methods of an article tells you how the study was performed. It should include the specific steps of the experiment or study, so as to be repeatable. 

Questions to ask while reading materials and methods : 

  • Is all the information present in order to repeat the experiment or study carried out?
  • Are the steps the authors took clearly explained?

The Results of an article should give an unbiased account of what the study's findings were, with data included. 

Sometimes the Results and Discussion section (described next) are combined.

Questions to ask while reading the results:

  • Are the results presented in a factual and unbiased way?
  • Is data provided to complement the findings?
  • Is the data clear and understandable?

The Discussion of an article tells you what the researchers felt was significant about the results. This section contains an analysis of the data, and may point to facts and figures.

Questions to ask while reading the discussion:  

  • Is the argument made by the authors supported by the data present in the results?
  • After reading the discussion do you find that more data should have been provided in the results?
  • Are there weaknesses in their argument?

The Conclusion of an article gives you the final thoughts of the researchers. It may reiterate what they noted in the discussion, or may be combined with the discussion. It may provide limitations present in the study or give recommendations for further research. This is the chance for the authors to clearly and succinctly state the ultimate finding or purpose of the article.

Questions to ask while reading the conclusion:

  • Is the conclusion valid?
  • Based on what you have read, what other research should be explored next?

The References of an article lists the works used in the research and writing of the article. Any articles mentioned in the introduction should be present here, as should any studies that were modeled in the materials and methods.

Question to ask while reviewing the references:

  • What other articles should I read?
  • What other authors are respected in this field?
  • What journals are frequently cited in this area?

Suggested Further Reading

Dean, R. (2013). How to read a paper and appraise the evidence . In Practice , 35(5) , 282-285.

Pain, Elisabeth. “ How to (Seriously) Read a Scientific Paper .” Science , 21 Mar. 2016.

Ruben, Adam. “ How to Read a Scientific Paper .” Science , 20 Jan. 2016.

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A research article is similar to a laboratory report, it describes the purpose, methods, and results of the study, as well as a discussion of findings.

Structure of a research article

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Abstract or Summary of the research

Introduction : Why was the study done?

  • Problem & Purpose
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Methods:  Describes how they did the study

  • Population (human subjects, patients, or animals or both)
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  • Specify the study design
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Results  - What did the researchers find?

  • Data collection
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  • Main findings
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Conclusions or Comments:

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Synthesis and characterization of β-spodumene by a new sol–gel route assisted by whey protein

  • original paper
  • Published: 13 July 2024

Cite this article

structure of a research journal article

  • Ricardo Ferrari Ferraz   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1913-8427 1 ,
  • Maria da Conceição Costa Pereira   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5529-2520 2 &
  • Raquel Aline Pessoa Oliveira   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8455-1226 1  

Spodumene (LiAlSi 2 O 6 ) has gained attention due to its versatile applications, which include ionizing radiation dosimetry, observed in either monoclinic (α-spodumene) or tetragonal (β-spodumene) symmetries. β-spodumene has been produced by solid-state reactions and conventional sol–gel methods, which are challenging due to the need for high temperatures and costly reagents, respectively. Alternative routes like the Pechini method and proteic sol–gel methods are promising because they can reduce production costs and environmental pollution. This paper aims to synthesize and characterize β-spodumene using a new sol–gel route assisted by whey protein. In this method, proteins act as chelating agents, aiding in the formation of stable colloidal solutions (sol) containing inorganic precursors. These solutions undergo gelation processes to form a solid connected porous structure (gel), which can then be thermally treated to promote crystallization and obtain the desired material. The process involved subjecting the material to thermal treatments exceeding 800 °C, leading to the crystallization of β-spodumene structure at 1000 °C. Additionally, a thermal treatment at 1100 °C facilitated the elimination of residual sulfur (S) resulting from protein combustion. For sample characterizations, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), differential thermal analysis (DTA), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) measurements were performed. Preliminary results indicate that β-spodumene was successfully synthesized using the new sol–gel route assisted by whey protein. The potential of whey protein as an eco-friendly chelating agent is highlighted, suggesting possible environmental benefits and paving the way for future advancements in this research area.

Graphical Abstract

structure of a research journal article

β-spodumene was effectively synthesized by a new sol–gel route assisted by whey protein.

Crystalline structure of β-spodumene formed at 1000 °C.

Eco-friendly approach using whey protein as a chelating agent in the sol–gel method.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazilian Funding Agency for Studies and Projects (FINEP) and Pernambuco Science and Technology Support Foundation (FACEPE). The authors are also grateful for the support of collaborating educational institutions including Federal Institute of Sertão de Pernambuco (IFSertão-PE), Federal University of São Francisco Valley (Univasf) and University of São Paulo (USP).

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Research Institute of Materials Science (IPCM), Federal University of São Francisco Valley (Univasf), Juazeiro, BA, Brazil

Ricardo Ferrari Ferraz & Raquel Aline Pessoa Oliveira

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Maria da Conceição Costa Pereira

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Ricardo Ferrari Ferraz. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Ricardo Ferrari Ferraz and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Ferraz, R.F., da Conceição Costa Pereira, M. & Oliveira, R.A.P. Synthesis and characterization of β-spodumene by a new sol–gel route assisted by whey protein. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-024-06484-9

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-024-06484-9

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    The standard structure of the body of research articles (after the Title and Abstract) is: The article structure: BUT ... although the sections of the journal manuscript are published in the order: Title, Abstract, Background, Methods, Results, Discussion,and Conclusion, this is NOT the best order for writing the sections of a manuscript.

  21. Structure of Typical Research Article

    The basic structure of a typical research paper includes Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each section addresses a different objective. what they think the results mean in Discussion. A substantial study will sometimes include a literature review section which discusses previous works on the topic.

  22. Research Paper

    The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper: ... It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the ...

  23. UVM Libraries Research Guides: Scholarly Journal Articles: Structure

    The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the article in sufficient detail so that the reader can decide whether to read the entire article. The article itself must be read to determine the soundness of the methodology and the validity of the conclusions. The abstract precedes the body of the paper. Because of length restrictions, each word ...

  24. How to Read a Scientific Paper: Structure of an Article

    STOP: Reading a scientific article is not like reading a book, trying to plow right through is often overwhelming. Some of the research might be new to you or beyond your level of expertise. However, reading scientific articles is good practice to learn how to identify the important points and conclusions made by the authors and critically evaluate those ideas as well.

  25. (PDF) Structure and Parts of an Article

    Structure of a Journal Article: A. For an Empirical Research Paper . ... Structure of a research article and academic integrity while avoiding plagiarism. This session is a key requirement for ...

  26. Assessments of Arctic Cloud Vertical Structure From AIRS Using Radar

    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres is an AGU journal publishing original research articles that advance and improve the understanding of atmospheric properties and processes. Abstract The Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) aboard Aqua provides essential long-term data on vertical cloud fraction, particularly valuable in the Arctic ...

  27. Structure of a Research Article

    A research article is similar to a laboratory report, it describes the purpose, methods, and results of the study, as well as a discussion of findings. Structure of a research article. Title Page. Author(s) Corresponding Author; Conflicts of Interest; Abstract or Summary of the research. Introduction: Why was the study done? Problem & Purpose ...

  28. Recipe for Identity: Constructing the Self in Chitrita Banerji's A

    The placement of recipes in a food memoir serves the unique function of contextualising a life story against culture, tradition, and history. They serve as a form of self-expression that looks at life in its entirety through an amalgamation of the material and abstract aspects of existence. For women in the diaspora, recipes not only enable them to maintain a link to the homeland through the ...

  29. Synthesis and characterization of β-spodumene by a new sol ...

    Spodumene (LiAlSi2O6) has gained attention due to its versatile applications, which include ionizing radiation dosimetry, observed in either monoclinic (α-spodumene) or tetragonal (β-spodumene) symmetries. β-spodumene has been produced by solid-state reactions and conventional sol-gel methods, which are challenging due to the need for high temperatures and costly reagents, respectively ...