How to structure content for your next research paper

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Academic papers follow a set pattern of format and language. In fact, most journals provide authors with instructions on the preferred font type, font size, margins, spacing, etc. Journals also provide instructions on the outline and structure of the paper. Further, some journals give in-depth guidelines on structuring each section of the paper. It is essential that the structure of your paper is in line with the journal’s specifications. If your paper is structured incorrectly, it will be sent back for revision leading to a delay in publication.

Most research editing services also provide formatting services. They will ensure that your paper adheres to the formatting requirements of the journal.

In general, the structure of the paper will depend on the type of manuscript. The structure of a case report will differ from that of a research article. Most research articles are structured according to the IMRAD format – Introduction, Methods, Research and Discussion.

But before that, comes the abstract. Conventionally, the abstract reflects the structure and content of the main text within 100-300 words. Think of the abstract as the teaser to your main text. It should explain you study in non-technical terms and should provide enough information to pique the reader’s interest.

The Introduction section is where the researcher explains the reason or motivation for carrying out the study. It is usually written in passive voice. Do not include all and any information you can find regarding your research topic. Include only relevant information. The flow of content in this section should be background, research question, and attempted solutions. Cite how previous papers have attempted to solve the research question. Mention in what way they succeeded and in what way they failed. Finally, end this section with a concise, yet strong statement on how you aim to address to research question.

The next section is the Methods. This section, also called Materials and Methods, encapsulates how the authors aimed to address the research question. It is always written in past tense. Clarity and detail are key here as your way of working will help other researchers in the field understand your research better.

The Results section is where you present the results of your experiment/research study. This section can be purely textual or include illustrations. Most scientific research papers will include tables, figures, and graphics as part of the Results section. As a rule, number-heavy data should be presented in tabular form. Further, data should either be presented as text or as tables, not both.

You started the paper with providing a context for choosing this research problem. You then explained how you carried out the research. The next section presented the results of your experiment/research. Now, you need to interpret your results and give them meaning.

The Discussion section is where you give meaning to your results, compare them with those of published papers, and state your conclusion about the research conducted. A very important aspect of this section is the limitations. Along with mentioning how your study addressed the research question, it is essential to mention where your study fell short. The conclusion of your study can either be part of the discussion or a separate, concise section.

The structure of your research paper should be clear and logical. The flow of the text should be sequential. If you would like an editor to check these aspects of your paper, opt for research editing services that go beyond the basic grammar check.

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