Scientists spend years learning how to conduct research. Even so, few of them receive instruction on the best scientific paper format to adopt. This is unfortunate, as the publication of new findings is an essential part of the scientific method. Without it, researchers cannot share their discoveries with other scientists, making it harder for them to build on existing knowledge and discover more. This article covers some of the key points that you should keep in mind when writing your own scientific paper.
Each journal has different requirements for length and formatting, but most follow a similar structure. Here we explain what is typical for all scientific papers regardless of the type and provide step-by-step instructions for creating each section yourself. Whether you’re writing about experiments with bacteria or analyzing a chemical reaction, these tips can help you create an excellent document regardless of the field you’re working in.
The introduction is where you first introduce the research question, present a background on the topic and give the reader an idea of where your paper will go. You should aim for the introduction to be non-technical and accessible for readers who are not part of your field of study. The length of the introduction varies depending on the journal, but try to keep it below 400 words, which is about a page.
The first paragraph should give the reason for the research and a general overview of the field of study. The second paragraph should be about the specific research question that you are examining. It’s likely the journal will ask that you include the research question, methods, and any limitations to your study in the introduction. The final paragraph of the introduction should name your research paper and clearly state the hypothesis, which is the main idea of the study.
It should be clear, concise, and easy to understand, so make sure to use simple language and avoid jargon. The hypothesis is what you predict the outcome of your research to be. Make sure to end the introduction with a transition sentence that brings the reader back to the introduction’s topic.
Title and Author Information
The title of the paper is usually a short phrase that summarizes the topic you’re writing about. The title should be concise, but descriptive enough to intrigue the reader. You can also include the name of a journal or conference in the title if applicable. The author’s information is the same as in any other type of writing, but with a few extra points.
The name of the first author will appear on the published paper, followed by the names of all other contributors in order of contribution. The journal may ask for an institutional affiliation to be listed in the author’s information. If this is the case, include your department or lab affiliation. It’s also standard to also include any funding information, such as government grants that funded the research.
The abstract is a short (200-300 word) summary of the entire paper that is published along with the paper itself. The abstract is meant to catch the reader’s attention and inform them of what the paper is about without needing to read the entire paper. The abstract is also often used to create an index for the paper. The abstract is a required section, so make sure to include it in all papers, even if it’s a small, quick experiment.
The goal of the abstract is to inform the reader of what the paper is about, so editors and reviewers will be able to decide whether or not to read the rest of the paper based on the abstract alone. You might be tempted to include all the details of your study in the abstract, but that’s not the best strategy. Instead, the abstract should give a general overview of the experiment, including the methods and any important findings.
The Introduction (Background and Research Questions)
The introduction is the first part of the paper, so it is important to set the scene correctly. The introduction sets the scene for the reader by explaining what the topic of the paper is and how it fits within the existing body of research. It might be tempting to write a long introduction, but keep it as brief as possible, around 300 words.
The first paragraph should explain why this topic is important and why your research is relevant. The second paragraph should explain the background of the topic and how it came to be. The third paragraph should address why your research questions are important and how they relate to the existing research. The introduction should not be a summary of the entire paper; it should only be long enough to set the scene.
Once you have explained the general topic, your specific interests, and why they’re important, you can move on to the next part of the paper. Make sure to end the introduction with a transition sentence that brings the reader to the next part of the paper.
Materials and methods
The materials and methods section describes the research methods used in your study. It is important to have a clear description of exactly what was done, as it is sometimes difficult to interpret the findings of a research paper if you don’t know what was done. The materials and methods section is also where you must accurately describe any equipment used.
In this section, you should also state where you got the materials from and how you prepared them, if applicable. Since the materials and methods section is where you describe how the study was carried out, it is important to make the methods of your study clear, especially if you are comparing your findings with those of previous studies. Again, it is important to use clear, concise language. It is also common in this section to include a statistical analysis of the data that was collected.
You should also include any limitations of the study, such as sample size or any issues that arose during the study. The materials and methods section should be detailed enough that someone who is not a part of your research team could repeat your study and get the same results.
In the results section, you should outline the findings of your experiment, including graphs and tables if applicable. You can also include any additional information here, such as a summary of the statistical tests you used. It is important to keep the results section as brief as possible while still including enough information to support the findings of your experiment.
You should write the results section in the past tense. It is also important to use clear, concise language that is easy to understand. Again, it is helpful to use graphs and tables to summarize the data, particularly if the data is complex. You should end the results section with a transition sentence that brings the reader to the next section.
The discussion section is where you conclude with the results of your experiment. You should also address any limitations of the experiment here, particularly if the results don’t support your hypothesis. The discussion section can also be used to address any other issues or concerns related to the experiment. The discussion section is where you can be creative and draw on your own interpretations of the findings. You should make sure to back up any claims you make with citations and citations.
The discussion section is also where you can make connections to broader concepts, such as other papers that have come before yours. You should keep the discussion section concise, however, as it is the longest section in the paper.
In the limitations section, you should list any limitations that may have affected your findings. This is where you would list any issues that arose during the experiment or any other limitations. It is important, to be honest, and detailed when writing the limitations section. You should also make sure to explain how these limitations affect the findings of the experiment. It is important to keep the limitations section brief, however. While it is important, to be honest about any issues that arose during the experiment, you don’t want to overstate any limitations.
The conclusion section is where you summarize the paper and tie everything together. It is best to end on a call to action or a forward-looking statement. The best papers leave readers with something to think about and a start to a new conversation or next piece of research. The outline of a paper will vary according to discipline, but the structure of any good academic paper will have these elements.
An academic paper must be organized, and a good outline will help you craft a strong paper. It should be short and concise (about 3-4 paragraphs long). In the conclusion section, you should bring up any unanswered questions that arose from the experiment, as well as possible ways to expand on the findings of your paper.
You should also highlight any major findings of your experiment, as well as any conclusions you drew from those findings. It is important to use clear, concise language in the conclusion section. It is also helpful to use graphs and tables to summarize the data if that is helpful.