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How to Write Your First Research Paper

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This article is a part of the guide:
1. Schedule your writing time in Outlook
1. Plan Your Time

Look at recent articles and judge their importance. Check the members of the editorial board and determine if they are leaders in their fields. How selective is the journal in accepting papers for publication? Note, however, these ratings can be artificially inflated in journals that publish review articles, which tend to be cited more than research articles.

Try to find out the acceptance rate of the journal. Do you like the appearance of published articles — the format, typeface, and style used in citing references?

Do figures published in the journal have the resolution that you need? Most journals have a separate charge for color plates. Many journals will waive page charges if this presents a financial hardship for the author; color plate charges are less-readily waived and would at least require evidence that the color is essential to the presentation of the data e.

This document describes the format for your article and provides information on how to submit your manuscript. Stock the sections of your paper. This will save time and avoid frustration when the writing begins.

Stored items might include figures, references, and ideas. Construct the tables, figures, and legends. The entire paper should be organized around the data you will present.

You also may be able to determine if you have all the data you need. An outline details how you will get from here to there, and helps ensure that you take the most direct and logical route. Do not start writing without it! If you have coauthors, you may wish to get feedback from them before you proceed to the actual writing phase. Write the first draft. Write the first draft of the entire manuscript. If you are writing with coauthors, you may wish to assign different aspects of the manuscript to different authors.

This can save time, allow more individuals to feel that are making substantive contributions to the writing process, and ensure the best use of expertise. However, it also can lead to a mixture of styles. Thus, if you take this approach, be certain that the final product is carefully edited to provide a single voice. For a more extensive presentation of this and many other aspects of preparing a paper, see Day At this point, do not worry about it being intelligible.

This can help ensure flow. However, others suggest that you start wherever you wish — anything to get rid of that blank screen or piece of paper. Whatever your approach, heed the advice of Charles Sides If you are taking much more than two full days, you have probably paused to edit!

This step involves three major tasks, each to be carried out in the order given:. Fill in gaps, correct flaws in logic, restructure the document to present the material in the most logical order. Refine the text, then correct grammar and spelling. It is important to do the tasks in the stated order.

Otherwise, you may find yourself spending a lot of time revising material that you later delete. Do one last literature search to make certain that you are up to date. Write the final title and abstract. Make certain that your title and abstract match the final version of your article. Furthermore, cohesion and fluency are crucial in this section. One of the malpractices resulting in disrupted fluency is switching from passive voice to active and vice versa within the same paragraph, as shown in 4.

This switching misleads and distracts the reader. Behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 were programmed by using E-Prime. We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales SI Methods. The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness [ 4 ].

The problem with 4 is that the reader has to switch from the point of view of the experiment passive voice to the point of view of the experimenter active voice. This switch causes confusion about the performer of the actions in the first and the third sentences.

To improve the coherence and fluency of the paragraph above, you should be consistent in choosing the point of view: We programmed behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 by using E-Prime.

We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal by using Visual Analogue Scales SI Methods as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music.

We operationalized the preferred and unpreferred status of the music along a continuum of pleasantness. Ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal were taken as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales SI Methods. The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness.

Interestingly, recent studies have reported that the Materials and Methods section is the only section in research papers in which passive voice predominantly overrides the use of the active voice [ 5 , 7 , 8 , 9 ]. This means that while all other sections of the research paper use active voice, passive voice is still the most predominant in Materials and Methods sections. Writing Materials and Methods sections is a meticulous and time consuming task requiring extreme accuracy and clarity.

This is why when you complete your draft, you should ask for as much feedback from your colleagues as possible. Numerous readers of this section will help you identify the missing links and improve the technical style of this section. For many authors, writing the Results section is more intimidating than writing the Materials and Methods section. If people are interested in your paper, they are interested in your results. That is why it is vital to use all your writing skills to objectively present your key findings in an orderly and logical sequence using illustrative materials and text.

Your Results should be organized into different segments or subsections where each one presents the purpose of the experiment, your experimental approach, data including text and visuals tables, figures, schematics, algorithms, and formulas , and data commentary. For most journals, your data commentary will include a meaningful summary of the data presented in the visuals and an explanation of the most significant findings. This data presentation should not repeat the data in the visuals, but rather highlight the most important points.

However, interpretations gradually and secretly creep into research papers: Another important aspect of this section is to create a comprehensive and supported argument or a well-researched case. This means that you should be selective in presenting data and choose only those experimental details that are essential for your reader to understand your findings. You might have conducted an experiment 20 times and collected numerous records, but this does not mean that you should present all those records in your paper.

You need to distinguish your results from your data and be able to discard excessive experimental details that could distract and confuse the reader. However, creating a picture or an argument should not be confused with data manipulation or falsification, which is a willful distortion of data and results.

If some of your findings contradict your ideas, you have to mention this and find a plausible explanation for the contradiction. In addition, your text should not include irrelevant and peripheral information, including overview sentences, as in 6. To show our results, we first introduce all components of experimental system and then describe the outcome of infections. Indeed, wordiness convolutes your sentences and conceals your ideas from readers.

One common source of wordiness is unnecessary intensifiers. Another source of wordiness is nominalizations, i. To improve your sentences, avoid unnecessary nominalizations and change passive verbs and constructions into active and direct sentences. Your Results section is the heart of your paper, representing a year or more of your daily research. So lead your reader through your story by writing direct, concise, and clear sentences. Now that you are almost half through drafting your research paper, it is time to update your outline.

While describing your Methods and Results, many of you diverged from the original outline and re-focused your ideas. So before you move on to create your Introduction, re-read your Methods and Results sections and change your outline to match your research focus. The updated outline will help you review the general picture of your paper, the topic, the main idea, and the purpose, which are all important for writing your introduction.

The best way to structure your introduction is to follow the three-move approach shown in Table 3. Adapted from Swales and Feak [ 11 ]. The moves and information from your outline can help to create your Introduction efficiently and without missing steps.

These moves are traffic signs that lead the reader through the road of your ideas. Each move plays an important role in your paper and should be presented with deep thought and care.

When you establish the territory, you place your research in context and highlight the importance of your research topic. By finding the niche, you outline the scope of your research problem and enter the scientific dialogue.

The three moves allow your readers to evaluate their interest in your paper and play a significant role in the paper review process, determining your paper reviewers. As a result, many novice writers do not present their experimental approach and the major findings, wrongly believing that the reader will locate the necessary information later while reading the subsequent sections [ 5 ].

To interest the reader, scientific authors should be direct and straightforward and present informative one-sentence summaries of the results and the approach. Another problem is that writers understate the significance of the Introduction. Many new researchers mistakenly think that all their readers understand the importance of the research question and omit this part. However, this assumption is faulty because the purpose of the section is not to evaluate the importance of the research question in general.

The goal is to present the importance of your research contribution and your findings. Therefore, you should be explicit and clear in describing the benefit of the paper. The Introduction should not be long. Indeed, for most journals, this is a very brief section of about to words, but it might be the most difficult section due to its importance. For many scientists, writing a Discussion section is as scary as starting a paper.

Most of the fear comes from the variation in the section. Since every paper has its unique results and findings, the Discussion section differs in its length, shape, and structure.

However, some general principles of writing this section still exist. The structure of the first two moves is almost a mirror reflection of the one in the Introduction. In the Introduction, you zoom in from general to specific and from the background to your research question; in the Discussion section, you zoom out from the summary of your findings to the research context, as shown in Table 4.

Adapted from Swales and Feak and Hess [ 11 , 12 ]. The biggest challenge for many writers is the opening paragraph of the Discussion section. This is important in those cases where the researcher presents a number of findings or where more than one research question was presented.

One of the most frequent mistakes of the novice writer is to assume the importance of his findings. Even if the importance is clear to you, it may not be obvious to your reader. Digesting the findings and their importance to your reader is as crucial as stating your research question. Another useful strategy is to be proactive in the first move by predicting and commenting on the alternative explanations of the results.

Addressing potential doubts will save you from painful comments about the wrong interpretation of your results and will present you as a thoughtful and considerate researcher. Moreover, the evaluation of the alternative explanations might help you create a logical step to the next move of the discussion section: The goal of the research context move is to show how your findings fit into the general picture of the current research and how you contribute to the existing knowledge on the topic.

This is also the place to discuss any discrepancies and unexpected findings that may otherwise distort the general picture of your paper. Moreover, outlining the scope of your research by showing the limitations, weaknesses, and assumptions is essential and adds modesty to your image as a scientist.

However, make sure that you do not end your paper with the problems that override your findings. Try to suggest feasible explanations and solutions. This should be a general statement reiterating your answer to the research question and adding its scientific implications, practical application, or advice. Just as in all other sections of your paper, the clear and precise language and concise comprehensive sentences are vital.

However, in addition to that, your writing should convey confidence and authority. The easiest way to illustrate your tone is to use the active voice and the first person pronouns. Accompanied by clarity and succinctness, these tools are the best to convince your readers of your point and your ideas. Now that you have created the first draft, your attitude toward your writing should have improved. Moreover, you should feel more confident that you are able to accomplish your project and submit your paper within a reasonable timeframe.

You also have worked out your writing schedule and followed it precisely. Just as the best and most precious diamond is no more than an unattractive stone recognized only by trained professionals, your ideas and your results may go unnoticed if they are not polished and brushed.

Despite your attempts to present your ideas in a logical and comprehensive way, first drafts are frequently a mess. Use the advice of Paul Silvia: The degree of your success will depend on how you are able to revise and edit your paper. The revision can be done at the macrostructure and the microstructure levels [ 13 ]. The macrostructure revision includes the revision of the organization, content, and flow.

The microstructure level includes individual words, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The best way to approach the macrostructure revision is through the outline of the ideas in your paper. The last time you updated your outline was before writing the Introduction and the Discussion.

The outline will allow you to see if the ideas of your paper are coherently structured, if your results are logically built, and if the discussion is linked to the research question in the Introduction. You will be able to see if something is missing in any of the sections or if you need to rearrange your information to make your point. The next step is to revise each of the sections starting from the beginning. Ideally, you should limit yourself to working on small sections of about five pages at a time [ 14 ].

After these short sections, your eyes get used to your writing and your efficiency in spotting problems decreases. 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. Another concerns non-native writers of English: 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.

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Structure of the paper. Writing a research article: Primacy of the research question A good research paper addresses a specific research question. Structure of the paper Once the research question is clearly defined, writing the paper becomes considerably easier. Describe participants demographic, clinical condition, etc. International Journal for Quality in Health Care vol. Email alerts New issue alert. Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic.

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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—som.

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Scientific research articles provide a method for scientists to communicate with other scientists about the results of their research. A standard format is used for these articles, in which the author presents the research in an orderly, logical manner. This doesn't necessarily reflect the order in.

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Writing any academic paper, in whatever discipline, can be an extremely daunting task. Here are a few tips on article writing. Whether you need to write a word essay or a 10 word dissertation, it can be difficult to set out in your mind exactly in what direction you need to travel. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH PAPER • Getting ready with data • First draft • Structure of a scientific paper • Selecting a journal Make them the central theme of the article. Note good and bad writing styles in the literature. Some are simple and easy to follow, some are just too complex.

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Writing a research manuscript is an intimidating process for many novice writers in the sciences. One of the stumbling blocks is the beginning of the process and creating the first draft. This paper presents guidelines on how to initiate the writing process and draft each section of a research manuscript. This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a.