The science community as a whole depends on research articles for furthering the scientific movement within a particular field. Effective technical communication of scientific results to the broader community is important and thus, the writing of a well constructed manuscript is not a task to be taken lightly. It is to be noted that not all brilliant ideas are presented well and not all well-presented articles have brilliant ideas behind them. To avoid these pitfalls, the concepts discussed herein would help in minimizing them.
What should be your approach while writing your paper?
A reasonable method to follow, and many researchers would agree here, is to write the Method of research first. Once the methodology is complete, the Results section follows. Refer to the research protocol again and write the Introduction. It is imperative that what is written in the Introduction and Results, guides what is to be written in the Discussion section. By now, a comprehensive outlay is ready and all the points within the outlay are to be summarized into an Abstract. Once this is done, the same Abstract is then honed a bit more to be written as the Conclusion. As is the rule, a separate section should be focused on citing the References.
What Should You Put in the Introduction?
The Introduction must contain a literature review pertaining to the research topic in question. It should start with broad topic and slowly funnel into the topic in question. Restrict it to 4-5 paragraphs, with the last paragraph critical, stating what the question is, what the hypothesis is and what will be the methods to test the hypothesis. All said and done; NEVER FORGET to cite the reference if you are copying any statement. Plagiarized documents are highly condemned in the scientific community.
How to go with the Methods section?
Straightforward. Sequential. And to the point. Every step in the methodology must be written in separate sections. Passive voice and usage of past tense is highly recommended for this section.
What to write in the Results?
Your field work is done and you have all the results of your hardwork. This section must present your experimental data to the reader. All figures and tables must be unique to the current work, each properly captioned in bold with a sentence describing the impact of data within the figures or tables. All statistical methods, formulae, data points of interest etc. must be presented in this section. Do remember; this section is not the place for discussing or interpreting data. Always use passive voice and write in past tense.
Is writing Discussions part difficult for you?
Writing the Discussion section is rather the easy part if the rules of the previous sections are adhered to. Begin this section with a brief paragraph that again gives an insight to the current work. Then focus on the most important findings which either accept or reject your proposed hypothesis. You must keep in mind to identify the key aspects of the results section and compare them to previously reported scientific evidence, with necessary citations in place. Always and always discuss the potential limitations of the current study. End the section by considering other research studies that address current topic in question and how this study contributes to the overall field of study.
What to do in Conclusion?
Keep it short and state the topic in question and summarize the results. End with a statement of contribution of work to the overall field.
Is Acknowledgement section an essential part?
Of course it is. Come on! You are not an island. You must recognize any person or body which has supported the current research work but are not included as authors in the manuscript. Also state the funding agency/ies which made the research work possible.
Writing References is the most important part
Reference section is often considered the most important section after Results and Discussion. This section must include all the references cited within the main body of text. All key sources must be included in alphabetical and chronological order (either by year or by order cited within the manuscript). Avoid citing extraneous authors to pad the section especially those which have no impact on this work or have not been cited within the main body of text. Take note of the reference format guidelines of journal to be submitted and structure the reference accordingly. Software like EndNote help in structuring references for easier cross referencing.
In short, to write a good research manuscript, you have to
· Be Concise
· Avoid Plagiarism
· Use Scientific Terminologies
· Use correct tense and voice
· Never translate or rewrite any already published work.
Author: Dr. Harish Venkatakrishnan (PhD Environmental Engineering)
Dr. Harish Venkatakrishnan is an Environmental Biotechnologist and has extensive experience in bioremediation. He is currently working in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment in their scientific advisory team.