Guidelines for writing research papers

In contrast, the delivery of a message is more rigorous if the writing is precise and concise.

One excellent example is Watson and Crick's Nobel-Prize-winning paper on the DNA double helix structure [11] —it is only two pages long! A complete draft of a paper requires a lot of work, so it pays to go the extra mile to polish it to facilitate enjoyable reading. A paper presented as a piece of art will give referees a positive initial impression of your passion toward the research and the quality of the work, which will work in your favor in the reviewing process.

Have an authoritative dictionary with a thesaurus and a style manual, e. Also pay attention to small details in presentation, such as paragraph indentation, page margins, and fonts. If you are not a native speaker of the language the paper is written in, make sure to have a native speaker go over the final draft to ensure correctness and accuracy of the language used. A complete manuscript typically requires many rounds of revision. Taking a correct attitude during revision is critical to the resolution of most problems in the writing. Be objective and honest about your work and do not exaggerate or belittle the significance of the results and the elegance of the methods developed.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 3. The Abstract

After working long and hard, you are an expert on the problem you studied, and you are the best referee of your own work, after all. Therefore, inspect the research and the paper in the context of the state of the art. When revising a draft, purge yourself out of the picture and leave your passion for your work aside. To be concrete, put yourself completely in the shoes of a referee and scrutinize all the pieces—the significance of the work, the logic of the story, the correctness of the results and conclusions, the organization of the paper, and the presentation of the materials.

In practice, you may put a draft aside for a day or two—try to forget about it completely—and then come back to it fresh, consider it as if it were someone else's writing, and read it through while trying to poke holes in the story and writing. In this process, extract the meaning literally from the language as written and do not try to use your own view to interpret or extrapolate from what was written. This can be painful, but the final manuscript will be more logically sound and better organized.

It is wise to anticipate the possible questions and critiques the referees may raise and preemptively address their concerns before submission. To do so, collect feedback and critiques from others, e.


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Discuss your work with them and get their opinions, suggestions, and comments. A talk at a lab meeting or a departmental seminar will also help rectify potential issues that need to be addressed. If you are a graduate student, running the paper and results through the thesis committee may be effective to iron out possible problems. When a submission is rejected or poorly reviewed, don't be offended and don't take it personally.

Be aware that the referees spent their time on the paper, which they might have otherwise devoted to their own research, so they are doing you a favor and helping you shape the paper to be more accessible to the targeted audience. Therefore, consider the referees as your collaborators and treat the reviews with respect. This attitude can improve the quality of your paper and research. Read and examine the reviews objectively—the principles set in Rule 8 apply here as well.

Twenty Steps to Writing a Research Article | Graduate Connections | Nebraska

Often a criticism was raised because one of the aspects of a hypothesis was not adequately studied, or an important result from previous research was not mentioned or not consistent with yours. If a critique is about the robustness of a method used or the validity of a result, often the research needs to be redone or more data need to be collected.

If you believe the referee has misunderstood a particular point, check the writing. It is often the case that improper wording or presentation misled the referee. If that's the case, revise the writing thoroughly. Don't argue without supporting data. Don't submit the paper elsewhere without additional work. This can only temporally mitigate the issue, you will not be happy with the paper in the long run, and this may hurt your reputation.


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Finally, keep in mind that writing is personal, and it takes a lot of practice to find one's style. What works and what does not work vary from person to person. Start gathering those resources—especially those that may be difficult to access—as soon as possible. Second, make an appointment with a reference librarian. A reference librarian is nothing short of a research superhero.

He or she will listen to your research question, offer suggestions for how to focus your research, and direct you toward valuable sources that directly relate to your topic. Now that you've gathered a wide array of sources, it's time to evaluate them. First, consider the reliability of the information.

Where is the information coming from? What is the origin of the source? How does this information relate to your research question? Does it support, refute, or add context to your position? How does it relate to the other sources you'll be using in your paper? Once you have determined that your sources are both reliable and relevant, you can proceed confidently to the writing phase.

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The research process is one of the most taxing academic tasks you'll be asked to complete. Here are just some of the benefits of research papers. Include specialized chemicals, biological materials, and any equipment or supplies that are not commonly found in laboratories. Do not include commonly found supplies such as test tubes, pipet tips, beakers, etc.

If use of a specific type of equipment, a specific enzyme, or a culture from a particular supplier is critical to the success of the experiment, then it and the source should be singled out, otherwise no. Materials may be reported in a separate paragraph or else they may be identified along with your procedures. In biosciences we frequently work with solutions - refer to them by name and describe completely, including concentrations of all reagents, and pH of aqueous solutions, solvent if non-aqueous. Methods: See the examples in the writing portfolio package Report the methodology not details of each procedure that employed the same methodology Describe the mehodology completely, including such specifics as temperatures, incubation times, etc.

To be concise, present methods under headings devoted to specific procedures or groups of procedures Generalize - report how procedures were done, not how they were specifically performed on a particular day. If well documented procedures were used, report the procedure by name, perhaps with reference, and that's all. For example, the Bradford assay is well known. You need not report the procedure in full - just that you used a Bradford assay to estimate protein concentration, and identify what you used as a standard.

Style: It is awkward or impossible to use active voice when documenting methods without using first person, which would focus the reader's attention on the investigator rather than the work. Therefore when writing up the methods most authors use third person passive voice. Use normal prose in this and in every other section of the paper — avoid informal lists, and use complete sentences.

What to avoid Materials and methods are not a set of instructions. Omit all explanatory information and background - save it for the discussion. Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party, such as what color ice bucket you used, or which individual logged in the data. Results The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported. Continue to be concise, using figures and tables, if appropriate, to present results most effectively.

How to Write a Research Paper

See recommendations for content, below. General intent The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings. Writing a results section IMPORTANT: You must clearly distinguish material that would normally be included in a research article from any raw data or other appendix material that would not be published. Content Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them, if appropriate, with figures and tables.

In text, describe each of your results, pointing the reader to observations that are most relevant. Provide a context, such as by describing the question that was addressed by making a particular observation. Describe results of control experiments and include observations that are not presented in a formal figure or table, if appropriate.