Communicating Your key Ideas through Your Paper

When writing a research paper, it is important to remember that readers do not simply read, they interpret as well. Moreover, different readers extract different meanings from your paper, based on their expectations or the indications from the structure of your manuscript. This leads us to the foundation of good writing practices.

Manuscript structure: The key elements

The structure of most research manuscripts resembles an hourglass; it starts with broad statements, narrows down to the specifics of your study, and ends with broad considerations. This section explains the key components of a manuscript and outlines the key functions and content of each part.

Introduction 
Use this section to set the context for your study and problem. It should be remembered that some readers may not get the significance of your study instantly. So, adopt the general language and carefully developed logic to lead the potential readers to the major problem/objective of your study.

Should and should nots

  • Describe the objectives of the study
  • Explain how your research contributes to the field or advances knowledge
  • State the research question clearly
  • Explicate the theoretical framework of your study
  • Provide a background of the problem that your study aims to clarify and resolve
  • Give a summary of the current state of knowledge on the topic, and cite the related studies
  • Don’t review all published studies on the subject

Methods 
This is the most specific section of your study. The key criterion for well-conducted research is its replicability. In other words, another researcher should be able to reproduce the results by following the methods explained in your work.

Should and should nots

  • Provide particulars of all techniques, methods, and instruments
  • Provide photographs or diagrams of the experimental setup
  • Describe the questionnaire, survey, or other data collection instruments
  • Cite studies that endorse the validity and reliability of the analysis methods and instruments
  • Describe the lab settings or environment
  • Explain the methods of analysis and the reason you selected them
  • Don’t remove important details in order to avoid lengthy descriptions of the used methods

Results 
Include all the details of your data and results in this section. Highlight the most significant results in the manuscript and move on to the minor findings. Readers should be able to comprehend your findings without spending too much time reading this section. 

Should and should nots

  • Apply figures and tables effectively to present results in an understandable way.
  • Describe the actual data rather than  generalizations.
  • Mention the key findings in the text.
  • Underline unexpected or surprising findings in the text.
  • Explain the implications of the results, instead of just providing the statistical data (e.g., “X increased significantly with Y (supported by statistical data)” rather than “X and Y had a positive correlation of 0.73”).
  • In case the results of your study have been illustrated in figures and tables, do not provide detailed descriptions of the results in the text.

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