Have you ever wondered what it takes and how should scientific articles be written?
Writing a manuscript is an extremely challenging task, particularly if english is not your first language. It can take many weeks and months of drafting and redraftng to get it right.
The first part of the paper is, in fact, not the abstract, but the title itself. although finding a suitable title. Although finding a suitable title should be straightforward, it can often be one of the most difficult parts of a paper to perfect. The title should be concise, yet accurately describe the main findings of the study. In other words, it needs to be short, convey the main result, and be just broad enough, particularly if it will be submitted to higher impact journals. Essentially, a title needs to be a clear statement about your work. Avoid writing general statements.
One of the shortest parts of the paper, namely the abstract, is usually subjected to the largest number of changes. A good abstract should summarize all the major aspects of your paper in a concise way. Since abstracts are short, stick to your main results rather than trying to cram in as many details as possible. Make sure that the abstract properly reflects your key findings, in addition to the implications of your results. A reader should be able to understand the message of the paper from reading the abstract alone. It is therefore crucially important to get this part of the manuscript right, as it is often the only part a reviewer will have access to before deciding whether to review the whole paper. It is also the first part any reader will look at to obtain information about the quality and content of the paper.
An introduction does not need to be long, and it should never become an extended review of the literature. There is no point in trying to impress reviewers with your subject matter knowledge; the key is to be concise and to cover the key points pertinent to the aims of your research. Basically, the introduction should ideally provide a clear and coherent description of the background literature with appropriate referencing of the main claims. It should establish the context of the current work in relation to previous research.
The materials and methods section should be relatively straightforward and less time-consuming. Short, sharp sentences are often useful here, as the style of this section tends to be rather dry. The most important aspect is that it contains all the necessary information required for another scientist to repliicate your experiments and cross-check your results. If an ethical statement is required, for example due to the use of laboratory animals or human volunteers, this should be stated clearly. Many journals have their own preferred way to phrase this part, usually mentioned in the guide for authors. It is important to include a separate statistics file describing the statistical analyses used.
The results (and discussion) sections are the heart of any research article. There is often a great deal of flexibility about the arrangement of the results, the order in which they are described, the contents of a figure, and what has to be described within the text of the results. It is down to the author(s) to decide how to structure this particular section to best reflect their goals.
A good research paper is concise, straightforward, and avoids the use of any unnecessary “filler words”. Or, in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”.