How To Start Writing Your Scientific Paper: Tips For Non-English Speakers. Tip # 3.

Tip number 3: Write the methods section. It’s one of the easiest to write!

In this series of posts on “How to start writing your scientific paper”, I am focusing on the scientific paper for journal publication from conducting experiments or original research. This series of blog posts is intended for the non-native English speakers.

The next section that I write, after deciding the what key messages are, writing down the main conclusions of the paper is the Methods section. This is also one of the more easier part of the paper to write. It will be a bit longer and will require very specific details of the methods of the study. But this section is easy to write because in this section you are detailing and describing the steps you took that enabled you to conduct the study.

I tend to write very short straight to the point sentences. You want other researchers to follow your methods and replicate your study (and hopefully to obtain similar results!) – which is the essence of science. Any research published must be replicable. If other researchers are not able to follow your methods clearly, the results of your study will be questioned. Indeed some journals have retracted published papers because other scientists could not confirm results published following the methods described.

Again – remember. Short, specific to the point sentences describing your study methods. If you used a laboratory protocol that is unique, describe it in detail step by step. Follow a logical sequence in describing the methods. Allow your readers to follow logically how you went about doing the research. Do not confuse them. Use simple words. Do not use words that you are not familiar with or do not understand. Complex words do not change the science in your paper! Use of complex words may make the paper look sophisticated and glossy but what’s the use if readers do not understand your message. Be true to yourself. That is what I have been doing and it has served me well.

Mention statistical software or the analytical methods you used to analyze the data. This is very important!

The methods section could be 3-5 paragraphs. One paragraph should describe only one aspect of the methods. In a small study, just 2 paragraphs could be sufficient. The key thing is you must describe the steps in detail and be specific. Short and specific without missing out details that the reader can use to replicate your study.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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