How to write an original research paper (and get it published)The purpose of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) is more than just archiving data from librarian research. Our goal is to present research findings to end users in the most useful way.
The “Knowledge Transfer” model, in its simplest form, has three components: creating the knowledge (doing the research), translating and transferring it to the user, and incorporating the knowledge into use.
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We, the JMLA, must obtain the information and knowledge from researchers and then work with them to present it in the most useable form This will not get your paper accepted every single time. Some variation is good. Peter Pietzuch (Imperial College London) How To Get Your Systems Paper .
That means the information must be in a standard acceptable format and be easily readable.
There is a standard, preferred way to write an original research paper. The acronym, IMRAD, stands for Introduction, And Discussion. IMRAD has dominated academic, scientific, and public health journals since the second half of the twentieth century.
It is recommended in the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” 1 . The IMRAD structure helps to eliminate unnecessary detail and allows relevant information to be presented clearly in a logical sequence 2, 3 .
Here are descriptions of the IMRAD sections, along with our comments and suggestions. If you use this guide for submission to another journal, be sure to check the publisher's prescribed formats.
IntroductionThe Introduction sets the stage for your presentation. It has three parts: what is known, what is unknown, and what your burning question, hypothesis, or aim is. Keep this section short, and write for a general audience (clear, concise, and as nontechnical as you can be).
How would you explain to a distant colleague why and how you did the study? Take your readers through the three steps ending with your specific question.
Emphasize how your study fills in the gaps (the unknown), and explicitly state your research question How do I Come Up with Ideas for a Paper? Techniques for managing your time while you work on a long term research paper or short term writing assignment. Tips for crafting a strong thesis statement that can be sustained throughout the whole of a long assignment..
Remember to leave details, descriptions, speculations, and criticisms of other studies for the Discussion.
The Methods section gives a clear overview of what you did. Give enough information that your readers can evaluate the persuasiveness of your study.
Describe the steps you took, as in a recipe, but be wary of too much detail. If you are doing qualitative research, explain how you picked your subjects to be representative.
You may want to break it into smaller sections with subheadings, for example, context: when, where, authority or approval, sample selection, data collection (how), follow-up, method of analysis. Cite a reference for commonly used methods or previously used methods rather than explaining all the details.
Flow diagrams and tables can simplify explanations of methods. You may use first person voice when describing your methods.
ResultsThe Results section summarizes what the data show. Avoid simply repeating the numbers that are already available in the tables and figures.
Data should be restricted to tables as much as possible.
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For example, if you had a demographic table with a row of ages, and age was not significantly different among groups, your text could say, “The median age of all subjects was 47 years.
There was no significant difference between groups (Table) How to get your first academic paper published. Kevin O'Gorman offers 10 tips on securing your first academic publication. February 23, 2016. Share on twitter .
” This is preferable to, “The mean age of group 1 was 48. ”Break the Results section into subsections, with headings if needed.
Complement the information that is already in the tables and figures. And remember to repeat and highlight in the text only the most important numbers.
Use the active voice in the Results section, and make it lively. Information about what you did belongs in the Methods section, not here. And reserve comments on the meaning of your results for the Discussion section.
Results section:▪ If you need to cite the number in the text (not just in the table), and the total in the group is less than 50, do not include percentage. ”▪ Do not forget, if you have multiple comparisons, you probably need adjustment. DiscussionThe Discussion section gives you the most freedom. Most authors begin with a brief reiteration of what they did.
Every author should restate the key findings and answer the question noted in the Introduction. Focus on what your data prove, not what you hoped they would prove.
Start with “We found that…” (or something similar), and explain what the data mean. Anticipate your readers' questions, and explain why your results are of interest.
Then compare your results with other people's results. This is where that literature review you did comes in handy.
Discuss how your findings support or challenge other studies. You do not need every article from your literature review listed in your paper or reference list, unless you are writing a narrative review or systematic review. Your manuscript is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the topic.
Do not provide a long review of the literature—discuss only previous work that is directly pertinent to your findings.
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(If your article is a systematic review, the citation list might be long. Finding a perceived knowledge need, for example, does not necessarily mean that library colleges must immediately overhaul their curricula and that it will improve health care and save lives and money (unless your data show that, in which case give us a chance to publish it!). Always note limitations that matter, not generic limitations. Point out unanswered questions and future directions.
Give the big-picture implications of your findings, and tell your readers why they should care. End with the main findings of your study, and do not travel too far from your data.
Remember to give a final take-home message along with implications. Notice that this format does not include a separate Conclusion section.
For example, here is the last paragraph of the Discussion section in a recent NEJM article: In conclusion, our trial did not show the hypothesized benefit of the intervention in patients…who were at high risk for complications. Other parts of your research paper independent of IMRAD include:Tables and figures are the foundation for your story. Editors, reviewers, and readers usually look at titles, abstracts, and tables and figures first. Figures and tables should stand alone and tell a complete story.
Your readers should not need to refer back to the main text. Abstracts can be free-form or structured with subheadings.
Always follow the format indicated by the publisher; the JMLA uses structured abstracts for research articles. The main parts of an abstract may include introduction (background, question or hypothesis), methods, results, conclusions, and implications.
So begin your abstract with the background of your study, followed by the question asked. Next, give a quick summary of the methods used in your study.
Key results come next with limited raw data if any, followed by the conclusion, which answers the questions asked (the take-home message). Tips▪ Recommended order for writing a manuscript is first to start with your tables and figures.
Many recommend writing your Results, followed by Abstract.
▪ We suggest authors read their manuscripts out loud to a group of librarians HOW TO START A RESEARCH PAPER? CHOOSE A TOPIC. FIND INFORMATION. Surf the Net. MAKE YOUR THESIS STATEMENT. Most research papers normally require a thesis statement. MAKE A RESEARCH PAPER OUTLINE. ORGANIZE YOUR NOTES. WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT. REVISE YOUR OUTLINE AND DRAFT. TYPE FINAL PAPER..
How to write an original research paper (and get it published)
▪ Every paragraph should answer your readers' question, “Why are you telling me this?”All sizes welcomeThe JMLA welcomes all sizes of research manuscripts: definitive studies, preliminary studies, critical descriptive studies, and test-of-concept studies. We also welcome case studies, commentaries, letters to the editor about articles, and subject reviews.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.
Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication. (Available from:< /pmc/articles/PMC3142758/?report=classic>. The introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) structure: a fifty-year survey. The origins of the scientific paper: the IMRAD format. Articles from Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association