Guide-for-how-to-write-journal-article

Guide for how to write journal article


Every researcher has faced a blank page at some point in their career, wondering where to start and what to write first. Describing one’s research work in a format understandable to others and acceptable for publication is not an easy undertaking. When researchers invest a lot of time, energy, and often money in their research, they become intimately and emotionally involved. Naturally, they are convinced of the value of their research and its importance to the scientific community. However, the subjectivity that comes with deep involvement can make it difficult to step back and think clearly about what the best way to present their research in a clear and understandable way is, so that others, probably non-experts in their field, can also appreciate the value of their findings.

This blog offers researchers insight into the journal article writing process that veteran researchers follow, so amateur researchers can benefit from knowing exactly what goes into a successful research article writing and publication process and can also use tips for publishing research papers in journals

  • Step #1

First Steps – Things To Do Even Before Writing A Single Word

  • Researchers need to do some preparatory work needs to be done before they write a word of their article. 
  • This background work should normally already have been done by the time they start writing because it also serves as the backdrop for the research project they are writing about. 
  • All the time they invest in preparing the protocol for their project is an advance on writing the article that will come out of their project. 
  • Thus, they have probably already carried out an in-depth literature review to establish the current state of knowledge on the subject and to ensure the originality of their research during the development of the protocol, and this can be used for their article. 
  • It is helpful for them when reviewing the literature to take notes on the important points or phrases they intend to include in their article, along with the relevant references. 
  • Reference management software (free versions of commercially available products) can be useful to manage the large volume of references they are likely to sift through before sifting through the most significant points.
  • Usually, researchers will also have the final results of the statistical analysis of their data. 
  • This will form the basis of their results section. 
  • Some of the graphical representations of their results will serve as figures for the article, so it is useful to highlight the most important findings as they read the results, so they don’t forget anything important. 
  • Register for an international conference in 2022 to learn more about this topic. 
  • Before researchers start writing, they should identify the target journal where they intend to submit their research. 
  • This will have consequences on the formatting, but especially on the orientation of their writing style, since the writing must be adapted to the type of reader they are targeting. 
  • For example, are they targeting a specialty journal, where readers are expected to be experts in their discipline, or a traditional medicine journal, where readers themselves may be specialists from other disciplines? 
  • This will have implications for the quantity and sort of information they need to include. 
  • Additionally, the editorial policy of the target journal must also be taken into account. 
  • For example, in a given area of ​​expertise, some journals favor articles reporting on basic research, while other journals favor more clinical work. 
  • The choice of the target journal is dependent on a series of factors that go beyond the scope of this article. 
  • However, researchers should at least check that their article fits within the scope of the journal they have chosen.
  • Step #2

Recognizing What The Main Sections Of A Scientific Article Are

  • The vast majority of academic journals follow what is referred to as the “IMRAD” format, i.e., 
    • introduction, 
    • methods, 
    • results, and 
    • discussion. 
  • There are, of course, exceptions to this formatting convention, and researchers should always check the instructions to authors of the journal in which they plan to submit their article to make sure it is in the recommended format. 
  • This article will deal only with the IMRAD format, as it is the most widely used. Researchers’ articles should therefore contain (in this order) an introduction, a methods section, a results section, and a discussion. 
  • To this will be added the summary, which is more or less a summary of these main sections, and of course, the title. 
  • In the conclusion, there has to be a list of bibliographical references, tables, and figure legends. 
  • Finally, there may also be other optional sections, such as acknowledgments, conflicts of interest, or author contributions.
  • Step #3

Getting The Intro Right

  • The introduction is essential to capture the reader’s attention. 
  • Especially during the review process, the introduction should get the reviewer “hooked”, eager to learn more, and thinking, “How come I never thought of this?”. 
  • As a result of this, while writing the section, authors look to offer insight into-
    • their reasons for undertaking their study, 
    • what they hoped for their research to be perceived as, and 
    • how they hoped their research would prove to be beneficial and add value to their field. 
  • Partaking in an engineering and technology conference gives researchers the chance to meet up with veteran researchers who will offer them more insight into this. 
  • Concretely, they should start by briefly explaining, with the help of appropriate references, what is already known on this subject. 
  • Researchers must then narrow the field somewhat and identify the areas where there is still some uncertainty, citing any previous (and possibly conflicting) data where appropriate. 
  • This will logically lead to an explanation of an explicit knowledge gap that their study hopes to fill. 
  • It is an essential element to justify the usefulness of their work. 
  • After explaining how their study will bring something new and useful, research authors must clearly state their working hypothesis, followed by their objective(s), and very briefly, the strategy implemented to achieve these objectives. 
  • In the background, the reasons that prompted them to undertake their research must be apparent to the reader and justified by the current state of scientific understanding with the appropriate references. 
  • It’s not necessary to cite every article of literature on the subject; a rigorous selection of the most relevant publications is sufficient.
  • Likewise, there is no need to state universal truths that may seem too simplistic or eminently obvious.
  • Still, research authors should try to strike an appropriate balance between relevant background information and excessive detail. 
  • In this regard, they must keep in mind the target audience they are aiming for.
  • This will depend on the readership profile of the journal in which they intend to submit their research, as mentioned above. 
  • If they are targeting a trade journal, their background may be more detailed and technical than if they were addressing an audience of non-specialists in their field.
  • The introduction should logically move towards identifying the knowledge gap they hope to fill. 
  • This is an opportunity for research authors to indicate the added value of their study or the new information that their study will provide. 
    • Will their results change clinical practice? 
    • Will they help the scientific community as a whole move towards consensus on a previously controversial topic by providing hard evidence one way or the other? 
  • It’s their chance to make a sales pitch for their article, in the proper terms, of course.
  • As much as possible, research authors should try to avoid going off-topic. Each sentence should serve a purpose. 
  • Many newspapers have a limit on the length of the introduction, with a maximum number of words or pages allowed, so they’re going to have to stay focused. 
  • They should carefully check the ‘Instructions To Authors’ of their target journal for guidance on the appropriate length of introduction. 
  • In the absence of explicit recommendations, it is considered that the introduction should be approximately one to one and a half pages.
  • The wording of their goal is of paramount importance, and they should take the time to think it through carefully. 
  • The objective should be explicitly stated and should include the exact parameter they wish to assess and by what means. 
  • The goal of their study, as stated in the article, is the same as the goal formulated in their study protocol (authors have to remember – every research project should have a written protocol before they begin). 
  • It is helpful to choose one wording for their purpose and use the same throughout the article, i.e., in the introduction, results, discussion, summary, and even partially, in the title. 
  • Don’t be afraid to sound repetitive; repetition is not necessarily a bad thing in an article. 
  • This at least shows the reader that they know what they’re talking about and using the same terms throughout avoids confusion.
  • Finally, a word about tense to use in the introduction. 
  • For many scholars, English is not their first language, and this is an additional difficulty in the writing process that has to be overcome. 
  • Research authors should try to take advantage of all available resources to help them with the quality of their written English. 
  • Many large institutions have translators or scientific editors who can translate or proofread their text. 
  • Pointers for the tense to be used in the introduction can be sought from experienced colleagues. 
  • Authors should register and partake in a 2022 online international conference to learn more. 
  • Step #4

Understanding What The Methods Section Is All About

  • The reason for the methods section being there is to offer an explanation for exactly what the research author did, and how, in enough detail that any average reader with the same resources can reproduce their study. 
  • There must be a method described for each result they intend to include in their results section – i.e., they cannot present the results of a test or analysis that was not mentioned in the methods. 
  • Conversely, if the details of one or all of the proceedings have already been published elsewhere, a brief summary will suffice, together with a reference to the relevant publication.
  • They must begin by specifying the design of the study (prospective/retrospective, randomized or not, double-blind or open, controlled, crossover, factorial, etc.). 
  • Any choice of unusual methodology for the study design should be justified, either by appropriate references or guidelines or by an explanation of the specific context requiring their particular approach. 
  • Next comes the description of who or what you studied, i.e., the population studied (human subjects, cells, animals, etc.).
  • For the majority of clinicians, the study population will include human subjects, and therefore inclusion and non-inclusion should be detailed.
  • Procedures for recognizing eligible patients should also be described (consultations, new admissions, daily rounds, staff meetings, case review meetings, etc.). 
  • Note that for retrospective studies, methods should begin with a description of the source data of the study, i.e., the inclusion and non-inclusion criteria and the final number of files and/or patients chosen. 
  • Nevertheless, for prospective studies, the methods should describe inclusion and non-inclusion, but the final number of patients included is considered an outcome and should therefore be reported in the Results section, not in the Methods section.
  • After describing the study population, research authors can proceed to describe all the methods used to measure all the main parameters recorded in your study. 
  • They must specify the primary and secondary parameters, along with the methods used to measure them. 
  • This is absolutely fundamental because the choice of the main criterion is decisive for the success of the study. 
  • This is the only criterion that allows them to draw formal conclusions about the result of the study, and therefore it should be carefully selected. 
  • Again, this point will already have been thoroughly considered during the planning phase. 
  • This underscores once again how much the writing of their paper is greatly facilitated by proper discussion and reflection during the planning stage of their research project. 
  • Any high-level educational international conference will be able to offer research authors more insight into this.
  • Finally, the last paragraph of the Methods section should detail the statistical analysis. 
  • Standard statements about data presentation should come first; for example, normally distributed quantitative data is presented as the mean standard deviation or median for non-normally distributed data, and qualitative data as a number (percentage). 
  • Next, the specific statistical approaches used should be listed – 
    • which test for which type of variable; 
    • the type of multivariate analysis and the variables included in it; 
    • approach used for survival analysis.
  • Step #5

Knowing How To Nail The Results Section

  • The objective of the results section is so research authors can describe what they observed without comment or discussion. 
  • It isn’t necessary any longer to describe the methods as this has already been taken care of in the methods section.
  • This is why research authors should stick to addressing their research outcomes. 
  • The reader will remember the methods used if he reads the methods section carefully. 
  • It is also unnecessary to comment on or interpret phrases such as “surprisingly”. . .” or “interestingly”. 
  • These are usually perceived as not appropriate for usage in the results section. 
  • Authors should describe a result for each method that has been described in the methods section, and to make the document easier to follow and read, it is recommended that they present the results in the very same order as the methods. 
  • Likewise, using subheadings (again, the same ones used in the methods section) can help break down the results into easy-to-follow sections.
  • A standard results paragraph should begin by recalling the type of analysis, then detail the results observed by referring to the relevant tables or figures (e.g.’ ‘the number of lesions was much greater in the first group compared to the second one”). For methods, results should be presented in the past tense (imperfect).
  • A primary question that many researchers have when writing the results section is whether it is best to describe the results in the text or use a table or figure. 
  • Although there are no hard and fast rules for this, conventionally, results that can seamlessly be explained in one or two lines can be written in the text.
  • Tables must be used for data such as outcomes, baseline characteristics, and treatments when the same variables are described for two or more groups.
  • The tables also usually contain the most important results and, on their own, should be enough to offer the reader a clear idea of ​​the author’s conclusions.
  • Numbers are useful in cases where the source data is either too complex to present or difficult to interpret. 
  • Relationships and trends lend themselves to graphical presentation in numbers. 
  • There might be a limit to the total number of illustrations (figures and tables) they are granted, depending on the target journal, so again, authors should check the guidance before including too much. 
  • Also, authors should be careful not to include too many illustrations so that they do not lose interest, and above all, they shouldn’t repeat in the text data that is already in a table or figure. 
  • Engaging a top-tier research consultancy such as IFERP is bound to help you write an excellent results section for your research paper. 
  • Step #6

Making Sure The Discussion Section Is Written As It Should Be

  • This discussion is where research authors interpret and explain the meaning of their findings and how they fit into the bigger picture of what has already been observed and reported on the same topic. 
  • The discussion must start off with a brief summary of the main findings of their study, preferably using the same wording used for the primary objective (in the introduction) and primary endpoint (in the methods). 
  • The interpretation of their results can follow this. 
  • Authors should be careful when interpreting not to simply repeat the results or, at the other end of the scale, not to over-interpret. 
  • They must present their findings in a factual manner; after all, this is a scientific article, not a prose novel. 
  • For instance, if authors state in their Results section that “Upon analysis of drug A, twenty out of twenty-five patients suffered from epidural hemorrhage”, it is not correct to state in the Discussion section that “ninety percent of patients who’ve been administered drug A suffer from epidural hemorrhage”. 
  • This is a subtle shift in interpretation that belies this original data. It would be more accurate, for instance, to say that “our results indicate that drug A might have considerable adverse effects.” 
  • Putting their results into perspective along with other reports is a crucial part of the discussion. 
    • How do their results compare to other reports in the literature? 
    • If their results are different, do they have plausible explanations? 
    • What are the possible discrepancies in circumstances, approaches, or populations, that might possibly explain why they observed what they observed? 
  • Any particularly surprising or interesting findings should be discussed, and potential explanations advanced. 
  • Can their results be extrapolated to other settings or populations, and if not, why not? 
  • If multiple tests or procedures were performed, they need to go beyond focusing on individual results to explain what the overall significance of the results is when all tests or tests are taken together. 
  • By attending a 2022 international conference, authors will be able to find out more about how to write a Discussion section. 
  • Step #7

Understanding The Importance Of The Abstract Section In Order To Write A Brilliant One

  • The abstract is nothing but a brief summary of the article in a few sections (usually background, methods, results, and conclusion). 
  • It is used for referencing purposes in online bibliographic databases (such as PubMed) and should therefore form an independent unit understandable as a stand-alone text, without the need to refer to the full text. 
  • It is also usually the first item a potential reviewer will see when asked to review an article for publication in a journal. 
  • Therefore, it is essential that the summary be succinct yet informative and attractive to give the potential reader a taste of the main information and to incite a desire to read the full article. 
  • It’s the ultimate marketing tool for an author’s work, so it’s worth putting some time and thought into preparing it.
  • There are a few main points to remember when preparing the summary, but space is limited, so authors should keep it brief. 
  • If authors have given sufficient time and thought to preparing their project and writing the resulting article, preparing the abstract should not take much time.
  • Research authors will easily find one or two sentences in the introduction, which can be reused in the Abstract section (possibly with a necessary shortening). 
  • Similarly, results will mostly be copy-pasted from the results section of the article. 
  • The conclusion can be framed as the main take-home message of their work.
  • Indeed, the most difficult part of the abstract is often shortening it enough to fit the target journal’s word limit.
  • Step #8

Coming Up With A Catchy The Title

  • Last but not least is the title of the article. The title should contain keywords to reflect the main issues of a research author’s article. 
  • It must also arouse the interest of the potential reader and make him want to read their work in its entirety. 
  • Authors need to remember that people looking for publications on a particular topic will usually use PubMed/Medline or other online repositories, and therefore their title should contain the main terms and keywords so that it can be easily identified through PubMed. 
  • If the title is poorly worded, their work will not be easily identifiable and will never be listed in the search results of others, so their article will never be cited by others because they did not find or read it. 
  • Once their title has been identified and listed among dozens or even hundreds of other articles on the same subject, it must stand out from other articles by specifying how their article contributes to existing literature or fills a gap in knowledge. 
  • It might seem like a tall order for a simple title, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem. 
  • Authors should look at the titles of articles in highly reputable journals and medical journals to inspire them (both general medical journals and the most cited specialist journals in their field) and examples of what constitutes an effective title. 
  • Authors should keep in mind that their target journal may have a limit (in terms of word or character count) on title length. 
  • Again, making it short is more difficult than coming up with a four-line title. 
  • By looking up this list of every upcoming conference in 2022, researchers will be able to gain further clarity on this topic.  
  • Step #9

Ensuring Suitable References Have Been Provided 

  • The reference section lists all the sources an author has used as the basis for preparing their hypothesis and building their research. 
  • It is their professional and ethical obligation to document their work adequately and ensure full transparency in identifying their sources. 
  • It is also imperative to cite the sources on which their assumptions are based to prove that they are well-founded. 
  • References support their work and place it in the context of other studies on the same subject while providing guidance for readers who wish to read further on the subject.
  • Many young researchers find it difficult to judge when it is necessary to cite a reference. 
  • Basically, any idea or fact that comes from another source (other than themselves) must be backed up with a reference. 
  • Nevertheless, universal truths or facts that are well-established don’t require any referencing (e.g.,smoking causes cancer). 
  • However, ideas, or more particularly, phrases or names that have been invented by someone else, should be referenced (e.g., patients with the “McConnell sign” – McConnell’s article describing the sign should be cited here. 
  • Or, patients have been classified according to the BARC criteria – the article describing the BARC criteria should be cited here). 
  • Download the IFERP app to learn more about this.
  • When citing references, aside from specific papers that give their name to a sign or classification system as in the examples above, you should give priority to papers published in English in peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Citing sections of published books is also acceptable, but you must be very specific and list the exact names and titles of the relevant chapter, with page numbers, and the names of the authors and/or publishers of the book, with its publication details.
  • Websites should be avoided whenever possible, as should personal communications and unpublished data. 
  • If you have several possible references, you may prefer to choose the most recent or those published in the most reliable and reputable journals.

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  • How Typical University Seed Funding Programs Work
    • Universities typically invest in research studies with potential through what is known as “seed funding”. 
    • They also grant faculty members and educators in their institutions, seed funding that is negotiated as part of the employment contract between these faculty members and the university. 
  • Seed funding offers significant benefits for all – students, amateur & experienced research professionals, as well as junior & senior faculty by allowing them to recruit their first graduate students and post-docs, go to conferences to make themselves known, and equip their labs. 
  • These programs typically offer – 
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  • The Drawbacks Of Such Programs
    • However, seed funding has some limitations as a career development tool in that it is not reflected in seniority and promotion records because it is not considered a funded scholarship. 
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    • An applicant’s success in obtaining federal scholarships can be enhanced if they opt to get funding for a project. 
    • Seed funds are relatively small internal grants that are allocated by universities to the applicants in anticipation that they will lead to greater benefits. 
    • Seed funding programs vary widely in scope, scale, and emphasis within and between universities.
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