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Writing research papers does not come naturally to most of us.The typical research paper is a highly codified rhetorical form [1,2].
The Methods section should provide the readers with sufficient detail about the study methods to be able to reproduce the study if so desired.
Thus, this section should be specific, concrete, technical, and fairly detailed.
The idea is not to split results into ‘least publishable units’, a practice that is rightly decried, but rather into ‘optimally publishable units’. The key attributes are: (i) specificity; (ii) originality or novelty; and (iii) general relevance to a broad scientific community.
The research question should be precise and not merely identify a general area of inquiry.
In the Introduction, the authors should explain the rationale and background to the study.
What is the research question, and why is it important to ask it?Finally, the question should be of interest to others who work in the same scientific area.The latter requirement is more challenging for those who work in applied science than for basic scientists.While strict adherence to such rules may not be necessary, following a plan such as that proposed in Table 1 may help the novice writer stay on track. Key assertions should be referenced, as well as the methods and instruments used.However, unless the paper is a comprehensive review of a topic, there is no need to be exhaustive.Knowledge of the rules—some explicit, others implied—goes a long way toward writing a paper that will get accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.A good research paper addresses a specific research question.In such cases, authors should define the main research question and design the paper around it.Generally, only one main research question should be addressed in a paper (secondary but related questions are allowed).While it is neither necessary nor desirable to provide a full-blown review of the literature as a prelude to the study, it is helpful to situate the study within some larger field of enquiry.The research question should always be spelled out, and not merely left for the reader to guess.