In general the research paper is defined as a written and published report that describes original results of an investigation: it is written for others not for me.
The research paper is not a writing that the author keeps for himself, but must be clear enough for third parties to grasp the concrete message they really want to convey. In other words we can summarize that, the research paper:
– It is a report on the results of a scientific investigation,
– They refer to a scientific problem.
– The results of the investigation must be valid and reliable.
– Communicates for the first time the results of an investigation
The guide for the drafting of research papers published by UNESCO states that the essential purpose of a research paper is to communicate the results of research, ideas and debates in a clear, concise and reliable manner. That is why to write a good research paper must learn and apply the three fundamental principles of scientific writing.
What are the rules to consider when preparing a research paper?
– Title: must be expressed in 15 words that describe the content of the article in a clear, exact and concise.
– Enter up to a maximum of six authors according to the order of importance of their material and significant contribution to the research.
– Identify the institution or institutions where the research was carried out
– Include a structured summary, that between 150 and 300 words identify quickly and accurately the basic content of the article.
– Introduction: should explain the general problem, the research problem, what others wrote about it and the objectives and hypotheses of the study.
– Methods: describe the research design and explain how it was carried out, justifying the choice of methods and techniques in such a way that a competent reader can repeat the study.
– Present the description according to the sequence that followed the investigation: design, population and sample, variables, data collection, analysis, etc.
– Present the results of the study by mentioning the relevant findings (including those contrary to the hypothesis), including sufficient details to justify the conclusions.
– Use the most adequate, clear and economic presentation medium: preferably text (in past tense), tables and graphs (self explanatory) and illustrations (only essentials).
– In the discussion show the relationships between observed facts.
– Establish conclusions inferring or deducing a truth, responding to the research question posed in the introduction.
– In the acknowledgments section, acknowledge the collaboration of individuals or institutions who actually helped in the research, who collaborated in writing the article or reviewed the manuscript.
– List the bibliographical references according to order of mention in the text and only important works and recent publications (except classics).
– Exclude references not consulted by the author. Adopt the Vancouver style.
– Include in the form of Appendices relevant information that by its extension or configuration does not fit within the text.
In the research paper we can find several main sections:
1. The title
The title should be short, concise and clear. It is advisable that the title be written after writing the core of the manuscript (introduction, material-methods, results and discussion).
Titles may be informative (“High incidence of myocardial infarctions in smokers”) or indicative (“Incidence of myocardial infarction in smokers”).
2. How to prepare a summary?
A good summary should allow the reader to identify, in a fast and precise way, the basic content of the work; Should not be longer than 250 words and should be written in the past, except for the last paragraph or conclusive sentence. It should not provide information or conclusion that is not present in the text, nor should it cite bibliographic references. It should be clear the problem under investigation and the objective of the same.
In general, the Summary should:
– Set out the main objectives and scope of the research.
– Describe the methodology used.
– Summarize the results
– Generalize with the main conclusions.
The most frequent errors in the writing of the summary are:
– Do not clearly state the question
– Being too long
– Being too detailed
– The Introduction is therefore the presentation of a question
– Why this work has been done
– The interest you have in the scientific context
– Previous work on the subject and what aspects do not make clear, which are the object of our research.
– The last paragraph of the introduction is used to summarize the purpose of the study.
4. Material and methods
Answer the question of “how the study was done”.
The material and methods section is organized into five areas:
1) Design: describes the design of the experiment (randomized, controlled, cases and controls, clinical trial, prospective, etc.)
2) Population on which the study has been done. Describe the sample frame and how your selection was made
3) Environment: indicates where the study was done (hospital, primary care, school, etc.).
4) Interventions: Techniques, treatments (generic names always), measurements and units, pilot tests, devices and technology, etc. are described.
5) Statistical analysis: indicates the statistical methods used and how the data were analyzed.
It includes tables and figures that clearly express the results of the study conducted by the researcher.
The results must fulfill two functions:
1) Express the results of the experiments described in the Material and Methods.
2) Present the evidence that supports such results, whether in the form of figures, tables or in the same text.
The first paragraph of this text should be used to summarize in concise, clear and direct phrase the main finding of the study. This section should be written using past verbs.
Most readers will go after reading the abstract (although experts recommend that, after reading the title, the first thing to read is the material and methods) and the more complex section to elaborate and organize.
Some suggestions may help
– Begin the Discussion with the answer to the question of the Introduction, followed immediately with the evidence presented in the results that support it.
– Write this section in the present (“these data indicate that”), because the findings of the work are already considered scientific evidence.
– Bring to light and comment clearly, instead of hiding them, the anomalous results, giving them an explanation as coherent as possible or simply saying that this is what you have found, although for the moment no explanation is seen. If the author does not, surely the publisher will.
– Speculate and theorize with imagination and logic. This may fuel the interest of readers.
– Include any recommendations you deem appropriate, if appropriate.
– And, above all, avoid drawing more conclusions than their results allow, however much those conclusions are less spectacular than expected or desired.