Scientific Research Process – How Do You Start Writing
Starting a scientific research paper is often the hardest part of the process.
Today, we will discuss tips that will aid you in writing a scientific research paper effectively.
Write a Vision Statement
The key message of your paper must be clear. Try articulating it into one sentence, especially since you will need to come back to it more than few times as you write the paper.
Imagine you are writing a press release. You will first recount everything you have achieved in your study. Articulating the key discovery into a sentence clarifies what to focus on throughout the paper.
Consider which journal you want to submit it to. Since journals can follow several different styles, it’s best to identify a short list of potential journals before you begin writing. Once you choose a few select journals to target, check their submission requirements in terms of length limits, figures, and formatting.
Don’t Start at the Beginning
It makes sense to begin with the abstract. It’s the first thing people read when they read your paper. So, shouldn’t you write it first? Well, no. Chances are, you are not ready to write the abstract. It is possible that you’ll end up telling a completely different story than you planned. It’s best if you leave it for later.
Storyboard the Figures
Figures, charts, and other illustrations convey information more quickly than words. For scientific papers, figures constitute the backbone of your paper. They inspire readers to learn about your discovery.
This is why many writers use a classic organizational approach known as “storyboarding,” where they lay out all figures on boards. You can do this through tools such as PowerPoint, Keynote, or Prezi.
You start by writing the vision statement on the first slide, and then continue listing down all your results on the next slides. You must include all data in the beginning, without paying attention to importance or order.
Later, you can evaluate the relative importance (e.g., main text vs. supplement) of each dataset while consolidating information (e.g., forming panel figures). It’s best to arrange these figures in a logical order to reinforce your hypothesis statement. Doing so will help you identify if you are missing data.
Write the Methods Section
The methods section is often the easiest part of a research paper to write. However, it’s important to make sure all the results in your paper are derived from the steps listed in the methods section.
In other words, if you have applied an entirely new experimental method, it’s essential to note each step, protocol, and control in meticulous detail. If possible, consider making a list of part numbers and manufacturers, as well.
However, if you are borrowing methods from previous studies, there’s little need to list all those things. Instead, you can cite relevant sources in the references. Don’t forget, there’s no need to include results in the methods section, unless your targeted journal requires it.
Write the Discussion and Results Section
In some journals, the discussion and results are written in separate sections. However, most researchers currently prefer merging the two sections. The discussion and results section is the most critical since it conveys the most important information. Since you story-boarded figures early, you now have an outline for this section.
You can start by writing a few paragraphs about each figure, explaining the result, its relevance to the hypothesis statement, and its relevance to your field of study. Wherever possible, you must provide numerical evidence for your results, especially when you are comparing previous studies.
At the same time, it’s essential to calculate experimental errors and illustrate error bars alongside results and reproducible analysis.
This section will help readers understand how your research fits in the context of existing studies and how your work contributes to the existing literature. Make sure this section smoothly moves on to the conclusion.
Write the Conclusion
In the conclusion, summarize everything you have already written. Emphasize the most important findings from your study and restate why they matter. State what you learned and end with the most important point you want the reader to take away from the paper, which should be your vision statement. From the conclusion, a reader should be able to understand the gist of your whole study, including your results and their significance.
Now Write the Introduction and Abstract
The introduction summarizes your research paper and provides a clear overview. Consider defining the problem in the context of the field while reviewing what other researchers have done to resolve the problem.
In the introduction, introduce your hypothesis and explain how your study contributes to existing knowledge on the subject. Most of your references will be mentioned in this section.
Write the Abstract
Consider your abstract as the main pitch for your research paper. The abstract consists of 150-300 words at maximum, which means you only have 10-20 sentences to pitch your research paper.
Therefore, you must address why investigating the particular problem was essential for the field and how your research helped resolve the problem. Consider mentioning your research’s potential impact in the future.
Moreover, it’s best to use relevant keywords in the abstract section. This is the only section that Google’s algorithm scans in response to web searches. Leveraging the right keywords can help your study gain viewership. Lastly, never forget to include quantitative metrics in the abstract section.
Sharing findings from your study in detail and creating a clear, logical structure can help you build a strong foundation for your research paper. If you think your research paper needs further improvement, consider our professional thesis editing services.