Structure of a Research Paper
I. The Title Page
- Title: Tells the reader what to expect in the paper.
- Author(s): Most papers are written by one or two primary authors. The remaining authors have reviewed the work and/or aided in study design or data analysis (International Committee of Medical Editors, 1997). Check the Instructions to Authors for the target journal for specifics about authorship.
- Keywords [according to the journal]
- Corresponding Author: Full name and affiliation for the primary contact author for persons who have questions about the research.
- Financial & Equipment Support [if needed]: Specific information about organizations, agencies, or companies that supported the research.
- Conflicts of Interest [if needed]: List and explain any conflicts of interest.
II. Abstract: “Structured abstract” has become the standard for research papers (introduction, objective, methods, results and conclusions), while reviews, case reports and other articles have non-structured abstracts. The abstract should be a summary/synopsis of the paper.
III. Introduction: The “why did you do the study”; setting the scene or laying the foundation or background for the paper.
IV. Methods: The “how did you do the study.”
Describe the --
- Context and setting of the study
- Specify the study design
- Population (patients, etc. if applicable)
- Sampling strategy
- Intervention (if applicable)
- Identify the main study variables
- Data collection instruments and procedures
- Outline analysis methods
V. Results: The “what did you find” --
- Report on data collection and/or recruitment
- Participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)
- Present key findings with respect to the central research question
- Secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)
VI. Discussion: Place for interpreting the results
- Main findings of the study
- Discuss the main results with reference to previous research
- Policy and practice implications of the results
- Strengths and limitations of the study
VII. Conclusions: [occasionally optional or not required]. Do not reiterate the data or discussion. Can state hunches, inferences or speculations. Offer perspectives for future work.
VIII. Acknowledgements: Names people who contributed to the work, but did not contribute sufficiently to earn authorship. You must have permission from any individuals mentioned in the acknowledgements sections.
IX. References: Complete citations for any articles or other materials referenced in the text of the article.