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IMRAD Info #2: A Method for the Methods Section

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By Barbara Gastel | Dec. 11, 2016  |

Greetings again. I hope you’re doing well.

Last week’s post discussed writing the introduction section of a journal article. This week’s post focuses on the next section: the methods.

Start preparing to write the methods section while still doing the research. As you work, keep careful records of what you do. In particular, note any changes from what you planned. Otherwise, you might forget the changes.

Consider the purposes of the methods section. In general, this section should provide the information needed to (1) replicate the research and (2) determine whether the methods suited the research question.

Check whether your journal’s instructions to authors include guidance on the methods section. Also look at the methods sections of some articles in the journal. Doing so can show what format and level of detail are suitable.

Of course, the methods section should be logically organized. Often much of the methods section is chronological. Some methods sections have parts—for example, on the study population, the survey protocol, and the statistical procedures. .

The methods section must contain enough detail. For example, authors may need to specify manufacturers of chemicals, strains and sources of organisms, and brands and models of equipment.

If you used a previously published method, you can briefly describe it and cite the source rather than describing the method fully. Of course, you must note any modifications you made.

Figures or tables sometimes can help communicate the methods. Among possibilities are flowcharts, maps, drawings of apparatus, and tables of experimental conditions.

In sum, preparing the methods methodically can help yield an effective paper.

Until the next post—

Barbara

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