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Important Points from Chapters 11 and 12 of "How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper"

By Barbara Gastel | Sept. 4, 2023  | Research writing

This blog comprises hints from How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 9th edition (2022). These points come from Chapters 11 and 12.

Three points from Chapter 11, "How to Write the Materials and Methods Section": 
(1) In a scientific paper, the materials and methods section should provide the information needed to replicate the research. It also should enable readers to assess the suitability of the approach. 
(2) If a method is well-known to readers, you can just note it by name and cite a reference. If a method has been described in the literature but is not well-known to readers, it should be summarized in addition to being cited. If a method is one that you newly devised, you need to describe it fully.  
(3) Subheadings, tables, and figures can help in communicating about methods. Possibilities can include using subheadings such as “Experimental Design,” “Laboratory Studies,” and “Statistical Analysis”; supplying tables of experimental conditions; and providing a flow chart, diagram, or map. 

Three points from Chapter 12, "How to Write the Results":

(1) In the results section, as elsewhere in a scientific paper, organization is crucial. Options can include organizing the results chronologically, topic-by-topic, and from most to least important. 
(2) In the text of the results section, do not repeat in detail the content of the tables and figures. It can be appropriate, though, for the results section to state the main messages of tables and figures and present selected data from them.
(3) Increasingly, journals have been electronically posting content that is supplementary to papers they published. If you wish to share more data than you can reasonably include in the body of your paper, consider looking into this option.

Looking forward to providing some points from other chapters next time!

Barbara Gastel, MD, is professor of integrative biosciences and medical humanities at Texas A&M University, College Station, USA, where she coordinates the graduate program in science communication.

This series of posts originally appeared on Professor Barbara Gastel's LinkedIn page.

How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, by Barbara Gastel and Robert A Day, is available in paperbackhardback, and Kindle formats.

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