Academic Journal Paper Writing Guide

Academic Journal Paper Writing Guide will provide a step-by-step research paper writing guide towards enhancing your output as a researcher. Publication of a research paper is usually one of the outcomes of research work. It is usually a thing of joy to write a paper that is accepted and published by a reputable peer-reviewed journal.

However, acceptance of the paper depends on many things, an essential one being- journal paper writing. This post would give a guide on how to write a manuscript, especially for an original article following the IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) approach.

Introduction

This is usually the first section of a journal article. Here, you give a background to the study, stating and explaining the basic terms in this topic or area under study. You will need to present a sound problem statement. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Why is it a problem? Why are you trying to solve it? This introduction section is also where you present the hypothesis you are testing along with the significance of your work.

The introduction section is a summary of chapter one of your dissertation or thesis. However, unlike a dissertation or thesis, it should not be more than five paragraphs based on the total word requirement of the journal you intend to publish. This is the first part of the text and would determine if readers would complete the text and make use of your article in their work. Therefore, this section should be as transparent as possible.

Methods

In this step, you describe the method used in obtaining the data used for the research. In this section, you describe the study site or location, inclusion and exclusion criteria, sample size, data collection tools, data analysis, and type of research, among others. The formatting of this section should be based on the specific journals. For some journals, this section is usually structured and divided into sections while this is not the case for others. Also, this section is the summary of chapter three- the materials and method section of your academic paper.

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Additionally, this section should not be more than five paragraphs. The methods section is usually very voluminous in experimental research. Also, strive to present this method as clear as possible as this will determine or affect the replicability of your work.

Results:

This is where you present the findings of your work. Here you make use of various statistical tools such as mean, range, standard deviation, chi-square, t-test, Analysis of variance (ANOVA), and regression, among others, along with tables, pie charts, and bar graphs among others. Also, based on your discipline or area of work, your result section might have pictures (e.g. slides from a microscope, experimental sites), graphs, and maps, among others.

As there are numerous tools to present your data, use the most appropriate tool based on the data type, volume and discipline. How you present your result determines the extent to which readers would understand your findings and comprehend the contributions you have made. Also, if you are not an expert in statistician, seek the help of a statistician in order to use the right tools in analysing and presenting the data.

Discussion:

This is usually seen as the most challenging section of a research manuscript. However, if you can grasp the basics, you will find out that it is very easy. This section is where you validate your finding with that of others. In the result section, you have presented only your findings. Here, you compare and contrast your finding with that of other authors who have worked on similar topics and give reasons for the similarities or differences. An example from a research manuscript is shown below.

“Majority of the respondents in this study were either obese or overweight. This might be attributed to decreased physical activity and decreased energy expenditure that is associated with ageing. Therefore, predisposing the elderly to both fat accumulation and fat redistribution. This finding corroborates that of Kristin et al. (2012), where a large percentage of the elderly were either overweight or obese.”

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Studying the example, you will notice that the writer presents the findings of his or her study, gives reasons for the finding and validates with a work that had similar results. This is how the discussion part of a journal paper is written. However, this format might not hold at all times. For example, when writing a foundational work in an area with no similar or closely similar results. However, expert authors would navigate such difficulty easily by comparing and contrasting with studies that do not seem similar.

Conclusion

This is where the writer summarises the work along with actions to be taken in light of such findings. This is usually short and between 1-3 paragraphs. It is different from the abstract, which is also a summary but the first part of the paper to be seen or the only part publicly available for non-open access journals or papers.

Abstract

As earlier introduced, an abstract is a summary of the research work. It is usually limited to 150-500 words based on the journal. It can be structured (Introduction, Materials, Results, Conclusion) or unstructured based on the format of the journal. However, note that the content of a structure and a structured abstract is the same; the only difference is that the subtitles are not explicitly spelt out. The abstract should be as catchy and attractive as possible as this is the part most readers read and determine if they would download, read or purchase the full text depending on the journal type.

Recommendations

This can be a separate section or merged with the discussion section based on the journal requirement. In this section, the researcher posits or presents practical, evidence-based steps, actions or activities that can be undertaken or cancelled based on the findings of the research work.

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Limitation

Every research work has its limitation and authors must present what might limit the accuracy of their findings. This is very important as it guides translating findings to practice. For example, if findings from the study should not be generalised to some specific persons or groups. This should be stated lest it is generalised, which will negatively impact or harm is inflicted on this group. This section seems insignificant, but it is essential in translating the findings from the pages of the journal to the life of people.

References

This is made up of both in-text and list references and should be done according to the format and referencing style prescribed by the journal authors intend to submit the work for publishing. Also, the total number of in-text references must be equal to the number of list references. Also, writers must stay clear of plagiarism; appropriate referencing guides against this.

Other sections that can be found in a journal paper based on journal format are:

  • Acknowledgement: Authors appreciate individuals and groups that helped out with the work and who do not meet the criteria of being authors of the work. The specific roles these persons or groups played is usually stated.
  • Authors’ role: In this section, the specific roles of the authors in the journal paper are stated. Roles in this category include conceptualisation, writing, reviewing, and editing, among others.
  • Source of funding: Here, the specific source of funding (grant) is stated along with other details required by the journal.

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