Our company is called a review and we do edit essays, but we also mostly edit research papers. Your research papers dissertations manuscripts journal cover letters anything that you might need for universities for submission or for research or journals etc. and before we go on I'm gonna tell you a bit about myself. I am the managing editor at an essay review and my job is to edit papers and also to check what other editors see and how they head it. I have a degree in a master's degree in English I am NOT a scientific researcher, but I have edited hundreds and hundreds of scientific manuscripts. What we're going to talk about today is going to be about writing quality. We're not going to focus on research or how to do research, but how to make your research paper better, that you can get good grades and you will be able to get into journals and get your work published that's the point right.
The content of the lecture today we're going to start with an overview of what is research writing will then talk about the structure of the research paper what parts it's composed of and you'll see there's four parts and following that we will talk about composing each section how do you start from the beginning and compose each section and then we will discuss some tips for improving the quality of writing okay, the question we want to ask first is what the what is the point of the research paper what's the purpose as you might know the main purpose is to share your knowledge share the knowledge you've gained in your study with others especially with researchers you want to show how your study fits into the current science and if you're writing for a popular journal such as science or nature or one of the more the popular or science journals then you're going to be informing the public regular people not just researchers.
So let me begin by introducing myself and my our service.
Let's talk about four important factors of research writing now this is not the research itself, but research writing. The first factor we're going to consider is coherence it wants all and that means including all of the necessary information in every section what is the necessary information we will get to that later, it means not repeating the information, writing we see many times writers use the same phrase again it looks very unprofessional. You want to try to avoid that the next factor is organization an organization is a structure the IM rd who has heard of IM rd or I am our ad have any of you heard that this structure maybe once you know what it stands for you'll know I am our D stands for introduction methods results in the discussion.
That's going to be what we will discuss today it's the body of the or of most research papers you want to put the right content in the right place, okay, that's we're going to show you how to do that the third Factor of writing is relevance means a lot of things, but it means conforming to the length guidelines it means choosing the right data. For example, if you have a research paper that's 4,000 words, you don't want to write 10 results or 10 methods probably you want a smaller number of methods, what the exact answer is it's really up to you, but you want to make sure that your the research methods and results you include are relevant and most important the most important methods most important results fourth factor of writing is clarity means writing elegantly and nicely. It should be really easy to read and understand your paper should not be a struggle I understand English is not most of your first language is your first language. We don't expect in most journals don't expect you to get the language perfect and when you send the manuscript to the editor what do you kill John Hart, the editor I didn't kill tonight they just edit for grammar and for clear communication they cannot change the structure of your paper. This is going to be up to you, but as far as clarity goes we can help you with that as editors. You need to use proper grammar phrasing and style and not too many extra words ok this below I don't know if you can see, but this is kind of a golden rule for all rules you want to check the formatting and style rules of your target journal. If you have if you're applying to I don't know bioscience monthly you want to read everything about four about authors or four authors sections and you want to read as many articles as possible to get a sense of what their articles look like ok.
Now that we've discussed that let's talk about research writing structure.
Basically there are four main parts in most research papers that you need to follow and they're usually in this order and that is introduction methods results and the discussion sometimes you have a concluding paragraph you've probably seen this structure before I imagine, but maybe you haven't learned learn exactly what to do with them I mean who here has written a research paper for a journal raise your hand if you've written a paper for a journal okay a couple of you how about have you written a research paper for a class no mother young woman there's how's that's what voiceover yeah for class if not then yeah is a really good lecture to attend because we're going to be talking about the basics, but even researchers who have written many articles can still benefit from learning how to write how to write these sections better, your information actually moves from broad to specific and back to broad, this is the shape of the research paper you notice it has a sort of funnel shape. You start with the introduction what is known the basic topic that you're going to discuss and you quickly move into the literature what is unknown what are the gaps in the literature and the middle here you can see this is your hypothesis, you're going to give a very short statement about what your research study is doing what's the purpose of it and your methods and results section as you can see here methods and results are the shortest they're the shortest part of your paper, but they're the most compact they have the most data and at the end, your discussion is a bit longer. This is just the structure okay. Let's talk about each part in particular, and this is the order that you will usually read a research paper. The introduction what does it do introduction discusses the problem that you're going to research it discusses the background and describes how your research fits into the known information you'll also see a lot of primary literature introduced.
A lot of citations and that is the introduction is the place where you see the most citations this study Smith and Burke 1995 right those citations for other studies you see the introduction ok the methods quickly tell you how you did that tell us how you did the study and which materials and methods of experimentation which methods of analysis you used the results explained the important findings of your study they do not discuss the importance of the findings they simply talk about what you found what your methods found and finally the discussion and explains what your findings mean why are they important and what are the implications for other research it also can talk about limitations you know if you study about farming and you study about cows you do a research about cows you could say you know this study applies to this kind of cow, but it might not apply to other cows. These are limitations you need to include, and you can discuss possible research in the future all right. Let's do our first quiz and if you know the answer just raise your hand any time you don't have to wait for me to finish and I'll try to choose whoever is first okay which one your quiz is not in the PPT bTW There's no answer okay which one is not a factor that affects the quality of research writing is it a coherence the clarity see novelty deep organization see novelty are you sure that's right good um. You can get a coupon afterward if you like. The novelty might affect the research right you want to do a study of something that hasn't been done before, but you don't want to write in a crazy way you know it's not a creative writing course right. You don't want to be the one that writes you know and it's in a novel way you want to follow the rules okay number two what does the discussion conclusion section do hey presents the findings of your research B gives the context and background of your research C explain the meaning of the findings includes implications and limitations D discusses how your study was conducted yes C discussion explains the meaning of the findings thinks they'll genome that's right okay.
- That is the discussion is where you talk about why your study important and will show you how to do that moving on let's talk about how to compose the paper as you saw earlier know whether to move over here or stay here my move later okay.
- Even though your introduction comes first you actually begin with the methods section you're going to write that first and then you will write the results the discussion and finally the introduction and the reason for this is.
- You don't leave anything out in the introduction you don't include something you know something new in the discussion that you didn't introduce, everything all of the main meat of the paper should be introduced it's like a summary right summarize what your studies going to do you're not going to put exact figures and data about your study, but you're gonna discuss what your study yielded what you did okay and before writing your paper you should know what your hypothesis is and you should know what your research questions are.
- For example, what did this study seek to find one example of this question is the study sought to find how many University students are satisfied with their school's facilities okay another question you need to know the answer to what is your study's main arguments or questions, for example, this study how many students report satisfaction with materials what are the most common complaints students make about their universities I'm sure you have some common complaints in your mind, but if you're doing a study on universities and satisfaction with the university classes this would be one of your main questions you should find the answer to this question in the results you also want to decide which audience or journal you're writing for this the only way to know how to do this is to is to read the articles in the journal or if you're applying for a conference to research that conference and see what other authors how other authors write that's about all we can say about that okay.
The first thing to do before actually writing the section is to prepare the figures and tables this is your core data this is the most important aspect of your research paper right.
- You want to gather and create and gather everything in one place. You have your data you're gonna make it into figures and tables you've probably already done that before you put a pen to the paper then you want to give those data captions and numbers.
- You want to put them in order.
You know what order you're going to be writing about them when you write the methods and results right. Place them in the order you have because your paper will just be writing in the sentence this data when John or Montoya just gonna make sentences out of the data that's what a paper is all right. In the second step, you're going to write the methods. This is the first part of the paper here are some questions you should ask how the study carried out and analyzed in this section you should describe experiments explain why procedures were chosen why you use this method of analysis or why you took this simple explain how your results were analyzed and this is usually the order I'll show you here actually organization okay. The first content you will write about is the materials that you used which means where you got your materials and if you do a sample study what your sample is you know an adult is it adults age 25 to 30 or is it, children.
You're gonna put that right away, in the beginning, how am ii you're going to discuss how materials were prepared what did you do with the materials to get ready to study them third how are your measurements made okay you can talk about that the techniques you use to measure your data and forth what methods of analysis did you use you get into more and more detail as you go on okay and here are some rules you usually want to just if you think about it chronologically. What did you do first we did this first and then we did this and then we did this that's a good way to organize it also when you do the results your results should be in the same order as your methods you can also organize it from most to least important? If you have methods that are you know very central put those first the methods of analysis if you have other methods of analysis the details are mmm not the most important, but you might want to you know tell your reader about them then you know put them lest your methods section is only about 10% right it's very short ten percent of your paper it could be longer than that it might be 20 percent, but generally speaking methods is shorter than the other parts in this section these are in red you can see some Boombah grammar rules it's not it's not like a hard rule, but generally speaking most journal articles use will use passive voice and past tense for the methods it's not again many teachers will say professors will say use active voice, but we still find that in the methods passive voice and active are use, but you should try to be consistent with your voice do not discuss the results okay don't talk about what you found just how you found it and be sure to use quantitative details in addition to your techniques and methods of analysis the first thing you're going to do is to create a list of your materials and methods this means if you know what you used for your study just make a list of them.
In three groups you have materials and sample let's just say you have you used 100 grams of potatoes cheesecloth and distilled water okay it's a very simple experiment very simple study your next group is your preparation.
In a little phrase, what did you do your skin the potato with a knife you got Kata: you blended the potatoes and water you store it in 13 degrees Celsius refrigerator for 24 hours.
Rut lists all of the things you did and also lists your methods of analysis in phrases spectra spectrophotometer used to measure optical density we calibrated it using signal linearization, okay, it's not a sentence yet.
From this, you can write the information as a sentence. Notice a and a are the same, but we've just written an in a sentence formal. A plain cheesecloth pure distilled water and 100 grams of raw potatoes were purchased notice that you have your materials in a sample at the beginning next in preparing the categories to extract 100 grams of potatoes were skinned with a paring knife washed and diced, etc.
And again in red, we have the verbs there in the past tense and passive voice, you can see what they how to put them in that tense and last you have your methods of analysis a spectrophotometer was used to measure optical density and calibrate it using signal linearization now you're ready to write your methods.
You're going to separate the different methods into different paragraphs. This is one paragraph if you have methods of analysis you might separate this into a paragraph as well. It's trying to keep your paragraphs separate based on the methods that you used in the methods of analysis that you used okay.
We're going to look at a sample this sample I chose is from the Public Library of Science PLoS you can find you can find free open source open access journals on this site open access papers. This one is about kimchi I thought it would be nice to do a sample about kimchi.
Let's start with the heading base this student starts with the heading sample preparation now you don't need to use a heading you might be able to use it, but not all journals use headings obviously, but if you can It's helpful to show the reader that to organize your paper and show the reader where what you're doing in the upcoming paragraph. The first thing that this researcher does is discuss materials cite and simple kimchi samples made from Korean or Chinese kimchi cabbage were acquired via online markets okay. We have the where they're from and what the materials are and then you have the exact place where they were looked where they were procured there they came from Gyeonggi ching chong and then the Chinese kimchi Samples were purchased in the same month.
You have the place and where in China they are purchased right and before we go on this these were all one sentence or one paragraph.
I've separated them. You can see the different parts, but you go then Tandang yell I just thought of that office I made it separated okay sorry about my Korean, okay the next thing you'll do is explain the preparation how you prepared the materials.
You're gonna have a lot of verbs here a lot of verbs each head of kimchi cabbage was cut its action the cut kimchi samples were stored in sealed bags the kit the samples were frozen using liquid nitrogen and then ground using electronic blender the ground samples were stored at negative 80 degrees Celsius using MALDI-to MS analysis okay.
Again you have a passive voice, and a lot of different verbs is this is a style issue, but it will help your article not be.
Boring and repetitive if you use the same verbs again it's not fun interesting to read okay.
It explains the range of mass spectra and the extraction times etc. You have all these like these little quantitative details later. Don't necessarily don't put these first start with the methods of analysis first how did you do it and then later you can discuss for their details about how you analyzed your data okay what do I have here provide quantified details and measurements okay.
Not just a lot of many most of the majority of use numbers can use a lot of numbers here okay. We have one to one ratio of 30 percent two thousand to twenty thousand can you can see this all alright. The third one the third part of the methods they have mass fingerprinting analysis, this is the second method of analysis that they discuss and here they break it down into PCA principal component analysis and HCA you'll see this later when we look at the results in the results section they will have the same order PCA then HCA lists the analytical methods first quantified information second. You have the methods and in blue his some quantified data again HCA was used how it was done and here are the values in blue and again this is one paragraph. The author has squished it together, but sort of it's it's micro organized right it's got it's still got this the each method of analysis separated, but then the details are put after it, but it will be a one this is one paragraph in the original okay.
Methods quiz let's see if you remember what I just said what statement about methods is not true hey headings are sometimes used in the methods section B methods are organized chronologically and order of importance the methods section describes how experiments are done or D the methods contains information about research findings which one is not true yes you sir what's one D last one which is not true the methods contains information about research findings that's right wow you guys are three for three nice jobs the methods contains no information about findings just how you did the experiment or how you did the study which is the best example of a sentence found in the methods many people get this got this wrong or maybe it's my fault, but there is one that is the best based on what we just talked about. Try to keep that in mind hey 54 men ages 30 to 39 were placed in wooden chairs via the spectra meter readings worth fifty-eight point nine nanometers respectively see cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States or researcher should place lives under 300 times microscope yeah what's one hey first one I think you're the first one to get it right the first time nice job yeah why do you think that's why is this the best answer, Yeah right good thank you is it's clear like what the simple is right this was maybe near the beginning well it's how the sample was the procedure was undertaken right and we have our sample 54 men what their age is and then what you're doing to them I don't know what's going on with this methods, but what's happening in this experiment, but okay let's move on to the results after you've finished the methods you're going to write the results on a switch again okay.
The results tell you what you found, you're going to present the findings in the same order as I mentioned methods result method analysis one results of the analysis one methods of analysis two reasons the second set of results from that analysis you're going to present the data in figures and tables and as text. Your result is your figures and tables and is also the text is the figures and tables are just explained in sentences you're going to report on data collection and participants and report data relevant to your research question.
How to Refine Your Research Paper Topic
If you have many results you just choose the most important the most relevant to your research question well we'll skip through these you can read them later just because we have a very have a lot to do. The organization of your results as I've mentioned several times same order as methods and answer the research question as presented in the figures. for example, the research question that you said in the introduction was how do hospital patients over age 55 feel about post-operative care in the data or the way you'll present this based on the data might look like this hospital patients over the age of 55 were 30% more likely to report negative experiences with post-operative care okay this is what your general methods sorry your general results might look like one of your results then you can elaborate with secondary results, after you write your main result you put the details same with the methods you have the main method and then the details. The common negative issues reported were inattention by nurses etc and then here you can cite your figures and tables as well.
Let's talk about writing captions very quickly captions are not sentences they're almost always phrases starting with a noun your main keyword and then what your figure or table is measuring. If the survey question is let's say you asked some participants what do hospital patients over the age of 555 think about post-operative care and this is the data you come up with probably doesn't look like it makes sense, but for the sake of the picture attitudes towards post-operative care of patients over 55 that's how you can write your caption and when you write your text you might you're going to write as a full sentence, you're gonna write the captions first before you write the results section let's look at our example again. You can see they start with this malady TOF MS analysis that was the first method of analysis brought up in the method section right remember. This author addresses the research question with details about the data the malady of EMS spectra of kimchi fermented for one two or three weeks were obtained in the mass range of two thousand twenty thousand MZ in total eighty spectra were recorded in triplicate.
Here's the data that they came up with and the second research question is how will malady to MS approach what will the approach yield in terms of determining fermentation differences. This is what this is answering that question here's the secondary details however the mass range of actually acquired mass spectra was set to two thousand to ten thousand MZ mass Peaks greater than ten thousand were not detected in kimchi samples, okay, you've got details about this analysis your caption presents data as a statement right here's your the caption PSP CA of mass spectra of Korean and kimchi Chinese kimchi during mass fermentation this is the text for this figure I know this is getting dry looking at every detail visas just look at what it's what these authors doing okay again this is the subheading discrimination of kimchi by fermentation time based on geographical origin using PCA well that was our first method of analysis right PCA. This addresses a second research question which is how were the kimchi samples differentiated using PCA they discuss how'd they examine these correlations they were expressed using three-dimensional scatter plots. Here are the scatter plots and then figure 1 shows the sample score plots and they list more details in their paper which I did not put here, but you can see they start with discussing how they analyzed the data what they came up with and then the details more details about this data and they also say figure 1 shows the sample. They're referring they're having a sort of dialogue with the figures they're saying if you want to see the details of this look at figure 1 shows X Y Z. There's a lot of discussing discussion about what is being shown in these figures okay here's the third paragraph remember it's one paragraph just this is the heading discrimination of kimchi by fermentation phase based on origin using HCA the HCA was the second method of analysis if you remember and another research question is addressed how were the kimchi samples differentiated using HCA these research question you should have in your mind before you write the paper. You can answer it in your results and here the this is not a comparison of it's not a discussion about the results just comparing basic the basic results, you're not discussing the meaning of the results you just basically comparing them.