How to write a scientific paper


so you want to write and publish a

scientific paper or an academic paper

and you want to publish it in a

peer-reviewed journal I'm going to talk

you through the process of how to write

that paper and what it is that goes into

the various sections of the paper

so basically papers have got a number of

sections there's the title in the

abstract there's the introduction and

background there's the methods results

discussion and conclusions I'm going to

talk to you about what goes into each of

those sections let's start by talking

about the title now the title needs to

be about 15 words or less right that's

in a lot of space

you got to get to the point quite

quickly the things that you want to

include in the title are firstly the

purpose what is the question that you

addressed secondly the scope what are

the edges of this thing if you if you

addressed a particular population group

say that if it included a particular

time frame say that some of the time you

want to include the methods that you

used so if it was a cohort study for

example you might want to include that

in the title this is all information

that is useful to the reader if they if

they trying to make a decision whether

or not they're going to read your paper

things to avoid don't put in acronyms

don't use abbreviations don't ever use

exclamation marks keep it nice and

professional and you'll have a great

title next let's talk about the abstract

now the abstract is usually about 300

words again it's not a lot of space you

want to be concise they're different

types of apt abstract what I'm going to

talk to you about is one that's called

the informative abstract that's the most

common type of a project and it follows

a certain format and we're just going to

get into that of course you're gonna

include the purpose of the paper and and

you're gonna have an overview of the

methods and the main findings the

conclusions and the recommendations

importantly you're not going to have any

discussion so you're not going to

critique or evaluate the work you're not

going to include any subjective

interpretation no speculation no

references to other works or other

publications you're going to keep it

nice and factual you're gonna write in

the past hints because this is reporting

on a study that's already been completed

and you're gonna do the whole thing at

about 300 words now let's talk about the

introduction in background when you

write the introduction in background

what you want to get out of this is you

want the reader to keep reading to do

that what you want to do is provide

context in other words with reference to

existing literature

you're going to tell them what we know

and what we don't know in this

particular subject area and in the

context of what we don't know you're

going to introduce your research

question the purpose of your study the

question that you're going to answer and

when they read that they're going to

want to carry on reading next we're

going to talk about the methods the

results the discussion and conclusions

before we do I want to say a big thank

you to biomed central or BMC for

sponsoring this video

BMC is a publishing company that

publishes open access journals and that

means that the full text of anything

that they publish is available for free

to anybody anywhere in the world

BMC are the publishers of globalization

and health which is a journal that I'm

the chief editor of and I can honestly

say having worked with them for many

many years that they're a company with

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so go to biomed central com or click on

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check them out now let's talk about the

methods if you want your research to be

taken seriously you need the reader to

understand exactly how it is that you

undertook the research and drew the

conclusions that you did in fact you

need the methods to be in so much detail

that if they wanted to repeat the study

themselves to generate the same

conclusions and results that you did

they would be able to now what your

methods section looks like depends

largely on the type of research that

you've undertaken so method sections in

qualitative research look very different

to method search sections in in

quantitative research what I'm going to

be talking about here applies mostly to

quantitative research but the basic

principles apply to any paper here's

what must be included you need to state

your your study question or hypothesis

right you need to include your study

design so was it a cohort study was it a

case control study is this secondary

data analysis was this content analysis

of interviewed data etc etc next you

want to talk about your data did you

collect the data yourself if so how what

tool did you use has the reliability and

the validity of this tool been

established how did you identify

relevant variables if this was routinely

collected data like Hospital data or

census data or if you access the

available data from existing surveys or

ongoing studies how did you access it

how is it stored

was it anonymized or de-identified did

you have permission to access it

describe the data in more detail in

other words if it's sample data what was

the sample size how did you decide on

that size and describe the variables of

interest the number of observations if

appropriate how you analyze the data

what software did you use what

statistical tests did you apply what

assumptions did you make highlight any

methodological limitations and describe

how it is that you address them and if

it's appropriate state that you're quite

difficult provable for your study now

let's talk about the results everything

about your paper revolves around the

results and for that reason I'm gonna

suggest that you write the results first

especially if you're working with

co-authors so you may have collaborators

you may be working with the statistician

you may have a supervising author what

you want to do is you want to draft the

results and the tables and the text of

the results you want to circulate that

and you want to get agreement on the

results before you write the rest of the

paper and the reason is the results can

change in other words people might

suggest that you include certain aspects

of the study or remove certain other

aspects of the study if you've written

the entire paper everything else has to

change if the results change because

everything revolves around the results

so get that finalized get it agreed get

it ironclad get that signed off before

you write anything else now you start

writing your write in a logical manner

and make explicit reference to any of

the tables and figures included you want

to place the tables and figures as close

as possible to the first time that

they're referred to in the text don't

discuss the results don't provide

explanations don't provide any

speculation don't interpret them don't

explain them don't hypothesize keep the

results nice and factual now don't

ignore any negative findings include any

negative results but don't try to

explain them not at this point that's

for the discussion the discussion this

is by far my favorite part of any paper

because in the discussion you're not

only going to reiterate your findings

but you're going to explain them and

interpret them and hypothesize and

speculate this is where you bring your

thoughts and ideas into the paper you're

gonna start your discussion off by

reiterating your research question

and given your findings state what you

believe the answer to that question is

now remember don't introduce any new

data or any new results in the

discussion the discussion has to reflect

on the results that have already been

presented in your paper you need to

explain an interpreter result in the

context of the literature that you

identified in the introduction in

background in other words are your

findings consistent with what other

people had said and does your data fill

one of the gaps in knowledge that you

identified so you want to show how your

work has added something to the body of

knowledge and understanding on the topic

you also want to reflect on the

implications of your findings maybe in

terms of practical applications or

public policy and of course you want to

acknowledge the limitations of your

study and you want to discuss those

limitations and the implications of

those limitations to your results and

the more you do that the more you

demonstrate that you understand the

limitations the more credibility your

results will have and in that context

you also want to consider and discuss

any alternative explanations for your

findings definitely discuss any negative

findings and consider the impact on your

conclusions and then talk about next

steps what are the implications of your

findings in terms of suggestions for

future research and finally there's the

conclusion and recommendation section

this is where you get to tell the reader

so what what is the point of all of this

you want to help the reader understand

why your research matters so what you

want to do is you want to state the

answer to the research question that you

asked and state any recommendations that

can be made as a result of your findings

now as you can imagine I've only been

able to scratch the surface in terms of

what you need to know to write a good

paper if you want to learn more then go

to learn more 365.com I've got a course

there that digs deep on all of these


and again a big THANK YOU to BMC for

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