Structuring your manuscript
Once you have completed your experiments it is time write it up into a coherent and concise paper which tells the story of your research. Researchers are busy people and so it is imperative that research articles are quick and easy to read. For this reason papers generally follow a standard structure which allows readers to easily find the information they are looking for. In the next part of the course we will discuss the standard structure and what to include in each section.
Overview of IMRaD structure
IMRaD refers to the standard structure of the body of research manuscripts (after the Title and Abstract):
- Materials and Methods
- Discussion and Conclusions
Not all journals use these section titles in this order, but most published articles have a structure similar to IMRaD. This standard structure:
- Gives a logical flow to the content
- Makes journal manuscripts consistent and easy to read
- Provides a “map” so that readers can quickly find content of interest in any manuscript
- Reminds authors what content should be included in an article
Provides all content needed for the work to be replicated and reproduced
Although the sections of the journal manuscript are published in the order: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion, this is not the best order for writing the sections of a manuscript. One recommended strategy is to write your manuscript in the following order:
1. Materials and Methods
These can be written first, as you are doing your experiments and collecting the results.
Write these sections next, once you have had a chance to analyse your results, have a sense of their impact and have decided on the journal you think best suits the work
Write your Title and Abstract last as these are based on all the other sections.
Following this order will help you write a logical and consistent manuscript.
Use the different sections of a manuscript to ‘tell a story’ about your research and its implications.