Parts of a Scientific Article: The Methods Section

Every month scientists from around the world submit their researches to prestigious scientific journals. Aside from the recognition and remuneration, the main goal is to share with the world something that they have spent many months, or even years, studying.

Editors of the journals and the eventual readers are interested in what your Findings and Discussion sections have to say. But another crucial part is the Methods section. So read on to learn what your scientific paper should do for this important area in your paper.

Purpose of the Methods section

The part about Methods details the exact process of the research - be it quantitative, qualitative, or mixed. Although it is not the most exciting part of the paper, it is necessary so that other researchers can determine if your findings came about from a sound process and so that others can replicate what you have done.

  1. Research Design: A subsection of Methods is dedicated to discussing the research design. This gives information on why the experiment or observation was done this way and how it was accomplished. The different procedures for preparation, execution, and any follow-up steps are then mentioned. The timeframe should also be stated to let others know the duration of the stages of the research.
  2. Materials and Equipment: Depending on the type of research, there may be a separate section for particular materials and equipment used, particularly if anything is specialized. However, if basic tools were used, there is no need to go into detail.
  3. Participants: Here, the subjects involved in the study are mentioned. If non-human participants are involved, then the details of these should be mentioned, including how they were housed before, during, and after the research. The criteria for selection and exclusion should also be outlined.
    Similarly, if people were involved, it is important to know how they were chosen, including what tools were used to pick them. If groupings were used, the method for dividing the participants must be discussed too.
  4. Statistical Analyses: This subsection mentions the statistical tools used to interpret the findings. Researchers often look into this as it gives them an idea of what to use for their research.

Things to avoid doing

As a scientific paper, it is important to keep everything factual and concise. There is no need for extraneous background information (e.g. personal anecdotes about the research) in any part of the paper that may just confuse the reader or detract from the purpose of the study. 

Flowery language should also not be used. If sentences are too long (40 words or more in length), it may be best to divide that into two to avoid any confusion.

Although the procedure is mentioned, it does not have to go into exact detail. It also should sound more like a narrative than a step-by-step instruction manual on how to do it.

Summary

It is a big deal to have your scientific paper published in a respected journal. If you are submitting one for consideration or you are polishing up your work for publication already, then consider the pointers above for your Methods section