The “Methods” section of a research paper contains the essential details for other scientists to replicate the study and helps the common readers understand the study better. It is like a road-map that guides the readers through the actual journey the authors took to reach the results of the study.
Therefore, the “Methods” section of your paper should be descriptive. Though it sounds easy, many authors miss the details while writing it.
So, here are some tips to write the “Methods” section of your medical manuscript, to make it interesting and informative.
1) Explain early
Each paragraph or subsection of the “Methods” section talks about a specific experiment. So, begin your paragraph by explaining the rationale behind your choices for a particular experiment. For example, why you used a certain compound, or why you chose a particular strain of mice or the particular concentration of the reagent?
This idea is applicable when you use less conventional methods in your study or traditional methods with some modifications rather than the traditional ones. When you share your reasoning of the study design, it instantly connects with the readers and makes them curious to know more.
2) Use visual elements
Visual elements like schematic diagrams, flowcharts, and tables help the readers follow and understand your study design better. They also break the monotony in the medical paper writing. It becomes easy for the readers to absorb the complex information.
3) Adhere to the guidelines of your journal
Read the guidelines of your target journal carefully and follow the specific instructions. For example, the heading of the section “Materials and Methods” may need to be changed to “Patients and the Method” or you may require omitting the name of the institutes for journals that don’t prefer open-label reporting.
4) Tell the story of your research
Narrate each experiment of your study in a chronological order to help readers retrace the gradual development of your research and its results.
5) Use subheadings
Divide the “Methods” section in terms of the experiments to help the readers follow the section better. You may write the name of the experiment or its specific objective as a subheading.
6) Provide all the details
Provide all the details of your study including the description of the materials, equipment or stimuli used in the experiment and the variables used (dependent, independent, and extraneous). If your study involves a survey or any psychological assessment, mention the questionnaire, scoring methods, and validation of scales with every detail.
7) Mention the ethical approval
If your study involves approval by the ethics committee or institutional review board, or an informed consent from the patients or the guardians, mention it in the “Methods” section.
8) Write the statistical analysis
Describe all the statistical tests, levels of significance, and software packages used to conduct the statistical analysis. If you hire a bio-statistician for his recommendations on analysis, mention it clearly. Finally, justify the statistical method you used in the study.
The “Methods” section of your research paper writing becomes easy and quick with these tips.
Though you also need to discuss the reasons why you used a particular method or how your chosen method is superior to others, save those details to write in the “Discussion” section.
Thus, an ideal “Methods” section shares the scientific knowledge with transparency and establishes the robustness of the study.