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Writing a Scientific Paper

Discussion of how to understand and write different sections of a scientific paper. Discussions of how to write Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Data, and Discussion.

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Writing a "good" methods section

The purpose is to provide enough detail that a competent worker could repeat the experiment. Many of your readers will skip this section because they already know from the Introduction the general methods you used. However careful writing of this section is important because for your results to be of scientific merit they must be reproducible. Otherwise your paper does not represent good science.


  • Exact technical specifications and quantities and source or method of preparation
  • Describe equipment used and provide illustrations where relevant.
  • Chronological presentation (but related methods described together)
  • Questions about "how" and "how much" are answered for the reader and not left for them to puzzle over
  • Discuss statistical methods only if unusual or advanced
  • When a large number of components are used prepare tables for the benefit of the reader
  • Do not state the action without stating the agent of the action

"Methods Checklist" from: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper. Chris A. Mack. SPIE. 2018.

  • Describe how the results were generated with sufficient detail so that an independent researcher (working in the same field) could reproduce the results sufficiently to allow validation of the conclusions.
  1. Can the reader assess internal validity (conclusions are supported by the results presented)?
  2. Can the reader assess external validity (conclusions are properly generalized beyond these specific results)?
  • Has the chosen method been justified?
  • Are data analysis and statistical approaches justified, with assumptions and biases considered?
  • Avoid: including results in the Method section; including extraneous details (unnecessary to enable reproducibility or judge validity); treating the method as a chronological history of events; unneeded references to commercial products; references to “proprietary” products or processes unavailable to the reader.