Guidelines to Writing a Scientific Methods Section for a Paper

The objective of scientific research for most authors or scientists is to deliver a clear and concise finding besides giving sufficient information for probable duplication of the experiment. Most research pieces contain particular sections that have massive influence from target journal or formatting styles. One of the critical sections of a research document is the methods sections, which commonly get denoted as methods and materials.

The section immediately follows the introduction section in a research paper, and its primary function is to offer adequate information to the reader for validity and reproducibility judgment. 

Method’s Section Structure

Most scientific research studies determine the key points and the relationship between study variables. In other words, the study needs to live up to the objective. So what constitutes the subsections of the methods section? The section has the participants, procedure, and apparatus subsections, especially according to the APA formatting style. However, for disciplines such as biological science, this section can have more details in as much as the objectives stay the same.

  • Participants subsection. You can use animals inclusive of human subjects in the study though you must ensure that you have sound treatment based on the outlined protocols. Such protocols include the Helsinki declaration, where moral principles guide physicians and scientists when conducting medical research, especially those that involve human subjects.

When using non-human subjects, cite their source, their number say if they are animals, sex, age, their shelter, and initial health condition. While for the human subject, the details should entail age range, geographical location, medical history, sex, and the number of human subjects.

You also have to include details used to exclude or include participants in the research. The criteria used is so critical in determining the number of subjects eliminated for the study and the reasons behind their exclusion.

For group features, indicate how the division of the group picks into subgroups, including their characteristics and control. Also, include a description of appropriate equipment utilized like feed or housing requirements.

  • Procedure. As an author or researcher, describe your study design. Every important preparation, for instance, drugs or tissue samples besides the instruments used, have to be explained. It is also crucial to show how the subjects got manipulated to address the experimental queries. Include timeframes and make sure the process is transparent.
  • Statistical analyses. Elaborate and describe the data type used, how you measured the data, and what statistical tests you performed on the data. Cite any specific software used though avoid including figures and tables in this section.

Significant Pitfalls for You to Avoid

Several common pitfalls exist, which can hamper the flow of your manuscript, making it awkward to read or raise questions on the research’s validity with the readers.

  • Avoid unnecessary background information
  • Avoid giving so many details
  • Focus on the method you use to achieve the set objectives and very little on the mechanics
  • Avoid not describing any study limitation faced during the study and instead describe every obstacle to help you in validating the research outcomes.
  • Avoid including a comprehensive list of the equipment used in the study to limit instances of loss of concentration when the reader goes through your work.

Conclusion

A properly structured and detailed methods section uplifts the integrity and validity of your research manuscript. As an author, ensure to note by listing all the subsections to permit others in reviewing and revising the piece.

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