A scientific article presents the results of research written by researchers and scientists. They are generally considered primary sources and written for other researchers. The most recent articles will contain the most recent works in the field, with references to previously published works in the field of study.
Types of scientific articles
The original articles contain original data and present the results of empirical studies. This type of article is a primary source.
Review articles summarize and critique original articles within the same field. They present a continuous view of a topic from a series of original articles. This is a secondary source and can be a good starting point if you are looking for an overview of a particular topic.
Theoretical articles present new theories developed from existing research. These articles are based on data extracted from other sources and on the results of the original articles.
White Papers are an authoritative report or guide that presents the philosophy of the issuing body on the subject. Although they may be based on original research, their goal is to promote a group’s stance or point of view. In the scientific field, white papers are sometimes referred to as grey literature, as they are scientific literature published outside of commercial publications and the peer review process.
Parts of a scientific article
Summary: Summary of the article.
Introduction: Background information with citations from previously published articles. This section will also expose the problem or question that is addressed in the article. The summary of previous research is sometimes called a literature review.
Methods: The technical details about how the experiment was conducted or designed.
Results: The presentation of the data generated by the experiment.
Discussion: The author’s conclusions about the data generated by the experiment. It is the interpretation and evaluation of the results.
Conclusions: It is an extension of the Discussion section that will place the results in the context of the field.
References: Documents referenced by the author. This section can be a good place to look for more sources on a topic.
Fundamentals of Manuscript Preparation
To begin with, it would be interesting to know why reviewers accept manuscripts. Reviewers consider the following five criteria to be the most important in deciding whether to accept manuscripts for publication:
(1) the importance, timeliness, relevance and prevalence of the problem addressed;
2) the quality of the writing style (i.e. that it is well written, clear, direct, easy to follow and logical);
3) the design of the applied study (i.e. that the design is appropriate, rigorous and complete);
4) the degree to which the literature review has been reflective, focused, and up-to-date; and
5) the use of a sufficiently large sample.
Why are these manuscripts rejected?
For these claims to be true there are also reasons why reviewers reject manuscripts. Listed below are the top five reasons for rejecting jobs:
(1) inappropriate, incomplete or insufficiently described statistics;
2) overinterpretation of the results;
3) use of inappropriate, suboptimal or insufficiently described populations or instruments;
(4) small or biased samples; and
5) poorly worded or difficult to follow text.
General Writing Tips
Start with the end in mind
When you start writing about your research, start with a specific journal goal in mind. Each scientific journal should have specific lists of manuscript categories that are preferred by its readers. Therefore, the most popular manuscript categories include: Original Research; systematic literature reviews; clinical comments and reviews of current concepts; case reports; unique clinical suggestions and practice techniques; and technical notes.
Outline to follow
Once the decision has been made to write a manuscript, you have to compose a scheme that meets the requirements of the journal to which you want to send and that has each of the suggested sections. This means carefully checking the submission criteria and preparing the paper in the exact format of the journal to which it is intended to be submitted. Note the distinction between content (what informs) and structure (where it goes in the manuscript). A bad placement of the content confuses the reader (reviewer) and can lead to a misinterpretation of the content.
It may be useful to follow the IMRaD format for writing scientific manuscripts. This acronym represents the sections contained in the article: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.
Many accomplished authors write their results first, followed by an introduction and discussion, in an attempt to “stay true” to their results and not deviate into additional areas. Normally, the last two parts that are written are the conclusion and the summary.
Precision and Clarity
The ability to accurately describe ideas, protocols/procedures, and results are the pillars of scientific writing. The precise and clear expression of your thoughts and research information should be the main goal of scientific writing. Remember that accuracy and clarity are even more important when it comes to conveying complicated ideas. Limit literature review, ideas, and discussions to the topic, model, review, commentary, or case. Avoid vague terminology and excessive prose. Use short phrases instead of long ones. If jargon needs to be used, minimize it and clearly explain the terms you use.
Write with some formality, using scientific language and avoiding conjunctions, jargon and nomenclature or terms specific to a discipline or region (for example, exercise nicknames). For example, replace the term “Monster Walk” with “hip abduction in closed chain with elastic resistance around the thighs.” If you wish, you can refer to the exercise as “also known as Monster walks.”
Avoid first-person language and write using the third person instead. Some journals do not meet this requirement and allow first-person referencing, however, IJSPT prefers third-person use. For example, replace “We determined that…” for “The authors determined that….”.
For novice writers, it’s really helpful to look for a reading mentor to help you pre-read your submission. Problems such as improper use of grammar, tense and spelling are often a cause of rejection by reviewers. Despite the content of the study, these easily fixed errors suggest that the authors created the manuscript with less reflection, leading reviewers to think that the manuscript may also have erroneous conclusions.
A review by a second pair of trained eyes usually detects these errors that the original authors did not detect. If English is not your native language, the IJSPT editorial team suggests that you consult someone with relevant experience to guide you on English writing conventions, verb tense, and grammar. Writing well in English is difficult, even for those for whom it is our first language!
Use figures and graphics to your advantage
Consider using the graphical/figure representation of the data and important procedures or exercises. Tables should be able to stand on their own and be completely understandable at a glance. Understanding a table should not require careful review of the manuscript. The figures greatly increase the graphic appeal of a scientific article. Many graphic presentation formats are accepted, such as charts, charts, tables, and images or videos.
Photographs should be clear, without clutter or strange background distractions and should be taken with models wearing simple clothing. Color photographs are preferred. Digital figures (existing scans or files, as well as new photographs) must have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. All photographs should be provided as separate files (preferably jpeg or tif) and not embedded in the paper. The quality and clarity of the figures are essential for reproduction purposes and should be taken into account before taking the images for the manuscript.
A video of a procedure says more than a thousand words
Consider using short video clips as descriptive add-ons to your article. Video clips can be presented in MPEG-1, MPEG-2, Quicktime (.mov) or Audio/Video Interface (.avi) format. The maximum cumulative duration of the videos is 5 minutes. Each video segment cannot exceed 50 MB, and each video clip must be saved as a separate file and clearly identified. Formulate descriptive titles of figures/videos and tables/charts/graphs and place them in a figure legend document. Carefully consider the placement, name, and location of the figures. This makes the work of the editors much easier.
Avoid plagiarism and lack of inadvertent dating
Finally, use dating to your advantage. Cite frequently to avoid any plagiarism. In short: If it’s not your original idea, give credit to those who deserve it. When using direct citations, provide not only the citation number, but also the page on which the citation was found. All citations should appear in the text as a superscript number followed by punctuation. It is the responsibility of the authors to ensure that all references are cited in full and in a precise place. Please follow the citation instructions carefully and check that all references in your reference list are cited in the paper and that all citations from the paper appear correctly in the reference list. Refer to the IJSPT submission guidelines for complete information on the format of appointments.
How to read a scientific article
Make sure you know enough about the topic before you start. Start by looking for background information on the topic. Review articles can be a good starting point.
Read the article in parts. Find the section that will help you with your research question and focus on it first.
Print the item and read it with a pencil or pen so you can take notes on the go. This is especially useful when it comes to complex articles and topics.
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You may also be interested in: Turnitin Text Comparison Software
Nahata MC. Tips for writing and publishing an article. Ann Pharmaco. 2008;42:273‐277
Dixon N. Writing for publication: A guide for new authors. Int J Qual Health Care. 2001;13:417‐421
Shah J., Shah A., Pietrobon R. Scientific writing of novice researchers: What difficulties and encouragements do they encounter?