Scientific and Scholarly Writing

  • Literature Searches
  • Tracking and Citing References

Parts of a Scientific & Scholarly Paper

Introduction.

  • Writing Effectively
  • Where to Publish?
  • Capstone Resources

Different sections are needed in different types of scientific papers (lab reports, literature reviews, systematic reviews, methods papers, research papers, etc.). Projects that overlap with the social sciences or humanities may have different requirements. Generally, however, you'll need to include:

INTRODUCTION (Background)

METHODS SECTION (Materials and Methods)

What is a title

Titles have two functions: to identify the main topic or the message of the paper and to attract readers.

The title will be read by many people. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care. Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. Too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Neither is a title a sentence.

What makes a good title?

A good title is accurate, complete, and specific. Imagine searching for your paper in PubMed. What words would you use?

  • Use the fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper.
  • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on".
  • Use specific terms rather than general.
  • Use the same key terms in the title as the paper.
  • Watch your word order and syntax.

The abstract is a miniature version of your paper. It should present the main story and a few essential details of the paper for readers who only look at the abstract and should serve as a clear preview for readers who read your whole paper. They are usually short (250 words or less).

The goal is to communicate:

  •  What was done?
  •  Why was it done?
  •  How was it done?
  •  What was found?

A good abstract is specific and selective. Try summarizing each of the sections of your paper in a sentence two. Do the abstract last, so you know exactly what you want to write.

  • Use 1 or more well developed paragraphs.
  • Use introduction/body/conclusion structure.
  • Present purpose, results, conclusions and recommendations in that order.
  • Make it understandable to a wide audience.
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  • Research Guides

BSCI 1510L Literature and Stats Guide: 3.2 Components of a scientific paper

  • 1 What is a scientific paper?
  • 2 Referencing and accessing papers
  • 2.1 Literature Cited
  • 2.2 Accessing Scientific Papers
  • 2.3 Traversing the web of citations
  • 2.4 Keyword Searches
  • 3 Style of scientific writing
  • 3.1 Specific details regarding scientific writing

3.2 Components of a scientific paper

  • 4 For further information
  • Appendix A: Calculation Final Concentrations
  • 1 Formulas in Excel
  • 2 Basic operations in Excel
  • 3 Measurement and Variation
  • 3.1 Describing Quantities and Their Variation
  • 3.2 Samples Versus Populations
  • 3.3 Calculating Descriptive Statistics using Excel
  • 4 Variation and differences
  • 5 Differences in Experimental Science
  • 5.1 Aside: Commuting to Nashville
  • 5.2 P and Detecting Differences in Variable Quantities
  • 5.3 Statistical significance
  • 5.4 A test for differences of sample means: 95% Confidence Intervals
  • 5.5 Error bars in figures
  • 5.6 Discussing statistics in your scientific writing
  • 6 Scatter plot, trendline, and linear regression
  • 7 The t-test of Means
  • 8 Paired t-test
  • 9 Two-Tailed and One-Tailed Tests
  • 10 Variation on t-tests: ANOVA
  • 11 Reporting the Results of a Statistical Test
  • 12 Summary of statistical tests
  • 1 Objectives
  • 2 Project timeline
  • 3 Background
  • 4 Previous work in the BSCI 111 class
  • 5 General notes about the project
  • 6 About the paper
  • 7 References

Nearly all journal articles are divided into the following major sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references.  Usually the sections are labeled as such, although often the introduction (and sometimes the abstract) is not labeled.  Sometimes alternative section titles are used.  The abstract is sometimes called the "summary", the methods are sometimes called "materials and methods", and the discussion is sometimes called "conclusions".   Some journals also include the minor sections of "key words" following the abstract, and "acknowledgments" following the discussion.  In some journals, the sections may be divided into subsections that are given descriptive titles.  However, the general division into the six major sections is nearly universal.

3.2.1 Abstract

The abstract is a short summary (150-200 words or less) of the important points of the paper.  It does not generally include background information.  There may be a very brief statement of the rationale for conducting the study.  It describes what was done, but without details.  It also describes the results in a summarized way that usually includes whether or not the statistical tests were significant.  It usually concludes with a brief statement of the importance of the results.  Abstracts do not include references.  When writing a paper, the abstract is always the last part to be written.

The purpose of the abstract is to allow potential readers of a paper to find out the important points of the paper without having to actually read the paper.  It should be a self-contained unit capable of being understood without the benefit of the text of the article . It essentially serves as an "advertisement" for the paper that readers use to determine whether or not they actually want to wade through the entire paper or not.  Abstracts are generally freely available in electronic form and are often presented in the results of an electronic search.  If searchers do not have electronic access to the journal in which the article is published, the abstract is the only means that they have to decide whether to go through the effort (going to the library to look up the paper journal, requesting a reprint from the author, buying a copy of the article from a service, requesting the article by Interlibrary Loan) of acquiring the article.  Therefore it is important that the abstract accurately and succinctly presents the most important information in the article.

3.2.2 Introduction

The introduction provides the background information necessary to understand why the described experiment was conducted.  The introduction should describe previous research on the topic that has led to the unanswered questions being addressed by the experiment and should cite important previous papers that form the background for the experiment.  The introduction should also state in an organized fashion the goals of the research, i.e. the particular, specific questions that will be tested in the experiments.  There should be a one-to-one correspondence between questions raised in the introduction and points discussed in the conclusion section of the paper.  In other words, do not raise questions in the introduction unless you are going to have some kind of answer to the question that you intend to discuss at the end of the paper. 

You may have been told that every paper must have a hypothesis that can be clearly stated.  That is often true, but not always.  If your experiment involves a manipulation which tests a specific hypothesis, then you should clearly state that hypothesis.  On the other hand, if your experiment was primarily exploratory, descriptive, or measurative, then you probably did not have an a priori hypothesis, so don't pretend that you did and make one up.  (See the discussion in the introduction to Experiment 4 for more on this.)  If you state a hypothesis in the introduction, it should be a general hypothesis and not a null or alternative hypothesis for a statistical test.  If it is necessary to explain how a statistical test will help you evaluate your general hypothesis, explain that in the methods section. 

A good introduction should be fairly heavy with citations.  This indicates to the reader that the authors are informed about previous work on the topic and are not working in a vacuum.  Citations also provide jumping-off points to allow the reader to explore other tangents to the subject that are not directly addressed in the paper.  If the paper supports or refutes previous work, readers can look up the citations and make a comparison for themselves. 

"Do not get lost in reviewing background information. Remember that the Introduction is meant to introduce the reader to your research, not summarize and evaluate all past literature on the subject (which is the purpose of a review paper). Many of the other studies you may be tempted to discuss in your Introduction are better saved for the Discussion, where they become a powerful tool for comparing and interpreting your results. Include only enough background information to allow your reader to understand why you are asking the questions you are and why your hyptheses are reasonable ones. Often, a brief explanation of the theory involved is sufficient. …

Write this section in the past or present tense, never in the future. " (Steingraber et al. 1985)

3.2.3 Methods (taken verbatim from Steingraber et al. 1985)

The function of this section is to describe all experimental procedures, including controls. The description should be complete enough to enable someone else to repeat your work. If there is more than one part to the experiment, it is a good idea to describe your methods and present your results in the same order in each section. This may not be the same order in which the experiments were performed -it is up to you to decide what order of presentation will make the most sense to your reader.

1. Explain why each procedure was done, i.e., what variable were you measuring and why? Example:

Difficult to understand : First, I removed the frog muscle and then I poured Ringer’s solution on it. Next, I attached it to the kymograph.

Improved: I removed the frog muscle and poured Ringer’s solution on it to prevent it from drying out. I then attached the muscle to the kymograph in order to determine the minimum voltage required for contraction.

2. Experimental procedures and results are narrated in the past tense (what you did, what you found, etc.) whereas conclusions from your results are given in the present tense.

3. Mathematical equations and statistical tests are considered mathematical methods and should be described in this section along with the actual experimental work.

4. Use active rather than passive voice when possible.  [Note: see Section 3.1.4 for more about this.]  Always use the singular "I" rather than the plural "we" when you are the only author of the paper.  Throughout the paper, avoid contractions, e.g. did not vs. didn’t.

5. If any of your methods is fully described in a previous publication (yours or someone else’s), you can cite that instead of describing the procedure again.

Example: The chromosomes were counted at meiosis in the anthers with the standard acetocarmine technique of Snow (1955).

3.2.4 Results (with excerpts from Steingraber et al. 1985)

The function of this section is to summarize general trends in the data without comment, bias, or interpretation. The results of statistical tests applied to your data are reported in this section although conclusions about your original hypotheses are saved for the Discussion section.

Tables and figures should be used when they are a more efficient way to convey information than verbal description. They must be independent units, accompanied by explanatory captions that allow them to be understood by someone who has not read the text. Do not repeat in the text the information in tables and figures, but do cite them, with a summary statement when that is appropriate.  Example:

Incorrect: The results are given in Figure 1.

Correct: Temperature was directly proportional to metabolic rate (Fig. 1).

Please note that the entire word "Figure" is almost never written in an article.  It is nearly always abbreviated as "Fig." and capitalized.  Tables are cited in the same way, although Table is not abbreviated.

Whenever possible, use a figure instead of a table. Relationships between numbers are more readily grasped when they are presented graphically rather than as columns in a table.

Data may be presented in figures and tables, but this may not substitute for a verbal summary of the findings. The text should be understandable by someone who has not seen your figures and tables.

1. All results should be presented, including those that do not support the hypothesis.

2. Statements made in the text must be supported by the results contained in figures and tables.

3. The results of statistical tests can be presented in parentheses following a verbal description.

Example: Fruit size was significantly greater in trees growing alone (t = 3.65, df = 2, p < 0.05).

Simple results of statistical tests may be reported in the text as shown in the preceding example.  The results of multiple tests may be reported in a table if that increases clarity. (See Section 11 of the Statistics Manual for more details about reporting the results of statistical tests.)  It is not necessary to provide a citation for a simple t-test of means, paired t-test, or linear regression.  If you use other tests, you should cite the text or reference you followed to do the test.  In your materials and methods section, you should report how you did the test (e.g. using the statistical analysis package of Excel). 

It is NEVER appropriate to simply paste the results from statistical software into the results section of your paper.  The output generally reports more information than is required and it is not in an appropriate format for a paper.

3.2.4.1 Tables

  • Do not repeat information in a table that you are depicting in a graph or histogram; include a table only if it presents new information.
  • It is easier to compare numbers by reading down a column rather than across a row. Therefore, list sets of data you want your reader to compare in vertical form.
  • Provide each table with a number (Table 1, Table 2, etc.) and a title. The numbered title is placed above the table .
  • Please see Section 11 of the Excel Reference and Statistics Manual for further information on reporting the results of statistical tests.

3.2.4.2. Figures

  • These comprise graphs, histograms, and illustrations, both drawings and photographs. Provide each figure with a number (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.) and a caption (or "legend") that explains what the figure shows. The numbered caption is placed below the figure .  Figure legend = Figure caption.
  • Figures submitted for publication must be "photo ready," i.e., they will appear just as you submit them, or photographically reduced. Therefore, when you graduate from student papers to publishable manuscripts, you must learn to prepare figures that will not embarrass you. At the present time, virtually all journals require manuscripts to be submitted electronically and it is generally assumed that all graphs and maps will be created using software rather than being created by hand.  Nearly all journals have specific guidelines for the file types, resolution, and physical widths required for figures.  Only in a few cases (e.g. sketched diagrams) would figures still be created by hand using ink and those figures would be scanned and labeled using graphics software.  Proportions must be the same as those of the page in the journal to which the paper will be submitted. 
  • Graphs and Histograms: Both can be used to compare two variables. However, graphs show continuous change, whereas histograms show discrete variables only.  You can compare groups of data by plotting two or even three lines on one graph, but avoid cluttered graphs that are hard to read, and do not plot unrelated trends on the same graph. For both graphs, and histograms, plot the independent variable on the horizontal (x) axis and the dependent variable on the vertical (y) axis. Label both axes, including units of measurement except in the few cases where variables are unitless, such as absorbance.
  • Drawings and Photographs: These are used to illustrate organisms, experimental apparatus, models of structures, cellular and subcellular structure, and results of procedures like electrophoresis. Preparing such figures well is a lot of work and can be very expensive, so each figure must add enough to justify its preparation and publication, but good figures can greatly enhance a professional article, as your reading in biological journals has already shown.

3.2.5 Discussion (taken from Steingraber et al. 1985)

The function of this section is to analyze the data and relate them to other studies. To "analyze" means to evaluate the meaning of your results in terms of the original question or hypothesis and point out their biological significance.

1. The Discussion should contain at least:

  • the relationship between the results and the original hypothesis, i.e., whether they support the hypothesis, or cause it to be rejected or modified
  • an integration of your results with those of previous studies in order to arrive at explanations for the observed phenomena
  • possible explanations for unexpected results and observations, phrased as hypotheses that can be tested by realistic experimental procedures, which you should describe

2. Trends that are not statistically significant can still be discussed if they are suggestive or interesting, but cannot be made the basis for conclusions as if they were significant.

3. Avoid redundancy between the Results and the Discussion section. Do not repeat detailed descriptions of the data and results in the Discussion. In some journals, Results and Discussions are joined in a single section, in order to permit a single integrated treatment with minimal repetition. This is more appropriate for short, simple articles than for longer, more complicated ones.

4. End the Discussion with a summary of the principal points you want the reader to remember. This is also the appropriate place to propose specific further study if that will serve some purpose, but do not end with the tired cliché that "this problem needs more study." All problems in biology need more study. Do not close on what you wish you had done, rather finish stating your conclusions and contributions.

3.2.6 Title

The title of the paper should be the last thing that you write.  That is because it should distill the essence of the paper even more than the abstract (the next to last thing that you write). 

The title should contain three elements:

1. the name of the organism studied;

2. the particular aspect or system studied;

3. the variable(s) manipulated.

Do not be afraid to be grammatically creative. Here are some variations on a theme, all suitable as titles:

THE EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE ON GERMINATION OF ZEA MAYS

DOES TEMPERATURE AFFECT GERMINATION OF ZEA MAYS?

TEMPERATURE AND ZEA MAYS GERMINATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR AGRICULTURE

Sometimes it is possible to include the principal result or conclusion in the title:

HIGH TEMPERATURES REDUCE GERMINATION OF ZEA MAYS

Note for the BSCI 1510L class: to make your paper look more like a real paper, you can list all of the other group members as co-authors.  However, if you do that, you should list you name first so that we know that you wrote it.

3.2.7 Literature Cited

Please refer to section 2.1 of this guide.

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How to Write a Research Paper: Parts of the Paper

  • Choosing Your Topic
  • Citation & Style Guides This link opens in a new window
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating Information
  • Parts of the Paper
  • Writing Tips from UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Librarian Contact

Parts of the Research Paper Papers should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your introductory paragraph should grab the reader's attention, state your main idea, and indicate how you will support it. The body of the paper should expand on what you have stated in the introduction. Finally, the conclusion restates the paper's thesis and should explain what you have learned, giving a wrap up of your main ideas.

1. The Title The title should be specific and indicate the theme of the research and what ideas it addresses. Use keywords that help explain your paper's topic to the reader. Try to avoid abbreviations and jargon. Think about keywords that people would use to search for your paper and include them in your title.

2. The Abstract The abstract is used by readers to get a quick overview of your paper. Typically, they are about 200 words in length (120 words minimum to  250 words maximum). The abstract should introduce the topic and thesis, and should provide a general statement about what you have found in your research. The abstract allows you to mention each major aspect of your topic and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Because it is a summary of the entire research paper, it is often written last. 

3. The Introduction The introduction should be designed to attract the reader's attention and explain the focus of the research. You will introduce your overview of the topic,  your main points of information, and why this subject is important. You can introduce the current understanding and background information about the topic. Toward the end of the introduction, you add your thesis statement, and explain how you will provide information to support your research questions. This provides the purpose and focus for the rest of the paper.

4. Thesis Statement Most papers will have a thesis statement or main idea and supporting facts/ideas/arguments. State your main idea (something of interest or something to be proven or argued for or against) as your thesis statement, and then provide your supporting facts and arguments. A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. It also points toward the paper's development. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.

Students often learn to write a thesis as a first step in the writing process, but often, after research, a writer's viewpoint may change. Therefore a thesis statement may be one of the final steps in writing. 

Examples of Thesis Statements from Purdue OWL

5. The Literature Review The purpose of the literature review is to describe past important research and how it specifically relates to the research thesis. It should be a synthesis of the previous literature and the new idea being researched. The review should examine the major theories related to the topic to date and their contributors. It should include all relevant findings from credible sources, such as academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles. You will want  to:

  • Explain how the literature helps the researcher understand the topic.
  • Try to show connections and any disparities between the literature.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.

More about writing a literature review. . .

6. The Discussion ​The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe what you have learned from your research. Make the reader understand why your topic is important. The discussion should always demonstrate what you have learned from your readings (and viewings) and how that learning has made the topic evolve, especially from the short description of main points in the introduction.Explain any new understanding or insights you have had after reading your articles and/or books. Paragraphs should use transitioning sentences to develop how one paragraph idea leads to the next. The discussion will always connect to the introduction, your thesis statement, and the literature you reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction. You want to: 

  • Demonstrate critical thinking, not just reporting back facts that you gathered.
  • If possible, tell how the topic has evolved over the past and give it's implications for the future.
  • Fully explain your main ideas with supporting information.
  • Explain why your thesis is correct giving arguments to counter points.

7. The Conclusion A concluding paragraph is a brief summary of your main ideas and restates the paper's main thesis, giving the reader the sense that the stated goal of the paper has been accomplished. What have you learned by doing this research that you didn't know before? What conclusions have you drawn? You may also want to suggest further areas of study, improvement of research possibilities, etc. to demonstrate your critical thinking regarding your research.

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Scientific Writing: Sections of a Paper

  • Sections of a Paper
  • Common Grammar Mistakes Explained
  • Citing Sources

Introduction

  • Materials & Methods

Typically scientific journal articles have the following sections:

Materials & Methods

References used:

Kotsis, S.V. and Chung, K.C. (2010) A Guide for Writing in the Scientific Forum. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 126(5):1763-71. PubMed ID:  21042135

Van Way, C.W. (2007) Writing a Scientific Paper. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 22: 663-40. PubMed ID:  1804295

What to include:

  • Background/Objectives: include the hypothesis
  • Methods: Briefly explain the type of study, sample/population size and description, the design, and any particular techniques for data collection and analysis
  • Results: Essential data, including statistically significant data (use # & %)
  • Conclusions: Summarize interpretations of results and explain if hypothesis was supported or rejected
  • Be concise!
  • Emphasize the methods and results
  • Do not copy the introduction
  • Only include data that is included in the paper
  • Write the abstract last
  • Avoid jargon and ambiguity
  • Should stand-alone

Additional resources: Fisher, W. E. (2005) Abstract Writing. Journal of Surgical Research. 128(2):162-4. PubMed ID:  16165161 Peh, W.C. and Ng, K.H. (2008) Abstract and keywords. Singapore Medical Journal. 49(9): 664-6. PubMed ID:  18830537

  • How does your study fit into what has been done
  • Explain evidence using limited # of references
  • Why is it important
  • How does it relate to previous research
  • State hypothesis at the end
  • Use present tense
  • Be succinct
  • Clearly state objectives
  • Explain important work done

Additional resources: Annesley, T. M. (2010) "It was a cold and rainy night": set the scene with a good introduction. Clinical Chemistry. 56(5):708-13. PubMed ID:  20207764 Peh, W.C. and Ng, K.H. (2008) Writing the introduction. Singapore Medical Journal. 49(10):756-8. PubMed ID:  18946606  

  • What was done
  • Include characteristics
  • Describe recruitment, participation, withdrawal, etc.
  • Type of study (RCT, cohort, case-controlled, etc.)
  • Equipment used
  • Measurements made
  • Usually the final paragraph
  • Include enough details so others can duplicate study
  • Use past tense
  • Be direct and precise
  • Include any preliminary results
  • Ask for help from a statistician to write description of statistical analysis
  • Be systematic

Additional resources: Lallet, R. H. (2004) How to write the methods section of a research paper. Respiratory Care. 49(10): 1229-32. PubMed ID:  15447808 Ng, K.H. and Peh, W.C. (2008) Writing the materials and methods. Singapore Medical Journal. 49(11): 856-9. PubMed ID:  19037549

  • Describe study sample demographics
  • Include statistical significance and the statistical test used
  • Use tables and figures when appropriate
  • Present in a logical sequence
  • Facts only - no citations or interpretations
  • Should stand alone (not need written descriptions to be understood)
  • Include title, legend, and axes labels
  • Include raw numbers with percentages
  • General phrases (significance, show trend, etc. should be used with caution)
  • Data is plural ("Our data are" is correct, "Our data is" is in-correct)

Additional resources: Ng, K.H and Peh, W.C. (2008) Writing the results. Singapore Medical Journal. 49(12):967-9. PubMed ID:  19122944 Streiner, D.L. (2007) A shortcut to rejection: how not to write the results section of a paper. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 52(6):385-9. PubMed ID:  17696025

  • Did you reject your null hypothesis?
  • Include a focused review of literature in relation to results
  • Explain meaning of statistical findings
  • Explain importance/relevance 
  • Include all possible explanations
  • Discuss possible limitations of study
  • Suggest future work that could be done
  • Use past tense to describe your study and present tense to describe established knowledge from literature
  • Don't criticize other studies, contrast it with your work
  • Don't make conclusions not supported by your results
  • Stay focused and concise
  • Include key, relevant references
  • It is considered good manners to include an acknowledgements section

Additional resources: Annesley, T. M. (2010) The discussion section: your closing argument. Clinical Chemistry. 56(11):1671-4. PubMed ID:  20833779 Ng, K.H. and Peh, W.C. (2009) Writing the discussion. Singapore Medical Journal. 50(5):458-61. PubMed ID:  19495512

Tables & Figures: Durbin, C. G. (2004) Effective use of tables and figures in abstracts, presentations, and papers. Respiratory Care. 49(10): 1233-7. PubMed ID:  15447809 Ng, K. H. and Peh, W.C.G. (2009) Preparing effective tables. Singapore Medical Journal. (50)2: 117-9. PubMed ID:  19296024

Statistics: Ng, K. H. and Peh, W.C.G. (2009) Presenting the statistical results. Singapore Medical Journal. (50)1: 11-4. PubMed ID:  19224078

References: Peh, W.C.G. and Ng, K. H. (2009) Preparing the references. Singapore Medical Journal. (50)7: 11-4. PubMed ID:  19644619

Additional Resources

  • More from Elsevier Elsevier's Research Academy is an online tutorial to help with writing books, journals, and grants. It also includes information on citing sources, peer reviewing, and ethics in publishing
  • Research4Life Training Portal Research4Life provides downloadable instruction materials, including modules on authorship skills as well as other research related skills.
  • Coursera: Science Writing Coursera provides a wide variety of online courses for continuing education. You can search around for various courses on scientific writing or academic writing, and they're available to audit for free.

parts of a journal paper

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Scientists all over the world, in laboratories and in the field, work hard every day. They spend countless hours trying to find answers to research questions. Often this all leads up to an "ah-ha!" (or a "that's strange...") moment, when they discover something interesting or something that can change what we know about science.

But once they've made a discovery, what happens? Does the whole world automatically know about their work? Of course not — that would be too easy. In order to spread news of their findings, scientists have to write and publish articles that outline what they did and what they found.

When scientists write these papers, they don't usually write them for the public. Instead, they write them for other scientists. So, if you aren't a scientist, how might you figure out what's in a paper?

How to Read a Scientific Paper

Below, we've mapped out the "gross anatomy" of an article — basically an overview of what goes where in a paper. After you know the basics of what you can expect to find in a scientific article, take a shot at reading one on our Article Dissection page. Together these sections provide tips you can use when reading a scientific paper.

Parts of an Article

Just like you have a name, so does every research paper that is published. Usually the title offers a general idea of the subject of the paper. Sometimes it will also include information on what the scientists found. Show me an example | 1 |

Give credit where credit is due. People that made a large contribution to the project usually end up as an author. If there is more than one author, they are called co-authors. Sometimes, when a lot of people are involved, this makes for a very long list of authors. Show me an example | 1 |

Author affiliations

It may seem odd, but scientists aren't the only ones involved in the completion of a study. Often times the university or institution where the study was completed also had an important role, in providing funds for the work, for example. The universities or institutions that sponsored the work are usually listed under the authors' names. To see which author came from what institution, you can usually match the numbers or symbols listed next to the author and institution names.

The abstract is a one paragraph summary of the most important parts of the article. Reading the abstract is a good way to figure out if you are interested in reading the rest of the paper. Abstracts can also have a ton of information though, so they can sometimes be difficult to read. Show me an example | 1 |

Author Summary

Certain journals like to have the authors of the article write a simplified version of the abstract. This is often written for non-scientists or scientists from other fields. If an article has an author summary, it might be good to read it before you read the abstract. Show me an example | 1 |

Introduction

Background is very important. If you're trying to learn about a specific lizard, for example, it would be useful to know where the lizard species lives, what it eats, and what kind of behaviors it might show. The introduction of a paper is where the scientists give you all of the relevant background information so you can better understand the study. Show me an example| 1 |

Materials and Methods

It would be great if scientific information would magically appear. But it doesn't. Instead, it takes days, months, or years to carry out experiments for a study. In the materials and methods section, the scientists explain exactly how they did their study. It is kind of a "how to" or "DIY" for other scientists. Because of the complicated nature of some studies, the materials and methods section can sometimes be the toughest part of the paper to read.

But this section can also give you the best idea of how research is done.  Show me an example | 1 |

Results (with figures and tables)

Do you ever listen to an overly long story and wish that the storyteller would just get to the point? If you do, the results section will probably be your favorite. This is the heart of the paper, where the scientists tell you exactly what they found. This is usually where you will also find the figures and tables, though some papers put all the figures at the very end. A lot of results are pretty raw data (meaning the data hasn't been interpreted). Interpretation is saved for the next section. Show me an example | 1 |

If you read the results section, you probably take in a lot of numbers, some useful graphs, and you have a good idea of what was found overall. But what does any of it mean? Are the findings important? These questions are answered in the discussion section. Here, scientists present what they learned from the study and what effect the new information will have on science. They also discuss any problems with the experiment in this section. There is one thing to be wary of when reading the discussion...sometimes data can be interpreted in different ways. The interpretation presented in a discussion is not always the only interpretation possible. This is why the discussion section is kept separate from the results section. Show me an example | 1 |

Some journal articles have a conclusion section,  which is basically a summary of the study that is really heavy on findings and what those findings mean. If you want the quick version of what impact the study will have on science, look for a conclusions section. Show me an example | 1 |

Acknowledgments

Some studies involve many, many people that contribute, sometimes in relatively small ways. If someone helps out but didn't do enough to be an author on a paper, they still get credit for their work by being listed in the acknowledgments section. Show me an example | 1 |

Author Contributions

While an author list tells us which people were most important to completing a study, it doesn't tell us what each author contributed to the process. Some journals don't include an author contributions section, but when they do, they list which author did what during the study. Show me an example | 1 |

You may have heard the phrase that things "do not exist in vacuums." The reference section is proof of that idea. Throughout the entire paper, scientists used other published information to help give you background on their work, to explain why they used certain methods, or to compare their findings to others. The references section is where all those other published studies are listed. As you read through an article,  you will often see either tiny numbers in superscript or last names in parentheses at the end of some sentences. These are cues that link you to specific published articles that are all listed in the reference section. This section is especially helpful if you want to get more information related to the article you are reading. Show me an example | 1 |

Scientific journals

Supplementary Materials

Some studies produce a lot of important information that the scientists want to share with the world. Yet, if you want someone to read a journal article, it can only be so long. Sometimes, if there is too much information for too little of an article, information that can be considered "extra" is listed in a different section of supplementary materials.

Read more about: Anatomy of an Article

View citation, bibliographic details:.

  • Article: Anatomy of an Article
  • Author(s): Karla Moeller
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: June 12, 2014
  • Date accessed: February 23, 2024
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/anatomy-of-an-article

Karla Moeller. (2014, June 12). Anatomy of an Article. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved February 23, 2024 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/anatomy-of-an-article

Chicago Manual of Style

Karla Moeller. "Anatomy of an Article". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 12 June, 2014. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/anatomy-of-an-article

MLA 2017 Style

Karla Moeller. "Anatomy of an Article". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 12 Jun 2014. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 23 Feb 2024. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/anatomy-of-an-article

parts of a journal paper

More than just highlighting text, reading a scientific paper requires skills in reading and dissecting the story.

Explore more scientific articles with PLOSable .

Anatomy of an Article

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  • Research paper

How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

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Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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parts of a journal paper

There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

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The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible. You can speed up the proofreading process by using the AI proofreader .

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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  • v.11(2); 2013 Apr

How to write a scientific manuscript for publication

Giancarlo maria liumbruno.

1 Immunohaematology, Transfusion Medicine and Clinical Pathology Units, “San Giovanni Calibita” Fatebenefratelli Hospital, AFAR, Rome, Italy

Claudio Velati

2 Immunohaematology and Transfusion Medicine Department, Ospedale Maggiore Pizzardi, Azienda USL Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Patrizio Pasqualetti

3 Medical Statistics & Information Technology, Fatebenefratelli Association for Research, Isola Tiberina, Rome, Italy

Massimo Franchini

4 Department of Transfusion Medicine and Haematology, Carlo Poma Hospital, Mantua, Italy

Introduction

The origins and development of the scientific and technical press can be traced back to 1665 when the first “modern” scientific papers appeared and were characterized by non standardised form and style 1 . Subsequently, nearly 300 years ago 2 , in an attempt to ensure that articles met the journal’s standards of quality and scientific validity, the peer-reviewed process for scientific manuscripts was born in England and France. Since then, there has been an enormous proliferation of scientific journals and manuscripts so that, at present, the numbers of biomedical papers published annually by over 20,000 journals, at a rate of 5,500 new papers per day, far exceeds 2,000,000 1 , 2 .

Published scientific papers and professional meetings are really essential to disseminate relevant information and research findings. However, most of the abstracts of presentations given at scientific meetings are usually available only in conference proceedings although they have the potential to be subsequently published as articles in peer-reviewed journals.

A recently published Cochrane review showed that only 44.5% of almost 30,000 scientific meeting abstracts were published as articles 3 . No association between full publication and authors’ country of origin was detected. Factors associated with full publication included acceptance vs rejection of abstracts for oral or poster presentations, acceptance for oral presentations rather than poster sessions, “positive” results, using the report authors’ definition of “positive”, randomised trial study design and basic rather than clinical research.

Possible reasons for failed publication include lack of time, research still underway, problems with co-authors and negative results 4 . Undoubtedly, lack of the necessary skills and experience in the process of writing and publishing is another possible contributing factor also in the field of Transfusion Medicine although the specialists in this discipline are currently adopting the principles and research methodologies that support evidence-based medicine 5 , and high-level research is actually being carried out at the same rate as in all medical specialties.

There are three broad groups of manuscripts: original scientific articles, reviews and case reports. Although case reports are part of the evidence hierarchy in evidence-based practice, albeit at a lower level, and case series are incorporated in a significant proportion of health technology assessments 6 , this article will address the multiple steps required in writing original articles and reviews with the aim of providing the reader with the necessary tools to prepare, submit and successfully publish a manuscript.

The anatomy of a paper: from origin to current format

The history of scientific journals dates from 1665, when the French “Journal des sçavans” and the English “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society” first began systematically publishing research results 7 . From then on, the initial structure of scientific papers evolved gradually from letters (usually by a single author, with a polite style and contemporarily addressing multiple subjects) and experimental reports (essentially descriptive and presenting experiences and effects in chronological order) to a better structured and more fluent form characterised by an embryonic description of methods and interpretation of results. This evolved way of reporting experiments gradually replaced the letter form.

It was not, however, until the second half of the 19 th century that the method description became fully developed and a comprehensive organisation of the manuscripts known as “theory-experiment-discussion” emerged 1 . At the beginning of the last century a gradual decrease of the use of the literary style coincided with a growing standardisation of the editorial rules that paved the way for the formal established Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (IMRAD) structure of scientific papers, which was adopted in the 1980s.

At present, IMRAD is the format encouraged for the text of observational (i.e. retrospective/descriptive) and experimental (i.e. randomised controlled) studies by the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” which have become the most important and widely accepted (by over 500 biomedical journals) guide to writing, publishing, and editing in international biomedical publications 8 . The Uniform Requirements are released by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), an evolution of the initial group of Journal Editors who met for the first time in Vancouver in 1978 and subsequently issued a number of editorial policy statements and guidelines for manuscript submission.

According to the ICMJE, “this so-called IMRAD structure is not an arbitrary publication format but rather a direct reflection of the process of scientific discovery” 9 . In addition it facilitates modular reading and locating of specific information, which is normally found in pre-established sections of an article 7 .

“Long articles may need subheadings within some sections (especially Results and Discussion) to clarify their content. Other types of articles, such as case reports, reviews and editorials, probably need to be formatted differently” 9 .

This format does not comprise other important and integral parts of the article, such as the Title Page, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Figures and Tables (comprising their legends) and References 8 .

There are often slight variations from one journal’s format to another but every journal has instructions to authors available on their website and it is crucial that authors download and comply with them.

The latest edition of the Uniform Requirements was updated in April 2010; it is available at the ICMJE website and is an essential guideline for all authors writing a biomedical manuscript 9 .

Consolidated standards of reporting trials

Medical science depends entirely on the transparent reporting of clinical trials 10 .

Unfortunately, several reviews have documented deficiencies in reports of clinical trials 11 – 15 .

In 1996, a group of scientists and editors developed the CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement which is intended to improve the reporting of a randomised, controlled trial (RCT), enabling readers to understand the design of a trial, its conduct, analysis and interpretation and to assess the validity of its results 16 . It emphasises that this can only be achieved through complete transparency from authors.

The CONSORT statement was updated in 2001 and after the 2007 meeting the statement was further revised and published as CONSORT 2010 which is the most up-to-date version and can be freely viewed and downloaded through one of the several link to Journals available at the CONSORT website under the section “CONSORT Statement - Downloads” 17 . The statement facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of RCT and many leading medical journals and major international editorial groups have endorsed it.

The statement consists of a checklist (25 items) and a flow diagram that authors can use for reporting a RCT. The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Other information. The flow diagram is intended to depict the passage of participants through a RCT (enrolment, intervention allocation, follow-up and analysis). It is strongly recommended that the CONSORT Statement be used in conjunction with the CONSORT Explanation and Elaboration Document which is available at the CONSORT website under the above mentioned section 17 .

Another major point to consider is the obligation to register clinical trials 9 .

In September 2004 the ICMJE changed their policy and decided they would consider trials for publication only if they had been registered before the enrolment of the first participant. The ICMJE accepts registration in the international registries listed in Table I .

International trial registries acceptable to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and relevant websites.

Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology

The reporting of observational studies frequently lacks details and is not clear enough 18 , 19 . Consequently the quality is poor although many questions in medical research are investigated in observational studies and overwhelming evidence is also extrapolated from them 20 . In fact, observational studies are more suitable for the detection of rare or late adverse effects of treatments, and are more likely to provide an indication of what is achieved in daily medical practice 21 .

To improve the reporting of observational studies (cohort, case-control or cross-sectional studies) a group of methodologists, researchers and editors developed a useful checklist of 22 items: the StrengThening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement 21 . The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Other information sections of articles. The STROBE checklists can be freely viewed and downloaded at the STROBE website under the section “Available checklists” 22 . They also include a draft checklist for conference abstracts (items to be included when reporting observational studies in a conference abstract) pertaining to the content of the following sections: Title, Authors, Study design, Objective, Methods, Results and Conclusion.

The STROBE Statement provides guidance to authors on how to improve the reporting of observational studies, it facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of studies and is widely supported by reviewers, a growing number of biomedical journal editors and readers.

The STROBE checklist is best used in conjunction with an explanation and elaboration article which discusses each of the 22 checklist items, gives methodological background, publishes examples of transparent reporting and is freely available at the STROBE Statement website under the above mentioned section through the link with the Journals in which the document has been published (PLoS Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology) 22 .

As review articles comprehensively cover a specific biomedical topic and justify future research directions, they require that the author extensively review and master the literature and then develop some general statements and conclusions with practical implications for patients’ care 23 , 24 . In addition, they should provide an updated reference for those readers interested in broadening their knowledge of critical issues. Review articles are, therefore, important not only for younger physicians early in their career but also for senior academic staff as they represent a tool for intellectual enrichment and enhancement of the standards of research. Writing a review requires knowledge and continuous improvement of qualifications in line with the accumulation of better and updated scientific literature evidence. For this reason, journals often invite experts on a specific topic to write a review article. However, authors can also ask Editors if they would be interested in publishing a review article on a particular, topical, relevant and debated issue.

As reviews are the most accessed among the various types of articles and contribute substantially to the impact factor of journals, obviously they are welcomed and encouraged by many journals and have become an inseparable part of the writing scientific culture.

The three basic types of literature reviews are narrative reviews (which include editorials, commentaries and narrative overviews or non-systematic narrative reviews), qualitative systematic reviews and quantitative systematic reviews (meta-analyses) ( Table II ) 25 .

Summary of the types of literature reviews.

Editorials, typically written by the editor of the journal or an invited guest, may be a narrative review if the author retrieves and summarises information about a particular topic for the reader 25 . Usually, these types of narrative reviews are based upon a short, select and narrowly focused review of only a few papers. However, editorials may be no more than the editor’s comments regarding a current issue of the journal or a current event in health care and do not, therefore, automatically qualify as narrative reviews.

Commentaries

Commentaries may also be written as a narrative review; however, they are typically written with a particular opinion being expressed 25 . Research methodology is not usually presented in these articles which reflect the author’s biased synthesis of other articles. Commentaries are usually shorter than a full-length review article and the author should be an expert in the content area of the commentary. Usually, the purpose of a commentary is to stimulate academic debate between the journal’s readers.

Narrative reviews

Non-systematic narrative reviews are comprehensive narrative syntheses of previously published information 26 . This type of literature review reports the author’s findings in a condensed format that typically summarises the contents of each article. Authors of narrative overviews are often acknowledged experts in the field and have conducted research themselves. Editors sometimes solicit narrative overviews from specific authors in order to bring certain issues to light. Although the bibliographic research methodology is an obligatory section in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, it is also becoming an inseparable part of narrative literature reviews. Providing information on the databases accessed, terms, inclusion and exclusion criteria and time limits adds objectivity to the main messages and conclusions. It is advisable to use only credible databases (at least two or three) which only select high-quality publications that contain the most up-to-date information (see Table III ) 24 . The best way to organise the analysis of the sources in the main text of a narrative biomedical review is to transform information from the retrieved publications into bibliographic cards with a short description of the main results, level of evidence, strengths and limitations of each study and relevance to each section of the manuscript. Furthermore, the readability of a review can be improved by including a few self-explanatory tables, boxes, and figures synthesising essential information and conveying original messages 24 . We also suggest the use of software packages for reference management, which saves time during the multiple revisions.

Main online libraries, catalogues and databases.

In conclusion, a successful narrative review should have the following characteristics: be well-structured, synthesise the available evidence pertaining to the topic, convey a clear message and draw conclusions supported by data analysis.

Qualitative systematic reviews

Qualitative systematic reviews are a type of literature review that employ detailed, rigorous and explicit methods and are, therefore, a more powerful evidence-based source to garner clinical information than narrative reviews, case reports, case series, and poorly conducted cohort studies. A detailed bibliographic research based upon a focused question or purpose is the peculiar characteristic of a systematic review 27 . These reviews are called qualitative because the process by which the individual studies are integrated includes a summary and critique of the findings derived from systematic methods, but does not statistically combine the results of all of the studies reviewed.

Quantitative systematic reviews

A quantitative systematic review or meta-analysis critically evaluates each paper and statistically combines the results of the studies 28 . The authors of a meta-analysis employ all of the rigorous methodology of qualitative systematic reviews and, in addition, gather the original patients’ data from each of the studies under review, pool it all together in a database and produce the appropriate statistics on this larger sample. While this process leads to a more powerful and generalizable conclusion, which is the strength of the meta-analysis, on the other hand it can pool together studies that are very heterogeneous which is the main drawback of a quantitative systematic review. Nevertheless, well-executed quantitative systematic reviews constitute the highest level of evidence for medical decision making 28 .

The recently published Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement aims to help improve reporting, focusing on systematic reviews of RCT. The Statement consists of a checklist of 27 essential items for transparent reporting and a flow diagram for the phases of study selection and is accompanied by the PRISMA Explanation and Elaboration Document, which, among other things, provides examples of good reporting for the various review sections 29 .

A further guidance on the reporting of systematic reviews has been published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organisation that prepares, updates and publishes systematic reviews of the effects of health-care interventions following a standardised format 30 .

Preparing to write a manuscript Background information

The question or hypothesis formulated by the investigator is the common starting point to search the relevant published literature for an answer 31 . Gathering the background information through an extensive literature search relevant to the topic of interest is the subsequent essential step. Peer reviewers are often experts and not citing important articles poses the manuscript at risk of rejection. It is advisable to consult at least two or three credible databases (see Table III ) to identify the crucial relevant articles and to track down “landmark” articles. In addition, avoid using papers published more than 10 years ago and do not rely on just the abstracts but obtain full-text articles. Articles relevant to the research topic and published in the journal in which the paper is to be submitted should be reviewed and cited 32 .

Last but not least, the bibliographical search should also aim at finding recently published articles similar to the one the author intends to submit. In fact, a journal can be less interested in publishing such a manuscript unless the results reflect new or different findings.

Target journal

It can be worth thinking about this issue before starting to write as a proper choice of the journal can affect not only the writing style but also the ease of publication and the prompt dissemination of research. Ideally, the target journal should be the one in which similar work has been published 32 .

Electronic and open-access journals are the latest resources for publishing and data dissemination available on the scientific journal horizon.

It is also worth considering an appropriate level of impact factor or journal quality. The impact factor of a journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in science and social science journals. It is determined by the ratio of the number of citations of papers from that journal in the whole of the biomedical literature over a 2-year period. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

It is also extremely important to read the instructions to authors section of the selected journal carefully. In fact, although there is a general style for most biomedical journals as agreed by the ICMJE in the Uniform Requirements 9 , individual journals may differ slightly in detail.

It is always best to sort out authorship before writing a manuscript as authorship order can be a source of problems once the paper has been written 23 .

Several guidelines relating to authorship are available and this issue has been extensively addressed in a recently published review article by Elizabeth Wager 33 . Most guidelines on the authorship of scientific articles are focused more on creative and intellectual aspects of research than on routine or technical contributions.

Alhough not universally accepted, the authorship criteria suggested by the ICMJE are the ones most widely promoted by medical journals 9 . According to these criteria, co-authors should: (i) substantially contribute to conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (ii) draft the article or revise it critically for important intellectual content; and (iii) approve the final version.

The authors are listed in decreasing order of their contribution and the senior author, or mentor, should be the last but this convention has never been codified 33 .

It is advisable to provide accurate affiliations and contacts as they will be published on PubMed as well as in the journal but it is also important to agree on the corresponding author who should have full access to the study data and through the provided e-mail address will be the link with the scientific community for the future 1 .

Ethical issues

In addition to the authorship discussed above, there are several ethical issues involved in writing a paper. These include fabrication of data, duplicate publication, plagiarism, misuse of statistics, manipulation of images and inadequate or obviously false citations 31 .

A must-read for all those who are involved in any editorial activity are the guidelines released by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which is a forum for editors and publishers of peer-reviewed journals to discuss all aspects of publication ethics 34 . COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct.

Writing the manuscript

Several models for the initial draft exist. A useful algorithm for writing a scientific manuscript is the one recently published by O’Connor and Holmquist 35 . According to these authors, the writing should start with making figures and tables, and then proceed with summary statements (the conclusions summarising the major contributions of the manuscript to the scientific community), identification of the audience, materials and methods, results, discussion, references, introduction, title and conclusion. The aim of this algorithm is to give the structural backbone to the manuscript and is designed to overcome writer’s block and to assist scientists who are not native English speakers.

A further and more general strategy to increase productivity during the early phases of manuscript writing is to ignore at the outset all the details that can be approached later such as structure, grammar and spelling.

The sequence of writing should address the following core sections of the paper in the order from first to last: methods, results, discussion and introduction 31 , 36 , 37 .

“Like every well-written story, a scientific manuscript should have a beginning (Introduction), middle (Materials and Methods), and an end (Results). The Discussion (the moral of the story) puts the study in perspective. The Abstract is an opening summary of the story and the Title gives the story a name” 38 . However, as correctly pointed out by Michael McKay, “writing is not necessarily in the temporal order of the final document (i.e. the IMRAD format)” 39 .

The take-home messages are, therefore: (i) a clear understanding of the essential components of each of these sections is critical to the successful composition of a scientific manuscript; (ii) the proper order of writing greatly facilitates the ease of writing; (iii) the approach to writing can be customised by authors on the basis both of the subject they are dealing with and their personal experience; (iv) the CONSORT 16 , 17 , STROBE 21 , 22 or PRISMA 29 statement must be used as a guidance document for the appropriate reporting of the type of study the authors are dealing with 31 , 32 , 38 .

In the following part of this paper the different sections of a manuscript will be dealt with in the order they are presented in the final document.

Title, keywords and abstract

The title is determinant for the indexing process of the article and greatly contributes to the visibility of the paper. It should reflect the essence of the article, its novelty and its relevance to the biomedical field it deals with 24 . It should be clear, brief, specific, not include jargon or non-standard and unexplained abbreviations, reflect the purpose of the study and state the issue(s) addressed rather than the conclusions 38 . Indicative titles are, therefore, better than declarative ones. Obviously, the title and abstract should correlate with each other.

Available evidence suggests that the presence of a colon in the title positively correlates with the number of citations 40 . In other words, the more specific and accurate the description of the content is, the more chance the manuscript has of being cited 38 .

The title of systematic reviews should ideally follow the participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes, and study design (PICOS) approach, and include the terms “systematic review”, “meta-analysis”, or both 41 .

The keywords enable the database searching of the article and should be provided in compliance with the instructions to authors. A careful choice from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles in PubMed greatly increases the chances the paper is retrieved and cited by other authors 42 .

The abstract is the last section to be written but it is the most important part of a paper because it is usually the first to be read and readers use the information contained in it to decide whether to read the whole article or not. It should be a concise summary of the manuscript and no longer than specified in the instructions to authors. Usually, abstracts do not contain references and abbreviations and acronyms are not always allowed. If required, it has to be structured in a specific way. For example, original articles submitted to Blood Transfusion, require an abstract of no more than 2,000 characters (including spaces), structured as follows: Background, Materials and methods, Results, Discussion 43 .

A good abstract should be easy to understand and broadly appealing, informative but not too detailed. It can start with a sentence or two outlining the work; then the disease and/or system studied must be introduced and what was previously unknown has to be stated in order to provide a brief overview of the current state-of-the art knowledge on the issue. The methods must be summarised without too many details; the major findings must be clearly indicated and followed by a sentence or two showing the major implications of the paper that must be consistent with the study conclusions without overestimating their possible relevance 44 . In the abstract the present tense should be used to refer to facts already established in the field, while the findings from the current study should be dealt with in the past tense.

The aim of the introduction is to introduce the topic to the readers in a straightforward way, avoiding excessive wordiness 42 . For this reason it should be short and focused, comprising approximately three paragraphs in one page 37 .

The first paragraph should mention the questions or issues that outline the background of the study and establish, using the present tense, the context, relevance, or nature of the problem, question, or purpose (what is known) 23 , 37 .

The second paragraph may include the importance of the problem and unclear issues (what is unknown).

The last paragraph should state the rationale, hypothesis, main objective, or purpose thus clearly identifying the hypothesis to be treated and the questions addressed in the manuscript (why the study was done).

One of the most common mistakes is the failure to make a clear statement of purpose. This is because many research projects, especially retrospective clinical studies, do not start at the beginning (with the identification of a specific question, followed by methods and data collection) but begin by collecting data without first identifying a specific question to be addressed that must in any case be established before beginning to write 38 . Data or conclusions from the study should not be presented or anticipated in the introduction section.

Writing the introduction at the end of the process prevents any block and it is easier after the methods, results and discussion have been completed.

Materials and methods

The methods section is one of the most important parts of a scientific manuscript and its aim is to give the reader all the necessary details to replicate the study.

CONSORT 16 , 17 , STROBE 21 , 22 and PRISMA 29 statements provide a guideline relevant to the particular type of study 2 , 42 .

The two essential elements of this section are a clear presentation of the study design and the identification and description of the measurement parameters used to evaluate the purpose of the study.

It is, therefore, necessary to provide a thorough explanation of the research methodology, including the study design, data collection, analysis principles and rationale. Special attention should be paid to the sample selection, including inclusion and exclusion criteria and to any relevant ethical considerations. A description of the randomisation or other group assignment methods used should be included, as should be the pre-specified primary and secondary outcome(s) and other variables.

According to the Uniform Requirements 9 , in the case of experimental/clinical reports involving patients or volunteers, the authors must provide information about institutional, regulatory and ethical Committee authorisation, informed consent from patients and volunteers and the observance of the latest release of the Helsinki Declaration 45 .

When reporting experiments on animals, authors should state which institutional authority granted approval for the animal experiments 9 .

Finally, in addition to describing and identifying all the measurement parameters used, it is also important to describe any unusual statistical methodology applied, how subjects were recruited and compensated and how compliance was measured (if applicable).

The results section consists of the organised presentation of the collected data. All measurements that the authors described in the materials and methods section must be reported in the results section and be presented in the same order as they were in that section 35 . The past tense should be used as results were obtained in the past. Author(s) must ensure that they use proper words when describing the relationship between data or variables. These “data relation words” should be turned into “cause/effect logic and mechanistic words” in the discussion section. A clear example of the use of this appropriate language can be found in the article by O’Connor 35 .

This section should include only data, including negative findings, and not background or methods or results of measurements that were not described in the methods section 2 . The interpretation of presented data must not be included in this section.

Results for primary and secondary outcomes can be reported using tables and figures for additional clarity. The rationale for end-point selection and the reason for the non-collection of information on important non-measured variables must be explained 35 .

Figures and tables should be simple, expand text information rather than repeat it, be consistent with reported data and summarise them 23 . In addition, they should be comprehensible on their own, that is, with only title, footnotes, abbreviations and comments.

References in this section should be limited to methods developed in the manuscript or to similar methods reported in the literature.

Patients’ anonymity is essential unless consent for publication is obtained.

The main objective of the discussion is to explain the meaning of the results.

This section should be structured as if it were a natural flow of ideas and should start with a simple statement of the key findings and whether they are consistent with the study objectives enunciated in the last paragraph of the introduction. The strengths and the limitations of the research and what the study adds to current knowledge should then be addressed 42 .

Through logical arguments, the authors should convert the relations of the variables stated in the results section into mechanistic interpretations of cause and effect using the present tense as these relations do exist at present 35 . In addition, they should describe how the results are consistent or not with similar studies and discuss any confounding factors and their impact.

They should avoid excessive wordiness and other commonly made errors such as 38 : (i) including information unrelated to the stated purpose of the article; (ii) repeating detailed data previously presented in the Results section; (iii) not interpreting and not critically analysing results of other studies reviewed and cited but rather just repeating their findings; (iv) presenting new data or new details about techniques and enrolment criteria, and (v) overstating the interpretation of the results.

Another common mistake is to forget to criticise the research described in the manuscript by highlighting the limitations of the study. The value of a scientific article is enhanced not only by showing the strengths but also the weak points of the evidence reported in the paper.

The conclusion is a separate, last paragraph that should present a concise and clear “take home” message avoiding repetition of concepts already expressed 32 . The authors should also avoid excessive generalizations of the implications of the study and remember that except for RCT there can only be testable hypotheses and observed associations, rather than rigorous proof of cause and effect 42 . Possible implications for current clinical practice or recommendations should be addressed only if appropriate.

Finally, the areas for possible improvement with future studies should be addressed avoiding ambiguous comments such as “there is a need for further research” and if there is a real need for further studies on the topic it is strongly advisable to be specific about the type of research suggested.

Acknowledgements

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section 9 . The authors should, therefore, add a statement on the type of assistance, if any, received from the sponsor or the sponsor’s representative and include the names of any person who provided technical help, writing assistance, editorial support or any type of participation in writing the manuscript.

In addition, “when submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments” 9 .

The first suggestion is to follow the journal’s policies and formatting instructions, including those for books and web-based references. Other general considerations related to references, including the following ones, can be found in the Uniform Requirements 9 .

References to review articles are an efficient way to guide readers to a body of literature but they do not always reflect original work accurately. Papers accepted but not yet published should be designated as “in press” or “forthcoming” and information from manuscripts submitted but not accepted should be cited in the text as “unpublished observations”.

Avoid using abstracts as references and citing a “personal communication” unless it provides essential information not available from a public source. In this case the name of the person and date of communication should be cited in parentheses in the text. Do not include manuscripts “in submission”

In addition it is important to remember that “authors are responsible for checking that none of the references cite retracted articles except in the context of referring to the retraction. Authors can identify retracted articles in MEDLINE by using the following search term, where pt in square brackets stands for publication type: Retracted publication [pt] in PubMed” 9 . Last but not least, remember that if a reviewer does not have access to any references he or she can ask the author for a full (pdf) copy of the relevant works.

Tips for successful revision of a manuscript

Most papers are accepted after some degree of revision. In some cases, a manuscript may be rejected after internal and editorial review only.

The process of revising a manuscript and successfully responding to the comments of reviewers and Editor can be challenging. Little has been published addressing the issue of effectively revising a manuscript according to the (minor or major) comments of reviewers. This topic was recently extensively and pragmatically covered by James M. Provenzale 46 . The ten principles for revising a manuscript suggested by the author are reported in Table IV .

Ten principles for revising a manuscript suggested by James M. Provenzale 46 .

Many manuscripts are not published simply because the authors have not followed the few simple rules needed to write a good article. We hope that this paper provides the reader with the basic steps to build a draft manuscript and an outline of the process needed for publishing a manuscript. However, in Table V we summarise the ten principles we strongly recommend to comply with in order to improve the likelihood of publication of a scientific manuscript 47 .

Ten principles to improve the likelihood of publication of a scientific manuscript, suggested by James M. Provenzale 47 .

The Authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Research Method

Home » Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Paper

Research Paper

Definition:

Research Paper is a written document that presents the author’s original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue.

It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new knowledge or insights to a particular field of study, and to demonstrate the author’s understanding of the existing literature and theories related to the topic.

Structure of Research Paper

The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper:

The title page contains the title of the paper, the name(s) of the author(s), and the affiliation(s) of the author(s). It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the paper is to be published.

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper, typically ranging from 100 to 250 words. It should include the research question, the methods used, the key findings, and the implications of the results. The abstract should be written in a concise and clear manner to allow readers to quickly grasp the essence of the research.

Introduction

The introduction section of a research paper provides background information about the research problem, the research question, and the research objectives. It also outlines the significance of the research, the research gap that it aims to fill, and the approach taken to address the research question. Finally, the introduction section ends with a clear statement of the research hypothesis or research question.

Literature Review

The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. The literature review should also demonstrate the research gap and how the current study seeks to address it.

The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. This section should provide sufficient detail for other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the research, using tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data. The findings should be presented in a clear and concise manner, with reference to the research question and hypothesis.

The discussion section of a research paper interprets the findings and discusses their implications for the research question, the literature review, and the field of study. It should also address the limitations of the study and suggest future research directions.

The conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the study, restates the research question and hypothesis, and provides a final reflection on the significance of the research.

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style such as APA, MLA or Chicago.

How to Write Research Paper

You can write Research Paper by the following guide:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down to a research question that is specific and researchable.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: The literature review helps you identify the gap in the existing research and provides a basis for your research question. It also helps you to develop a theoretical framework and research hypothesis.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : The thesis statement is the main argument of your research paper. It should be clear, concise and specific to your research question.
  • Plan your Research: Develop a research plan that outlines the methods, data sources, and data analysis procedures. This will help you to collect and analyze data effectively.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: Collect data using various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. Analyze data using statistical tools or other qualitative methods.
  • Organize your Paper : Organize your paper into sections such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Ensure that each section is coherent and follows a logical flow.
  • Write your Paper : Start by writing the introduction, followed by the literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and follows the required formatting and citation styles.
  • Edit and Proofread your Paper: Review your paper for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that it is well-structured and easy to read. Ask someone else to review your paper to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Cite your Sources: Ensure that you properly cite all sources used in your research paper. This is essential for giving credit to the original authors and avoiding plagiarism.

Research Paper Example

Note : The below example research paper is for illustrative purposes only and is not an actual research paper. Actual research papers may have different structures, contents, and formats depending on the field of study, research question, data collection and analysis methods, and other factors. Students should always consult with their professors or supervisors for specific guidelines and expectations for their research papers.

Research Paper Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract: This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults. A literature review was conducted to examine the existing research on the topic. A survey was then administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Introduction: Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among young adults. While social media has many benefits, including increased communication and social connectivity, it has also been associated with negative outcomes, such as addiction, cyberbullying, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults.

Literature Review: The literature review highlights the existing research on the impact of social media use on mental health. The review shows that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems. The review also identifies the factors that contribute to the negative impact of social media, including social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Methods : A survey was administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The survey included questions on social media use, mental health status (measured using the DASS-21), and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results : The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Discussion : The study’s findings suggest that social media use has a negative impact on the mental health of young adults. The study highlights the need for interventions that address the factors contributing to the negative impact of social media, such as social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Conclusion : In conclusion, social media use has a significant impact on the mental health of young adults. The study’s findings underscore the need for interventions that promote healthy social media use and address the negative outcomes associated with social media use. Future research can explore the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health. Additionally, longitudinal studies can investigate the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

Limitations : The study has some limitations, including the use of self-report measures and a cross-sectional design. The use of self-report measures may result in biased responses, and a cross-sectional design limits the ability to establish causality.

Implications: The study’s findings have implications for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals can use the findings to develop interventions that address the negative impact of social media use on mental health. Educators can incorporate social media literacy into their curriculum to promote healthy social media use among young adults. Policymakers can use the findings to develop policies that protect young adults from the negative outcomes associated with social media use.

References :

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 15, 100918.
  • Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., … & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9.
  • Van der Meer, T. G., & Verhoeven, J. W. (2017). Social media and its impact on academic performance of students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 16, 383-398.

Appendix : The survey used in this study is provided below.

Social Media and Mental Health Survey

  • How often do you use social media per day?
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • 2 to 4 hours
  • More than 4 hours
  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Others (Please specify)
  • How often do you experience the following on social media?
  • Social comparison (comparing yourself to others)
  • Cyberbullying
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Have you ever experienced any of the following mental health problems in the past month?
  • Do you think social media use has a positive or negative impact on your mental health?
  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative
  • In your opinion, which factors contribute to the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Social comparison
  • In your opinion, what interventions could be effective in reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Education on healthy social media use
  • Counseling for mental health problems caused by social media
  • Social media detox programs
  • Regulation of social media use

Thank you for your participation!

Applications of Research Paper

Research papers have several applications in various fields, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by generating new insights, theories, and findings that can inform future research and practice. They help to answer important questions, clarify existing knowledge, and identify areas that require further investigation.
  • Informing policy: Research papers can inform policy decisions by providing evidence-based recommendations for policymakers. They can help to identify gaps in current policies, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and inform the development of new policies and regulations.
  • Improving practice: Research papers can improve practice by providing evidence-based guidance for professionals in various fields, including medicine, education, business, and psychology. They can inform the development of best practices, guidelines, and standards of care that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • Educating students : Research papers are often used as teaching tools in universities and colleges to educate students about research methods, data analysis, and academic writing. They help students to develop critical thinking skills, research skills, and communication skills that are essential for success in many careers.
  • Fostering collaboration: Research papers can foster collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers by providing a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. They can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

When to Write Research Paper

Research papers are typically written when a person has completed a research project or when they have conducted a study and have obtained data or findings that they want to share with the academic or professional community. Research papers are usually written in academic settings, such as universities, but they can also be written in professional settings, such as research organizations, government agencies, or private companies.

Here are some common situations where a person might need to write a research paper:

  • For academic purposes: Students in universities and colleges are often required to write research papers as part of their coursework, particularly in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills, critical thinking skills, and academic writing skills.
  • For publication: Researchers often write research papers to publish their findings in academic journals or to present their work at academic conferences. Publishing research papers is an important way to disseminate research findings to the academic community and to establish oneself as an expert in a particular field.
  • To inform policy or practice : Researchers may write research papers to inform policy decisions or to improve practice in various fields. Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies, guidelines, and best practices that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • To share new insights or ideas: Researchers may write research papers to share new insights or ideas with the academic or professional community. They may present new theories, propose new research methods, or challenge existing paradigms in their field.

Purpose of Research Paper

The purpose of a research paper is to present the results of a study or investigation in a clear, concise, and structured manner. Research papers are written to communicate new knowledge, ideas, or findings to a specific audience, such as researchers, scholars, practitioners, or policymakers. The primary purposes of a research paper are:

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge : Research papers aim to add new knowledge or insights to a particular field or discipline. They do this by reporting the results of empirical studies, reviewing and synthesizing existing literature, proposing new theories, or providing new perspectives on a topic.
  • To inform or persuade: Research papers are written to inform or persuade the reader about a particular issue, topic, or phenomenon. They present evidence and arguments to support their claims and seek to persuade the reader of the validity of their findings or recommendations.
  • To advance the field: Research papers seek to advance the field or discipline by identifying gaps in knowledge, proposing new research questions or approaches, or challenging existing assumptions or paradigms. They aim to contribute to ongoing debates and discussions within a field and to stimulate further research and inquiry.
  • To demonstrate research skills: Research papers demonstrate the author’s research skills, including their ability to design and conduct a study, collect and analyze data, and interpret and communicate findings. They also demonstrate the author’s ability to critically evaluate existing literature, synthesize information from multiple sources, and write in a clear and structured manner.

Characteristics of Research Paper

Research papers have several characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of academic or professional writing. Here are some common characteristics of research papers:

  • Evidence-based: Research papers are based on empirical evidence, which is collected through rigorous research methods such as experiments, surveys, observations, or interviews. They rely on objective data and facts to support their claims and conclusions.
  • Structured and organized: Research papers have a clear and logical structure, with sections such as introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. They are organized in a way that helps the reader to follow the argument and understand the findings.
  • Formal and objective: Research papers are written in a formal and objective tone, with an emphasis on clarity, precision, and accuracy. They avoid subjective language or personal opinions and instead rely on objective data and analysis to support their arguments.
  • Citations and references: Research papers include citations and references to acknowledge the sources of information and ideas used in the paper. They use a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research papers are often peer-reviewed, which means they are evaluated by other experts in the field before they are published. Peer-review ensures that the research is of high quality, meets ethical standards, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • Objective and unbiased: Research papers strive to be objective and unbiased in their presentation of the findings. They avoid personal biases or preconceptions and instead rely on the data and analysis to draw conclusions.

Advantages of Research Paper

Research papers have many advantages, both for the individual researcher and for the broader academic and professional community. Here are some advantages of research papers:

  • Contribution to knowledge: Research papers contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field or discipline. They add new information, insights, and perspectives to existing literature and help advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or issue.
  • Opportunity for intellectual growth: Research papers provide an opportunity for intellectual growth for the researcher. They require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can help develop the researcher’s skills and knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Research papers can help advance the researcher’s career by demonstrating their expertise and contributions to the field. They can also lead to new research opportunities, collaborations, and funding.
  • Academic recognition: Research papers can lead to academic recognition in the form of awards, grants, or invitations to speak at conferences or events. They can also contribute to the researcher’s reputation and standing in the field.
  • Impact on policy and practice: Research papers can have a significant impact on policy and practice. They can inform policy decisions, guide practice, and lead to changes in laws, regulations, or procedures.
  • Advancement of society: Research papers can contribute to the advancement of society by addressing important issues, identifying solutions to problems, and promoting social justice and equality.

Limitations of Research Paper

Research papers also have some limitations that should be considered when interpreting their findings or implications. Here are some common limitations of research papers:

  • Limited generalizability: Research findings may not be generalizable to other populations, settings, or contexts. Studies often use specific samples or conditions that may not reflect the broader population or real-world situations.
  • Potential for bias : Research papers may be biased due to factors such as sample selection, measurement errors, or researcher biases. It is important to evaluate the quality of the research design and methods used to ensure that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Ethical concerns: Research papers may raise ethical concerns, such as the use of vulnerable populations or invasive procedures. Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants to ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.
  • Limitations of methodology: Research papers may be limited by the methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, certain research methods may not capture the complexity or nuance of a particular phenomenon, or may not be appropriate for certain research questions.
  • Publication bias: Research papers may be subject to publication bias, where positive or significant findings are more likely to be published than negative or non-significant findings. This can skew the overall findings of a particular area of research.
  • Time and resource constraints: Research papers may be limited by time and resource constraints, which can affect the quality and scope of the research. Researchers may not have access to certain data or resources, or may be unable to conduct long-term studies due to practical limitations.

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How to Write a Journal Article Introduction Section

parts of a journal paper

Our journal manuscript series has covered the various sections of a scientific article according to the order in which we recommend you write them ( Figures ,  Methods section ,  Results section ,  Discussion section , and Conclusion section ). In this second-to-last installment, we’ll talk about the Introduction and how to draft it in a way that intrigues your readers and makes them want to continue reading. After all, the journal publications industry is a business, so editors won’t accept your article unless they’re confident their readership will be interested.

What is an Introduction in a research paper?

After the Abstract (the final section of the paper you should draft) and the visual aids, like figures,  a reader’s first true interaction with your work is the Introduction . Thus, like any other story, you must set a compelling stage that invites your readers into your research world. Essentially,  your Introduction will establish the foundation upon which your readers will approach your work . You lay down the rules of interpretation, and if your manuscript follows the tips we’ve given in this series, your readers should be able to logically apply those rules throughout all parts of your paper, including the conclusion in your Discussion section.

Before we examine what specifically belongs in this critical context-defining section of your manuscript, let’s explore a practical point about writing the Introduction.

When should I write the Introduction section?

You may recall that we recommended a particular order for drafting your manuscript—an order that suggests the Introduction should be written second to last. You may also remember we talked about how the Discussion (or the Conclusion section for journals that separate the Discussion and Conclusion) should answer the questions raised in the Introduction. So which is it? Write the Introduction first or the Discussion? Honestly, the Introduction should come second to last because it is one of the harder sections of the manuscript to nail correctly. Therefore,  we recommend writing the Introduction in two stages.

Start with a skeletal Introduction that clearly states the hypothesis (the question your research answers). Then proceed with fully drafting the remaining parts of your manuscript, including analyzing your results in the Discussion and drawing rough conclusions that you will later refine. Once you’ve finished the other parts, return to your Introduction and incorporate the information we outline further below under the heading “What should I include in the Introduction?” After, modify the Discussion’s conclusion accordingly and polish the entire piece once again.

What to Include in the Introduction Section

Your paper must read like a chronological story ; it will begin with point A (the Introduction) and advance in time toward point B (the Discussion/Conclusion). If you recall from our prior article,  the Discussion should answer the questions  “why  this  particular study was needed to fill the gap in scientific knowledge we currently have and why that gap needed filling in the first place.” The Introduction answers similar but distinct questions.  The context you establish in the Introduction must first identify that there is a knowledge gap and then explain how you intend to fill that gap and why .

Imagine that your paper is an hourglass figure, as in the infographic below. Your Introduction holds the sand of knowledge that we currently have (the top bulb), and as the sand trickles through the neck (your research), it builds up a new base of knowledge (the bottom bulb). Thus your paper traces that journey from the top of the hourglass to the bottom, answering the questions in the infographic along the way. As a part of that journey, your Introduction is the starting point that answers the first three questions concisely.

How to Write a Journal Introduction Section

As you can see from above, your Introduction should start broadly and narrow until it reaches your hypothesis. Now, let’s examine how we can achieve this flow of ideas more closely.

What is known about the current research topic?

  • Start the Introduction with a strong statement that reflects your research subject area.  Use keywords from your title to help you focus and avoid starting too broadly .
  • Avoid stating too many obvious facts that your target readers would know . You should be precise about the area of focus so that readers can properly orient themselves before diving into your paper.
  • As a trick to help you combat too broad a start, write down your hypothesis or purpose first .
  • Then work backward to think about what background information your reader needs to appreciate the significance of your study.
  • Stop going back when you reach the point where your readers would be comfortable understanding the statements you make but might not be fully confident to explain all the aspects of those facts.
  • Cite relevant, up-to-date primary literature to support your explanation of our current base of knowledge . Make sure to include any significant works that might contradict your argument and address the flaws with that opposing line of thought. You want your readers to conclude that your approach is more plausible than alternative theories.
  • Be sure to cite your sources . Plagiarism is a serious offense in the academic community that will hurt your credibility (not to mention it is a violation of many copyright laws). Direct copying or a closely matched language should be avoided. Instead, be sure to use your own words to rephrase what you read in the literature and include references.
  • Remember that  the Introduction is not meant to be a comprehensive literature review ! Don’t overwhelm your reader with a sea of citations. Instead, use key primary literature (i.e., journal articles) to quickly guide your reader from the general study area to more specific material covered by your hypothesis. In other words, the literature you cite should logically lead your reader to develop the same questions that prompted you to do your research project. Roughly a half page should suffice, but double-check with your target journal’s information for authors.

What is the gap in knowledge?

  • As you describe our understanding of the relevant subject matter,  highlight areas where too little information is available . However, don’t stop at saying “little is known about…” You must elaborate and tell your readers why we should care about unearthing additional information about this knowledge gap. See the subheading “How and why should we fill that gap?” for further details.
  • Alternatively, your Introduction should  identify what logical next steps can be developed based on existing research . After all, the purpose of sharing research is to prompt other researchers to develop new inquiries and improve our comprehension of a particular issue. By showing you have examined current data and devised a method to find new applications and make new inferences, you’re showing your peers that you are aware of the direction your field is moving in and confident in your decision to pursue the study contemplated by your paper.

How should we fill that knowledge gap?

  • State your purpose/hypothesis clearly . Surprisingly, many people actually forget to do so! If all else fails, a simple “The purpose of this study was to examine/study X” will suffice.
  • You are proposing a solution to a problem (the gap) you observed in our current knowledge base. As such,  your Introduction must convince your readers that this problem needs solving .
  • In particular, since we are  writing with a particular journal’s readership in mind  (or, at least, you should be!), make sure to address how pertinent your project would be to the reader’s interests.
  • In other words,  if we fill this gap, what useful information will the readers gain ? The answer to that question is the promise you are delivering to your readers, and in the conclusion part of your Discussion, you will give final confirmation of your findings and elaborate more on what your readers can now do with the information your project has contributed to the research community.
  • DON’T draw any conclusions or include any data from your study . Those aspects belong in other parts of your paper.
  • Similarly , DON’T talk about specific techniques in your Introduction  because your readers ought to be familiar with most of them. If you employed a novel technique in your study, and the development of that process is central to your study, then, by all means, include a brief overview.

How to Write the Introduction Section

To round out our guide to drafting the Introduction of your journal article, we provide some general tips about the technical aspects of writing the Introduction section below.

  • Use the active voice.
  • Be concise.
  • Avoid nominalizations (converting phrases, including adjectives and verbs, into nouns). Instead, use the verb form where practical. When you eliminate nominalizations, your sentences will shorten, you’ll maintain an active voice, and your sentences will flow more like natural speech.
  • Do you see those uber long sentences in your draft? Revise them. Anything longer than three to four lines is absurd, and even sentences of that length should be rare. Shorter sentences are clearer, making it easier for your readers to follow your arguments. With that said, don’t condense every sentence. Incorporate a variety of sentence structures and lengths.
  • Similarly, drop the extended sentences with semicolons and serial clauses connected by commas. Again, the purpose of your paper is to provide a CLEAR explanation of your findings.
  • Avoid overusing first-person pronouns. Use them rarely at the beginning of the section and sprinkle them toward the end when you discuss your hypothesis and the rationale behind your study.
  • Organize your thoughts from broad to specific (as described in the section “What should I include in the Introduction” above).
  • BONUS TIP #1: Like any other type of writing,  start your Introduction with an active hook . Writing a summary of your findings shouldn’t be boring. In fact, a dull start will make your readers stop long before they get to the good stuff—your results and discussion! So how do you make an exciting hook? Think about techniques in creative nonfiction like starting with a provoking anecdote, quote or striking piece of empirical data. You’re telling a story, after all, so make it enjoyable!
  • BONUS TIP #2: As one author, reviewer, and editor once stated ,  your Introduction should avoid using phrases like  “novel,” “first ever,” and “paradigm-changing.” Your project might not be paradigm-shifting (few studies truly are); however, if your idea isn’t novel in the first instance, then should you be writing the paper now? If you don’t feel like your research would make a meaningful contribution to current knowledge, then you might want to consider conducting further research before approaching the drafting table.

And keep in mind that receiving English proofreading and paper editing services for your manuscript before submission to journals greatly increases your chances of publication. Wordvice provides high-quality professional editing for all types of academic documents and includes a free certificate of editing .

You can also find these resources plus information about the journal submission process in our FREE downloadable e-book:  Research Writing and Journal Publication E-Book .

Wordvice Resources

  • How to Write a Research Paper Introduction 
  • Which Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Title
  • Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  • Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
  • Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
  • 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
  • Tips for Paraphrasing in R esearch Papers

Additional Resources

  •   Guide for Authors.  (Elsevier)
  •  How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper.  (Bates College)
  •   Structure of a Research Paper.  (University of Minnesota Biomedical Library)
  •   How to Choose a Target Journal  (Springer)
  •   How to Write Figures and Tables  (UNC Writing Center)

Orsuamaeze Blessings, Adebayo Alaba Joseph and Oguntimehin Ilemobayo Ifedayo, 2018. Deleterious effects of cadmium solutions on onion (Allium cepa)  growth and the plant’s potential as bioindicator of Cd exposure. Res. J. Environ. Sci., 12: 114-120. Online:  http://docsdrive.com/pdfs/academicjournals/rjes/2018/114-120.pdf

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Parts of a Research Paper for Publication or Grading

Posted by Rene Tetzner | Jul 19, 2021 | Paper Writing Advice | 0 |

Parts of a Research Paper for Publication or Grading

Basic Parts of a Research Paper for Publication or Course Credit The parts of a research paper tend to vary according to the discipline and content of the paper as well as the requirements of the venue or audience for which it is written. When designing the parts of a research paper, an academic or scientist should therefore aim to create a structure that will enable the clear and logical communication of the research material. Consulting the instructions or guidelines for the research paper is also essential because these will usually offer helpful organisational advice and in some cases will contain strict requirements that determine exactly what the parts of a research paper should be. Such specific guidelines should always take precedence over more general advice, but if detailed guidance for the parts of a research paper is lacking, the following list can be used to design a structure that includes all the required parts of a research paper intended for publication or course credit.

Title Every research paper requires a concise and informative title that encapsulates the content and purpose of the paper. Although brief, the title is among the most important parts of a research paper and should be written with the anticipated audience and the search terms they are likely to use firmly in mind.

parts of a journal paper

Author Name(s) & Affiliation(s) The author(s) of a research paper must be identified along with relevant professional affiliations and contact information. For research papers with more than one author, a corresponding author should be indicated and in some cases the contributions of each author should be described.

Abstract An abstract summarising the research and highlighting key findings usually precedes the main body of an academic or scientific research paper. An abstract may be a single paragraph or a series of short paragraphs that focus on the different parts of a research paper, but the abstract always plays a vital role in attracting readers, so it should be both interesting and extremely well written.

parts of a journal paper

Keywords Although a relatively recent addition to the standard parts of a research paper, keywords or key phrases are now essential for scientific or academic publication. Along with the title and abstract, they increase the discoverability of a research paper, but care must be taken to provide the appropriate number, kind and format of keywords, as these vary among publishers.

Introduction or Background The introduction or background to a research paper is always necessary to introduce the research and provide context for the reader. Beginning with a particularly engaging idea or situation is a good strategy for hooking an audience. Research objectives, questions and hypotheses are often presented in the introduction and then revisited in later parts of a research paper.

Literature Review A review of the published scholarship relevant to a research topic is required for most research papers. The review may be very short and appear within the introduction, but it usually forms one of the separate parts of a research paper. A particular citation style is almost always required, so guidelines should be consulted carefully while writing the literature review.

Methods and Materials A clear description of the research methods used is a basic requirement of scientific research papers and is usually numbered among the essential parts of a research paper in other fields as well. The key is to ensure that readers understand exactly what was done and how information was collected so that the research can be effectively evaluated and perhaps replicated.

Results or Findings Considered by many readers to be the most important of the parts of a research paper, the section dedicated to results or findings should offer a factual report of what was discovered during the research. Analysis and explanation that make sense of raw data for readers can certainly be included, but interpretation and discussion of the research findings should usually be avoided.

Discussion Perhaps the most interesting of the parts of a research paper to write, the discussion can also be the most challenging. Here the researcher applies experience, logic and creativity to interpret and discuss the research findings. A return to the research objectives, questions and hypotheses is often necessary, and the limitations and implications of the research as well as future directions for investigation and practice should be addressed

Conclusions Sometimes conclusions are included in the discussion, but they generally form one of the separate parts of a research paper. Key contributions and primary implications might be reiterated, with the goal being to provide readers with important and memorable take-home messages about the theoretical and practical value of the research.

References, Works Cited or Bibliography Every research paper requires a list of the sources cited in the paper. Instructor or publisher guidelines usually indicate the style of references required and may also restrict the number and kind of sources that can be used in a particular paper. The references must be prepared with special care to ensure accuracy and scholarly respect for the intellectual property of others.

Tables and Figures Tables and figures may be embedded at appropriate places in the main text of a research paper or tacked on at the end, but as tools that enhance reader comprehension, they are certainly among the most important parts of a research paper. Clarity in every aspect of tables and figures is essential, and so too is meeting the design specifications provided by an instructor or publisher.

Disclosures, Acknowledgements & Ethical Considerations Most academic and scientific journals will require authors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, identify sources of funding, list necessary permissions, acknowledge significant contributions to the research, and provide evidence of ethical compliance and approval. These bits of information may appear in separate parts of a research paper depending on the guidelines.

Appendices and Supplementary Materials Appendices, archives and other kinds of supplementary materials often feature as additional parts of a research paper. They enable authors to offer supportive information without making a paper too long or veering from the main argument. Electronic publishing venues and digital archives provide numerous options for the effective presentation of all kinds of supplementary materials.

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Research Manuscript Structure: Understanding Different Parts of a Manuscript

Research manuscript structure: Understanding different parts of a manuscript

Writing a research manuscript and publishing it in reputed academic journals is an integral part of the research process. Yet, with rejection rates of top-tier journals ranging as high as 80%-95%, this is easier said than done. 1 Research manuscripts need to meet several key submission requirements to even be considered, this includes getting the structure of scientific papers right. However, most researchers find themselves feeling overwhelmed when it comes to writing a manuscript. The lack of formal training on writing a research manuscript, especially how to structure a manuscript effectively makes this a daunting task, especially for early-career researchers.

While there are no quick and easy shortcuts to writing a manuscript for publication, this article explains how researchers can sort their research under different sections and present their findings effectively in a well-structured research manuscript.

Structuring a research paper logically

Presenting research findings in a clear and structured way helps readers quickly understand your work’s significance and potential impact. Writing a manuscript that is worded well in simple English is imperative as you write for a global audience, many of which may not have English as the first language. Experts suggest following the standard and globally accepted IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) structure for research manuscripts. The ideal length for a research manuscript can range from 25-40 pages depending on your journal, with specific lengths for each section. 2

Understanding the key parts of a manuscript 2,3

Breaking down your work into these clear parts of a manuscript allows you to organize your findings more coherently and ensure a logical flow, which makes your research manuscript more engaging for readers.

Introduction – Covers what are you studying and why (1.5-2 pages)

This is an important part of the research manuscript as itstates the purpose of your research and what you want to achieve, existing knowledge on the topic and its limitations, and the significance and usefulness of the work. The introduction should mention the research question, the rationale for the research study, and describe the theoretical framework used. It should also offer a background of the problem and what is known so far and explain how your research contributes to the subject by adding citations to support this view. Avoid adding too many or irrelevant citations here or you may risk losing the plot, which is a red flag for editors and reviewers.

Remember, the introduction must be a concise summary of the work being presented in the research manuscript; do not to go into extensive details at this point. Take care not to mix methods, results, discussion, or conclusion in the introduction section – it’s important to keep these parts of a manuscript separate to ensure a coherent and logical flow between sections.

Methodology – Covers how you conducted the study in about 2-3 pages

One of the most critical parts of the manuscript, the methods section is meant to highlight how the problem was studied and communicates the methods, procedures, and research tools used. Be sure to describe the methodology you followed to conduct the research simply, precisely, and completely. If you’re using a new method, include all the details required for others to reproduce it, but if you’re working with established methods, it is enough to summarize these with key references. Poor methodology, small sample size, incomplete statistical analysis are all reasons why reviewers recommend rejection of a research manuscript, so check and recheck this to ensure it is flawless.

Include accurate statistics and control experiments to ensure experiments are reproducible and use standard academic conventions for nomenclature, measurement units, and numbers. Avoid adding any comments, research results, or discussion points in this part of the manuscript. It’s a good idea to write the methods section in the same flow and order in which you did the research. Supplement the text with visuals like tables, figures, photographs, or infographics that convey complex data, but don’t duplicate the information in the text.

Results – Covers the main findings of your studying in about 6-8 pages

The results section is a key part of the manuscript and isdedicated to presenting the primary and secondary findings of your research study. While writing a manuscript, ensure you spend extra time and attention while drafting the results; after all, this is the most important part of your research manuscript and your entire research effort.

Share your main results as text and use tables and figures to present findings effectively (don’t explain the data again in text). Avoid generalizations and use actual data to explain the results in your research manuscript – for example, instead of saying temperature rose as we applied more pressure, say temperature rose by 10 degrees with a 20% increase in pressure. Be sure to highlight any unexpected findings but avoid using too many technical terms or jargon so it is easy for readers from other research disciplines and non-scientific backgrounds to understand. Most importantly, this part of the manuscript is reserved for your research findings so do not include references to previously published work here.

Discussion – Covers what your research findings mean in about 4-6 pages

This is a crucial part of a manuscript where you interpret the results of your research and showcase its significance. The discussion in your research manuscript is a chance to showcase (not reiterate or repeat) your research results and how they address the original question. Do not suddenly include new information, instead talk about the limitations, whether the data supports the hypothesis or is consistent with previous studies, or if the findings were unexpected.

You may choose to mention alternate ways to interpret the results but avoid interpretations that are not supported by your research findings. Finally, compare your work with previously published studies, highlight what is new and what further research will be required to answer questions raised by the results. A well-written discussion section is essential to help differentiate your work from existing studies, which is what makes it critical to get right.  

Conclusion – Covers learnings from the research study in one short para

Check your journal guidelines before writing the conclusion. For some journals, this is a separate section whereas in others it is the concluding part of the discussion part of the manuscript. This section of the research manuscript should explain the outcomes of the research in relation to the original objective, presenting it from global and specific perspectives. Avoid simply listing the results or repeating the abstract or introduction sections, provide a justification of your work and suggest further experiments and if any of these are in progress.  

Title & Abstract – Covers highlights of the research done

The title and abstract are what readers use to evaluate whether the information provided in the research manuscript is relevant enough for them to read and cite. This is true for editors and reviewers of your research manuscript as well. Spend some time thinking of an interesting title, one that is informative, concise, and unambiguous. Write a well-structured abstract that highlights the objective and purpose of the research, addresses the key results precisely, and briefly describes the conclusion of the study (usually in under 250 words). This is the first and possibly only chance to draw in your readers so keep it simple and specific, avoid using jargon or being repetitive as you’re writing for a wide, varied audience.

In addition to the sections mentioned above, there are other key parts of a manuscript that require deep thought and time to put together. Showcase your findings through tables and figures (one per page) and format the references correctly (2-4 pages) in your research manuscript. Finally, when writing your research manuscript, be sure to follow the guidelines provided by the journal or institute you will be submitting to. Keep to the recommended paper length and journal formats when writing a manuscript for it to be considered and taken forward for publication.

References:

  • Khadilkar SS. Rejection Blues: Why Do Research Papers Get Rejected? The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India, August 2018. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6046667/
  • Borja A. 11 steps to structuring a science paper editors will take seriously. Elsevier Connect, June 2014. Available at https://www.elsevier.com/connect/11-steps-to-structuring-a-science-paper-editors-will-take-seriously
  • Vadrevu A. Manuscript structure: How to convey your most important ideas through your paper. Editage Insights, November 2013. Available at https://www.editage.com/insights/manuscript-structure-how-to-convey-your-most-important-ideas-through-your-paper

Related Reads:

  • How to Write a Research Paper Outline: Simple Steps for Researchers
  • Manuscript Withdrawal: Reasons, Consequences, and How to Withdraw Submitted Manuscripts
  • Good Writing Habits: 7 Ways to Improve Your Academic Writing
  • Supplementary Materials in Research: 5 Tips for Authors

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What are the 5 parts of the research paper

What are the 5 parts of the research paper

A regular research paper usually has five main parts, though the way it’s set up can change depending on what a specific assignment or academic journal wants. Here are the basic parts;

Introduction:  This part gives an overview of what the research is about, states the problem or question being studied, and explains why the study is important. It often includes background info, context, and a quick look at the research to show why this study is needed.

Literature Review:  In this part, the author looks at and summarizes existing research and writings on the chosen topic. This review helps spot gaps in what we already know and explains why a new study is necessary. It also sets up the theory and hypotheses for the research.

Methodology:  The methodology section describes how the research was done – the plan, methods, and steps used to collect and analyze data. It should be detailed enough for others to repeat the study.

Results:  This part shares what was found in the study based on the analyzed data. The results are often shown using tables, figures, and stats. It’s important to present the data accurately and without adding personal interpretations or discussions.

Discussion:  Here, the results are explained in the context of the research question and existing literature. The discussion looks at what the findings mean, acknowledges any limits to the study, and suggests where future research could go. This is where the researcher can analyze, critique, and connect the results.

Besides these main sections, research papers usually have other parts like a title page, abstract, acknowledgments, and references. The structure might change a bit depending on the subject or type of research, but these five parts are generally found in academic research papers.

What is the structure of a research paper

A research paper usually follows a set format, including these parts:

Title Page:  This page has the research paper’s title, the author’s name, where they’re affiliated (like a school), and often the date.

Abstract:  The abstract is a short summary of the whole research paper. It quickly talks about the research question, methods, results, and conclusions. It’s usually limited to a specific number of words.

Introduction:  This part introduces what the research is about. It states the main question, gives background info, and explains why the study is important. Often, it ends with a thesis statement or research hypothesis.

Literature Review:  In this section, the author looks at and talks about other research and writings on the same topic. It helps to place the study in the context of what we already know, finding gaps, and explaining why this new research is needed.

Methodology:  Here, the research plan is described. It explains how data was collected and analyzed, including details like who participated, what tools were used, and what statistical methods were applied. The goal is to provide enough info so others can do the same study.

Results:  The results section shows what was found in the study based on the analyzed data. Tables, figures, and stats often help present the data. This part should be objective and report the results without personal interpretations.

Discussion:  The discussion explains what the results mean in the context of the research question and existing literature. It looks at the implications of the findings, talks about any study limitations, and suggests where future research could go. This is where the author analyzes and connects the results.

Conclusion:  The conclusion sums up the key findings of the study and stresses their importance. It might also suggest practical uses and areas for further investigation.

References (or Bibliography):  This part lists all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style like APA, MLA, or Chicago, as required by academic or publication guidelines.

Appendices:  Extra materials, like raw data, questionnaires, or added info, can be put in the appendices.

Remember, the requirements for each section can vary based on the guidelines given by the instructor, school, or the journal where the paper might be published. Always check the specific requirements for the research paper you’re working on.

What are the 10 common parts of a research paper list in proper order

Here are the ten main parts of a research paper, listed in the right order:

Title Page:  This page has the title of the research paper, the author’s name, where they’re affiliated (like a school), and the date.

Abstract:  The abstract gives a short summary of the research, covering the main question, methods, results, and conclusions.

Introduction:  This part introduces what the research is about. It states the main question, gives background info, and explains why the study is important.

Literature Review:  In this section, the author looks at and talks about other research and writings on the same topic. It helps place the study in the context of what we already know and explains why this new research is needed.

Methodology:  Here, the research plan is described. It explains how data was collected and analyzed, including details like who participated, what tools were used, and what statistical methods were applied.

Results:  The results section shows what was found in the study based on the analyzed data. This part should be objective and report the results without personal interpretations.

Discussion:  The discussion explains what the results mean in the context of the research question and existing literature. It looks at the implications of the findings, talks about any study limitations, and suggests where future research could go.

References (or Bibliography):  This part lists all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style as required by academic or publication guidelines.

Always check the specific requirements and guidelines given for the research paper you’re working on, as they can vary based on the instructor, school, or the journal where the paper might be published.

How long should a research paper be

The length of a research paper can vary a lot, depending on factors like the academic level, the type of research, and the specific instructions from the instructor or the target journal. Here are some general guidelines;

Undergraduate Level:  Research papers at the undergraduate level, usually range from 10 to 20 pages, although this can change based on the requirements of the specific course.

Master’s Level:  Master’s level research papers are generally longer, often falling between 20 to 40 pages. However, the length can vary depending on the subject and the program.

Ph.D. Level:  Ph.D. dissertations or research papers are typically even longer, often going beyond 50 pages and sometimes reaching several hundred pages. The length is influenced by how deep and extensive the research is.

Journal Articles:  For research papers meant for academic journal publication, the length is usually specified by the journal’s guidelines. In many cases, journal articles range from 5,000 to 8,000 words, but this can differ.

It’s really important to stick to the specific guidelines given by the instructor or the target journal. If there aren’t specific guidelines, think about how complex your research is and how in-depth your analysis needs to be to properly address the research question.

Also, some instructors might specify the length in terms of word count instead of pages. In these cases, the word count can vary, but a common range might be 2,000 to 5,000 words for undergraduate papers, 5,000 to 10,000 words for master’s level papers, and 10,000 words or more for Ph.D. dissertations.

What are 3 formatting guidelines from APA

The American Psychological Association (APA) has special rules for how to set up your research paper. Here are three important rules;

Title Page:  Make a title page with the title of your paper, your name, and where you’re affiliated (like your school). Put the title in the middle, and your name and school below it in the middle too. In the top right corner, put a short version of the title and the page number.

In-Text Citations:  When you mention a source in your paper, use the author’s last name and the year of publication in brackets. For example, if you talk about a book by Smith from 2020, you write (Smith, 2020). If you quote directly, add the page number too, like this: (Smith, 2020, p. 45).

References Page:  Make a references page at the end listing all the sources you talked about in your paper. Arrange them alphabetically by the author’s last name. For books, use this format: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Research Title: Capital letters also appear in the subheading. Publisher. For journal articles, it’s like this: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range. DOI or URL. Each entry should be indented right.

Remember, these are just a few important rules from APA. It’s crucial to check the official APA Publication Manual or the latest APA style guide for all the details and rules. Also, the rules might be a bit different for different types of sources, so pay attention to what APA says about each one.

What are the 4 major sections of a research paper

A research paper usually has four main parts;

Introduction:  This part gets things started. It talks about what the research is about, gives some background info, and states the main question or idea. It’s important to show why the study matters.

Methods (or Methodology):  The methods part explains how the research was done. It covers things like the plan, who took part, how data was collected, and how it was analyzed. The goal is to give enough detail so someone else could do the same study.

Results:  The results section shows what was found in the research. It includes the raw data, stats, and any other info needed to answer the main question. It should be objective and focused on just reporting what happened, without adding personal thoughts.

Discussion:  In the discussion part, the results are explained. It looks at what the findings mean in the context of the main question and other research. It talks about the impact of the results, mentions any study limits, and suggests where more research could go. This is where the researcher shares insights, makes conclusions, and talks about why the study is important.

Even though these four parts are common, the way they are set up can change. It depends on what the instructor, school, or journal wants. Always check the specific guidelines for the research paper you’re working on.

How do you write a reference page in APA format

In APA format, the reference page is super important in a research paper. It’s like a big list that shows all the sources mentioned in the paper. Here are the basic rules for making a reference page in APA format:

Heading:  At the top, center the title “References” without making it bold, italicized, underlined, or using quotation marks.

Format for Entries:  Each source follows a special format based on its type (like a book, journal article, or website). 

For a book, the setup is

  • Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher.

For a journal article, it’s

  • Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range. DOI or URL

Alphabetical Order:  Organize the sources chronologically by the last name of the primary writer. If there’s no author, use the title for sorting, ignoring words like “A,” “An,” or “The.”

Hanging Indentation:  Each entry has a hanging indentation. This means the first line starts on the left, and the following lines are indented by 0.5 inches.

Italicize Titles:  Italicize the titles of bigger things like books and journals. For example:  Title of the Book  or  Title of the Journal .

Use Proper Capitalization:  Only capitalize the first word of the title, the first word after a colon in the subtitle, and any special names.

Remember these examples;

Book:  Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subheading. Publisher.

Journal Article:  Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range. DOI or URL.

To make sure you get the latest information, check the APA rules.

What is the purpose of the Introduction section in a research paper

The Introduction section of a research paper serves several crucial purposes;

  • Contextualization:  It provides background information to help readers understand the broader context of the research. This may include the historical development of the topic, relevant theoretical frameworks, or existing gaps in knowledge.
  • Problem Statement:  The introduction outlines the specific problem or question that the research aims to address. It helps to articulate the gap in current knowledge or identify a need for further investigation.
  • Justification and Significance:  The section explains why the research is important and how it contributes to the existing body of knowledge. It highlights the potential impact and significance of the study.
  • Objectives or Hypothesis:  The introduction often states the research objectives or formulates a hypothesis, providing a clear roadmap for what the study aims to achieve or test.
  • Scope and Limitations:  It defines the boundaries of the research, outlining what the study includes and excludes. This helps readers understand the context within which the research findings should be interpreted.
  • Research Questions:  The introduction may pose specific questions that the research seeks to answer. These questions guide the reader in understanding the focus and purpose of the study.
  • Overview of Methodology:  While detailed methods are typically discussed in a separate section, the introduction may provide a brief overview of the research design, methods, and data collection techniques.
  • Thesis Statement:  In some cases, the introduction concludes with a concise thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument or purpose of the research paper.

Overall, the Introduction sets the stage for the research, engaging the reader’s interest, providing necessary context, and establishing the rationale for the study. It is a critical component that helps readers understand the importance of the research and motivates them to continue reading the paper.

How should the Literature Review be structured in a research paper

The structure of a literature review in a research paper typically follows a systematic and organized approach. Here’s a general guideline on how to structure a literature review;

Introduction

  • Provide an overview of the topic and its significance.
  • Clearly state the purpose of the literature review (e.g., identifying gaps, providing background).
  • Mention the criteria used for including or excluding specific studies.

Organizing Themes or Categories

  • Group relevant literature into themes or categories based on common themes, concepts, or methodologies.
  • This could be chronological, thematic, methodological, or a combination, depending on the nature of the research.

Chronological Order  

  • If your topic has a historical development, consider presenting studies chronologically to show the evolution of ideas or research in the field.

Thematic Organization

  • Group studies based on common themes, concepts, or theoretical frameworks. Each theme could represent a section in your literature review.

Methodological Approach

  • Discuss studies based on their research methods. This can be particularly relevant if your research involves comparing or contrasting different methodologies.

Critical Analysis

  • Critically evaluate each study, discussing its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identify patterns, inconsistencies, or gaps in the existing literature.
  • Highlight the significance of each study to your research question or topic.
  • Summarize the key findings and insights from each study.
  • Discuss how the studies relate to one another and contribute to the overall understanding of the topic.

Gaps and Limitations

  • Identify gaps in the literature and areas where further research is needed.
  • Discuss the limitations of existing studies.
  • Summarize the main points of the literature review.
  • Emphasize the contribution of the literature review to your research.
  • Provide a smooth transition to the next section of your research paper.

Remember to use clear and concise language throughout the literature review. Each section should flow logically, with a clear connection between paragraphs. Additionally, ensure that you cite all relevant studies and sources using the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

What information should be included in the Methodology section of a research paper

The Methodology section of a research paper provides a detailed description of the procedures and techniques used to conduct the study. It should offer sufficient information for other researchers to replicate the study and verify the results. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what information should be included in the Methodology section;

Research Design

  • Specify the overall design of the study (e.g., experimental, observational, survey, case study).
  • Justify why the chosen design is appropriate for addressing the research question.

Participants or Subjects

  • Clearly describe the characteristics of the participants (e.g., demographics, sample size).
  • Explain the criteria for participant selection and recruitment.

Sampling Procedure

  • Detail the sampling method used (e.g., random sampling, stratified sampling).
  • Provide information on how participants were recruited and consented.
  • Identify and define the independent and dependent variables.
  • Describe any control variables or confounding factors.

Instrumentation or Materials

  • Specify the tools, instruments, or materials used to collect data (e.g., surveys, questionnaires, equipment).
  • Include information on the reliability and validity of instruments, if applicable.
  • Outline the step-by-step process of data collection.
  • Include details on the experimental setup, if applicable.
  • Describe any pre-testing, training, or pilot studies conducted.

Data Collection

  • Explain how data were collected, including the timeframe.
  • Detail any procedures to ensure data accuracy and reliability.

Data Analysis

  • Specify the statistical or analytical methods used to analyze the data.
  • Justify the choice of statistical tests or analytical tools.

Ethical Considerations

  • Discuss any ethical issues and how they were addressed (e.g., informed consent, confidentiality, institutional review board approval).
  • State whether the study followed ethical guidelines and standards.

Validity and Reliability

  • Talk about the measures undertaken to guarantee the reliability and accuracy of the research.
  • Provide information on any measures taken to control extraneous variables.

Limitations:  Acknowledge any limitations of the study that may affect the generalizability of the results.

Statistical Significance:  If applicable, report the criteria used for determining statistical significance.

The Methodology section should be written in a clear and concise manner, providing enough detail for others to replicate the study. Additionally, it is crucial to adhere to the guidelines of the chosen citation style (e.g., APA, MLA) when documenting sources and references related to the methodology.

Why is the Results section important in scientific research papers

The Results section in scientific research papers is critical for several reasons;

  • Presentation of Findings:  The Results section is where researchers present the outcomes of their study. It includes raw data, measurements, observations, and any other information gathered during the research process.
  • Objectivity and Transparency:  By providing raw data and statistical analyses, the Results section ensures transparency and objectivity. Other researchers should be able to review the data and draw their own conclusions.
  • Verification and Replicability:  Results allow other researchers to verify the study’s findings. Replicability is a fundamental principle in science, and a clear presentation of results facilitates the replication of experiments or studies by other researchers.
  • Support or Refutation of Hypotheses:  The Results section is where researchers can determine whether their findings support or refute their initial hypotheses. This is a crucial step in the scientific method and contributes to the accumulation of knowledge in a particular field.
  • Basis for Discussion and Interpretation:  The data presented in the Results section serve as the foundation for the subsequent Discussion section. Researchers interpret the results, discuss their implications, and relate them to existing literature. Without clear and accurate results, the discussion lacks a solid basis.
  • Scientific Progress:  Reporting results allows the scientific community to advance. Other researchers can build upon the findings, either by confirming or challenging them, which contributes to the overall progress of scientific knowledge.
  • Peer Review Process:  The Results section is a key component in the peer review process. Other experts in the field assess the validity and significance of the results before the paper is accepted for publication.
  • Data Integrity and Research Ethics:  By presenting the raw data, researchers demonstrate the integrity of their work. It also allows for scrutiny regarding research ethics, ensuring that data collection and analysis were conducted ethically and rigorously.
  • Support for Funding and Grants:  Clear and compelling results are often necessary when seeking funding or grants. Funding agencies and institutions need to see that the research is producing meaningful and impactful results.
  • Communication of Findings to a Wider Audience:  The Results section, along with other parts of the research paper, contributes to the communication of findings to a broader audience, including scientists, educators, policymakers, and the general public.

In summary, the Results section is crucial because it is the primary means through which researchers communicate their findings to the scientific community and beyond. It plays a central role in the scientific method by providing a platform for the objective presentation and interpretation of data, fostering transparency, verification, and further research.

How do you properly format and present tables and figures in the Results section of the research paper

Properly formatting and presenting tables and figures in the Results section is essential for conveying information clearly and effectively. Here are some guidelines to follow;

Title and Numbering

  • Provide a clear and concise title for each table.
  • Number tables sequentially (e.g., Table 1, Table 2).

Headings and Subheadings

  • Use clear and descriptive column and row headings.
  • If the table is large, consider using subheadings to organize the data.

Alignment and Consistency

  • Align text consistently within columns (e.g., left-align text, center numeric data).
  • Maintain consistency in formatting throughout the table.
  • Include footnotes to explain abbreviations, symbols, or provide additional context.
  • Use superscript numbers or symbols for footnotes and explain them below the table.

Units of Measurement

  • Clearly specify units of measurement for numerical data.
  • Place units in the column or row headings or provide a separate row for units.

Formatting Numbers

  • Use consistent decimal places and significant figures.
  • Consider rounding numbers appropriately for clarity.

Empty Cells

  • Avoid leaving empty cells; use dashes or other symbols to indicate missing data.
  • Clearly state if a value is not applicable.

Reference in Text

  • Reference each table in the text and briefly discuss key findings.
  • Use the table number in parentheses (e.g., (Table 1)).

Caption and Numbering

  • Provide a descriptive caption for each figure.
  • Number figures sequentially (e.g., Figure 1, Figure 2).

Clarity of Graphics

  • Ensure that the graphic is clear, legible, and appropriately sized.
  • Use high-resolution images or create easily interpretable graphs.

Axes and Labels

  • Clearly label all axes with the appropriate units.
  • Use descriptive axis labels that convey the nature of the data.
  • Include a legend if the figure includes different elements (e.g., lines, symbols).
  • Ensure the legend is placed in a way that does not obscure the data.

Color and Contrast

  • Use color strategically, considering accessibility for readers with color vision deficiencies.
  • Ensure sufficient contrast for all elements in black-and-white printing.

Annotations

  • If necessary, add annotations to highlight specific points or trends.
  • Use arrows, labels, or other indicators for emphasis.

Consistent Style

  • Maintain a consistent style across multiple figures within the same paper.
  • Use similar fonts, colors, and scales for a cohesive presentation.
  • Reference each figure in the text and briefly discuss key findings.
  • Use the figure number in parentheses (e.g., (Figure 1)).

Remember, clarity and consistency are key. Ensure that tables and figures are easy to understand without the need for additional explanation. Additionally, follow the formatting guidelines of the specific journal or publication you are submitting to, as they may have specific requirements for tables and figures.

What is the significance of the Discussion section in a research paper

The Discussion section in a research paper holds significant importance as it allows researchers to interpret their findings, relate them to existing knowledge, and draw meaningful conclusions. Here are several key aspects highlighting the significance of the Discussion section;

  • Interpretation of Results:  The Discussion section provides an opportunity to explain and interpret the results obtained in the study. Researchers can clarify the meaning of their findings and elaborate on their implications.
  • Comparison with Previous Research:  Researchers can compare their results with existing literature to highlight similarities, differences, or advancements in knowledge. This contributes to the ongoing dialogue within the scientific community.
  • Addressing Research Questions or Hypotheses:  The Discussion section allows researchers to address the initial research questions or hypotheses stated in the introduction. They can evaluate whether their findings support or refute the proposed hypotheses.
  • Contextualizing Results:  Researchers can place their results in the broader context of the field. This involves discussing how the study contributes to existing knowledge and understanding, emphasizing its significance.
  • Identification of Patterns and Trends:  Patterns and trends observed in the data can be explored and explained in the Discussion section. Researchers can discuss the reasons behind these patterns and their implications for the research question.
  • Limitations and Potential Biases:  Acknowledging the limitations of the study is crucial in the Discussion section. Researchers can openly discuss any constraints, biases, or methodological issues that may have affected the results.
  • Alternative Explanations:  Researchers should consider alternative explanations for their findings and discuss why these alternatives were ruled out or how they might impact the interpretation of the results.
  • Implications for Future Research:  The Discussion section often includes suggestions for future research directions. Researchers can propose areas that need further exploration or recommend modifications to the study design for more robust investigations.
  • Practical and Theoretical Implications:  Researchers can discuss the practical implications of their findings, addressing how the results may be applied in real-world situations. They can also explore the theoretical implications, contributing to the development or refinement of theoretical frameworks.
  • Synthesis of Key Points:  The Discussion section serves as a synthesis of the key points of the paper, bringing together the results and their interpretation. It offers a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of the study’s outcomes.
  • Contributions to the Field:  Researchers can articulate the unique contributions of their study to the field. This is important for demonstrating the value of the research within the broader scholarly context.

In essence, the Discussion section is where researchers engage in a thoughtful and critical analysis of their results, connecting them to the wider body of knowledge and providing insights that go beyond the raw data presented in the Results section. It is a crucial component that adds depth and context to the research paper, allowing readers to fully grasp the implications and significance of the study.

What elements should be included in the Conclusion of a research paper

The Conclusion section of a research paper serves to summarize the main findings, restate the significance of the study, and offer insights derived from the research. Here are the key elements that should be included in the Conclusion;

Summary of Key Findings

  • Provide a concise recap of the main results obtained in the study.
  • Highlight the most important and relevant findings that address the research question or hypothesis.

Restatement of Research Objectives or Hypotheses

  • Remind the reader of the initial research objectives or hypotheses stated in the introduction.
  • Discuss how the findings either support or challenge these objectives.

Significance of the Study

  • Reinforce the importance and relevance of the research within the broader context of the field.
  • Clearly articulate the contribution of the study to existing knowledge and its potential impact.

Implications for Practice

  • Discuss any practical implications of the findings for real-world applications.
  • Address how the results may inform decision-making or practices in relevant areas.

Implications for Future Research

  • Suggest areas for further exploration and research based on the limitations or gaps identified in the current study.
  • Provide recommendations for researchers interested in building on the current findings.

Integration with Existing Literature

  • Connect the study’s results with existing literature and research in the field.
  • Discuss how the findings either align with or challenge previous studies.

Limitations and Caveats

  • Acknowledge and discuss the limitations of the study.
  • Provide a balanced assessment of the study’s constraints and potential sources of bias.

Reflection on Methodology

  • Reflect on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the research methodology.
  • Discuss any challenges encountered during the research process and how they may have influenced the results.

Conclusion Statement

  • Offer a conclusive statement summarizing the overall implications of the study.
  • Clearly state the main takeaway or message that readers should derive from the research.

Closing Thoughts

  • Conclude with any final thoughts, reflections, or remarks that enhance the overall understanding of the research.
  • Consider leaving the reader with a thought-provoking statement or a call to action related to the study’s findings.

Avoid New Information:  The conclusion is not the place to introduce new information or data. It should focus on summarizing and synthesizing existing content.

Brevity and Clarity

  • Keep the conclusion concise while ensuring clarity and coherence.
  • Use straightforward language to communicate key points without unnecessary complexity.

So, the Conclusion section is the final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the reader. It should effectively wrap up the research paper by summarizing the key elements and providing a sense of closure while encouraging further consideration of the study’s implications.

How do you write an effective Abstract that summarizes the key aspects of the research

Writing an effective abstract is crucial as it serves as a concise summary of your research, providing readers with a quick overview of the study’s key aspects. Here are some guidelines to help you write an impactful abstract;

  • Understand the Purpose:  Recognize that the abstract is a standalone summary of your research, and readers may use it to decide whether to read the full paper. It should convey the main points and significance of your study.
  • Follow Structure Guidelines:  Different journals and disciplines may have specific guidelines for abstracts. Ensure that you are aware of any required structure or word limit set by the journal or conference you are submitting to.
  • Start with a Clear Context:  Begin your abstract by providing a brief context for your research. Clearly state the background or problem that your study addresses.
  • State the Research Question or Objective:  Clearly articulate the research question, objective, or hypothesis that your study aims to address. Be concise but informative.
  • Describe the Methods:  Briefly outline the research methods used in your study. Include key details such as study design, participants, materials, and procedures.
  • Present Key Results:  Summarize the main findings of your research. Highlight the most important and relevant results that answer your research question.
  • Include Quantitative Information:  If applicable, provide quantitative information such as effect sizes, statistical significance, or numerical data that convey the magnitude and importance of the results.
  • Convey Interpretation and Significance:  Interpret the results briefly and discuss their significance. Explain how your findings contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the field.
  • Highlight Key Conclusions:  Clearly state the conclusions drawn from your study. This is not the place for introducing new information; rather, it’s a summary of the primary outcomes.
  • Avoid Abbreviations and Jargon:  Keep the abstract accessible to a broad audience by avoiding unnecessary abbreviations or discipline-specific jargon. Use language that can be easily understood by readers from diverse backgrounds.
  • Be Concise and Specific:  Strive for brevity while ensuring that you cover all essential aspects of your research. Use specific and precise language to convey your points.
  • Check for Clarity and Coherence:  Ensure that the abstract flows logically and that each sentence contributes to the overall understanding of your research. Check for clarity and coherence in your writing.
  • Keywords:  Include relevant keywords in your abstract. These terms should capture the essential topics of your research and aid in the discoverability of your paper in databases and search engines.
  • Proofread Carefully:  Eliminate grammatical errors, typos, or any unclear language. A well-written abstract demonstrates attention to detail and professionalism.
  • Meet Word Limit Requirements:  If there is a word limit, adhere to it. Concision is crucial in abstract writing, and exceeding the word limit may result in important information being omitted.
  • Review and Revise:  Once you have drafted your abstract, review it critically. Ask yourself if it effectively conveys the main points of your research and if it would pique the interest of potential readers.

The abstract is often the first (and sometimes only) part of your research paper that readers will see. Therefore, crafting a clear, concise, and compelling abstract is essential for drawing attention to your work and encouraging further exploration.

What is the difference between the Abstract and the Executive Summary in a research paper

The abstract and the executive summary serve similar purposes in providing a concise overview of a document, but they are typically used in different contexts and for different types of documents. Here are the key differences between an abstract and an executive summary;

Usage:  Commonly used in academic and scholarly writing, such as research papers, articles, and conference presentations.

  • Summarizes the entire research paper, including background, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  • Generally includes information about the research question, methods, key findings, and implications.
  • Primarily aimed at an academic audience, including researchers, scholars, and students.
  • Serves as a standalone summary for individuals seeking a quick understanding of the research without reading the entire paper.

Length:  Typically limited to a specific word count or length, often ranging from 150 to 250 words for academic papers.

Keywords:  May include keywords that highlight the main topics of the research for indexing and search purposes.

Location:  Positioned at the beginning of the research paper, providing readers with a preview of the study.

Executive Summary

Usage:  More commonly found in business and professional documents, such as business plans, proposals, and reports.

  • Summarizes the key points of a longer document, focusing on the most critical information for decision-makers.
  • Often includes an overview of the purpose, methodology, major findings, recommendations, and potential actions.
  • Intended for a business or managerial audience, including executives, stakeholders, or decision-makers.
  • Aids busy professionals in quickly grasping the main points of a document without delving into the details.

Length:  Can vary in length but is generally longer than an abstract, often spanning a page or more.

Keywords:  May not always include specific keywords for indexing, as the primary focus is on communicating essential information to decision-makers.

Location:  Typically placed at the beginning of a business document, allowing executives to quickly understand the document’s purpose and key recommendations.

In summary, while both the abstract and the executive summary serve the purpose of providing a brief overview, they are tailored to different audiences and contexts. The abstract is more common in academic settings, summarizing research papers, while the executive summary is often used in business and professional documents to distill key information for decision-makers.

How should citations and references be formatted in the References or Bibliography section

The formatting of citations and references in the References or Bibliography section of a research paper depends on the citation style specified by the journal, publication, or academic institution. Different disciplines and publications may have preferences for specific citation styles, such as APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, Harvard, or others.

Here are general guidelines for formatting citations and references in common citation styles;

  • Book:  Author, A. A. (Year of publication).  Title of work: C apital letters also appear in the subtitle. Publisher.
  • Journal Article:  Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of article.  Title of Journal, volume number (issue number), page range. DOI or URL
  • Webpage:  Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day of publication). Title of webpage. Website Name. URL
  • Book:  Author’s Last Name, First Name.  Title of Book . Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Journal Article:  Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.”  Title of Journal , vol. number, no. number, Year, pages. Database name or URL.
  • Webpage:  Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Webpage.” Website Name, publication date, URL.

Chicago Style

  • Book:  Author’s First Name Last Name.  Title of Book . Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
  • Journal Article:  Author’s First Name Last Name. “Title of Article.”  Title of Journal  vol. number, no. number (Year): pages.
  • Webpage:  Author’s First Name Last Name. “Title of Webpage.” Name of Website. URL

Harvard Style

  • Book:  Author’s Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year)  Title of Book . Place of publication: Publisher.
  • Journal Article:  Author’s Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of Article.’  Title of Journal , Volume number (Issue number), Page range.
  • Webpage:  Author’s Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of Webpage.’ Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).

Always check the specific guidelines provided by the journal or publication you are submitting to, as they may have variations or preferences within a particular citation style. Additionally, consider using citation management tools like Zotero, EndNote, or Mendeley to streamline the citation process and ensure accuracy.

What is the role of the Acknowledgments section in a research paper

The Acknowledgments section in a research paper serves the purpose of expressing gratitude and recognizing individuals, institutions, or organizations that contributed to the research or the development of the paper. It is a way for the authors to acknowledge the support, assistance, and resources they received during the research process. Here are the key roles of the Acknowledgments section;

  • Recognition of Contributions:  The Acknowledgments section provides an opportunity for authors to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who directly or indirectly supported the research. This can include colleagues, mentors, advisors, and peers.
  • Expression of Gratitude:  Authors use this section to express gratitude for any assistance, guidance, or resources received. It is a way to show appreciation for the collaborative and supportive efforts of others.
  • Mentioning Funding Sources:  If the research was funded by grants or scholarships, authors typically acknowledge the funding sources in this section. This includes government agencies, private foundations, or other organizations that provided financial support.
  • Recognition of Technical Assistance:  Authors may acknowledge individuals or organizations that provided technical assistance, such as help with data analysis, laboratory techniques, or specialized equipment.
  • Acknowledging Institutional Support:  Authors may express gratitude to their affiliated institutions for providing facilities, libraries, or other resources that facilitated the research.
  • Thanking Reviewers or Editors:  In some cases, authors express appreciation for the feedback and constructive criticism received from peer reviewers during the publication process. This acknowledgment is often included in the Acknowledgments or sometimes in the opening of the paper.
  • Acknowledging Personal Support:  Authors may use this section to acknowledge personal support from family members, friends, or anyone who has supported them during the research process.
  • Maintaining Professional Courtesy:  Including an Acknowledgments section is also a matter of professional courtesy. It recognizes the collaborative and communal nature of research and emphasizes the importance of acknowledging those who contributed to the work.
  • Ethical Considerations:  The Acknowledgments section can also serve as a platform for authors to clarify any potential conflicts of interest or ethical considerations related to the research.
  • Humanizing the Research Process:  By acknowledging the human aspects of the research journey, the Acknowledgments section adds a personal touch to the paper, making it more relatable and emphasizing the collective effort involved in scholarly work.

It’s essential to strike a balance in the Acknowledgments section, being specific and genuine in expressing gratitude without making it overly lengthy. While it is a place to acknowledge various forms of support, it should remain focused on those contributions that directly impacted the research and its successful completion.

How do you determine the appropriate length for each section of a research paper

Determining the appropriate length for each section of a research paper involves considering several factors, including the type of paper, the guidelines provided by the target journal or publication, and the complexity of the research. While there are no fixed rules, the following general principles can help guide you;

  • Follow Journal Guidelines:  Journals often provide specific guidelines on the preferred structure and length of each section. Always refer to the submission guidelines of the target journal to ensure that your paper adheres to their requirements.
  • Consider the Type of Paper:  The length of each section can vary based on the type of paper. For example, a review article may have a more extensive literature review section compared to an original research paper. Understand the conventions for the type of paper you are writing.
  • Adhere to Standard Structures:  Research papers typically follow standard structures such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. While the length of each section may vary, maintaining a coherent structure is important for readability and understanding.
  • Prioritize Key Information:  Focus on presenting key information in each section. Avoid unnecessary details and ensure that the content is relevant to the research question or objective.
  • Consider the Significance of Sections:  Sections like the Methods and Results, which present the core of your research, may require more detailed explanations. The Introduction and Conclusion, while important, may be more concise.
  • Balance and Proportion:  Aim for a balanced distribution of content across sections. Avoid overemphasizing one section at the expense of others. Each section should contribute meaningfully to the overall narrative.
  • Review Similar Publications:  Examine research papers published in the target journal or similar venues. Analyze the length of sections in these papers to get a sense of the expectations for your own paper.
  • Be Mindful of Word Limits:  Some journals or conferences set word limits for articles. Be aware of these limits and allocate space accordingly. If there is a word limit, prioritize clarity and conciseness.
  • Consider Reader Engagement:  Readers appreciate a clear and well-structured paper. Aim for sections that are informative without being overly detailed. Engage your readers and maintain their interest throughout the paper.
  • Revise and Edit:  After drafting your paper, review and edit each section critically. Remove redundancies, unnecessary details, or content that does not directly contribute to the main message of each section.
  • Seek Feedback:  Obtain feedback from peers, colleagues, or mentors. Others' perspectives can help identify areas where content could be expanded or condensed.

Note that the appropriate length for each section can vary based on the specific requirements of your research and the expectations of the target audience. Strive for clarity, coherence, and relevance in each section to ensure that your research paper effectively communicates its purpose and findings.

Should the title of a research paper be included in the Abstract

Yes, the title of a research paper is typically included in the abstract. The abstract serves as a concise summary of the entire research paper, providing readers with an overview of the study’s purpose, methods, results, and conclusions. Including the title in the abstract helps readers immediately identify the topic and focus of the research.

The standard structure of an abstract often includes the following elements;

  • Title:  The title of the research paper is usually presented at the top of the abstract. It is written in the same way it appears in the full paper.
  • Introduction or Background:  A brief statement that introduces the research question or problem addressed in the study.
  • Methods:  A summary of the research methods employed, including the study design, participants, materials, and procedures.
  • Results:  A concise presentation of the key findings of the study.
  • Conclusion or Implications:  A discussion of the study’s conclusions, implications, or potential applications.

While the abstract aims to be succinct, it should still provide enough information for readers to understand the main components and contributions of the research. The inclusion of the title ensures that readers can quickly identify the specific topic of interest and decide whether the paper aligns with their interests or research needs.

What are the key components of the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (IMRAD) structure

The IMRAD structure is a commonly used format in scientific and academic writing, organizing research papers into distinct sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each section serves a specific purpose in presenting and communicating the research. Here are the key components of each section;

The Introduction section of a research paper typically includes the following components:

Background or Context

  • Provides a brief overview of the research area, establishing the context for the study.
  • Identifies the gap or problem in existing knowledge that the research aims to address.

Research Question or Hypothesis

  • Clearly states the main research question or hypothesis that the study seeks to answer.
  • Provides focus and direction for the research.

Objectives or Aims

  • Outlines the specific objectives or aims of the study, detailing what the research intends to achieve.
  • Explains the importance of the research and its potential contributions to the field.
  • Highlights the relevance of addressing the identified gap or problem.

Review of Literature

  • Summarizes relevant literature and previous studies related to the research topic.
  • Provides the theoretical framework and context for the study.

The Methods section details the research design, participants, materials, and procedures used in the study;

Study Design

  • Describes the overall design of the research (e.g., experimental, observational, survey).
  • Justifies why the chosen design is appropriate for addressing the research question.
  • Provides information about the participants or subjects involved in the study.
  • Describes the criteria for participant selection and recruitment.
  • Explains the method used for sampling and participant recruitment.
  • Details how the sample represents the target population.
  • Identifies and defines the independent and dependent variables.
  • Describes any control variables or confounding factors.
  • Specifies the tools, instruments, or materials used for data collection.
  • Includes information on the reliability and validity of instruments.
  • Outlines the step-by-step process of data collection.
  • Includes any steps taken to ensure data accuracy and reliability.

The Results section presents the raw data and findings of the study:

Data Presentation

  • Displays the gathered information in a structured and straightforward way.
  • Utilizes tables, figures, and graphs to enhance data visualization.

Statistical Analyses

  • Describes the statistical methods used to analyze the data.
  • Presents statistical results, including significance levels.

Key Findings

  • Summarizes the main findings of the study.
  • Highlights any patterns, trends, or significant outcomes.

The Discussion section interprets the results, relates them to existing literature, and discusses their implications:

Interpretation of Results

  • Offers a detailed interpretation of the study’s findings.
  • Discusses how the results address the research question or hypothesis.

Comparison with Previous Research

  • Compares the current findings with previous studies in the field.
  • Discusses similarities, differences, or advancements in knowledge.

Limitations

  • Acknowledges any limitations or constraints of the study.
  • Addresses potential sources of bias or error.

Implications

  • Discusses the broader implications of the findings.
  • Explores the practical, theoretical, or policy implications.

Recommendations for Future Research

  • Suggests directions for future research based on the study’s limitations or gaps identified.
  • Provides guidance for researchers interested in building on the current findings.

The IMRAD structure is widely used because it provides a logical and organized framework for presenting research in a clear and systematic manner. Following this structure helps readers navigate the paper easily and understand the research process and outcomes.

How do you choose appropriate keywords for a research paper

Selecting appropriate keywords for a research paper is essential for enhancing the paper’s discoverability in databases and search engines. Here are steps to help you choose effective keywords;

  • Identify Key Concepts:  Identify the main concepts and topics addressed in your research. These concepts should represent the core elements of your study.
  • Use Specific Terms:  Choose keywords that are specific and closely related to your research. Avoid overly broad terms that may result in irrelevant search results.
  • Consider Synonyms and Variations:  Think about synonyms, alternative terms, and variations of your key concepts. Different researchers and databases may use different terminology.
  • Include Related Terms:  Consider terms that are closely related to your main concepts. This can include broader or narrower terms, related disciplines, or alternative phrasing.
  • Review Existing Literature:  Look at relevant articles and papers in your field. Identify the keywords used in these papers, as they may be suitable for your own research.
  • Check Subject Headings:  Explore the use of standardized subject headings or controlled vocabulary in the specific database or catalog you are using. These terms can help improve precision.
  • Use Thesauruses and Databases:  Consult thesauruses or controlled vocabulary lists provided by databases like PubMed, ERIC, or PsycINFO. These tools can suggest standardized terms used in the literature.
  • Think About Variations in Language:  Consider variations in language and spelling that may be used by researchers or authors in different regions or fields.
  • Include Acronyms and Abbreviations:  If applicable, include acronyms or abbreviations commonly used in your field. This ensures that researchers using these terms can find your paper.
  • Be Mindful of Trends:  Stay informed about emerging trends and terminology in your field. Include keywords that reflect the current discourse.
  • Use a Mix of Broad and Specific Terms:  Include a mix of broad and specific terms to cater to different levels of search specificity.
  • Think About Alternative Spellings:  Consider alternative spellings, particularly if certain terms may have multiple accepted spellings.
  • Use Keywords Consistently:  Ensure consistency in the use of keywords throughout your paper, including the title, abstract, and body. This helps search engines and databases index your paper accurately.
  • Test and Refine:  Test the effectiveness of your chosen keywords by conducting searches in relevant databases. If the results are too broad or narrow, adjust your keywords accordingly.
  • Include Geographic and Temporal Keywords:  If relevant, include keywords related to geographic locations or time periods. This can be important for studies with a regional or historical focus.

Collaborate and Seek Feedback:  Discuss your chosen keywords with colleagues or mentors. They may offer valuable insights and suggestions.

Remember that the goal is to use keywords that accurately represent your research and align with the terminology used by others in your field. Using a combination of precise, specific terms and broader, related concepts ensures that your paper reaches a diverse audience interested in your research area.

When is it necessary to include a supplementary materials section in a research paper

A Supplementary Materials section in a research paper is included when there is additional information or content that is important for a comprehensive understanding of the research but is too extensive or detailed to be included in the main body of the paper. Here are situations when it is necessary or advisable to include a Supplementary Materials section;

  • Extensive Data Sets:  When the dataset or raw data is extensive and detailed, it may be included as supplementary materials. This allows interested readers or researchers to access and analyze the data more thoroughly.
  • Complex Methodology Details:  If the methodology used in the study is complex and detailed, providing additional explanations, schematics, or step-by-step procedures in the Supplementary Materials section can enhance clarity without overwhelming the main text.
  • Additional Figures and Tables:  If there are numerous figures, tables, or other graphical elements that contribute to the study but may interrupt the flow of the main text, they can be placed in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Extended Literature Reviews:  In cases where the literature review is extensive but not directly tied to the main narrative, an extended literature review or additional references can be placed in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Code and Algorithms:  For studies involving computer code, algorithms, or detailed mathematical proofs, including these in the Supplementary Materials allows readers interested in the technical details to access and review them.
  • Participant Details or Additional Experiments:  If there are extensive details about participants (e.g., demographics, characteristics) or additional experiments that are relevant but not critical to the main argument, they can be included in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Supporting Information for Analyses:  Supporting information for statistical analyses, sensitivity analyses, or robustness checks can be included in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Audio-Visual Material:  For studies involving audio-visual material (e.g., sound clips, video recordings), the Supplementary Materials section is an appropriate place to include these additional resources.
  • Appendices:  Appendices that contain supplementary information, such as questionnaires, interview transcripts, or additional results, can be placed in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Ethical Approvals and Permissions:  Copies of ethical approvals, permissions, or other documentation that may be required but are not integral to the main narrative can be included in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Supplementary Text:  Additional explanations, derivations, or details that provide depth but might disrupt the main flow of the paper can be included in the Supplementary Materials.
  • Additional Results or Analyses:  If there are secondary or exploratory analyses that are interesting but not crucial to the primary findings, they can be presented in the Supplementary Materials.

In general, the Supplementary Materials section is a flexible space that allows authors to include content that supports the main argument without overwhelming the main text. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the main paper remains coherent and self-contained, with the Supplementary Materials serving as supplementary, rather than essential, information. Authors should always check the specific guidelines of the journal they are submitting to regarding the inclusion of supplementary materials.

What is the difference between a research paper and a review article, and how does it affect the structure

A research paper and a review article serve different purposes in academic writing, and they differ in terms of their objectives, content, and structure.

Research Paper

Purpose: Objective Research Contribution:  A research paper presents the findings of original research or experimentation. It aims to contribute new knowledge to a specific field or address a research question or hypothesis.

Content: Empirical Data:  Research papers typically include detailed descriptions of the study’s methodology, data collection, and analysis. They present empirical data and discuss the implications of the results.

Structure: IMRAD Structure:  Research papers often follow the IMRAD structure (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion), providing a systematic and organized presentation of the research process and outcomes.

Citations: Primary Literature:  Citations primarily include references to the original research, emphasizing the direct sources of data and information.

Audience: Specialized Audience:  Research papers are often written for a specialized audience, such as researchers, scholars, and professionals in the specific field of study.

Review Article

Purpose: Synthesis of Existing Literature:  A review article aims to summarize, evaluate, and synthesize existing literature on a specific topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge in a particular area.

Content: Analysis and Evaluation:  Review articles analyze and evaluate the findings of multiple studies, offering a comprehensive perspective on the topic. They may include historical context, theoretical frameworks, and discussions of trends.

Structure: Varied Structure:  Review articles may have a more flexible structure compared to research papers. While they often include an introduction and conclusion, the body of the article may be organized thematically, chronologically, or by methodological approach.

Citations: Secondary Literature:  Citations in a review article primarily refer to existing literature, summarizing and citing multiple sources to provide a comprehensive overview.

Audience: Wider Audience:  Review articles are often written to appeal to a broader audience, including students, researchers, and professionals seeking a comprehensive understanding of a specific topic.

Structural Differences

  • Introduction:  In a research paper, the introduction clearly defines the research question or hypothesis. In a review article, the introduction provides context for the broader topic, explaining why the review is important.
  • Methods and Results:  Research papers include detailed sections on methods and results, describing the study design, data collection, and findings. Review articles do not typically have dedicated sections for methods and results but may include methodological considerations in the text.
  • Discussion:  In a research paper, the discussion interprets the study’s results and discusses their implications. In a review article, the discussion synthesizes and interprets the findings from multiple studies, offering insights and identifying gaps in the existing literature.
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion of a research paper summarizes the study’s main findings and their significance. In a review article, the conclusion often emphasizes the key themes, trends, or unresolved questions in the field.

While these distinctions are general, it’s important to note that the specific structure and requirements can vary based on the guidelines of the target journal or publication. Authors should always refer to the submission guidelines when preparing a research paper or a review article.

How do you write an effective thesis statement in the Introduction section

An effective thesis statement in the introduction serves as a concise and clear summary of the main point or claim of your research paper. It provides direction to the reader, outlining the purpose and focus of your study. Here are some guidelines on how to write an effective thesis statement in the introduction;

  • Clarity and Conciseness:  Ensure that your thesis statement is clear, concise, and directly addresses the main point of your paper. Avoid vague or ambiguous language.
  • Specificity:  Be specific about the topic or issue you are addressing. Clearly state the aspect of the subject that your paper will focus on.
  • One Main Idea:  A thesis statement should convey one main idea or argument. Avoid trying to cover too many topics or issues in a single thesis statement.
  • Declarative Statement:  Formulate your thesis as a declarative statement rather than a question. Your thesis should present a claim that you will support or argue throughout the paper.
  • Position and Argument:  Clearly express your position on the topic and provide a brief overview of the argument you will make. This helps set the tone for the rest of the paper.
  • Scope of the Paper:  Indicate the scope of your paper by mentioning the specific aspects, factors, or elements that your research will explore.
  • Preview of Main Points:  If applicable, provide a brief preview of the main points or arguments that will be developed in the body of the paper. This helps to guide the reader through your paper.
  • Avoid Ambiguity:  Steer clear of vague or general statements that could be interpreted in various ways. Your thesis should be straightforward and unambiguous.
  • Relevance:  Take into account the prospective audience’s requirements and areas of interest. Your thesis statement should resonate with your readers and make them interested in your paper.
  • Reflect Your Stance:  If your research involves taking a stance on an issue, make sure your thesis reflects your position clearly. This helps readers understand your perspective from the outset.
  • Revise and Refine:  After drafting your thesis statement, review and refine it. Ensure that it accurately reflects the content and focus of your paper.
  • Tailor to Your Paper’s Purpose:  Adjust your thesis statement based on the type of paper you are writing (e.g., argumentative, analytical, expository). Tailor it to suit the purpose of your paper.
  • Consider Length:  While a thesis statement is typically a concise sentence or two, its length may vary depending on the complexity of your topic and the length of your paper. Aim for clarity and brevity.

Here’s an example to illustrate these principles;

In an essay about the impact of social media on mental health:

Weak Thesis Statement

“Social media has both positive and negative effects on mental health."

Strong Thesis Statement

“While social media provides a platform for communication and connection, its impact on mental health is a growing concern, as evidenced by the rise in anxiety and depression rates among frequent users."

The strong thesis statement is specific, takes a clear position, and provides a glimpse into the key points that will be explored in the paper.

What is the role of the Hypothesis in the Methods section, and when is it necessary

The hypothesis in the Methods section of a research paper serves as a clear and testable statement predicting the expected outcome of your study. It is typically included in studies that follow an experimental or quantitative research design. The role of the hypothesis is to guide the research process, facilitate the design of the study, and provide a basis for statistical analysis. Here’s when and how to include a hypothesis in the Methods section;

When is it Necessary

  • Experimental or Quantitative Research:  Hypotheses are most commonly included in studies that involve experimental or quantitative research designs. These types of studies aim to measure, manipulate, or observe variables to test specific relationships.
  • Testable Predictions:  If your research involves making specific, testable predictions about the relationship between variables, a hypothesis is necessary. It provides a clear expectation of what the study aims to demonstrate or investigate.
  • Guidance for Study Design:  A hypothesis guides the design of the study by framing the research question in a way that can be empirically tested. It helps define the variables and conditions under investigation.
  • Statistical Analysis:  In quantitative research, a hypothesis is essential for statistical analysis. It allows for the use of statistical tests to determine whether the observed results are consistent with the expected outcome stated in the hypothesis.

How to Include a Hypothesis in the Methods Section

  • Placement:  The hypothesis is typically presented early in the Methods section, after the introduction of the research question or objective. It sets the stage for the reader to understand the specific aim of the study.
  • Clear Statement:  State your hypothesis clearly and concisely. Use language that is unambiguous and directly addresses the relationship or effect you are investigating.
  • Null and Alternative Hypotheses:  If applicable, include both null and alternative hypotheses. The null hypothesis represents the absence of an effect, while the alternative hypothesis states the expected effect.
  • Directionality:  If your research involves a directional prediction (e.g., an increase or decrease in a variable), specify this in your hypothesis. If the prediction is non-directional, state it as such.
  • Variables and Relationships:  Clearly define the variables involved in the hypothesis and the expected relationship between them. This helps readers understand the scope of your study.
  • Testable:  Ensure that your hypothesis is testable. This means that it should be possible to collect data and perform statistical analyses to determine whether the observed results support or reject the hypothesis.

Research Question: Does a new drug reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients?

Null Hypothesis (H0)

“The new medication had no apparent impact on blood pressure readings between those with hypertension receiving it and those receiving a placebo. "

Alternative Hypothesis (H1)

“Hypertensive patients who receive the new drug will show a significant reduction in blood pressure levels compared to those who receive a placebo."

Including a hypothesis in the Methods section provides a clear roadmap for the research, helping both researchers and readers understand the anticipated outcomes and objectives of the study. Keep in mind that not all studies require hypotheses, especially in qualitative or exploratory research where the emphasis may be on understanding phenomena rather than testing specific predictions.

How should limitations and future research directions be addressed in a research paper

Addressing limitations and proposing future research directions is an important aspect of the Discussion section in a research paper. These sections allow you to acknowledge the constraints of your study and suggest avenues for further investigation. Here are guidelines on how to effectively address limitations and future research directions;

Addressing Limitations

  • Be Transparent and Honest:  Clearly and honestly acknowledge the limitations of your study. This demonstrates transparency and helps readers understand the scope of your research.
  • Link to Methodology:  Connect limitations to specific aspects of your methodology. Discuss any constraints in data collection, sample size, experimental design, or other methodological considerations.
  • Consider External Validity:  Address external validity by discussing the generalizability of your findings. Be explicit about the population to which your results can be applied and any potential limitations in generalizing the results to broader contexts.
  • Recognize Data Limitations:  If there are limitations in the data used in your study, such as missing information or reliance on self-report measures, acknowledge these shortcomings and discuss their potential impact on the results.
  • Discuss Sampling Issues:  If your study involves a specific sample that may not be fully representative of the broader population, discuss the implications of this limitation.
  • Address Potential Biases:  Identify and discuss any biases that might have affected your study, whether they are selection biases, response biases, or other forms of bias. Be clear about the potential impact on the study’s validity.
  • Account for Confounding Variables:  If there are confounding variables that could have influenced your results, acknowledge these and discuss how they may have affected the interpretation of your findings.
  • Highlight Practical Constraints:  If your study faced practical constraints such as time, resources, or access to certain populations, discuss how these limitations might have influenced the study’s outcomes.

Proposing Future Research Directions

  • Connect to Current Findings:  Tie your future research suggestions to the current findings of your study. Identify gaps in knowledge or areas where further investigation is needed based on your results.
  • Specify Research Questions:  Clearly formulate specific research questions or hypotheses for future studies. This provides a roadmap for researchers interested in building on your work.
  • Consider Different Methodologies:  Propose different methodologies or research designs that could address the limitations of your current study. This could involve using different data collection methods, expanding the sample size, or employing new experimental approaches.
  • Explore Unanswered Questions:  Identify unanswered questions that arose during your study and propose ways to explore and answer them in future research.
  • Extend to Different Populations:  Discuss how future research could extend your findings to different populations, contexts, or settings. Consider the external validity of your study and suggest ways to enhance it.
  • Examine Long-Term Effects:  If your study was short-term or focused on immediate outcomes, suggest research directions that explore long-term effects or consequences.
  • Address Cross-Cultural Perspectives:  If applicable, propose future research that explores cross-cultural perspectives or comparisons to enhance the generalizability of findings.
  • Integrate Interdisciplinary Approaches:  Consider interdisciplinary approaches by proposing collaborations with researchers from other disciplines. This can enrich the scope and depth of future research.
  • Highlight Emerging Technologies:  If relevant, discuss how emerging technologies or methodologies could be employed in future research to address limitations and enhance the study’s robustness.
  • Encourage Replication:  Emphasize the importance of replication studies to validate and verify your findings. This contributes to the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge.

By effectively addressing limitations and proposing future research directions, you contribute to the ongoing scholarly conversation, guide fellow researchers, and demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the complexities within your field of study.

What is the meaning of a research paper outline

Types of research paper outlines

What is a research paper

What should be the length of a research paper

What is the best format to write a research paper

How to prepare a research paper outline

What are the steps for writing a research paper

How to incorporate data and statistics in research papers

What is a research paper with an example

How many pages should a research paper be

What can be the topics for a research paper

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Definition and Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:

  • an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
  • an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
  • and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.

Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:

  • the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
  • the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
  • what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
  • the main reason(s) , the exigency, the rationale , the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
  • your research and/or analytical methods
  • your main findings , results , or arguments
  • the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.

When to Write Your Abstract

Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.

Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract

The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.

The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.

The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).

Sample Abstract 1

From the social sciences.

Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.

“The growing economic resemblance of spouses has contributed to rising inequality by increasing the number of couples in which there are two high- or two low-earning partners. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the topic under study (the “economic resemblance of spouses”). This sentence also implies the question underlying this research study: what are the various causes—and the interrelationships among them—for this trend?] The dominant explanation for this trend is increased assortative mating. Previous research has primarily relied on cross-sectional data and thus has been unable to disentangle changes in assortative mating from changes in the division of spouses’ paid labor—a potentially key mechanism given the dramatic rise in wives’ labor supply. [Annotation for the previous two sentences: These next two sentences explain what previous research has demonstrated. By pointing out the limitations in the methods that were used in previous studies, they also provide a rationale for new research.] We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose the increase in the correlation between spouses’ earnings and its contribution to inequality between 1970 and 2013 into parts due to (a) changes in assortative mating, and (b) changes in the division of paid labor. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The data, research and analytical methods used in this new study.] Contrary to what has often been assumed, the rise of economic homogamy and its contribution to inequality is largely attributable to changes in the division of paid labor rather than changes in sorting on earnings or earnings potential. Our findings indicate that the rise of economic homogamy cannot be explained by hypotheses centered on meeting and matching opportunities, and they show where in this process inequality is generated and where it is not.” (p. 985) [Annotation for the previous two sentences: The major findings from and implications and significance of this study.]

Sample Abstract 2

From the humanities.

Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.

“From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, a network of young urban migrant men created an underground pulp fiction publishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the context for this research and announces the topic under study.] As texts that were produced in the underground economy of a city whose trajectory was increasingly charted outside of formalized planning and investment, these novellas reveal more than their narrative content alone. These texts were active components in the urban social worlds of the young men who produced them. They reveal a mode of urbanism otherwise obscured by narratives of decolonization, in which urban belonging was constituted less by national citizenship than by the construction of social networks, economic connections, and the crafting of reputations. This article argues that pulp fiction novellas of socialist era Dar es Salaam are artifacts of emergent forms of male sociability and mobility. In printing fictional stories about urban life on pilfered paper and ink, and distributing their texts through informal channels, these writers not only described urban communities, reputations, and networks, but also actually created them.” (p. 210) [Annotation for the previous sentences: The remaining sentences in this abstract interweave other essential information for an abstract for this article. The implied research questions: What do these texts mean? What is their historical and cultural significance, produced at this time, in this location, by these authors? The argument and the significance of this analysis in microcosm: these texts “reveal a mode or urbanism otherwise obscured . . .”; and “This article argues that pulp fiction novellas. . . .” This section also implies what previous historical research has obscured. And through the details in its argumentative claims, this section of the abstract implies the kinds of methods the author has used to interpret the novellas and the concepts under study (e.g., male sociability and mobility, urban communities, reputations, network. . . ).]

Sample Abstract/Summary 3

From the sciences.

Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

“Several studies have reported reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes; however, reprogramming into proliferative induced cardiac progenitor cells (iCPCs) remains to be accomplished. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence announces the topic under study, summarizes what’s already known or been accomplished in previous research, and signals the rationale and goals are for the new research and the problem that the new research solves: How can researchers reprogram fibroblasts into iCPCs?] Here we report that a combination of 11 or 5 cardiac factors along with canonical Wnt and JAK/STAT signaling reprogrammed adult mouse cardiac, lung, and tail tip fibroblasts into iCPCs. The iCPCs were cardiac mesoderm-restricted progenitors that could be expanded extensively while maintaining multipo-tency to differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, iCPCs injected into the cardiac crescent of mouse embryos differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iCPCs transplanted into the post-myocardial infarction mouse heart improved survival and differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. [Annotation for the previous four sentences: The methods the researchers developed to achieve their goal and a description of the results.] Lineage reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs provides a scalable cell source for drug discovery, disease modeling, and cardiac regenerative therapy.” (p. 354) [Annotation for the previous sentence: The significance or implications—for drug discovery, disease modeling, and therapy—of this reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs.]

Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract

Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.

“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:

parts of a journal paper

Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

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Resources for Proposal Writers

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Creating Poster Presentations

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

Scientific Reports

Scientific Report Format

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Writing an Effective Blog Post

Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics

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  • Open access
  • Published: 14 February 2024

Critical transitions in the Amazon forest system

  • Bernardo M. Flores   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4555-5598 1 ,
  • Encarni Montoya   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4690-190X 2 ,
  • Boris Sakschewski   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7230-9723 3 ,
  • Nathália Nascimento   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4819-0811 4 ,
  • Arie Staal   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5409-1436 5 ,
  • Richard A. Betts   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4929-0307 6 , 7 ,
  • Carolina Levis   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8425-9479 1 ,
  • David M. Lapola 8 ,
  • Adriane Esquível-Muelbert   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5335-1259 9 , 10 ,
  • Catarina Jakovac   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8130-852X 11 ,
  • Carlos A. Nobre 4 ,
  • Rafael S. Oliveira   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6392-2526 12 ,
  • Laura S. Borma 13 ,
  • Da Nian   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2320-5223 3 ,
  • Niklas Boers   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1239-9034 3 , 14 ,
  • Susanna B. Hecht 15 ,
  • Hans ter Steege   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8738-2659 16 , 17 ,
  • Julia Arieira 18 ,
  • Isabella L. Lucas 19 ,
  • Erika Berenguer   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-8157-8792 20 ,
  • José A. Marengo 21 , 22 , 23 ,
  • Luciana V. Gatti 13 ,
  • Caio R. C. Mattos   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8635-3901 24 &
  • Marina Hirota   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1958-3651 1 , 12 , 25  

Nature volume  626 ,  pages 555–564 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Climate and Earth system modelling
  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Ecosystem services
  • Sustainability

The possibility that the Amazon forest system could soon reach a tipping point, inducing large-scale collapse, has raised global concern 1 , 2 , 3 . For 65 million years, Amazonian forests remained relatively resilient to climatic variability. Now, the region is increasingly exposed to unprecedented stress from warming temperatures, extreme droughts, deforestation and fires, even in central and remote parts of the system 1 . Long existing feedbacks between the forest and environmental conditions are being replaced by novel feedbacks that modify ecosystem resilience, increasing the risk of critical transition. Here we analyse existing evidence for five major drivers of water stress on Amazonian forests, as well as potential critical thresholds of those drivers that, if crossed, could trigger local, regional or even biome-wide forest collapse. By combining spatial information on various disturbances, we estimate that by 2050, 10% to 47% of Amazonian forests will be exposed to compounding disturbances that may trigger unexpected ecosystem transitions and potentially exacerbate regional climate change. Using examples of disturbed forests across the Amazon, we identify the three most plausible ecosystem trajectories, involving different feedbacks and environmental conditions. We discuss how the inherent complexity of the Amazon adds uncertainty about future dynamics, but also reveals opportunities for action. Keeping the Amazon forest resilient in the Anthropocene will depend on a combination of local efforts to end deforestation and degradation and to expand restoration, with global efforts to stop greenhouse gas emissions.

The Amazon forest is a complex system of interconnected species, ecosystems and human cultures that contributes to the well-being of people globally 1 . The Amazon forest holds more than 10% of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity, stores an amount of carbon equivalent to 15–20 years of global CO 2 emissions (150–200 Pg C), and has a net cooling effect (from evapotranspiration) that helps to stabilize the Earth’s climate 1 , 2 , 3 . The forest contributes up to 50% of rainfall in the region and is crucial for moisture supply across South America 4 , allowing other biomes and economic activities to thrive in regions that would otherwise be more arid, such as the Pantanal wetlands and the La Plata river basin 1 . Large parts of the Amazon forest, however, are projected to experience mass mortality events due to climatic and land use-related disturbances in the coming decades 5 , 6 , potentially accelerating climate change through carbon emissions and feedbacks with the climate system 2 , 3 . These impacts would also involve irreversible loss of biodiversity, socioeconomic and cultural values 1 , 7 , 8 , 9 . The Amazon is home to more than 40 million people, including 2.2 million Indigenous peoples of more than 300 ethnicities, as well as afrodescendent and local traditional communities 1 . Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) would be harmed by forest loss in terms of their livelihoods, lifeways and knowledge systems that inspire societies globally 1 , 7 , 9 .

Understanding the risk of such catastrophic behaviour requires addressing complex factors that shape ecosystem resilience 10 . A major question is whether a large-scale collapse of the Amazon forest system could actually happen within the twenty-first century, and if this would be associated with a particular tipping point. Here we synthesize evidence from paleorecords, observational data and modelling studies of critical drivers of stress on the system. We assess potential thresholds of those drivers and the main feedbacks that could push the Amazon forest towards a tipping point. From examples of disturbed forests across the Amazon, we analyse the most plausible ecosystem trajectories that may lead to alternative stable states 10 . Moreover, inspired by the framework of ‘planetary boundaries’ 11 , we identify climatic and land use boundaries that reveal a safe operating space for the Amazon forest system in the Anthropocene epoch 12 .

Theory and concepts

Over time, environmental conditions fluctuate and may cause stress on ecosystems (for example, lack of water for plants). When stressing conditions intensify, some ecosystems may change their equilibrium state gradually, whereas others may shift abruptly between alternative stable states 10 . A ‘tipping point’ is the critical threshold value of an environmental stressing condition at which a small disturbance may cause an abrupt shift in the ecosystem state 2 , 3 , 13 , 14 , accelerated by positive feedbacks 15 (see Extended Data Table 1 ). This type of behaviour in which the system gets into a phase of self-reinforcing (runaway) change is often referred to as ‘critical transition’ 16 . As ecosystems approach a tipping point, they often lose resilience while still remaining close to equilibrium 17 . Thus, monitoring changes in ecosystem resilience and in key environmental conditions may enable societies to manage and avoid critical transitions. We adopt the concept of ‘ecological resilience’ 18 (hereafter ‘resilience’), which refers to the ability of an ecosystem to persist with similar structure, functioning and interactions, despite disturbances that push it to an alternative stable state. The possibility that alternative stable states (or bistability) may exist in a system has important implications, because the crossing of tipping points may be irreversible for the time scales that matter to societies 10 . Tropical terrestrial ecosystems are a well-known case in which critical transitions between alternative stable states may occur (Extended Data Fig. 1 ).

Past dynamics

The Amazon system has been mostly covered by forest throughout the Cenozoic era 19 (for 65 million years). Seven million years ago, the Amazon river began to drain the massive wetlands that covered most of the western Amazon, allowing forests to expand over grasslands in that region. More recently, during the drier and cooler conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum 20 (LGM) (around 21,000 years ago) and of the mid-Holocene epoch 21 (around 6,000 years ago), forests persisted even when humans were already present in the landscape 22 . Nonetheless, savannas expanded in peripheral parts of the southern Amazon basin during the LGM and mid-Holocene 23 , as well as in the northeastern Amazon during the early Holocene (around 11,000 years ago), probably influenced by drier climatic conditions and fires ignited by humans 24 , 25 . Throughout the core of the Amazon forest biome, patches of white-sand savanna also expanded in the past 20,000–7,000 years, driven by sediment deposition along ancient rivers 26 , and more recently (around 800 years ago) owing to Indigenous fires 27 . However, during the past 3,000 years, forests have been mostly expanding over savanna in the southern Amazon driven by increasingly wet conditions 28 .

Although palaeorecords suggest that a large-scale Amazon forest collapse did not occur within the past 65 million years 19 , they indicate that savannas expanded locally, particularly in the more seasonal peripheral regions when fires ignited by humans were frequent 23 , 24 . Patches of white-sand savanna also expanded within the Amazon forest owing to geomorphological dynamics and fires 26 , 27 . Past drought periods were usually associated with much lower atmospheric CO 2 concentrations, which may have reduced water-use efficiency of trees 29 (that is, trees assimilated less carbon during transpiration). However, these periods also coincided with cooler temperatures 20 , 21 , which probably reduced water demand by trees 30 . Past drier climatic conditions were therefore very different from the current climatic conditions, in which observed warming trends may exacerbate drought impacts on the forest by exposing trees to unprecedented levels of water stress 31 , 32 .

Global change impacts on forest resilience

Satellite observations from across the Amazon suggest that forest resilience has been decreasing since the early 2000s 33 , possibly as a result of global changes. In this section, we synthesize three global change impacts that vary spatially and temporally across the Amazon system, affecting forest resilience and the risk of critical transitions.

Regional climatic conditions

Within the twenty-first century, global warming may cause long-term changes in Amazonian climatic conditions 2 . Human greenhouse gas emissions continue to intensify global warming, but the warming rate also depends on feedbacks in the climate system that remain uncertain 2 , 3 . Recent climate models of the 6th phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) agree that in the coming decades, rainfall conditions will become more seasonal in the eastern and southern Amazonian regions, and temperatures will become higher across the entire Amazon 1 , 2 . By 2050, models project that a significant increase in the number of consecutive dry days by 10−30 days and in annual maximum temperatures by 2–4 °C, depending on the greenhouse gas emission scenario 2 . These climatic conditions could expose the forest to unprecedented levels of vapour pressure deficit 31 and consequently water stress 30 .

Satellite observations of climatic variability 31 confirm model projections 2 , showing that since the early 1980s, the Amazonian region has been warming significantly at an average rate of 0.27 °C per decade during the dry season, with the highest rates of up to 0.6 °C per decade in the centre and southeast of the biome (Fig. 1a ). Only a few small areas in the west of the biome are significantly cooling by around 0.1 °C per decade (Fig. 1a ). Dry season mean temperature is now more than 2 °C higher than it was 40 years ago in large parts of the central and southeastern Amazon. If trends continue, these areas could potentially warm by over 4 °C by 2050. Maximum temperatures during the dry season follow a similar trend, rising across most of the biome (Extended Data Fig. 2 ), exposing the forest 34 and local peoples 35 to potentially unbearable heat. Rising temperatures will increase thermal stress, potentially reducing forest productivity and carbon storage capacity 36 and causing widespread leaf damage 34 .

figure 1

a , Changes in the dry season (July–October) mean temperature reveal widespread warming, estimated using simple regressions between time and temperature observed between 1981 and 2020 (with P  < 0.1). b , Potential ecosystem stability classes estimated for year 2050, adapted from current stability classes (Extended Data Fig. 1b ) by considering only areas with significant regression slopes between time and annual rainfall observed from 1981 through 2020 (with P  < 0.1) (see Extended Data Fig. 3 for areas with significant changes). c , Repeated extreme drought events between 2001–2018 (adapted from ref. 39 ). d , Road network from where illegal deforestation and degradation may spread. e , Protected areas and Indigenous territories reduce deforestation and fire disturbances. f , Ecosystem transition potential (the possibility of forest shifting into an alternative structural or compositional state) across the Amazon biome by year 2050 inferred from compounding disturbances ( a – d ) and high-governance areas ( e ). We excluded accumulated deforestation until 2020 and savannas. Transition potential rises with compounding disturbances and varies as follows: less than 0 (in blue) as low; between 1 and 2 as moderate (in yellow); more than 2 as high (orange–red). Transition potential represents the sum of: (1) slopes of dry season mean temperature (as in a , multiplied by 10); (2) ecosystem stability classes estimated for year 2050 (as in b ), with 0 for stable forest, 1 for bistable and 2 for stable savanna; (3) accumulated impacts from extreme drought events, with 0.2 for each event; (4) road proximity as proxy for degrading activities, with 1 for pixels within 10 km from a road; (5) areas with higher governance within protected areas and Indigenous territories, with −1 for pixels inside these areas. For more details, see  Methods .

Since the early 1980s, rainfall conditions have also changed 31 . Peripheral and central parts of the Amazon forest are drying significantly, such as in the southern Bolivian Amazon, where annual rainfall reduced by up to 20 mm yr −1 (Extended Data Fig. 3a ). By contrast, parts of the western and eastern Amazon forest are becoming wetter, with annual rainfall increasing by up to 20 mm yr −1 . If these trends continue, ecosystem stability (as in Extended Data Fig. 1 ) will probably change in parts of the Amazon by 2050, reshaping forest resilience to disturbances (Fig. 1b and Extended Data Fig. 3b ). For example, 6% of the biome may change from stable forest to a bistable regime in parts of the southern and central Amazon. Another 3% of the biome may pass the critical threshold in annual rainfall into stable savanna in the southern Bolivian Amazon. Bistable areas covering 8% of the biome may turn into stable forest in the western Amazon (Peru and Bolivia), thus becoming more resilient to disturbances. For comparison with satellite observations, we used projections of ecosystem stability by 2050 based on CMIP6 model ensembles for a low (SSP2–4.5) and a high (SSP5–8.5) greenhouse gas emission scenario (Extended Data Fig. 4 and Supplementary Table 1 ). An ensemble with the 5 coupled models that include a dynamic vegetation module indicates that 18–27% of the biome may transition from stable forest to bistable and that 2–6% may transition to stable savanna (depending on the scenario), mostly in the northeastern Amazon. However, an ensemble with all 33 models suggests that 35–41% of the biome could become bistable, including large areas of the southern Amazon. The difference between both ensembles is possibly related to the forest–rainfall feedback included in the five coupled models, which increases total annual rainfall and therefore the stable forest area along the southern Amazon, but only when deforestation is not included in the simulations 4 , 37 . Nonetheless, both model ensembles agree that bistable regions will expand deeper into the Amazon, increasing the risk of critical transitions due to disturbances (as implied by the existence of alternative stable states; Extended Data Fig. 1 ).

Disturbance regimes

Within the remaining Amazon forest area, 17% has been degraded by human disturbances 38 , such as logging, edge effects and understory fires, but if we consider also the impacts from repeated extreme drought events in the past decades, 38% of the Amazon could be degraded 39 . Increasing rainfall variability is causing extreme drought events to become more widespread and frequent across the Amazon (Fig. 1c ), together with extreme wet events and convective storms that result in more windthrow disturbances 40 . Drought regimes are intensifying across the region 41 , possibly due to deforestation 42 that continues to expand within the system (Extended Data Fig. 5 ). As a result, new fire regimes are burning larger forest areas 43 , emitting more carbon to the atmosphere 44 and forcing IPLCs to readapt 45 . Road networks (Fig. 1d ) facilitate illegal activities, promoting more deforestation, logging and fire spread throughout the core of the Amazon forest 38 , 39 . The impacts of these pervasive disturbances on biodiversity and on IPLCs will probably affect ecosystem adaptability (Box 1 ), and consequently forest resilience to global changes.

Currently, 86% of the Amazon biome may be in a stable forest state (Extended Data Fig. 1b ), but some of these stable forests are showing signs of fragility 33 . For instance, field evidence from long-term monitoring sites across the Amazon shows that tree mortality rates are increasing in most sites, reducing carbon storage 46 , while favouring the replacement by drought-affiliated species 47 . Aircraft measurements of vertical carbon flux between the forest and atmosphere reveal how southeastern forests are already emitting more carbon than they absorb, probably because of deforestation and fire 48 .

As bistable forests expand deeper into the system (Fig. 1b and Extended Data Fig. 4 ), the distribution of compounding disturbances may indicate where ecosystem transitions are more likely to occur in the coming decades (Fig. 1f ). For this, we combined spatial information on warming and drying trends, repeated extreme drought events, together with road networks, as proxy for future deforestation and degradation 38 , 39 . We also included protected areas and Indigenous territories as areas with high forest governance, where deforestation and fire regimes are among the lowest within the Amazon 49 (Fig. 1e ). This simple additive approach does not consider synergies between compounding disturbances that could trigger unexpected ecosystem transitions. However, by exploring only these factors affecting forest resilience and simplifying the enormous Amazonian complexity, we aimed to produce a simple and comprehensive map that can be useful for guiding future governance. We found that 10% of the Amazon forest biome has a relatively high transition potential (more than 2 disturbance types; Fig. 1f ), including bistable forests that could transition into a low tree cover state near savannas of Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, as well as stable forests that could transition into alternative compositional states within the central Amazon, such as along the BR319 and Trans-Amazonian highways. Smaller areas with high transition potential were found scattered within deforestation frontiers, where most forests have been carved by roads 50 , 51 . Moreover, 47% of the biome has a moderate transition potential (more than 1 disturbance type; Fig. 1f ), including relatively remote parts of the central Amazon where warming trends and repeated extreme drought events overlap (Fig. 1a,c ). By contrast, large remote areas covering 53% of the biome have low transition potential, mostly reflecting the distribution of protected areas and Indigenous territories (Fig. 1e ). If these estimates, however, considered projections from CMIP6 models and their relatively broader areas of bistability (Extended Data Fig. 4 ), the proportion of the Amazon forest that could transition into a low tree cover state would be much larger.

Box 1 Ecosystem adaptability

We define ‘ecosystem adaptability’ as the capacity of an ecosystem to reorganize and persist in the face of environmental changes. In the past, many internal mechanisms have probably contributed to ecosystem adaptability, allowing Amazonian forests to persist during times of climate change. In this section we synthesize two of these internal mechanisms, which are now being undermined by global change.

Biodiversity

Amazonian forests are home to more than 15,000 tree species, of which 1% are dominant and the other 99% are mostly rare 107 . A single forest hectare in the central and northwestern Amazon can contain more than 300 tree species (Extended Data Fig. 7a ). Such tremendous tree species diversity can increase forest resilience by different mechanisms. Tree species complementarity increases carbon storage, accelerating forest recovery after disturbances 108 . Tree functional diversity increases forest adaptability to climate chance by offering various possibilities of functioning 99 . Rare species provide ‘ecological redundancy’, increasing opportunities for replacement of lost functions when dominant species disappear 109 . Diverse forests are also more likely to resist severe disturbances owing to ‘response diversity’ 110 —that is, some species may die, while others persist. For instance, in the rainy western Amazon, drought-resistant species are rare but present within tree communities 111 , implying that they could replace the dominant drought-sensitive species in a drier future. Diversity of other organisms, such as frugivores and pollinators, also increases forest resilience by stabilizing ecological networks 15 , 112 . Considering that half of Amazonian tree species are estimated to become threatened (IUCN Red list) by 2050 owing to climate change, deforestation and degradation 8 , biodiversity losses could contribute to further reducing forest resilience.

Indigenous peoples and local communities

Globally, Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have a key role in maintaining ecosystems resilient to global change 113 . Humans have been present in the Amazon for at least 12,000 years 114 and extensively managing landscapes for 6,000 years 22 . Through diverse ecosystem management practices, humans built thousands of earthworks and ‘Amazon Dark Earth’ sites, and domesticated plants and landscapes across the Amazon forest 115 , 116 . By creating new cultural niches, humans partly modified the Amazonian flora 117 , 118 , increasing their food security even during times of past climate change 119 , 120 without the need for large-scale deforestation 117 . Today, IPLCs have diverse ecological knowledge about Amazonian plants, animals and landscapes, which allows them to quickly identify and respond to environmental changes with mitigation and adaptation practices 68 , 69 . IPLCs defend their territories against illegal deforestation and land use disturbances 49 , 113 , and they also promote forest restoration by expanding diverse agroforestry systems 121 , 122 . Amazonian regions with the highest linguistic diversity (a proxy for ecological knowledge diversity 123 ) are found in peripheral parts of the system, particularly in the north-west (Extended Data Fig. 7b ). However, consistent loss of Amazonian languages is causing an irreversible disruption of ecological knowledge systems, mostly driven by road construction 7 . Continued loss of ecological knowledge will undermine the capacity of IPLCs to manage and protect Amazonian forests, further reducing their resilience to global changes 9 .

CO 2 fertilization

Rising atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are expected to increase the photosynthetic rates of trees, accelerating forest growth and biomass accumulation on a global scale 52 . In addition, CO 2 may reduce water stress by increasing tree water-use efficiency 29 . As result, a ‘CO 2 fertilization effect’ could increase forest resilience to climatic variability 53 , 54 . However, observations from across the Amazon 46 suggest that CO 2 -driven accelerations of tree growth may have contributed to increasing tree mortality rates (trees grow faster but also die earlier), which could eventually neutralize the forest carbon sink in the coming decades 55 . Moreover, increases in tree water-use efficiency may reduce forest transpiration and consequently atmospheric moisture flow across the Amazon 53 , 56 , potentially reducing forest resilience in the southwest of the biome 4 , 37 . Experimental evidence suggests that CO 2 fertilization also depends on soil nutrient availability, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus 57 , 58 . Thus, it is possible that in the fertile soils of the western Amazon and Várzea floodplains, forests may gain resilience from increasing atmospheric CO 2 (depending on how it affects tree mortality rates), whereas on the weathered (nutrient-poor) soils across most of the Amazon basin 59 , forests might not respond to atmospheric CO 2 increase, particularly on eroded soils within deforestation frontiers 60 . In sum, owing to multiple interacting factors, potential responses of Amazonian forests to CO 2 fertilization are still poorly understood. Forest responses depend on scale, with resilience possibly increasing at the local scale on relatively more fertile soils, but decreasing at the regional scale due to reduced atmospheric moisture flow.

Local versus systemic transition

Environmental heterogeneity.

Environmental heterogeneity can reduce the risk of systemic transition (large-scale forest collapse) because when stressing conditions intensify (for example, rainfall declines), heterogeneous forests may transition gradually (first the less resilient forest patches, followed by the more resilient ones), compared to homogeneous forests that may transition more abruptly 17 (all forests transition in synchrony). Amazonian forests are heterogeneous in their resilience to disturbances, which may have contributed to buffering large-scale transitions in the past 37 , 61 , 62 . At the regional scale, a fundamental heterogeneity factor is rainfall and how it translates into water stress. Northwestern forests rarely experience water stress, which makes them relatively more resilient than southeastern forests that may experience water stress in the dry season, and therefore are more likely to shift into a low tree cover state. As a result of low exposure to water deficit, most northwestern forests have trees with low drought resistance and could suffer massive mortality if suddenly exposed to severe water stress 32 . However, this scenario seems unlikely to occur in the near future (Fig. 1 ). By contrast, most seasonal forest trees have various strategies to cope with water deficit owing to evolutionary and adaptive responses to historical drought events 32 , 63 . These strategies may allow seasonal forests to resist current levels of rainfall fluctuations 32 , but seasonal forests are also closer to the critical rainfall thresholds (Extended Data Fig. 1 ) and may experience unprecedented water stress in the coming decades (Fig. 1 ).

Other key heterogeneity factors (Extended Data Fig. 6 ) include topography, which determines plant access to groundwater 64 , and seasonal flooding, which increases forest vulnerability to wildfires 65 . Future changes in rainfall regimes will probably affect hydrological regimes 66 , exposing plateau (hilltop) forests to unprecedented water stress, and floodplain forests to extended floods, droughts and wildfires. Soil fertility is another heterogeneity factor that may affect forest resilience 59 , and which may be undermined by disturbances that cause topsoil erosion 60 . Moreover, as human disturbances intensify throughout the Amazon (Fig. 1 ), the spread of invasive grasses and fires can make the system increasingly homogeneous. Effects of heterogeneity on Amazon forest resilience have been poorly investigated so far (but see refs. 37 , 61 , 62 ) and many questions remain open, such as how much heterogeneity exists in the system and whether it can mitigate a systemic transition.

Sources of connectivity

Connectivity across Amazonian landscapes and regions can contribute to synchronize forest dynamics, causing different forests to behave more similarly 17 . Depending on the processes involved, connectivity can either increase or decrease the risk of systemic transition 17 . For instance, connectivity may facilitate forest recovery after disturbances through seed dispersal, but also it may spread disturbances, such as fire. In the Amazon, an important source of connectivity enhancing forest resilience is atmospheric moisture flow westward (Fig. 2 ), partly maintained by forest evapotranspiration 4 , 37 , 67 . Another example of connectivity that may increase social-ecological resilience is knowledge exchange among IPLCs about how to adapt to global change 68 , 69 (see Box 1 ). However, complex systems such as the Amazon can be particularly vulnerable to sources of connectivity that spread disturbances and increase the risk of systemic transition 70 . For instance, roads carving through the forest are well-known sources of illegal activities, such as logging and burning, which increase forest flammability 38 , 39 .

figure 2

Brazil holds 60% of the Amazon forest biome and has a major responsibility towards its neighbouring countries in the west. Brazil is the largest supplier of rainfall to western Amazonian countries. Up to one-third of the total annual rainfall in Amazonian territories of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador depends on water originating from Brazil’s portion of the Amazon forest. This international connectivity illustrates how policies related to deforestation, especially in the Brazilian Amazon, will affect the climate in other countries. Arrow widths are proportional to the percentage of the annual rainfall received by each country within their Amazonian areas. We only show flows with percentages higher than 10% (see  Methods for details).

Five critical drivers of water stress

Global warming.

Most CMIP6 models agree that a large-scale dieback of the Amazon is unlikely in response to global warming above pre-industrial levels 2 , but this ecosystem response is based on certain assumptions, such as a large CO 2 -fertilization effect 53 . Forests across the Amazon are already responding with increasing tree mortality rates that are not simulated by these models 46 , possibly because of compounding disturbance regimes (Fig. 1 ). Nonetheless, a few global climate models 3 , 14 , 71 , 72 , 73 , 74 indicate a broad range for a potential critical threshold in global warming between 2 and 6 °C (Fig. 3a ). These contrasting results can be explained by general differences between numerical models and their representation of the complex Amazonian system. While some models with dynamic vegetation indicate local-scale tipping events in peripheral parts of the Amazon 5 , 6 , other models suggest an increase in biomass and forest cover (for example, in refs. 53 , 54 ). For instance, a study found that when considering only climatic variability, a large-scale Amazon forest dieback is unlikely, even under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario 75 . However, most updated CMIP6 models agree that droughts in the Amazon region will increase in length and intensity, and that exceptionally hot droughts will become more common 2 , creating conditions that will probably boost other types of disturbances, such as large and destructive forest fires 76 , 77 . To avoid broad-scale ecosystem transitions due to synergies between climatic and land use disturbances (Fig. 3b ), we suggest a safe boundary for the Amazon forest at 1.5 °C for global warming above pre-industrial levels, in concert with the Paris Agreement goals.

figure 3

a , Five critical drivers of water stress on Amazonian forests affect (directly or indirectly) the underlying tipping point of the system. For each driver, we indicate potential critical thresholds and safe boundaries that define a safe operating space for keeping the Amazon forest resilient 11 , 12 . We followed the precautionary principle and considered the most conservative thresholds within the ranges, when confidence was low. b , Conceptual model showing how the five drivers may interact (arrows indicate positive effects) and how these interactions may strengthen a positive feedback between water stress and forest loss. These emerging positive feedback loops could accelerate a systemic transition of the Amazon forest 15 . At global scales, driver 1 (global warming) intensifies with greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from deforestation. At local scales, driver 5 (accumulated deforestation) intensifies with land use changes. Drivers 2 to 4 (regional rainfall conditions) intensify in response to drivers 1 and 5. The intensification of these drivers may cause widespread tree mortality for instance because of extreme droughts and fires 76 . Water stress affects vegetation resilience globally 79 , 104 , but other stressors, such as heat stress 34 , 36 , may also have a role. In the coming decades, these five drivers could change at different rates, with some approaching a critical threshold faster than others. Therefore, monitoring them separately can provide vital information to guide mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Annual rainfall

Satellite observations of tree cover distributions across tropical South America suggest a critical threshold between 1,000 and 1,250 mm of annual rainfall 78 , 79 . On the basis of our reanalysis using tree cover data from the Amazon basin (Extended Data Fig. 1a ), we confirm a potential threshold at 1,000 mm of annual rainfall (Fig. 3a ), below which forests become rare and unstable. Between 1,000 and 1,800 mm of annual rainfall, high and low tree cover ecosystems exist in the Amazon as two alternative stable states (see Extended Data Table 2 for uncertainty ranges). Within the bistability range in annual rainfall conditions, forests are relatively more likely to collapse when severely disturbed, when compared to forests in areas with annual rainfall above 1,800 mm (Extended Data Fig. 1a ). For floodplain ecosystems covering 14% of the forest biome, a different critical threshold has been estimated at 1,500 mm of annual rainfall 65 , implying that floodplain forests may be the first to collapse in a drier future. To avoid local-scale ecosystem transitions due to compounding disturbances, we suggest a safe boundary in annual rainfall conditions at 1,800 mm.

Rainfall seasonality intensity

Satellite observations of tree cover distributions across tropical South America suggest a critical threshold in rainfall seasonality intensity at −400 mm of the maximum cumulative water deficit 37 , 80 (MCWD). Our reanalysis of the Amazon basin (Extended Data Fig. 1c ) confirms the critical threshold at approximately −450 mm in the MCWD (Fig. 3a ), and suggests a bistability range between approximately −350 and −450 mm (see Extended Data Table 2 for uncertainty ranges), in which forests are more likely to collapse when severely disturbed than forests in areas with MCWD below −350 mm. To avoid local-scale ecosystem transitions due to compounding disturbances, we suggest a safe boundary of MCWD at −350 mm.

Dry season length

Satellite observations of tree cover distributions across tropical South America suggest a critical threshold at 7 months of dry season length 79 (DSL). Our reanalysis of the Amazon basin (Extended Data Fig. 1d ) suggests a critical threshold at eight months of DSL (Fig. 3a ), with a bistability range between approximately five and eight months (see Extended Data Table 2 for uncertainty ranges), in which forests are more likely to collapse when severely disturbed than forests in areas with DSL below five months. To avoid local-scale ecosystem transitions due to compounding disturbances, we suggest a safe boundary of DSL at five months.

Accumulated deforestation

A potential vegetation model 81 found a critical threshold at 20% of accumulated deforestation (Fig. 3a ) by simulating Amazon forest responses to different scenarios of accumulated deforestation (with associated fire events) and of greenhouse gas emissions, and by considering a CO 2 fertilization effect of 25% of the maximum photosynthetic assimilation rate. Beyond 20% deforestation, forest mortality accelerated, causing large reductions in regional rainfall and consequently an ecosystem transition of 50−60% of the Amazon, depending on the emissions scenario. Another study using a climate-vegetation model found that with accumulated deforestation of 30−50%, rainfall in non-deforested areas downwind would decline 67 by 40% (ref.  67 ), potentially causing more forest loss 4 , 37 . Other more recent models incorporating fire disturbances support a potential broad-scale transition of the Amazon forest, simulating a biomass loss of 30–40% under a high-emission scenario 5 , 82 (SSP5–8.5 at 4 °C). The Amazon biome has already lost 13% of its original forest area due to deforestation 83 (or 15% of the biome if we consider also young secondary forests 83 that provide limited contribution to moisture flow 84 ). Among the remaining old-growth forests, at least 38% have been degraded by land use disturbances and repeated extreme droughts 39 , with impacts on moisture recycling that are still uncertain. Therefore, to avoid broad-scale ecosystem transitions due to runaway forest loss (Fig. 3b ), we suggest a safe boundary of accumulated deforestation of 10% of the original forest biome cover, which requires ending large-scale deforestation and restoring at least 5% of the biome.

Three alternative ecosystem trajectories

Degraded forest.

In stable forest regions of the Amazon with annual rainfall above 1,800 mm (Extended Data Fig. 1b ), forest cover usually recovers within a few years or decades after disturbances, yet forest composition and functioning may remain degraded for decades or centuries 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 . Estimates from across the Amazon indicate that approximately 30% of areas previously deforested are in a secondary forest state 83 (covering 4% of the biome). An additional 38% of the forest biome has been damaged by extreme droughts, fires, logging and edge effects 38 , 39 . These forests may naturally regrow through forest succession, yet because of feedbacks 15 , succession can become arrested, keeping forests persistently degraded (Fig. 4 ). Different types of degraded forests have been identified in the Amazon, each one associated with a particular group of dominant opportunistic plants. For instance, Vismia forests are common in old abandoned pastures managed with fire 85 , and are relatively stable, because Vismia trees favour recruitment of Vismia seedlings in detriment of other tree species 88 , 89 . Liana forests can also be relatively stable, because lianas self-perpetuate by causing physical damage to trees, allowing lianas to remain at high density 90 , 91 . Liana forests are expected to expand with increasing aridity, disturbance regimes and CO 2 fertilization 90 . Guadua bamboo forests are common in the southwestern Amazon 92 , 93 . Similar to lianas, bamboos self-perpetuate by causing physical damage to trees and have been expanding over burnt forests in the region 92 . Degraded forests are usually dominated by native opportunistic species, and their increasing expansion over disturbed forests could affect Amazonian functioning and resilience in the future.

figure 4

From examples of disturbed forests across the Amazon, we identify the three most plausible ecosystem trajectories related to the types of disturbances, feedbacks and local environmental conditions. These alternative trajectories may be irreversible or transient depending on the strength of the novel interactions 15 . Particular combinations of interactions (arrows show positive effects described in the literature) may form feedback loops 15 that propel the ecosystem through these trajectories. In the ‘degraded forest’ trajectory, feedbacks often involve competition between trees and other opportunistic plants 85 , 90 , 92 , as well as interactions between deforestation, fire and seed limitation 84 , 87 , 105 . At the landscape scale, secondary forests are more likely to be cleared than mature forests, thus keeping forests persistently young and landscapes fragmented 83 . In the ‘degraded open-canopy ecosystem’ trajectory, feedbacks involve interactions among low tree cover and fire 97 , soil erosion 60 , seed limitation 105 , invasive grasses and opportunistic plants 96 . At the regional scale, a self-reinforcing feedback between forest loss and reduced atmospheric moisture flow may increase the resilience of these open-canopy degraded ecosystems 42 . In the ‘white-sand savanna’ trajectory, the main feedbacks result from interactions among low tree cover and fire, soil erosion, and seed limitation 106 . Bottom left, floodplain forest transition to white-sand savanna after repeated fires (photo credit: Bernardo Flores); bottom centre, forest transition to degraded open-canopy ecosystem after repeated fires (photo credit: Paulo Brando); bottom right, forest transition to Vismia degraded forest after slash-and-burn agriculture (photo credit: Catarina Jakovac).

White-sand savanna

White-sand savannas are ancient ecosystems that occur in patches within the Amazon forest biome, particularly in seasonally waterlogged or flooded areas 94 . Their origin has been attributed to geomorphological dynamics and past Indigenous fires 26 , 27 , 94 . In a remote landscape far from large agricultural frontiers, within a stable forest region of the Amazon (Extended Data Fig. 1b ), satellite and field evidence revealed that white-sand savannas are expanding where floodplain forests were repeatedly disturbed by fires 95 . After fire, the topsoil of burnt forests changes from clayey to sandy, favouring the establishment of savanna trees and native herbaceous plants 95 . Shifts from forest to white-sand savanna (Fig. 4 ) are probably stable (that is, the ecosystem is unlikely to recover back to forest within centuries), based on the relatively long persistence of these savannas in the landscape 94 . Although these ecosystem transitions have been confirmed only in the Negro river basin (central Amazon), floodplain forests in other parts of the Amazon were shown to be particularly vulnerable to collapse 45 , 64 , 65 .

Degraded open-canopy ecosystem

In bistable regions of the Amazon forest with annual rainfall below 1,800 mm (Extended Data Fig. 1b ), shifts to degraded open-canopy ecosystems are relatively common after repeated disturbances by fire 45 , 96 . The ecosystem often becomes dominated by fire-tolerant tree and palm species, together with alien invasive grasses and opportunistic herbaceous plants 96 , 97 , such as vines and ferns. Estimates from the southern Amazon indicate that 5−6% of the landscape has already shifted into degraded open-canopy ecosystems due to deforestation and fires 45 , 96 . It is still unclear, however, whether degraded open-canopy ecosystems are stable or transient (Fig. 4 ). Palaeorecords from the northern Amazon 98 show that burnt forests may spend centuries in a degraded open-canopy state before they eventually shift into a savanna. Today, invasion by alien flammable grasses is a novel stabilizing mechanism 96 , 97 , but the long-term persistence of these grasses in the ecosystem is also uncertain.

Prospects for modelling Amazon forest dynamics

Several aspects of the Amazon forest system may help improve earth system models (ESMs) to more accurately simulate ecosystem dynamics and feedbacks with the climate system. Simulating individual trees can improve the representation of growth and mortality dynamics, which ultimately affect forest dynamics (for example, refs. 61 , 62 , 99 ). Significant effects on simulation results may emerge from increasing plant functional diversity, representation of key physiological trade-offs and other features that determine water stress on plants, and also allowing for community adjustment to environmental heterogeneity and global change 32 , 55 , 62 , 99 . For now, most ESMs do not simulate a dynamic vegetation cover (Supplementary Table 1 ) and biomes are represented based on few plant functional types, basically simulating monocultures on the biome level. In reality, tree community adaptation to a heterogenous and dynamic environment feeds into the whole-system dynamics, and not covering such aspects makes a true Amazon tipping assessment more challenging.

Our findings also indicate that Amazon forest resilience is affected by compounding disturbances (Fig. 1 ). ESMs need to include different disturbance scenarios and potential synergies for creating more realistic patterns of disturbance regimes. For instance, logging and edge effects can make a forest patch more flammable 39 , but these disturbances are often not captured by ESMs. Improvements in the ability of ESMs to predict future climatic conditions are also required. One way is to identify emergent constraints 100 , lowering ESMs variations in their projections of the Amazonian climate. Also, fully coupled ESMs simulations are needed to allow estimates of land-atmosphere feedbacks, which may adjust climatic and ecosystem responses. Another way to improve our understanding of the critical thresholds for Amazonian resilience and how these link to climatic conditions and to greenhouse gas concentrations is through factorial simulations with ESMs. In sum, although our study may not deliver a set of reliable and comprehensive equations to parameterize processes impacting Amazon forest dynamics, required for implementation in ESMs, we highlight many of the missing modelled processes.

Implications for governance

Forest resilience is changing across the Amazon as disturbance regimes intensify (Fig. 1 ). Although most recent models agree that a large-scale collapse of the Amazon forest is unlikely within the twenty-first century 2 , our findings suggest that interactions and synergies among different disturbances (for example, frequent extreme hot droughts and forest fires) could trigger unexpected ecosystem transitions even in remote and central parts of the system 101 . In 2012, Davidson et al. 102 demonstrated how the Amazon basin was experiencing a transition to a ‘disturbance-dominated regime’ related to climatic and land use changes, even though at the time, annual deforestation rates were declining owing to new forms of governance 103 . Recent policy and approaches to Amazon development, however, accelerated deforestation that reached 13,000 km 2 in the Brazilian Amazon in 2021 ( http://terrabrasilis.dpi.inpe.br ). The southeastern region has already turned into a source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere 48 . The consequences of losing the Amazon forest, or even parts of it, imply that we must follow a precautionary approach—that is, we must take actions that contribute to maintain the Amazon forest within safe boundaries 12 . Keeping the Amazon forest resilient depends firstly on humanity’s ability to stop greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating the impacts of global warming on regional climatic conditions 2 . At the local scale, two practical and effective actions need to be addressed to reinforce forest–rainfall feedbacks that are crucial for the resilience of the Amazon forest 4 , 37 : (1) ending deforestation and forest degradation; and (2) promoting forest restoration in degraded areas. Expanding protected areas and Indigenous territories can largely contribute to these actions. Our findings suggest a list of thresholds, disturbances and feedbacks that, if well managed, can help maintain the Amazon forest within a safe operating space for future generations.

Our study site was the area of the Amazon basin, considering large areas of tropical savanna biome along the northern portion of the Brazilian Cerrado, the Gran Savana in Venezuela and the Llanos de Moxos in Bolivia, as well as the Orinoco basin to the north, and eastern parts of the Andes to the west. The area includes also high Andean landscapes with puna and paramo ecosystems. We chose this contour to allow better communication with the MapBiomas Amazonian Project (2022; https://amazonia.mapbiomas.org ). For specific interpretation of our results, we considered the contour of the current extension of the Amazon forest biome, which excludes surrounding tropical savanna biomes.

We used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Vegetation Continuous Fields (VCF) data (MOD44B version 6; https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/products/mod44bv006/ ) for the year 2001 at 250-m resolution 124 to reanalyse tree cover distributions within the Amazon basin, refining estimates of bistability ranges and critical thresholds in rainfall conditions from previous studies. Although MODIS VCF can contain errors within lower tree cover ranges and should not be used to test for bistability between grasslands and savannas 125 , the dataset is relatively robust for assessing bistability within the tree cover range of forests and savannas 126 , as also shown by low uncertainty (standard deviation of tree cover estimates) across the Amazon (Extended Data Fig. 8 ).

We used the Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS; https://www.chc.ucsb.edu/data/chirps ) 127 to estimate mean annual rainfall and rainfall seasonality for the present across the Amazon basin, based on monthly means from 1981 to 2020, at a 0.05° spatial resolution.

We used the Climatic Research Unit (CRU; https://www.uea.ac.uk/groups-and-centres/climatic-research-unit ) 128 to estimate mean annual temperature for the present across the Amazon basin, based on monthly means from 1981 to 2020, at a 0.5° spatial resolution.

To mask deforested areas until 2020, we used information from the MapBiomas Amazonia Project (2022), collection 3, of Amazonian Annual Land Cover and Land Use Map Series ( https://amazonia.mapbiomas.org ).

To assess forest fire distribution across the Amazon forest biome and in relation to road networks, we used burnt area fire data obtained from the AQUA sensor onboard the MODIS satellite. Only active fires with a confidence level of 80% or higher were selected. The data are derived from MODIS MCD14ML (collection 6) 129 , available in Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS). The data were adjusted to a spatial resolution of 1 km.

Potential analysis

Using potential analysis 130 , an empirical stability landscape was constructed based on spatial distributions of tree cover (excluding areas deforested until 2020; https://amazonia.mapbiomas.org ) against mean annual precipitation, MCWD and DSL. Here we followed the methodology of Hirota et al. 104 . For bins of each of the variables, the probability density of tree cover was determined using the MATLAB function ksdensity. Local maxima of the resulting probability density function are considered to be stable equilibria, in which local maxima below a threshold value of 0.005 were ignored. Based on sensitivity tests (see below), we chose the intermediate values of the sensitivity parameter for each analysis, which resulted in the critical thresholds most similar to the ones previously published in the literature.

Sensitivity tests of the potential analysis

We smoothed the densities of tree cover with the MATLAB kernel smoothing function ksdensity. Following Hirota et al. 104 , we used a flexible bandwidth ( h ) according to Silverman’s rule of thumb 131 : h  = 1.06 σn 1/5 , where σ is the standard deviation of the tree cover distribution and n is the number of points. To ignore small bumps in the frequency distributions, we used a dimensionless sensitivity parameter. This parameter filters out weak modes in the distributions such that a higher value implies a stricter criterion to detect a significant mode. In the manuscript, we used a value of 0.005. For different values of this sensitivity parameter, we here test the estimated critical thresholds and bistability ranges (Extended Data Table 2 ). We inferred stable and unstable states of tree cover (minima and maxima in the potentials) for moving windows of the climatic variables. For mean annual precipitation, we used increments of 10 mm yr −1 between 0 and 3500 mm yr −1 . For dry season length, we used increments of 0.1 months between 0 and 12 months. For MCWD, we used increments of 10 mm between −800 mm and 0 mm.

Transition potential

We quantified a relative ecosystem transition potential across the Amazon forest biome (excluding accumulated deforestation; https://amazonia.mapbiomas.org ) to produce a simple spatial measure that can be useful for governance. For this, we combined information per pixel, at 5 km resolution, about different disturbances related to climatic and human disturbances, as well as high-governance areas within protected areas and Indigenous territories. We used values of significant slopes of the dry season (July–October) mean temperature between 1981 and 2020 ( P  < 0.1), estimated using simple linear regressions (at 0.5° resolution from CRU) (Fig. 1a ). Ecosystem stability classes (stable forest, bistable and stable savanna as in Extended Data Fig. 1 ) were estimated using simple linear regression slopes of annual rainfall between 1981 and 2020 ( P  < 0.1) (at 0.05° resolution from CHIRPS), which we extrapolated to 2050 (Fig. 1b and Extended Data Fig. 3 ). Distribution of areas affected by repeated extreme drought events (Fig. 1c ) were defined when the time series (2001–2018) of the MCWD reached two standard deviation anomalies from historical mean. Extreme droughts were obtained from Lapola et al. 39 , based on Climatic Research Unit gridded Time Series (CRU TS 4.0) datasets for precipitation and evapotranspiration. The network of roads (paved and unpaved) across the Amazon forest biome (Fig. 1d ) was obtained from the Amazon Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG; https://geo2.socioambiental.org/raisg ). Protected areas (PAs) and Indigenous territories (Fig. 1e ) were also obtained from RAISG, and include both sustainable-use and restricted-use protected areas managed by national or sub-national governments, together with officially recognized and proposed Indigenous territories. We combined these different disturbance layers by adding a value for each layer in the following way: (1) slopes of dry season temperature change (as in Fig. 1a , multiplied by 10, thus between −0.1 and +0.6); (2) ecosystem stability classes estimated for year 2050 (as in Fig. 1b ), with 0 for stable forest, +1 for bistable and +2 for stable savanna; (3) accumulated impacts from repeated extreme drought events (from 0 to 5 events), with +0.2 for each event; (4) road-related human impacts, with +1 for pixels within 10 km from a road; and (5) protected areas and Indigenous territories as areas with lower exposure to human (land use) disturbances, such as deforestation and forest fires, with −1 for pixels inside these areas. The sum of these layers revealed relative spatial variation in ecosystem transition potential by 2050 across the Amazon (Fig. 1f ), ranging from −1 (low potential) to 4 (very high potential).

Atmospheric moisture tracking

To determine the atmospheric moisture flows between the Amazonian countries, we use the Lagrangian atmospheric moisture tracking model UTrack 132 . The model tracks the atmospheric trajectories of parcels of moisture, updates their coordinates at each time step of 0.1 h and allocates moisture to a target location in case of precipitation. For each millimetre of evapotranspiration, 100 parcels are released into the atmosphere. Their trajectories are forced with evaporation, precipitation, and wind speed estimates from the ERA5 reanalysis product at 0.25° horizontal resolution for 25 atmospheric layers 133 . Here we use the runs from Tuinenburg et al. 134 , who published monthly climatological mean (2008–2017) moisture flows between each pair of 0.5° grid cells on Earth. We aggregated these monthly flows, resulting in mean annual moisture flows between all Amazonian countries during 2008–2017. For more details of the model runs, we refer to Tuinenburg and Staal 132 and Tuinenburg et al. 134 .

Reporting summary

Further information on research design is available in the  Nature Portfolio Reporting Summary linked to this article.

Data availability

All data supporting the findings of this study are openly available and their sources are presented in the Methods.

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Acknowledgements

This work was inspired by the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) initiative ( https://www.theamazonwewant.org/ ) that produced the first Amazon Assessment Report (2021). The authors thank C. Smith for providing deforestation rates data used in Extended Data Fig. 5b . B.M.F. and M.H. were supported by Instituto Serrapilheira (Serra-1709-18983) and C.J. (R-2111-40341). A.S. acknowledges funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) under the Talent Program Grant VI.Veni.202.170. R.A.B. and D.M.L. were supported by the AmazonFACE programme funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). R.A.B. was additionally supported by the Met Office Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP) Brazil project funded by the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), and D.M.L. was additionally supported by FAPESP (grant no. 2020/08940-6) and CNPq (grant no. 309074/2021-5). C.L. thanks CNPq (proc. 159440/2018-1 and 400369/2021-4) and Brazil LAB (Princeton University) for postdoctoral fellowships. A.E.-M. is supported by the UKRI TreeScapes MEMBRA (NE/V021346/1), the Royal Society (RGS\R1\221115), the ERC TreeMort project (758873) and the CESAB Syntreesys project. R.S.O. received a CNPq productivity scholarship and funding from NERC-FAPESP 2019/07773-1. S.B.H. is supported by the Geneva Graduate Institute research funds, and UCLA’s committee on research. J.A.M. is supported by the National Institute of Science and Technology for Climate Change Phase 2 under CNPq grant 465501/2014-1; FAPESP grants 2014/50848-9, the National Coordination for Higher Education and Training (CAPES) grant 88887.136402-00INCT. L.S.B. received FAPESP grant 2013/50531-0. D.N. and N.B. acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 820970. N.B. has received further funding from the Volkswagen foundation, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 956170, as well as from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under grant no. 01LS2001A.

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Graduate Program in Ecology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil

Bernardo M. Flores, Carolina Levis & Marina Hirota

Geosciences Barcelona, Spanish National Research Council, Barcelona, Spain

Encarni Montoya

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Member of the Leibniz Association, Potsdam, Germany

Boris Sakschewski, Da Nian & Niklas Boers

Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Nathália Nascimento & Carlos A. Nobre

Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK

Richard A. Betts

Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Center for Meteorological and Climatic Research Applied to Agriculture, University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil

David M. Lapola

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Adriane Esquível-Muelbert

Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Department of Plant Sciences, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil

Catarina Jakovac

Department of Plant Biology, University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil

Rafael S. Oliveira & Marina Hirota

Division of Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerabilities (DIIAV), National Institute for Space Research, São José dos Campos, Brazil

Laura S. Borma & Luciana V. Gatti

Earth System Modelling, School of Engineering and Design, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany

Niklas Boers

Luskin School for Public Affairs and Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Susanna B. Hecht

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Hans ter Steege

Quantitative Biodiversity Dynamics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), São José dos Campos, Brazil

Julia Arieira

Sustainable Development Solutions Network, New York, NY, USA

Isabella L. Lucas

Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Erika Berenguer

Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alerta de Desastres Naturais, São José dos Campos, Brazil

José A. Marengo

Graduate Program in Natural Disasters, UNESP/CEMADEN, São José dos Campos, Brazil

Graduate School of International Studies, Korea University, Seoul, Korea

Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA

Caio R. C. Mattos

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Contributions

B.M.F. and M.H. conceived the study. B.M.F. reviewed the literature, with inputs from all authors. B.M.F., M.H., N.N., A.S., C.L., D.N, H.t.S. and C.R.C.M. assembled datasets. M.H. analysed temperature and rainfall trends. B.M.F. and N.N. produced the maps in main figures and calculated transition potential. A.S. performed potential analysis and atmospheric moisture tracking. B.M.F. produced the figures and wrote the manuscript, with substantial inputs from all authors. B.S. wrote the first version of the ‘Prospects for modelling Amazon forest dynamics’ section, with inputs from B.M.F and M.H.

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Correspondence to Bernardo M. Flores or Marina Hirota .

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended data fig. 1 alternative stable states in amazonian tree cover relative to rainfall conditions..

Potential analysis of tree cover distributions across rainfall gradients in the Amazon basin suggest the existence of critical thresholds and alternative stable states in the system. For this, we excluded accumulated deforestation until 2020 and included large areas of tropical savanna biome in the periphery of the Amazon basin (see  Methods ). Solid black lines indicate two stable equilibria. Small grey arrows indicate the direction towards equilibrium. (a) The overlap between ~ 1,000 and 1,800 mm of annual rainfall suggests that two alternative stable states may exist (bistability): a high tree cover state ~ 80 % (forests), and a low tree cover state ~ 20% (savannas). Tree cover around 50 % is rare, indicating an unstable state. Below 1,000 mm of annual rainfall, forests are rare, indicating a potential critical threshold for abrupt forest transition into a low tree cover state 79 , 104 (arrow 1). Between 1,000 and 1,800 mm of annual rainfall, the existence of alternative stable states implies that forests can shift to a low tree cover stable state in response to disturbances (arrow 2). Above 1,800 mm of annual rainfall, low tree cover becomes rare, indicating a potential critical threshold for an abrupt transition into a high tree cover state. In this stable forest state, forests are expected to always recover after disturbances (arrow 3), although composition may change 47 , 85 . (b) Currently, the stable savanna state covers 1 % of the Amazon forest biome, bistable areas cover 13 % of the biome (less than previous analysis using broader geographical ranges 78 ) and the stable forest state covers 86 % of the biome. Similar analyses using the maximum cumulative water deficit (c) and the dry season length (d) also suggest the existence of critical thresholds and alternative stable states. When combined, these critical thresholds in rainfall conditions could result in a tipping point of the Amazon forest in terms of water stress, but other factors may play a role, such as groundwater availability 64 . MODIS VCF may contain some level of uncertainty for low tree cover values, as shown by the standard deviation of tree cover estimates across the Amazon (Extended Data Fig. 8 ). However, the dataset is relatively robust for assessing bistability within the tree cover range between forest and savanna 126 .

Extended Data Fig. 2 Changes in dry-season temperatures across the Amazon basin.

(a) Dry season temperature averaged from mean annual data observed between 1981 and 2010. (b) Changes in dry season mean temperature based on the difference between the projected future (2021−2050) and observed historical (1981−2010) climatologies. Future climatology was obtained from the estimated slopes using historical CRU data 128 (shown in Fig. 1a ). (c, d) Changes in the distributions of dry season mean and maximum temperatures for the Amazon basin. (e) Correlation between dry-season mean and maximum temperatures observed (1981–2010) across the Amazon basin ( r  = 0.95).

Extended Data Fig. 3 Changes in annual precipitation and ecosystem stability across the Amazon forest biome.

(a) Slopes of annual rainfall change between 1981 and 2020 estimated using simple regressions (only areas with significant slopes, p  < 0.1). (b) Changes in ecosystem stability classes projected for year 2050, based on significant slopes in (a) and critical thresholds in annual rainfall conditions estimated in Extended Data Fig. 1 . Data obtained from Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS), at 0.05° spatial resolution 127 .

Extended Data Fig. 4 Changes in ecosystem stability by 2050 across the Amazon based on annual rainfall projected by CMIP6 models.

(a) Changes in stability classes estimated using an ensemble with the five CMIP6 models that include vegetation modules (coupled for climate-vegetation feedbacks) for two emission scenarios (Shared Socio-economic Pathways - SSPs). (b) Changes in stability classes estimated using an ensemble with all 33 CMIP6 models for the same emission scenarios. Stability changes may occur between stable forest (F), stable savanna (S) and bistable (B) classes, based on the bistability range of 1,000 – 1,800 mm in annual rainfall, estimated from current rainfall conditions (see Extended Data Fig. 1 ). Projections are based on climate models from the 6 th Phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). SSP2-4.5 is a low-emission scenario of future global warming and SSP5-8.5 is a high-emission scenario. The five coupled models analysed separately in (a) were: EC-Earth3-Veg, GFDL-ESM4, MPI-ESM1-2-LR, TaiESM1 and UKESM1-0-LL (Supplementary Information Table 1 ).

Extended Data Fig. 5 Deforestation continues to expand within the Amazon forest system.

(a) Map highlighting deforestation and fire activity between 2012 and 2021, a period when environmental governance began to weaken again, as indicated by increasing rates of annual deforestation in (b). In (b), annual deforestation rates for the entire Amazon biome were adapted with permission from Smith et al. 83 .

Extended Data Fig. 6 Environmental heterogeneity in the Amazon forest system.

Heterogeneity involves myriad factors, but two in particular, related to water availability, were shown to contribute to landscape-scale heterogeneity in forest resilience; topography shapes fine-scale variations of forest drought-tolerance 135 , 136 , and floodplains may reduce forest resilience by increasing vulnerability to wildfires 65 . Datasets: topography is shown by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM; https://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/ ) 137 at 90 m resolution; floodplains and uplands are separated with the Amazon wetlands mask 138 at 90 m resolution.

Extended Data Fig. 7 The Amazon is biologically and culturally diverse.

(a) Tree species richness and (b) language richness illustrate how biological and cultural diversity varies across the Amazon. Diverse tree communities and human cultures contribute to increasing forest resilience in various ways that are being undermined by land-use and climatic changes. Datasets: (a) Amazon Tree Diversity Network (ATDN, https://atdn.myspecies.info ). (b) World Language Mapping System (WLMS) obtained under license from Ethnologue 139 .

Extended Data Fig. 8 Uncertainty of the MODIS VCF dataset across the Amazon basin.

Map shows standard deviation (SD) of tree cover estimates from MODIS VCF 124 . We masked deforested areas until 2020 using the MapBiomas Amazonia Project (2022; https://amazonia.mapbiomas.org ).

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Flores, B.M., Montoya, E., Sakschewski, B. et al. Critical transitions in the Amazon forest system. Nature 626 , 555–564 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06970-0

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This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:

Published on 22.2.2024 in Vol 26 (2024)

Living Lab Data of Patient Needs and Expectations for eHealth-Based Cardiac Rehabilitation in Germany and Spain From the TIMELY Study: Cross-Sectional Analysis

Authors of this article:

Author Orcid Image

Original Paper

  • Boris Schmitz 1, 2 , PhD   ; 
  • Svenja Wirtz 1, 2 , MSc   ; 
  • Manuela Sestayo-Fernández 3 , BSc   ; 
  • Hendrik Schäfer 1, 2 , MSc   ; 
  • Emma R Douma 4 , MSc   ; 
  • Marta Alonso Vazquez 3 , MSc   ; 
  • Violeta González-Salvado 5 , MD   ; 
  • Mirela Habibovic 4 , PhD   ; 
  • Dimitris Gatsios 6 , PhD   ; 
  • Willem Johan Kop 4 , PhD   ; 
  • Carlos Peña-Gil 5 , MD   ; 
  • Frank Mooren 1, 2 , MD  

1 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany

2 Center for Medical Rehabilitation, DRV Clinic Königsfeld, Ennepetal, Germany

3 Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

4 Center of Research on Psychological Disorders and Somatic Diseases, Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands

5 Cardiology and Coronary Care Department, IDIS, CIBER CV, University Hospital of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

6 Capemed, Ioannina, Greece

Corresponding Author:

Boris Schmitz, PhD

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty of Health

University of Witten/Herdecke

Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50

Witten, 58455

Phone: 49 23339888 ext 156

Email: [email protected]

Background: The use of eHealth technology in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a promising approach to enhance patient outcomes since adherence to healthy lifestyles and risk factor management during phase III CR maintenance is often poorly supported. However, patients’ needs and expectations have not been extensively analyzed to inform the design of such eHealth solutions.

Objective: The goal of this study was to provide a detailed patient perspective on the most important functionalities to include in an eHealth solution to assist them in phase III CR maintenance.

Methods: A guided survey as part of a Living Lab approach was conducted in Germany (n=49) and Spain (n=30) involving women (16/79, 20%) and men (63/79, 80%) with coronary artery disease (mean age 57 years, SD 9 years) participating in a structured center-based CR program. The survey covered patients’ perceived importance of different CR components in general, current usage of technology/technical devices, and helpfulness of the potential features of eHealth in CR. Questionnaires were used to identify personality traits (psychological flexibility, optimism/pessimism, positive/negative affect), potentially predisposing patients to acceptance of an app/monitoring devices.

Results: All the patients in this study owned a smartphone, while 30%-40% used smartwatches and fitness trackers. Patients expressed the need for an eHealth platform that is user-friendly, personalized, and easily accessible, and 71% (56/79) of the patients believed that technology could help them to maintain health goals after CR. Among the offered components, support for regular physical exercise, including updated schedules and progress documentation, was rated the highest. In addition, patients rated the availability of information on diagnosis, current medication, test results, and risk scores as (very) useful. Of note, for each item, except smoking cessation, 35%-50% of the patients indicated a high need for support to achieve their long-term health goals, suggesting the need for individualized care. No major differences were detected between Spanish and German patients (all P >.05) and only younger age ( P =.03) but not sex, education level, or personality traits (all P >.05) were associated with the acceptance of eHealth components.

Conclusions: The patient perspectives collected in this study indicate high acceptance of personalized user-friendly eHealth platforms with remote monitoring to improve adherence to healthy lifestyles among patients with coronary artery disease during phase III CR maintenance. The identified patient needs comprise support in physical exercise, including regular updates on personalized training recommendations. Availability of diagnoses, laboratory results, and medications, as part of a mobile electronic health record were also rated as very useful.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05461729; https://clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT05461729

Introduction

The application of eHealth technology in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is being increasingly adopted to enhance patient outcomes. eHealth, which involves the use of digital health technologies, has the potential to facilitate CR programs to offer better, more efficient, and cost-effective care. CR is a crucial aspect of the recovery process after a cardiac event, aiming to reduce the risk of future events and improve the quality of life of patients [ 1 , 2 ]. The European Society of Cardiology defines CR as a multifactorial intervention with core components in patient assessment, physical activity, diet/nutritional counselling, risk factor control, patient education, psychosocial management, vocational advice, and lifestyle behavior change, including patients’ adherence and self-management [ 3 ]. The CR process is typically divided into 3 stages. During phase I, patients discuss their cardiovascular risk factors and health situation in the acute clinic after a coronary intervention or surgery with their treating physician or a CR nurse. This brief phase lasts only a few days and aims to get patients moving as soon as possible, encouraging mild levels of physical activity [ 4 ]. Phase II, the reconditioning phase, occurs at inpatient or outpatient CR centers or even in the home environment with various levels of support. This multidisciplinary phase includes education on risk factors, supervised exercise training, and psychological support, with the goal of improving patients’ exercise capacity, functional mobility, and self-management skills [ 5 ]. In phase III, also referred to as the maintenance phase, patients continue their care in a community or home-based setting. Phase III is the longest and least structured phase of CR, aiming at lifelong self-care with continuous risk factor management and regular physical activity to maintain the achievements made during phase II [ 4 , 6 ]. However, adherence to a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and risk factor management, during phase III maintenance is challenging and often poorly supported [ 7 , 8 ]. The main reasons for suboptimal adherence to phase III CR include patient-related factors (eg, motivation) and unsustainable costs for lifelong patient support in addition to usual care by general practitioners or cardiologists [ 9 , 10 ]. In addition, patient barriers such as time and travel burden may add to lower adherence and uptake of maintenance programs.

Information and communication technology in the form of eHealth applications has undergone recent developments by targeting reduction of possible barriers of initiation and continued engagement in CR [ 11 ]. The advantages of eHealth include less time investment and constraints due to the absence of travel, option of continuous monitoring, and possibility for patients to manage their disease independently [ 12 , 13 ]. The use of eHealth technologies allows for personalization and tailoring of CR programs to individual needs, leading to higher effectiveness and improved outcomes for patients. Furthermore, eHealth applications allow for different CR aspects to be targeted independently or in a combined and synergistic manner and may have positive effects on physical activity, medication adherence, mood states, anxiety, and depression in cardiac patients [ 14 ]. However, there is no uniform eHealth platform available combining all aspects of CR for patients with cardiovascular disease over the continuum of care, including phase III maintenance. Although challenging on a technological level, user acceptance and applicability in day-to-day setting are key for implementation and success of such a solution. In addition, factors such as technological skills, trustworthiness, and overall individual attitude toward eHealth need to be considered [ 15 - 17 ].

Based on this background, the goal of this study was to provide a detailed description of the patient perspective on the most important aspects to be included in an eHealth solution to assist phase III CR maintenance. This report is part of the multistakeholder project TIMELY, which aims at developing a personalized eHealth platform to assist patients over the continuum of the disease according to recent coronary artery disease (CAD) guidelines [ 18 ]. TIMELY employs artificial intelligence–powered CR components in a patient app connected with a patient management platform and decision support tools for case managers and clinicians. Additionally, artificial intelligence–powered conversational agents (chatbots) will be provided to engage in motivational conversations with patients based on behavior change techniques with the goal of optimizing program and exercise adherence. The development of the TIMELY eHealth solution is guided by a Living Lab approach that allows researchers to co-design innovations such as TIMELY with patients in a real-life context to increase acceptance [ 19 ]. Multiple feedback loops are included at pivotal developing stages, incorporating patients and clinicians in a modified Delphi approach [ 20 , 21 ]. Within the TIMELY prospective study, patients are equipped with different devices as part of the envisioned solution, including a long-term 3-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) patch, a hemodynamic monitor for blood pressure measurement and pulse wave analysis, and a wrist-worn activity tracker. This report describes patients’ needs and expectations for eHealth-based CR collected within the TIMELY Living Lab in CR centers from Germany and Spain.

Approach and Participants

To characterize patients’ needs and expectations for an eHealth-based phase III CR maintenance system, a guided survey was conducted at medical rehabilitation centers Clinic Königsfeld, Germany, and University Hospital of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, between July 2021 and March 2022, aiming at a representative sample of ~80 participants. Patients were asked to participate during their inpatient (Germany) or outpatient (Spain) CR program, and participants were recruited consecutively without further selection. Patients diagnosed with CAD were eligible while participating in a structured center-based CR program.

Ethics Approval

This study complied with the Helsinki Declaration “Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects” and was approved by the ethics committee of University Witten/Herdecke (115/2020) and Servizo Galego de Saúde (2021/190). All participants gave their written informed consent before participating in this study. This study is part of the TIMELY observational trial (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT05461729), which aims to characterize the progress of patients with CAD during phase II and phase III CR.

Patients’ Characteristics

Patients’ anthropometric and clinical data, including severity of CAD, type of intervention, and comorbidities (rated using the D’Hoore comorbidity index [ 22 ]) were extracted from electronic health records by clinical personnel. Patients’ highest level of education was documented and specified by country. Hauptschule and Educación primaria were defined as primary, Realschule and Educación secundaria obligatoria or vocational training as secondary, and Abitur or Bachillerato as tertiary education in Germany (DE) and Spain (ES), respectively. A university degree was classified as the highest educational category. For comparability and due to differing educational systems in Germany and Spain, the level of education was categorized as “lower/equal to high school” (first two levels) or “higher than high school” (all other higher levels).

Interview-Based Survey

This survey was developed with experts from a clinical and theoretical perspective by using the Delphi method until consensus was reached. The survey (20 items) was composed of 3 parts: (1) importance of different CR components in general, (2) digital literacy and current usage of technology/technical devices, and (3) helpfulness of the potential features of eHealth in CR ( Multimedia Appendix 1 ). Closed questions were used with a list of provided answers rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1=unimportant/not useful; 5=very important/very useful). A filter question was used, which optionally exempted participants who indicated that they would never use an eHealth platform linked to devices. These participants were asked for their reasons for refusing to use an eHealth platform. The survey was pretested with selected patients in Clinic Königsfeld, and adaptations for wordings were made, where necessary. The final version of the survey was translated to German (SW and BS) and Spanish (MSF and MA) by at least 2 researchers for each translation. The survey was conducted by researchers of the local rehabilitation center. Questions were read to the patients, and further explanation was provided if needed. Investigators documented the answers by using a paper-pencil version or an electronic version of the survey ( Multimedia Appendix 1 ).

Questionnaires

In a subset of 40 German patients with CAD, questionnaires were used to identify personal traits potentially predisposing patients for acceptance of an app or monitoring devices to document the progress of CR (ie, questions Q12 and Q13 of the survey). Psychological flexibility was assessed using the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire version 2 (AAQ-2) [ 23 ], and the Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R) [ 24 ] was used to identify patients’ optimism/pessimism. The Type D scale for social inhibition (DS-14) [ 25 ] was used to assess negative affectivity, social inhibition, and type D personality. In addition, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) was applied [ 26 ].

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analyses were performed using the open access program Jamovi (version 2.2.2, The Jamovi project) and SPSS (version 29, IBM Corp). Data are presented as mean and standard deviation, median and range for the Likert rating scales, or n (%) as indicated. Normality was tested using Shapiro-Wilks test. Between group differences were tested using independent 2-sided t -test or analysis of variance. Nonparametric tests were used to investigate group differences in Likert scale data (Mann Whitney U and Kruskal Wallis test). The associations of sex, age, education level as well as different psychological constructs with openness to using eHealth were analyzed between groups (general willingness [yes/maybe] and patients not willing to use eHealth [no]) by using chi-square test or Mann Whitney U test as indicated. To analyze the combined predictive values of multiple patients’ characteristics on eHealth acceptance, we used multivariate linear regression and naïve Bayes classification. The statistical significance level was set at P <.05.

Seventy-nine patients participated in the guided survey (Germany, n=49; Spain, n=30; 16/79, 20% females). The mean age (in years) of the patients was 57 (SD 7; range 37-79) ( Table 1 ). In Germany, our sample population was comparable in terms of sex and age to patients with CAD in general (registry data) [ 27 ] and to patients with CAD undergoing CR in particular (mean 54.9, SD 7.0 years, in-house data). Further comparison of the study sample to German patients with CAD undergoing CR showed considerable similarity also in terms of ST-elevation myocardial infarction/non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction (~75%), number of affected vessels (1 vessel disease, ~30%-40%), and performed intervention (bypass, ~20%; all in-house data). For Spain, our study sample was comparable to patients with CAD undergoing CR in terms of age (~61 years), ST-elevation myocardial infarction/non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction (~85%), number of affected vessels (1 vessel disease, ~60%), and performed intervention (bypass, ~5%; all in-house data, region Galicia). Overall, in terms of the education level, 87% (69/79) of the participants were ≤high school and 13% (10/79) were >high school ( Table 1 ). Comparisons between countries suggested good comparability even though the age (in years) of the Spanish participants (mean 62, SD 10) was higher than that of the German participants (mean 56, SD 6; P <.001), which was associated with a significantly higher burden of comorbidities (median ES 2.3, IQR 1-8; median DE 1.6, IQR 0-7; P =.03). The percentage of former smokers among patients with CAD in Germany was significantly higher than that in Spain (27/49, 55% vs 7/30, 24%; P <.001). Overall, 30% (24/79) of the included participants were active smokers. Of the 79 participants, >85% (67/79) indicated that they (highly) appreciated being involved in the planning of a future eHealth solution.

a P values were calculated using independent 2-sided t test (nonnormally distributed data were analyzed by Mann Whitney U test) and analysis of variance (nonnormally distributed variables were analyzed by Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test).

b P <.05 for within-group comparison.

c Comorbidity index was calculated according to the modified D’Hoore comorbidity index.

d Primary education is known as Hauptschule in Germany (DE) and educación primaria in Spain (ES).

e Secondary education is known as Realschule in Germany (DE) and educación secundaria obligatoria or vocational training in Spain (ES).

f Tertiary education is known as Abitur in Germany and Bachillerato in Spain.

Digital Literacy and Current Usage of Technology

For the assessment of the use of technology among patients and their associated digital literacy, participants were asked what devices they owned, for which purpose the devices were used, and how experienced they were with health/fitness apps. All patients owned a smartphone, while a significantly lower proportion of Spanish patients owned a tablet (ES: 11/30, 37%; DE: 34/49, 69%; P =.005) ( Figure 1 ). The majority of patients also owned a notebook or PC (ES: 18/30, 60%; DE: 25/30, 84%). Smartwatches (ES: 10/30, 33%; DE: 16/49, 33%) and fitness trackers (ES: 9/30, 30%; DE: 21/49, 43%) were used by a significant proportion of the participants with no differences between centers. Although smartphone, tablet, and notebook/PC were predominantly used for communication and information by the patients, a difference for smartwatch/fitness trackers was recorded in that up to 40% (12/30) of the Spanish patients used those devices also for entertainment. This was only reported by 6% (3/49) of the German patients ( P =.06). Instead, 50% (25/49) of the German patients used wearables and associated apps for documentation (including physical activity), which was only reported by 20% (6/30) of the Spanish patients ( P >.05). In terms of experience with automatic blood pressure monitors, 62% (49/79) of the patients reported their level of experience as “experienced” to “very experienced,” and 29% (23/79) and 13% (10/79) reported this level of experience for fitness trackers and health apps, respectively ( Multimedia Appendix 1 ). Of note, more than 40% (32/79) of the patients reported at least some experience with health or fitness apps.

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Rating of CR Components

To assess how patients rated the importance of different CR components for disease management, we recorded their feedback on separate aspects of CR (using 5-point rating scales). Patients’ overall rating of the importance of CR components along the continuum of care for risk reduction was very high, including regular physical exercise (median 5, IQR 3-5), healthy diet (median 5, IQR 3-5), stress management (median 5, IQR 1-5), smoking cessation (median 5, IQR 1-5), optimal medication (median 5, IQR 3-5), motivation for lifestyle changes (median 5, IQR 3-5), and overall risk factor management (median 5, IQR 2-5), with no significant difference between the 2 centers. Patients also rated their individual need for support during phase III CR maintenance in the beforementioned areas, revealing large interindividual differences with all items ranging from 1 to 5. In general, patients expressed a high need for support for regular physical exercise (median 4, range 1-5), less need for support for smoking cessation (median 1, range 1-5; only active smokers were asked), and less support for healthy diet (median 3, range 1-5), stress management (median 3, range 1-5), medication (median 3, range 1-5), motivation for lifestyle changes (median 3, range 1-5), and risk factor management (median 3, range 1-5). Of note, for each item except from smoking cessation, 35%-50% of the patients indicated a high need for support (≥4) to achieve their long-term health goals, suggesting a need for individualized care. The subgroup of patients expressing low perceived smoking cessation support needs was analyzed further to investigate if it includes patients with high-risk phenotypes. However, this analysis did not suggest an elevated risk for these patients, as age, sex, BMI, disease severity (bypass performed [yes/no]), and comorbidity index were similar to those of the group of smokers indicating need for smoking cessation support.

Rating of eHealth Components to Assist in Phase III CR Maintenance

Overall, 71% (56/79) of the patients reported that they considered technology, including mobile apps, to be helpful in maintaining health goals after phase II CR. To investigate the specific needs and expectations for an eHealth system to assist in phase III CR maintenance, we asked patients about the features that would be the most helpful for reaching their individual health goals if they were free to choose from a predefined set of options. The presented features were selected by the TIMELY investigators involving cardiologists, rehabilitation experts, behavioral change experts, sports scientists, and by considering recent literature on eHealth in CR [ 6 ]. Selected features were grouped into 3 categories for the presentation of results, including exercise-related features, clinical/medical components, and motivational/other features ( Figure 2 ) and were analyzed for differences between nationality, age groups, and men versus women. No significant differences between nationalities were detected for exercise-related features or medical-related entities. In the domain of other CR components, overall progression documentation was significantly rated as more useful/more needed by German patients (median 5, range 1-5) than by Spanish patients (median 4, range 1-5; P <.001). German patients also rated “individual feedback of a real person” more useful than Spanish patients (median 5, range 1-5 vs median 4, range 3-5; P =.005, respectively). With respect to motivational features, Spanish patients rated the possibility to “share progress with friends and family” as more useful than German patients (median 4, range 1-5 vs median 2, range 1-5]; P =.02, respectively). When asked about the preferred frequency for motivational messages, only 5% of the patients answered “several times a day.” Approximately 27% (21/79) preferred to receive messages once a day, 26% (20/79) every other day, and 9% (7/79) did not want to receive messages. Approximately 32% (25/79) indicated that they would prefer a flexible schedule for messages. Of note, no differences in preference for any suggested features were detected between women and men or among age groups. However, the score for most items ranged from 1 to 5, highlighting that perceived usefulness of potential eHealth features differs substantially between individuals.

parts of a journal paper

Factors Associated With Acceptance of eHealth in CR Maintenance

To investigate the factors associated with the acceptance of eHealth, we used questionnaires to analyze factors such as sex, age, clinical data, educational as well as psychological factors. Questionnaires involved LOT-R for optimism/pessimism, AAQ-2 for psychological flexibility, DS-14 for social inhibition, and PANAS for positive/negative affectivity. Education level was not associated with the acceptance of eHealth components ( Table 2 ). No differences were observed with regard to acceptance between women and men, but younger age was significantly associated with more acceptance of monitoring devices ( P =.03), while only a tendency was seen for willingness to use a mobile app ( P =.11). Of note, only 6% (3/49) of the patients who accepted eHealth indicated they would likely not use eHealth components because of privacy concerns, and 8% (4/49) of the patients did not like the idea of being monitored. Although multivariate linear regression analysis did not identify a combination of factors associated with eHealth acceptance, naïve Bayes classification suggested that eHealth acceptance may potentially be predicted based on younger age, a lower AAQ-2 score indicating psychological flexibility, and the index event (having experienced myocardial infarction). Willingness to use a mobile app was predicted with an overall accuracy of 97.9% (using age and AAQ-2), and the acceptance of monitoring devices was predicted with an overall accuracy of 91.7% (using age, AAQ-2, and myocardial infarction). However, validation in an independent data set was not performed.

a Data are given as n (%) and median and range. Patients were asked if they would use a mobile app for their cardiac rehabilitation maintenance support and if they would use monitoring devices (eg, blood pressure monitor, electrocardiogram, activity tracker) during maintenance. Options provided were yes/maybe or no. Between-group comparison was performed using chi-square test or Mann-Whitney U test.

b Three missing. Only German patients (n=40) were involved.

c LOT-R: Revised Life Orientation Test; 2 dimensions; range 0-12 (higher = larger optimism/pessimism).

d AAQ-2: Acceptance and Action Questionnaire version 2; range 7-49 (higher = greater psychological inflexibility).

e DS-14: Type D scale for social inhibition; 2 dimensions; range 0-28 (higher = larger negative affectivity/social inhibition).

f PANAS: Positive and Negative Affect Schedule; 2 dimensions; range 0-10 (higher = larger affect).

Principal Findings

This study aimed to define patients’ needs and expectations for eHealth-based CR to assist them during the lifelong maintenance phase. A Living Lab approach was used for German and Spanish patients with CAD to characterize their use of technology, their preferences and rating of importance for different components of a future eHealth solution for CR maintenance, as well as their general willingness to use eHealth. In brief, our main findings are (1) patients with CAD appreciated being involved in the planning of a future eHealth system, and they had sufficient levels of digital literacy, (2) patients rated the importance of CR components along the continuum of care for risk reduction as very high, (3) 71% (56/79) of the patients expected that technology could help them to maintain health goals after center-based CR, and (4) a large intraindividual heterogeneity was detected in terms of reported needs and perceived usefulness for different eHealth components.

CAD is a chronic disease, necessitating innovative approaches for effective management and support over the lifelong maintenance phase after successful intervention and rehabilitation [ 1 - 3 ]. In recent years, telemedicine and eHealth solutions have emerged as promising tools for improving the care of patients with CAD [ 6 ]. In this regard, eHealth has already been shown to be an effective alternative to phase II CR, and a recent meta-analysis suggested that telehealth-based phase II CR may be even superior to center-based programs at least for enhancing physical activity levels [ 28 - 30 ]. In addition, eHealth may have the potential to involve a large number of patients since it may also be an option for patients who cannot or do not want to attend a center-based CR. In terms of cost efficiency, Frederix et al [ 30 ] estimated that a 6-month internet-based program consisting of exercise training with telemonitoring support, text messages, and web service can be cost-efficient for up to 2 years after the end of the intervention [ 30 ]. However, the development of eHealth solutions tailored for patients with CAD requires a dynamic and patient-centered approach since low user acceptance is one of the largest barriers for success of these solutions. The European Society of Cardiology e-Cardiology Working Group reported that digital health developments are often technically driven and not based on the needs and expectations of patients, thereby calling for cocreation with patient involvement in the design [ 15 ]. The European Society of Cardiology position paper strongly emphasized that patient-related barriers and user characteristics may hinder the large-scale deployment of eHealth services. Thus, the TIMELY project includes a Living Lab as means to involve patients and patient organizations, and our analyses reflect part of this patient-centered approach.

Per definition, Living Labs represent open innovation ecosystems to cocreate, assess, and refine innovative (technical) solutions [ 19 ]. To achieve a user-centric design, Living Labs prioritize the engagement of patients together with health care professionals to ensure that the resulting applications align with the needs, preferences, and challenges faced by the specific needs of a patient group. It is however important to place Living Labs in authentic settings, as implemented in this study, where patients with CAD undergoing center-based phase II CR are involved. These patients had received comprehensive information on the etiology and treatment of their disease as well as lifestyle factors that modify CAD. The majority of the involved patients indicated that they liked the approach and appreciated being involved in the conception and development of an eHealth solution to assist them during the maintenance phase even though some indicated that too much effort might keep them from using such a solution. In terms of predictors of eHealth use, previous research on sociodemographic factors among US adult internet users suggested that patients with lower education levels had lower odds of using certain features, including web-based tracking of personal health information, using a website to support physical activity, or downloading health information to a mobile device [ 31 ]. That study also indicated that being female was a predictor of eHealth use across health care and user-generated content, while age influenced health information–seeking [ 31 ]. In comparison, our data also suggest that younger age was associated with the indicated acceptance of technology, but women were as likely as men to accept eHealth for managing their disease, and the education level was not identified as a predictor. These findings might be based on the fact that smartphones, device hardware, and mobile apps are rapidly advancing, and daily exposure lowers the barriers for patients to use technology [ 32 ]. Although our study was performed among a selected group of patients with CAD participating in a prospective study, it is interesting to compare our cohort also in terms of the necessary hardware availability, that is, smartphone ownership in this patient group in general. Between 2019 and 2020, a large cross-sectional study among cardiac inpatients in Australia reported a high frequency of smartphone ownership (85%-89%) among patients aged 50-69 years and lower ownership (~60%) in patients aged 70-79 years [ 33 ]. In our sample (mean age 57 years, SD 9 years), every patient owned a smartphone and one-third also used activity trackers/smartwatches, which might also be explained by the differences between countries (Australia vs Germany/Spain). Percentage of technology ownership as well as usage and expectations for eHealth were not different between Germany and Spain, even though the Spanish population was significantly older ( P =.001) and clinical characteristics differed to some extent. Further, CR in Spain is based on outpatient care, which, while equally effective in terms of reaching the main CR outcomes, could have affected the estimated need for eHealth in this population. Of the analyzed psychological factors, only psychological flexibility showed some predictive value for eHealth acceptance. This result partly contradicts previous findings among older (>60 years) residents of Hong Kong, wherein optimism was significantly related to perceived eHealth usefulness [ 34 ]. To what extent these differences are caused by differences in age or cultural background warrant further investigations.

State-of-the-art digital health care programs face numerous technical and interoperability hurdles that make implementation difficult. This includes transmitting physiological measurements from ECGs and blood pressure monitors as well as data from activity trackers and other wearables to a centralized platform. Respective solutions rely on wireless networks; different hardware, software, and algorithms for capturing and processing data; as well as connected dashboards. Challenges include system reliability, data quality, interoperability, and overall, the highest level of data security. We have not asked the involved patients about their opinions on system availability and stability, as these aspects as well as data security and privacy need to meet the highest standards as conditio sine qua non when providing eHealth to patients. However, information regarding these aspects needs to be provided to patients in sufficient detail, since privacy-related concerns represent considerable barriers [ 15 , 35 ]. These technical requirements and interdependencies result in high costs for any eHealth solution targeting to improve patients’ self-care. Foreseen functionalities should thus not only be based on current guidelines but should be aligned with patient needs and expectations. This study shows that patients with CAD expected considerable merit in the documentation and availability of their diagnosis, laboratory results, and current medication—all details that would be part of an electronic health record. Patients also showed interest in their overall risk score, which TIMELY will base on a biomarker score to predict the 10-year mortality risk [ 36 , 37 ]. The majority of patients rated the usefulness of blood pressure and ECG monitors as high or very high. Functionalities related to support daily physical activities and physical exercise were perceived as (very) useful, with most patients indicating a high need for progress documentation and regular updates on personalized training recommendations. This observation is relevant since commercial activity trackers have been reported to significantly increase the daily step count and aerobic capacity in patients undergoing CR [ 38 , 39 ], and a considerable number of patients were already relying on commercial solutions, which, however, do not always provide the necessary level of data protection and have not been tested sufficiently in patient populations. Functionalities related to other important parts of CR, including smoking cessation, stress management, advice on heart-healthy eating, as well as self-education, were perceived as less useful or rated neutral, likely depending on the individual perceived needs of the patients. This aspect was pronounced for smoking cessation, which was perceived as an important part of CR, but 50% of the smokers indicated that they did not want support with this health-related aspect.

Limitations

Although reporting on 2 samples of participants undergoing CR from Germany and Spain with cultural and socioeconomic differences is a strength of this study, this report may be affected by the potential study selection bias since patients participating in scientific research studies differ in terms of motivational aspects. However, our sample population did not differ with respect to the sociodemographic characteristics of the samples of patients with CAD undergoing CR who were analyzed in previous reports [ 22 ]. It should be noted that health literacy, a central factor in eHealth usage and a pivotal determinant of health in general, is a complex construct and was not assessed in all dimensions in our study population. The results of naïve Bayes classification should be interpreted with care since validation in an independent data set was not performed. The timepoint and situation of this survey may also have affected the results since patients may answer differently when asked in their home environment or with greater time interval after an acute event. Focus groups may allow for more and detailed information on the reasoning underlying the reported answers to this guided survey, and the results of focus groups within TIMELY will be reported elsewhere.

This survey involving patients undergoing CR in Germany and Spain revealed that eHealth for CR maintenance should emphasize on support for regular physical activity and physical exercise, including patient feedback on achievements and renewal of training recommendations. Devices for physiological measurements, including blood pressure and ECG monitors, were considered useful, and most patients expressed a need for the documentation of diagnosis, medication, and laboratory results in terms of an electronic health record. In general, the patients who took part in this project showed a sufficient level of digital literacy and current usage of technology to make good use of even more advanced eHealth solutions. Although only minor differences were observed among Spanish and German patients as well as between female and male patients and educational status did not appear to be a contributing factor, it is crucial to note substantial variability in patients’ individual needs and expectations. Consequently, eHealth solutions should prioritize personalization to enhance user acceptance. Next steps of the TIMELY Living Lab will involve analyses of details on the implementation of the individual CR functionalities and feedback on the mobile app design.

Acknowledgments

We thank all the patients involved in this study for participating and appreciate the help of our colleagues in answering the Delphi questions to develop the survey used in this project. BS, FM, MH, CP-G, and WJK received funding from the European Commission within the H2020 framework (project TIMELY, grant agreement number 101017424).

Data Availability

The data generated during this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Authors' Contributions

BS, SW, and FM designed this study. SW, MSF, HS, MAV, and VG-S performed the survey and collected the data. SW, MSF, and BS analyzed the data. BS, WJK, and MH interpreted the results. BS, SW, and ERD wrote the manuscript. FM, WJK, MH, CP-G, and DG provided important intellectual content. All authors contributed to the revision of the manuscript and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

BS is the Associate Editor of JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies . The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Abbreviations

Edited by T de Azevedo Cardoso, S He; submitted 26.10.23; peer-reviewed by J Su, D Liu, P Dilaveris; comments to author 20.12.23; revised version received 28.12.23; accepted 30.01.24; published 22.02.24.

©Boris Schmitz, Svenja Wirtz, Manuela Sestayo-Fernández, Hendrik Schäfer, Emma R Douma, Marta Alonso Vazquez, Violeta González-Salvado, Mirela Habibovic, Dimitris Gatsios, Willem Johan Kop, Carlos Peña-Gil, Frank Mooren. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 22.02.2024.

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Performance of additively manufactured composite mold with uniform fiber orientation

  • ORIGINAL ARTICLE
  • Published: 24 February 2024

Cite this article

  • Swayam Shree 1 ,
  • Krishnamurthy Jayaraman   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5867-2043 1 ,
  • Arnaud Dereims 2 &
  • Ravi Raveendra 2  

The spring-in phenomenon or reduced angle observed in a molded composite part with angled sides or an L-shape is commonly attributed to material anisotropy in the molded part and mismatched thermal expansion between the conventional metal tool and the molded part. This paper investigates the distortion and spring-in of a compression molded carbon fabric reinforced epoxy composite part with angled sides, using composite tooling that is made by extrusion deposition additive manufacturing (EDAM). The composite tooling was made from carbon fiber reinforced polyetherimide (ULTEM) by EDAM; as a result, material anisotropy existed in both tooling and molded part. In the present study, a uniform vertical orientation was used during the extrusion deposition printing of the mold, in order to promote heat transfer along the press closing direction. The thermomechanical properties were measured for the tooling material from EDAM-printed plaques and for the composite part material from molded plaques; the measured inputs were then used in simulation of mold deformation, residual stresses, and part distortion. The spring-in predicted for the part molded with the EDAM tool was 1.4°, which is close to the experimentally measured spring-in of 1.3°. The spring-in predicted for a similar molding cycle with the steel mold was much higher at 2.6°.

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parts of a journal paper

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Acknowledgements

Bags of the ULTEM carbon fiber composite used for 3D printing the tool were donated by SABIC. The 3D printing and machining of the composite mold was carried out at Additive Engineering Solutions, LLC. The press at the Michigan State University Scale-Up Research Facility was used with assistance from Shane Skop, Brian Klotz, and the kind approval of Ray Boeman.

The research presented herein was funded in part by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award DE- EE0006926 through IACMI (the Institute for Advanced Composites and Manufacturing Innovation).

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All authors contributed to the conception of this study. The simulation study was planned and executed by Swayam Shree, K. Jayaraman, and Arnaud Dereims. The experimental molding and detailed tests for thermomechanical properties were carried out by Swayam Shree and K. Jayaraman.

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Shree, S., Jayaraman, K., Dereims, A. et al. Performance of additively manufactured composite mold with uniform fiber orientation. Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00170-024-13220-8

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Received : 14 November 2023

Accepted : 06 February 2024

Published : 24 February 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s00170-024-13220-8

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