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The Structure of a Research Manuscript
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The title of a research manuscript (i.e., a research paper, research proposal, graduate scholarships and grants proposal, research report, master’s or PhD thesis, book, graduate term paper or any other graduate career document) has to be short (less than 15 words) and descriptive of the nature of the research. Keep in mind, that internet search engines use the title, among other keywords, to identify and rank relevancy of your manuscript with respect to search criteria. Search results are formatted according to this ranking. Therefore, prospective readers may have a chance to see the title of your manuscript on the first several pages of the most relevant search results, or may not have such a chance, if the title is buried among less relevant search results on hundreds of other pages. Avoid the use of general phrases similar to “An investigation of …”, “Studies of…”, etc. Search engines rank titles containing such phrases as less relevant, because they include non-specific information.
The abstract of a research manuscript is designed to outline the major problem(s), methods and results addressed by the study within the word limit applied by a chosen Publisher. The major purpose of the abstract is to inform a reader about the major methodology used or developed in and results of the study, and thus to help a reader decide whether the manuscript is of interest to the reader. If the word limit is an issue, the author(s) should focus on a statement of problems they addressed and findings they achieved.
The introduction section has to describe motivation, objectives and key problems addressed by the study clearly and accurately. A phrase or two have to touch on wider applications of the developed methods, knowledge and results, addressing technological or conceptual needs of the related industries or society. In particular, this concerns master’s degree thesis, PhD dissertations, research reports, research proposals and research grant proposals that are expected to address problems of wider importance. Introduction is designed to place a research described in a research paper, term paper, research proposal, grant proposal, research report, book, master's degree thesis or PhD dissertation in the context of the existing knowledge and facts.
Thus, Introduction has to include (i) a discussion of appropriateness of the research methods developed or used by the author(s) and (ii) to state briefly the major findings or knew knowledge achieved. To support claims concerning novelty and value of the research methods and findings, Introduction has to include a literature review containing a clear analysis of the existing relevant methods and data. The literature review may be brief or detailed, depending on the nature of the research manuscript and intensity of the research field concerned. Such a literature review has to address weak sides of the existing methods and/or lack in the existing knowledge, results or data. Introduction also has to inform a reader about specific features of the research methods developed and/or used by the author(s) to address some of those weak sides, and about new and relevant findings, results, insights or knowledge gained. In the case of a research review paper, research report, book, master’s or PhD thesis, and especially a research grant proposal, in depth analysis of the current state of the research field is required. Such analysis may be provided in special section(s) or chapter(s) that follows Introduction.
The method(s) sections are designed to describe research methodologies, procedures, instrumentation, setups, materials and other tools developed and/or used by author(s) to achieve research findings reported in a research paper, term paper, research grant proposal, research report, master’s or PhD thesis, book, or any other manuscript on the research development. Such sections have to provide details on and evidence of relevancy, validity and reliability of the methods used and results obtained. Information provided in these sections has to equip a reader with sufficient details to replicate the setup and all procedures of the studies. Similar to other sections, the methods sections should include clear headings descriptive of the research methods used, be well written and divided in subsections for better organization.
The results sections should present a detailed description of the knowledge gained and results achieved by the authors. These sections should also include examination of quality and analysis of the data obtained. The author(s) have to prove to a reader that the research findings described in the manuscript are relevant, reliable and formidable. Tables, graphs and other analytical tools supporting these findings should be self-explanatory, discussed in the text and limited to those that are necessary for a reader to understand the described problem solving and research findings.
The discussion section has to emphasize the objectives of the research, key research methods and key findings that have enabled the author(s) to solve a particular scientific, engineering or technological problem or gain the desired data and knowledge. A detailed discussion and comparison with similar results existing in professional literature, and the major conclusions and recommendations of the author(s), have to be provided in this section. The authors’ position has to be clearly stated, and their conclusions warranted by the findings described in the manuscript and other publications. Care must be taken not to overly generalize the obtained results and correctly place them in a context of the existing knowledge in the field. Prospects of the future research addressing the problems studied in the manuscript have to be discussed in the end of this section.
The discussion section is followed by the Acknowledgements where the author(s) recognize support of their colleagues, master's or PhD thesis supervisors and/or funding agencies. The bibliography section provides literature citations and concludes the manuscript, unless such citations are included as footnotes in the text (which is typical to some research journals). The citations format has to meet editorial requirements, and the citation numbers must correspond to their first appearance in the text.
Make a good use of the English language, proofread and double check the final draft of your manuscript before submission.