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07Sep 2016

Systematic review article and meta-analyses constitute a group of Level 1 and 2 studies and are considered at the highest level of evidence-based medicine (EBM) 1. Whereas unsystematic, narrative review articles are marred by author bias, as it is more probable to embrace only research chosen by the authors, thereby introducing bias. We believe that since systematic review articles are becoming more easily understood and accepted in medical literature, they will eventually be the format accepted for the reviews and possible publication in indexed journals. This blog will allow our readers to comfortably comprehend these reviews and feel at ease in formatting their own systematic review article in the future.

The ability to carry out an enlightening systematic review of the available literature, and its inherent limitations, quality and potential are an essential skill for any researcher to develop. Not only does it help answer the hypothetical question, it also enables valuable information and provides guidance about the planning and recommendation of the value of any innovative research.

The process of writing systematic review articles takes place in order to put multiple studies or researches into an organized form so that useful information can be extracted from. Writing a good systematic review directly determines the entire basis of how good a meta-analysis of any research program is. Therefore, more competently the conducted systematic reviews are, more useful conclusions can be drawn from the relative studies. A systematic literature review is a crucial step of evidence-based medicine (EBM). It does not only aim to organize studies and make a useful interpretation based on them but also helps in an appropriate assessment of the quality of different studies. Thus making your research process very high yield and enables targeted questions to be answered through it.

A systematic literature review can be defined as an endeavor to “identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question” (Cochrane definition, 20132).

The aims of a systematic review can be varied and include:

  • Elucidating the relative strengths and drawbacks of the available literature on the question,
  • Summarizing an enormous expanse of literature,
  • Resolving literature disagreements,
  • Appraising the necessity for a large clinical trial,
  • Circumventing the need for an unwarranted trial,
  • Increasing the statistical power of smaller studies,
  • Improving the precision or identify a smaller treatment effect, and
  • Improving the generalizability of treatment outcomes.

Types of Systematic Review Article:

The types of systematic reviews for any literature can be defined more as steps of drawing a conclusion on evidence collected from the literature. At every step, the information becomes more refined and properly defined. The three types of systematic reviews are:

Systematic Review Article

Types of Systematic Review Articles

  • Qualitative reviews: This type of systematic review is based on summarizing the studies that have been conducted on a subject.
  • Quantitative reviews: Quantitative reviews make use of combining the statistical data or conclusions of different studies together. The aim is to organize two or more than two multiple studies for drawing useful conclusions.
  • Meta-analysis: Meta-analysis is the process of bringing together the data collected on the basis of systematic reviews. This is more of a proceeding step that follows systematic reviews.

Steps for Conducting a Systematic Review:

A sound systematic review needs a few protocols to be followed. Following these protocols and carefully taking all the essential steps assures that the systematic review conducted is high-yield. Systematic reviews are listed as one of the top forms of evidence-based medicine (EBM). The essence of a good EBM lies in its forming elements like meta-analysis and systematic reviews being efficient and decisive.

Systematic Review Article

Structure of a Systematic Review Article

We have briefed the pivotal steps that are to be respected while conducting a systematic review.

1) Formulation of a Research Question

2) Study Selection Criteria

3) Developing a Research Protocol

4) Data Extraction

5) Data Analysis

6) Interpretation of Results

1) Formulation of a Research Question:

hypothesis could be defined as a projected rationalization for an observation. It could either be investigated ( the scientific hypothesis) or it might be carried forward (working hypothesis). 

  • You need a primary research question in order conduct a sound systematic review. Your systematic review has to revolve around this question. An efficient research question typically comprises of;
  • Population,
  • Patient groups studied;
  • Intervention,
  • Treatment,
  • Tests, or exposure for the population;
  • Comparison,
  • Alternative intervention or Control; and
  • Outcome,
  • Results of the interventions.

This first step is crucial because it gives your project a clear-cut direction, which can be followed to reach the targeted goal. A number of useful questions can be addressed which elaborate any condition in a better way. For instance, the etiology of the disease, the results of different diagnostic tools, the occurrence of disease, and certain other relevant things can be addressed in this. Developing a primary research question thus gives a firm basis to the conduction of your systematic review article.

Please keep in mind that a vague hypothesis/question would most likely to lead you to a vague conclusion/answer.

Good systematic review questions could address either of the following:

  • Phenomena associated with disease or interventions
  • Disease or its related condition frequency
  • Diagnostic precision
  • Disease etiology and/or its risk factors
  • Prognosis, and
  • Efficacy of the intervention studied

2) Study Selection Criteria:

It is important to identify the relevant studies that can be specifically helpful for your research. Some criteria have to be set which determines the inclusion or exclusion of a certain study in your program. You are advised to carry out extensive research on different levels of studies that are available regardless of the language limitations. A few researchers may find it exhausting and strenuous to collect data from different languages but integrating the studies from different languages can largely extend the scope of your study.

Literature Search for Review Article

Systematic Review Article

After the extensive mass of literature has been collected, it is necessary to filter them on the basis of your study selection criteria. Your criteria should aim to select those studies that can be highly efficient for your subject and exclude those studies, which are less relevant.

3) Developing a Research Protocol:

Developing a research protocol is important because it helps to develop an outline of your research goals. It is a precise yet comprehensive explanation of your literature goals and is thus important in organizing the data and information. Nowadays journals require you to submit the protocol along with your manuscript. Authors of systematic reviews are expected to make use of the either EQUATOR (http://www.equator-network.org/) or PRISMA statement or similar other guidelines to format their protocol. The PRISMA Statement consists of a checklist (27-items) and is accompanied by a flow diagram. It is a guide for authors about how to develop a protocol for the review and what needs to be included while writing the systematic review.

Protocol Systematic Review Article

Protocol of a Systematic Review Article

It is highly recommended that once you have finalized your systemic review protocol, you should get it registered with available protocol registries (e.g. Cochrane Collaboration or PROSPERO ).

4) Data Extraction:

Data extraction is important because helps in reaching to the useful conclusions. The common method of data extraction is using an electronic or paper standardized form. This is by far the most efficient method of data extraction and is used worldwide by a large number of people. A standardized data extraction form comprises of certain essentials like the reference of the study. It also explains the objective of the study and the type of population chosen for the study process. Other factors like the demographic analysis; intervention control, and outcomes are also discussed in the standardized data extraction forms.

5) Data Analysis:

The step of data analysis further polishes the information that you are collecting for your systematic review. Other useful techniques for serving the purpose may consist of quality appraisal and study quality assessment. The most efficient method for data analysis is to present your study evaluation in a tabulated form. Tabulation of the study helps in clearly understanding the results obtained from the data. All the interventions, the control and study groups, the outcomes and other important information should be presented in the data analysis.

6) Interpretation of Results:

The correct interpretation of results determines the quality of your systematic review and it needs to be carried out with caution. Poor interpretation of results always signals to the low quality of the study and can be characterized by poorly defined conclusions.

Once you have collected sufficient quantitative data, it is advised to put it through an extensive meta-analysis, using statistical methods. If you are not confident, please do consult a statistician before the review begins. As a starter, a simple tip is provided. If you are conducting a study to assess the collective efficacy of a drug across all studies in the literature, an effective method of merging different measures of outcomes is to use odds ratios calculated from each outcome with 95% confidence intervals. Follow this with analysis of statistical significance to estimate the degree of effect and heterogeneity between all the studies. Ranked by effect size, the data could then be plotted into a ‘forest-plot’.

Common limitations with systematic review article could include:

  • Important studies are neglected due to an inadequate literature search.
  • Too many biases present.
  • Vague hypothesis or research question.
  • Ambiguous review methodology.
  • The findings of the review lead to inconclusive inference.

Conclusion:

A systematic review article benefits healthcare professionals to stay conversant with the precipitously changing medical literature. Hence, a good systematic review article should be able to defend that it conducted an all-encompassing systematic search, identified, selected, evaluated, and amalgamated research evidence pertinent to the hypothesis/question, using a methodology that was unambiguous, reproducible, and thereby incorporated the least bias.

By being mindful of our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for writing a systematic review, you are sure to conduct the process in an efficient manner. This holds true for those who already have experience in this regard as well as for those who do not have a formal training of the process. Any researcher who wants to succeed in presenting their research as a competitive distribution needs to carry out the statistical analysis in a proficient way. Once you realize the importance of carrying out our research in a systemized way, you can conduct a quality systematic review by following our aforementioned points.

References:

  1. Wright RW et al. Integrating Evidence-based Medicine into Clinical Practice. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007;89: 199–205.
  2. The Cochrane Library; http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html

USEFUL RESOURCES

  • EQUATOR Network. Available at: www.equator-network.org.
  • The Cochrane Collaboration. The reliable source of evidence in healthcare. Available at: www.cochrane.org.
  • CEBM Centre for Evidence-based Medicine. Available at: www.cbem.net
  • The Campbell Collaboration. Available at: www.campbellcollaboration.org.

To analyze what has already been analyzed is Meta Analysis 

Meta-analysis is a valuable process to condense data incorporating many studies but necessitates meticulous consideration, organization, and execution. Meta-analysis involves investing substantial time and energy in development and accomplishment. Thereby, it should not be considered as a nippy way to collect and analyze studies with a sole aim of making a quick publication. Hasselblad wrote an excellent article, with lots of examples and formulae that would be of great value for any researcher who wishes to initiate a meta-analysis1.

After the process of accomplishing systematic review has been completed in any study, the process of conducting meta-analysis can take place subsequently. To put in simple words, meta-analysis is the process coalescing the data collected on the basis of systematic reviews. Combining this data together helps in drawing useful conclusions in any study. However, not all systematic reviews necessarily lead to a good meta-analysis. There are some crucial points that govern the efficient conduction of a meta-analysis that is up to the mark. Being one of the most important statistical approaches, meta-analysis has a direct impact on the outcomes of any research. Therefore, before starting the process, it is necessary to clearly understand the factors that will make your meta-analysis high yield. The researchers who understand the basics of conducting a good meta-analysis draw far more useful conclusions than those who fail at this crucial step of their research.

Aims to be considered when you conduct a Meta-analysis:

  • Construct statistical importance concerning studies with diverging results
  • Develop an accurate appraisal of the effect magnitude
  • Provide extensive complex analysis of harms, safety data, and benefits
  • Scrutinize subgroups with individual numbers that are not statistically significant

Advantages and Disadvantages of Meta Analysis

ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
Superior statistical power Heterogeneity of study populations
Confirmatory data analysis Necessitates advanced statistical methods
Better capability to generalize to the general population affected Challenging and time-consuming effort required to recognize apt studies
Measured as an evidence-based source All studies do not specify acceptable data for inclusion and analysis

In this blog, we explain how a meta-analysis is similar to a traditional study, involving a written protocol with design elements that are analogous to a systematic review. We have highlighted some pivotal points you might need to comprehend before conducting any meta-analysis. We will concentrate on the imperative issues fundamental for a meta-analysis: articulating the hypothesis/study question, selection of research studies, accumulating and appraising evidence from these studies, and extracting fruitful results.

Step-By-Step Guide to conduct your Meta Analysis

  • Step 1: Identify studies and Employ Inclusion/Exclusion criteria to Titles and Abstracts
  • Step 2: Exclude Studies that evidently meet the Exclusion Criteria predetermined by you
  • Step 3: Download and save the full text of the remaining research studies/articles
  • Step 4: Assess the studies to see if they concur to your Inclusion and Exclusion criteria
  • Step 5: Only embrace studies that fulfill all your Inclusion criteria and No Exclusion Criteria
  • Step 6: Eliminate studies from Meta Analysis with logical reasoning
  • Step 7: Accept the remaining studies to initiate your Meta Analysis

IDENTIFICATION (Literature Search for a Meta Analysis):

This is the first and the most important characteristic of any good and solid meta-analysis. You have to make sure that your literature search is thorough, extensive, comprehensive, and well systemized. Important sources of information for a meta-analysis include:

  • PUBMED
  • The Cochrane Collaboration Controlled Trials Register
  • MEDLINE/EMBASE (The European version of MEDLINE is called EMBASE, and is a Dutch/English collaboration)
  • CancerLit, AIDSLine, and ToxLine
  • Index Medicus

You should comprehensively cover all the studies that are relevant to your subject or the topic. Look for all the published as well as unpublished research work that relates to your topic. There is a term used ‘fugitive literature’. This literature refers to the research work that could not be published but can be of good help to the researchers. It is therefore strictly advised to make the best use of dissertations, non-indexed studies, and unpublished studies to make your analysis even better.

Collaboration with Colleagues:

We would suggest that if you plan to do a meta-analysis of your own, it might be pertinent that you consider enlisting the help of an expert such as the medical librarian. It is also crucial to build good collaboration with other researchers that are involved in the programs similar to yours. This is important because they can provide you with useful information that can help you in establishing your meta-analysis. You can also ask for the workers in these relevant projects to join you in your program. You should also look for your undergraduate colleagues who are looking for course credits. They may demand course credits from you and in return can provide you with useful literature search. This does not only save time but also helps to extend the array of your research.

References and Citations:

Look for the maximum number of references and citations that may help you understand the whole process in detail. Once you have got a good grasp on knowing how the entire process is carried out, you are sure to conduct your analysis in a sound manner.

Set Homogenous Standards:

Any good meta-analysis needs a homogenous standard to which the results obtained from the data can be standardized. This facilitates the process of comparing the different results and therefore saves a lot of time. This also helps in understanding the relevant risks that help in establishing a good meta-analysis.

SELECTION (Eligibility Criteria):

You would agree that all research are not created equal, hence, the use of substantiation to guide the clinical protocols needs to be conscious of the supporting research that propagates diverse interventions. Once you have collected a large set of studies that can be helpful for analysis, it is important to exclude the less relevant content.

There are various achievable inclusion/ eligibility criteria:

  • Did the study comprise of enough information for analysis?
  • Did the research ensure the validity of the study design?
  • Did the study meet standards for a minimum sample size?
  • What was the drug dosage used in the study?
  • Was language of the article comprehensible?
  • The patient age, sex and other credentialing?
  • Did the research define the study setting?

This facilitates in drawing conclusions and results that are to the point and more efficient. Assembling this set of requirements that a study needs to meet in order to be a part of your research is known as the eligibility criteria.

The first thing you need to set eligibility criteria is to see if the study contains enough useful information. Then you have to see if the study design is optimized to your research. Other useful criteria can be the language of the study, the time at which it was conducted and how this impacts your meta-analysis, age group of the patients on which the study was conducted, the clinical setting in which the study was conducted for instance OPD, inpatient, or emergency room. All these factors can directly influence your meta-analysis and hence it is necessary.

ABSTRACTION

The role of the data abstraction phase pertains to the assessment of the study quality. The results of the quality assessment should describe the breakdown and understanding of the results.

Once you have a suitable collection of studies that meet your eligibility criteria, you have had to abstract the applicable data from each study accumulated. The potential error in data abstraction could be because of:

  • Typographical or copyediting errors
  • Misinterpreted Tables and Charts
  • Erroneous data entry or abstraction process 

Precise Coding Forms:

Coding forms are the basis of any good meta-analysis. Make sure you establish such coding forms that are very precise and provide only relevant statistics. A systematic coding form is characterized by containing only such information that is guaranteed to draw high yield results and conclusions. In order to keep these forms precise and easily comprehensible, you are advised to keep only those variables that you have to test in your program.

Keep Systematic Records:

It is really crucial to keep well-systemized records of everything that you do in your meta-analysis. From keeping a track of your literature search to drawing the final conclusions, every little information is important. This is also important when you explain the method section of your paper at the end of your research.

How to Avoid Errors

To minimize errors a good meta-analysis should follow simple steps like:

  • Use two or more independent reviewers or have consensus meetings to decide about any conflicts
  • Try to educate reviewers by making them practice analysis of the research by reading various articles so that every reviewer standardizes to a common goal
  • Always indulge frequently in comparison of abstracts and texts to unearth discrepancies in the studies
  • It is desirable to utilize a standard form/database that restrains studies to the projected range

ANALYSIS

Meta Analysis is closely marred by many controversies regarding the analysis of study data. Before we dwell into all those, let’s define some critical terms:

Homogeneity indicates how analogous the results of different studies were to one another on a fair comparison.

Heterogeneity refers to how different the results are between studies.  A cluster of studies having dissimilar results is said to be heterogeneous. Simply put, it is the opposite of homogeneity.

Fixed effects models deliberate upon only the within-study variability. It is assumed that the studies utilize identical methods, patients, and measurements; hence producing identical results; those variations are because of within-study variation. The researcher by exploiting a fixed effects model can answer the question: “Was the treatment able to construct a benefit on average in the studies?” If the studies are homogenous the researcher should use the Fixed Effects Model.

Random effects models contemplate variability between study and within-study. The hypothesis being that studies are randomly collected and representative of various possible studies in the available literature. The researcher by using a random effects model can derive an answer to the question: “Would the treatment produce any benefit ‘on average’?” Random Effects models are considered to be “conservative” and likely to show a wider CI (confidence interval) but less likely to produce a meaningful treatment effect than a fixed effects model.

Sensitivity analysis is a replication of the Meta analysis or the primary analysis, replacing substitute conclusions or ranges of values for results that were capricious or indistinct. In simple words, it is how a researcher will judge only certain studies, groups of patients, or interventions. A sensitivity analysis provides you with an answer to the question, “Were the findings collaborative to the choices made in the course of getting them?”

When to Seek Professional Help?

You should look for people who have successfully published their meta-analysis that is similar to yours. When you are stuck in some problem, these people can be of great professional help. While some of them may charge you for their help, a lot of people are willing to help you without any charges. Those who charge also do not charge much and their assistance is worth the money. So if you see yourself being stuck in a condition that can potentially put your meta-analysis down the drain, do not hesitate to seek help from your senior colleagues.

How the Editors or Peer Reviewers evaluate your Meta Analysis

The editors, peer reviewers and later your audience will judge your Meta analysis on the following seven criteria

  • Did the authors use a dedicated clinical question/hypothesis?
  • Did the authors use appropriate inclusion and exclusion criteria to select articles?
  • Did the authors miss one or more significant or pertinent study?
  • Did the authors validate that the included studies were evaluated to ensure proper quality?
  • Did the authors ensure data abstraction i.e. whether the appraisals of the studies were reproducible?
  • Did the authors check for homogeneity i.e. were the results similar from study to study?

The Bottom Line:

Often we see researchers not being able to draw useful conclusions from their research projects. One of the top reasons for this failure is not being able to conduct a sound meta-analysis. There are some factors that directly influence this. We have shortlisted some of the most important things you need to keep in mind while getting your meta-analysis published. By being mindful of these important points, you are sure to avoid the common pitfalls that many researchers face while conducting their meta-analysis.

Resources 

Citations 

  1. Hasselblad V, McCrory DC. Meta-analytic tools for medical decision-making: a practical guide. Med Decis Mak 1997; 15: 81-96.

21Jun 2016

Systematic review article and meta-analyses constitute a group of Level 1 and 2 studies and are considered at the highest level of evidence-based medicine (EBM) 1. Whereas unsystematic, narrative review articles are marred by author bias, as it is more probable to embrace only research chosen by the authors, thereby introducing bias. We believe that since systematic review articles are becoming more easily understood and accepted in medical literature, they will eventually be the format accepted for the reviews and possible publication in indexed journals. This blog will allow our readers to comfortably comprehend these reviews and feel at ease in formatting their own systematic review article in the future.

The ability to carry out an enlightening systematic review of the available literature, and its inherent limitations, quality and potential are an essential skill for any researcher to develop. Not only does it help answer the hypothetical question, it also enables valuable information and provides guidance about the planning and recommendation of the value of any innovative research.

The process of writing systematic review articles takes place in order to put multiple studies or researches into an organized form so that useful information can be extracted from. Writing a good systematic review directly determines the entire basis of how good a meta-analysis of any research program is. Therefore, more competently the conducted systematic reviews are, more useful conclusions can be drawn from the relative studies. A systematic literature review is a crucial step of evidence-based medicine (EBM). It does not only aim to organize studies and make a useful interpretation based on them but also helps in an appropriate assessment of the quality of different studies. Thus making your research process very high yield and enables targeted questions to be answered through it.

A systematic literature review can be defined as an endeavor to “identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question” (Cochrane definition, 20132).

The aims of a systematic review can be varied and include:

  • Elucidating the relative strengths and drawbacks of the available literature on the question,
  • Summarizing an enormous expanse of literature,
  • Resolving literature disagreements,
  • Appraising the necessity for a large clinical trial,
  • Circumventing the need for an unwarranted trial,
  • Increasing the statistical power of smaller studies,
  • Improving the precision or identify a smaller treatment effect, and
  • Improving the generalizability of treatment outcomes.

Types of systematic reviews:

The types of systematic reviews for any literature can be defined more as steps of drawing a conclusion on evidence collected from the literature. At every step, the information becomes more refined and properly defined. The three types of systematic reviews are:

Systematic Review Article

Types of Systematic Review Articles

  • Qualitative reviews: This type of systematic review is based on summarizing the studies that have been conducted on a subject.
  • Quantitative reviews: Quantitative reviews make use of combining the statistical data or conclusions of different studies together. The aim is to organize two or more than two multiple studies for drawing useful conclusions.
  • Meta-analysis: Meta-analysis is the process of bringing together the data collected on the basis of systematic reviews. This is more of a proceeding step that follows systematic reviews.

Steps for Conducting a Systematic Review:

A sound systematic review needs a few protocols to be followed. Following these protocols and carefully taking all the essential steps assures that the systematic review conducted is high-yield. Systematic reviews are listed as one of the top forms of evidence-based medicine (EBM). The essence of a good EBM lies in its forming elements like meta-analysis and systematic reviews being efficient and decisive.

Systematic Review Article

Structure of a Systematic Review Article

We have briefed the pivotal steps that are to be respected while conducting a systematic review.

1) Formulation of a Research Question

2) Study Selection Criteria

3) Developing a Research Protocol

4) Data Extraction

5) Data Analysis

6) Interpretation of Results

1) Formulation of a Research Question:

A hypothesis could be defined as a projected rationalization for an observation. It could either be investigated ( the scientific hypothesis) or it might be carried forward (working hypothesis).

  • You need a primary research question in order conduct a sound systematic review. Your systematic review has to revolve around this question. An efficient research question typically comprises of;
  • Population,
  • Patient groups studied;
  • Intervention,
  • Treatment,
  • Tests, or exposure for the population;
  • Comparison,
  • Alternative intervention or Control; and
  • Outcome,
  • Results of the interventions.

This first step is crucial because it gives your project a clear-cut direction, which can be followed to reach the targeted goal. A number of useful questions can be addressed which elaborate any condition in a better way. For instance, the etiology of the disease, the results of different diagnostic tools, the occurrence of disease, and certain other relevant things can be addressed in this. Developing a primary research question thus gives a firm basis to the conduction of your systematic review article.

Please keep in mind that a vague hypothesis/question would most likely to lead you to a vague conclusion/answer.

Good systematic review questions could address either of the following:

  • Phenomena associated with disease or interventions
  • Disease or its related condition frequency
  • Diagnostic precision
  • Disease etiology and/or its risk factors
  • Prognosis, and
  • Efficacy of the intervention studied

2) Study Selection Criteria:

It is important to identify the relevant studies that can be specifically helpful for your research. Some criteria have to be set which determines the inclusion or exclusion of a certain study in your program. You are advised to carry out extensive research on different levels of studies that are available regardless of the language limitations. A few researchers may find it exhausting and strenuous to collect data from different languages but integrating the studies from different languages can largely extend the scope of your study.

Literature Search for Review Article

Systematic Review Article

After the extensive mass of literature has been collected, it is necessary to filter them on the basis of your study selection criteria. Your criteria should aim to select those studies that can be highly efficient for your subject and exclude those studies, which are less relevant.

3) Developing a Research Protocol:

Developing a research protocol is important because it helps to develop an outline of your research goals. It is a precise yet comprehensive explanation of your literature goals and is thus important in organizing the data and information. Nowadays journals require you to submit the protocol along with your manuscript. Authors of systematic reviews are expected to make use of the either EQUATOR (http://www.equator-network.org/) or PRISMA statement or similar other guidelines to format their protocol. The PRISMA Statement consists of a checklist (27-items) and is accompanied by a flow diagram. It is a guide for authors about how to develop a protocol for the review and what needs to be included while writing the systematic review.

Protocol Systematic Review Article

Protocol of a Systematic Review Article

It is highly recommended that once you have finalized your systemic review protocol, you should get it registered with available protocol registries (e.g. Cochrane Collaboration or PROSPERO ).

4) Data Extraction:

Data extraction is important because helps in reaching to the useful conclusions. The common method of data extraction is using an electronic or paper standardized form. This is by far the most efficient method of data extraction and is used worldwide by a large number of people. A standardized data extraction form comprises of certain essentials like the reference of the study. It also explains the objective of the study and the type of population chosen for the study process. Other factors like the demographic analysis; intervention control, and outcomes are also discussed in the standardized data extraction forms.

5) Data Analysis:

The step of data analysis further polishes the information that you are collecting for your systematic review. Other useful techniques for serving the purpose may consist of quality appraisal and study quality assessment. The most efficient method for data analysis is to present your study evaluation in a tabulated form. Tabulation of the study helps in clearly understanding the results obtained from the data. All the interventions, the control and study groups, the outcomes and other important information should be presented in the data analysis.

6) Interpretation of Results:

The correct interpretation of results determines the quality of your systematic review and it needs to be carried out with caution. Poor interpretation of results always signals to the low quality of the study and can be characterized by poorly defined conclusions.

Once you have collected sufficient quantitative data, it is advised to put it through an extensive meta-analysis, using statistical methods. If you are not confident, please do consult a statistician before the review begins. As a starter, a simple tip is provided. If you are conducting a study to assess the collective efficacy of a drug across all studies in the literature, an effective method of merging different measures of outcomes is to use odds ratios calculated from each outcome with 95% confidence intervals. Follow this with analysis of statistical significance to estimate the degree of effect and heterogeneity between all the studies. Ranked by effect size, the data could then be plotted into a ‘forest-plot’.

Common limitations with systematic reviews could include:

  • Important studies are neglected due to an inadequate literature search.
  • Too many biases present.
  • Vague hypothesis or research question.
  • Ambiguous review methodology.
  • The findings of the review lead to inconclusive inference.

Conclusion:

A systematic review article benefits healthcare professionals to stay conversant with the precipitously changing medical literature. Hence, a good systematic review article should be able to defend that it conducted an all-encompassing systematic search, identified, selected, evaluated, and amalgamated research evidence pertinent to the hypothesis/question, using a methodology that was unambiguous, reproducible, and thereby incorporated the least bias.

By being mindful of our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for writing a systematic review, you are sure to conduct the process in an efficient manner. This holds true for those who already have experience in this regard as well as for those who do not have a formal training of the process. Any researcher who wants to succeed in presenting their research as a competitive distribution needs to carry out the statistical analysis in a proficient way. Once you realize the importance of carrying out our research in a systemized way, you can conduct a quality systematic review by following our aforementioned points.

References:

  1. Wright RW et al. Integrating Evidence-based Medicine into Clinical Practice. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007;89: 199–205.
  2. The Cochrane Library; http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html

USEFUL RESOURCES

  • EQUATOR Network. Available at: www.equator-network.org.
  • The Cochrane Collaboration. The reliable source of evidence in healthcare. Available at: www.cochrane.org.
  • CEBM Centre for Evidence-based Medicine. Available at: www.cbem.net
  • The Campbell Collaboration. Available at: www.campbellcollaboration.org.

Authors: 

Anurag Tewari MD & A. P Singh MD (APtizer)

Image Courtesy: ImageBase

How to Cite this Article: Tewari A, Singh AP (June 2016). Retrieved on (Month/Date/Year) from  How to a Systematic Review Article.

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?
15Jun 2016
How to Write

To analyze what has already been analyzed is Meta Analysis 

Meta-analysis is a valuable process to condense data incorporating many studies but necessitates meticulous consideration, organization, and execution. Meta-analysis involves investing substantial time and energy in development and accomplishment. Thereby, it should not be considered as a nippy way to collect and analyze studies with a sole aim of making a quick publication. Hasselblad wrote an excellent article, with lots of examples and formulae that would be of great value for any researcher who wishes to initiate a meta-analysis1.

After the process of accomplishing systematic review has been completed in any study, the process of conducting meta-analysis can take place subsequently. To put in simple words, meta-analysis is the process coalescing the data collected on the basis of systematic reviews. Combining this data together helps in drawing useful conclusions in any study. However, not all systematic reviews necessarily lead to a good meta-analysis. There are some crucial points that govern the efficient conduction of a meta-analysis that is up to the mark. Being one of the most important statistical approaches, meta-analysis has a direct impact on the outcomes of any research. Therefore, before starting the process, it is necessary to clearly understand the factors that will make your meta-analysis high yield. The researchers who understand the basics of conducting a good meta-analysis draw far more useful conclusions than those who fail at this crucial step of their research.

Aims to be considered when you conduct a Meta-analysis:

  • Construct statistical importance concerning studies with diverging results
  • Develop an accurate appraisal of the effect magnitude
  • Provide extensive complex analysis of harms, safety data, and benefits
  • Scrutinize subgroups with individual numbers that are not statistically significant

Advantages and Disadvantages of Meta Analysis

ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
Superior statistical power Heterogeneity of study populations
Confirmatory data analysis Necessitates advanced statistical methods
Better capability to generalize to the general population affected Challenging and time-consuming effort required to recognize apt studies
Measured as an evidence-based source All studies do not specify acceptable data for inclusion and analysis

In this blog, we explain how a meta-analysis is similar to a traditional study, involving a written protocol with design elements that are analogous to a systematic review. We have highlighted some pivotal points you might need to comprehend before conducting any meta-analysis. We will concentrate on the imperative issues fundamental for a meta-analysis: articulating the hypothesis/study question, selection of research studies, accumulating and appraising evidence from these studies, and extracting fruitful results.

Step-By-Step Guide to conduct your Meta Analysis

  • Step 1: Identify studies and Employ Inclusion/Exclusion criteria to Titles and Abstracts
  • Step 2: Exclude Studies that evidently meet the Exclusion Criteria predetermined by you
  • Step 3: Download and save the full text of the remaining research studies/articles
  • Step 4: Assess the studies to see if they concur to your Inclusion and Exclusion criteria
  • Step 5: Only embrace studies that fulfill all your Inclusion criteria and No Exclusion Criteria
  • Step 6: Eliminate studies from Meta Analysis with logical reasoning
  • Step 7: Accept the remaining studies to initiate your Meta Analysis

IDENTIFICATION (Thorough Literature Search for a Meta Analysis):

This is the first and the most important characteristic of any good and solid meta-analysis. You have to make sure that your literature search is thorough, extensive, comprehensive, and well systemized. Important sources of information for a meta-analysis include:

  • PUBMED
  • The Cochrane Collaboration Controlled Trials Register
  • MEDLINE/EMBASE (The European version of MEDLINE is called EMBASE, and is a Dutch/English collaboration)
  • CancerLit, AIDSLine, and ToxLine
  • Index Medicus

You should comprehensively cover all the studies that are relevant to your subject or the topic. Look for all the published as well as unpublished research work that relates to your topic. There is a term used ‘fugitive literature’. This literature refers to the research work that could not be published but can be of good help to the researchers. It is therefore strictly advised to make the best use of dissertations, non-indexed studies, and unpublished studies to make your analysis even better.

Collaboration with Colleagues:

We would suggest that if you plan to do a meta-analysis of your own, it might be pertinent that you consider enlisting the help of an expert such as the medical librarian. It is also crucial to build good collaboration with other researchers that are involved in the programs similar to yours. This is important because they can provide you with useful information that can help you in establishing your meta-analysis. You can also ask for the workers in these relevant projects to join you in your program. You should also look for your undergraduate colleagues who are looking for course credits. They may demand course credits from you and in return can provide you with useful literature search. This does not only save time but also helps to extend the array of your research.

References and Citations:

Look for the maximum number of references and citations that may help you understand the whole process in detail. Once you have got a good grasp on knowing how the entire process is carried out, you are sure to conduct your analysis in a sound manner.

Set Homogenous Standards:

Any good meta-analysis needs a homogenous standard to which the results obtained from the data can be standardized. This facilitates the process of comparing the different results and therefore saves a lot of time. This also helps in understanding the relevant risks that help in establishing a good meta-analysis.

SELECTION (Eligibility Criteria):

You would agree that all research are not created equal, hence, the use of substantiation to guide the clinical protocols needs to be conscious of the supporting research that propagates diverse interventions. Once you have collected a large set of studies that can be helpful for analysis, it is important to exclude the less relevant content.

There are various achievable inclusion/ eligibility criteria:

  • Did the study comprise of enough information for analysis?
  • Did the research ensure the validity of the study design?
  • Did the study meet standards for a minimum sample size?
  • What was the drug dosage used in the study?
  • Was language of the article comprehensible?
  • The patient age, sex and other credentialing?
  • Did the research define the study setting?

This facilitates in drawing conclusions and results that are to the point and more efficient. Assembling this set of requirements that a study needs to meet in order to be a part of your research is known as the eligibility criteria.

The first thing you need to set eligibility criteria is to see if the study contains enough useful information. Then you have to see if the study design is optimized to your research. Other useful criteria can be the language of the study, the time at which it was conducted and how this impacts your meta-analysis, age group of the patients on which the study was conducted, the clinical setting in which the study was conducted for instance OPD, inpatient, or emergency room. All these factors can directly influence your meta-analysis and hence it is necessary.

ABSTRACTION

The role of the data abstraction phase pertains to the assessment of the study quality. The results of the quality assessment should describe the breakdown and understanding of the results.

Once you have a suitable collection of studies that meet your eligibility criteria, you have had to abstract the applicable data from each study accumulated. The potential error in data abstraction could be because of:

  • Typographical or copyediting errors
  • Misinterpreted Tables and Charts
  • Erroneous data entry or abstraction process 

Precise Coding Forms:

Coding forms are the basis of any good meta-analysis. Make sure you establish such coding forms that are very precise and provide only relevant statistics. A systematic coding form is characterized by containing only such information that is guaranteed to draw high yield results and conclusions. In order to keep these forms precise and easily comprehensible, you are advised to keep only those variables that you have to test in your program.

Keep Systematic Records:

It is really crucial to keep well-systemized records of everything that you do in your meta-analysis. From keeping a track of your literature search to drawing the final conclusions, every little information is important. This is also important when you explain the method section of your paper at the end of your research.

How to Avoid Errors

To minimize errors a good meta-analysis should follow simple steps like:

  • Use two or more independent reviewers or have consensus meetings to decide about any conflicts
  • Try to educate reviewers by making them practice analysis of the research by reading various articles so that every reviewer standardizes to a common goal
  • Always indulge frequently in comparison of abstracts and texts to unearth discrepancies in the studies
  • It is desirable to utilize a standard form/database that restrains studies to the projected range

ANALYSIS

Meta Analysis is closely marred by many controversies regarding the analysis of study data. Before we dwell into all those, let’s define some critical terms:

Homogeneity indicates how analogous the results of different studies were to one another on a fair comparison.

Heterogeneity refers to how different the results are between studies.  A cluster of studies having dissimilar results is said to be heterogeneous. Simply put, it is the opposite of homogeneity.

Fixed effects models deliberate upon only the within-study variability. It is assumed that the studies utilize identical methods, patients, and measurements; hence producing identical results; those variations are because of within-study variation. The researcher by exploiting a fixed effects model can answer the question: “Was the treatment able to construct a benefit on average in the studies?” If the studies are homogenous the researcher should use the Fixed Effects Model.

Random effects models contemplate variability between study and within-study. The hypothesis being that studies are randomly collected and representative of various possible studies in the available literature. The researcher by using a random effects model can derive an answer to the question: “Would the treatment produce any benefit ‘on average’?” Random Effects models are considered to be “conservative” and likely to show a wider CI (confidence interval) but less likely to produce a meaningful treatment effect than a fixed effects model.

Sensitivity analysis is a replication of the Meta analysis or the primary analysis, replacing substitute conclusions or ranges of values for results that were capricious or indistinct. In simple words, it is how a researcher will judge only certain studies, groups of patients, or interventions. A sensitivity analysis provides you with an answer to the question, “Were the findings collaborative to the choices made in the course of getting them?”

When to Seek Professional Help?

You should look for people who have successfully published their meta-analysis that is similar to yours. When you are stuck in some problem, these people can be of great professional help. While some of them may charge you for their help, a lot of people are willing to help you without any charges. Those who charge also do not charge much and their assistance is worth the money. So if you see yourself being stuck in a condition that can potentially put your meta-analysis down the drain, do not hesitate to seek help from your senior colleagues.

How the Editors or Peer Reviewers evaluate your Meta Analysis

The editors, peer reviewers and later your audience will judge your Meta analysis on the following seven criteria

  • Did the authors use a dedicated clinical question/hypothesis?
  • Did the authors use appropriate inclusion and exclusion criteria to select articles?
  • Did the authors miss one or more significant or pertinent study?
  • Did the authors validate that the included studies were evaluated to ensure proper quality?
  • Did the authors ensure data abstraction i.e. whether the appraisals of the studies were reproducible?
  • Did the authors check for homogeneity i.e. were the results similar from study to study?

The Bottom Line:

Often we see researchers not being able to draw useful conclusions from their research projects. One of the top reasons for this failure is not being able to conduct a sound meta-analysis. There are some factors that directly influence this. We have shortlisted some of the most important things you need to keep in mind while getting your meta-analysis published. By being mindful of these important points, you are sure to avoid the common pitfalls that many researchers face while conducting their meta-analysis.

Resources

Citations

  1. Hasselblad V, McCrory DC. Meta-analytic tools for medical decision-making: a practical guide. Med Decis Mak 1997; 15: 81-96.

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?
09Jun 2016
Publish For Sure

HOW TO SELECT THE BEST TITLE FOR YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

The research paper title is perhaps the most read part of your manuscript and at times, unfortunately, the only part.

A good title is usually a compromise between being curt/concise and explicit or categorical. Drafting a perfect research paper title requires some serious thought. Researchers tend to be focused on their research versus the title because that is per se the general nature of people inclined towards discovery. Though it would appear to be a simple task, the process of choosing an appropriate research paper title deserves your undivided attention.

Your readers worldwide look for research paper titles in online searches through databases and bibliography of the research papers. The audience deduces the relevance of the paper based on the research paper title. Bearing this in mind it is imperative that the title of your paper is of supreme importance as it governs how many people will read it.

One should explore titles of comparable papers that are relevant to your research. This will give you some idea of the accurate technical language used and how exclusively other researchers have described their research projects.

Therefore keeping this in mind, it is necessary to understand and learn the art of crafting a good research paper title. So let’s begin and get to know a few quintessential tips regarding how a good research paper title should look like.

An enticing title will surely lead the peer reviewer or the reader to your Abstract (learn how to write your Abstract) and from there to your manuscript.

To begin with, preferably write down your research paper hypothesis and then consider these ingenious tips that would help you in creating the best title for your research paper.

Research Paper Title

How to Write Title for your Research Paper

1- Keep it short and sweet.

A good title for a research paper should be restricted typically to around 10 to 12 words. Write it any longer and you risk the possibility of losing the focus of your potential reader. On the other had a very short title would be very general and non-specific.

2- Provide a precise summary of the paper’s content.

Try to keep the title attractive yet succinct and clear by using active verbs. Avoid use of complex noun-based phrases.

3- Describe your essence of your research

Try to use descriptive terms and phrases that precisely emphasize the fundamental content of your research paper. Conglomerate words/phrases defining the research problem or issue, nature of research investigation, settings involved in studies, the purpose of the research, study samples or populations, and/or variables and the causal relationship amongst them under investigation as appropriate.

4- Minimize use of abbreviations or slang.

Universally recognized abbreviations like AIDS, HIV etc. can be used in the research paper title, but lesser known or specific abbreviations and jargon that would not be unfamiliar to the readers should be avoided. Remember that even though you may use some vogue terms daily in your professional lingo, others may not be familiar with them. Instead, try using simple and commonly accepted substitutes that may convey the same meaning.

5- Experiment with the research paper title

Crafting of an effective title is not magic. It will and should take time if you sincerely wish to have your readers read and follow your research. Once you have written down the tentative title, sit, think and try to juggle the words. Twisting the words or phrases may help you come up with a more attractive title. You could also try splitting one single title into two lines separated by a colon [:].

6- Grammar and capitalization

Correct grammar is very important. Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs appearing between the first and last words of the title. You may use a question mark but refrain from using an exclamation mark.

7- Be articulate and use descriptive words/phrases to convey the importance of your research

Always think about terms people would use to search for your research paper and aptly include those in your title. Incorporate correct keywords that were used in the manuscript and appropriately describe the nature of your study. Prefer to eschew words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding.

8- Search Engine Optimization of your Research Paper Title

A well-crafted research paper title utilizes SEO (search engine optimization) techniques to its benefit.

By now everyone has heard something about SEO and understands search engines. Medical databases like NIH use the same basic algorithms to locate appropriate research for those searching a particular topic. Other portals also have documents that are searchable by all major engines. When creating your research title ensure that words frequently searched upon by the general public are in the title. To explicate this further, the language you choose is important. What would the high school student search on? Would he or she use the term “comorbid” when searching on a topic like “dual diagnosis”? Your research title should, for best results, use terminology that lay people would search on for best optimization.

Further, a highly optimized research title will include more than one search term or keyword. Most algorithms and directories will match the keywords to the title first, versus the abstract. Understand that your research will be found in the title and abstract only, with title bearing more weight. Moreover, these are the two visible indicators to the public of what your research is about. Journals and other search engines will use the titles to display various research and articles for visitors based on which most accurately represents the search criteria.

HOW TO WRITE THE BEST ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

A research article is not complete until you have established a compelling abstract.

An abstract is the preface to your hard work and the first and may be perhaps the only thing someone will ever read about your research.

An abstract is a short, self-contained, and powerful declaration that succinctly describes your exhaustive study. An abstract is not a review and it does not evaluate the larger piece of work. Rather, the abstract is always an original document that explains the main points of the research and hence, incorporates the most important information from all sections of your manuscript. Therefore, it just cannot be a passage taken straight out of the main article. It is extremely important to put both times and thought into your abstract because it is ultimately the “first impression” of your article. It is like an appetizer to the entrée you plan to serve. The abstract also determines whether or not readers will be interested enough to read what you have created and wish to share with others.

RESEARCH ARTICLE ABSTRACT

How to write the Abstract of Research Article

Typically, though, the two most important reasons for an abstract are for selection and indexing. Since the abstract is a short description of the larger article, it allows readers to quickly decide whether or not it will be worth their time to stay and read. Several online databases use abstracts to index larger pieces of work. Therefore, keep in mind that it is important for your abstract to contain important keywords and phrases that will allow for your target audience to easily search for, identify and cite your work.

As mentioned above, the format of your abstract will completely depend on upon the main topic you are focusing on. Many abstracts share several components that are mandatory in order for them to be the most powerful, and then there are other optional parts that you may include at your discretion. In order to create an outstanding abstract, you should always follow the correct structure, which needs to include a background, methods, results and a conclusion of the larger article. Usually, you would find the instructions in Guidelines to Author on the journal’s website. Most of the journals have specific demands as to how they want the abstract structured for their journal.

A simplified universally accepted format for an Abstract could look like this

  • Introduction/Aim/Background: Phrase it in one sentence what is your topic, and why you are writing the paper, making it easy for the reader to understand where you are taking them. Remember your audience is your peer reviewers, and ultimately others interested in your field of research.
  • Methods/Materials: Again, preferably in as few sentences explain how you conducted the research. Succinctly explain what kind of experiments were involved, or was it a case series? Don’t overdo it, and be liberal in omitting unnecessary details. Write sentences that can be read aloud without having to stop for breath.
  • Results: Numbers, numbers, and well-defined numbers. Let others know how your groups compared, giving statistical substantiation. Keep it short and relevant.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the deduction of your research and its relevance for future. Your conclusion should be able to answer how could it be useful for other in their practice and enhance their knowledge as well.

What’s your reason for writing the paper/article?

  • You must determine what is the most important in your research.
  • Decide and include why readers would be interested in staying to read the larger work you have created.

What is the main problem?

  • Explain what problem your article is trying to solve.
  • Elaborate precisely on the scope of the project.

What were the specific methods or support you used?

  • Your research article is a scientific piece of work; hence, you should include specific models or approaches that are used in the study.
  • Other types of abstracts may just describe any types of evidence that were used in the research in order to support the main purpose of the article.

Show results.

  • Include specific data to indicate results of the whole project.
  • Give exact p-values obtained in your statistical analysis

Any implications?

  • Let your readers know what changes should be implemented due to the results of your work.
  • Make sure to include how your work adds to the current knowledge base of the subject you have chosen.

Pub4Sure extends to you the following list of components that should be included in all abstracts, and even what to avoid:

Make sure to include:

  • Always include the most important information first.
  • Ensure the same type and style of language that is used in the article.
  • Include keywords and phrases that highlight the focus of the work and the content involved.
  • Use clear, concise and powerful language to engage readers.

DO NOT include the following in your Abstract:

  • References exclusive to other works, you want the focus to stay on your work.
  • Any added information that is not already in the article because an abstract is a powerful summary of your work, and a summary does not include new information.
  • Definition of terms; rather work to engage readers to read on to find out more.
  • References and citations; the abstract NEVER have references as it is strictly a short and thorough summary that sets the tone of your bigger piece of work.

Always remember, that ‘abstract’ actually pertains to a summary of your foremost concepts without the exhaustive details. Ultimately, the idea of creating an abstract is to be as clear and complete as possible using the least amount of words to get the main point across. Revise your abstract early and often making sure that every word has to mean and serves to grab the attention of audiences.  Maintain enthusiasm toward your topic and use language that is easily understood in order to keep the attention of your readers.  If you strive to follow the guidelines as listed above, along with the help of an expert you have chosen at Pub4Sure, you will be on your way to creating a powerful abstract that will never fail to be noticed!

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST KEYWORDS FOR YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

Keywords are the “keys” to unlock the required scientific articles from a mammoth assortment of correlated publications. The keywords used by you are the key to information or knowledge that you wish to dispense to the whole world. If you chose good keywords, people searching for information on a relevant subject/topic will find your article much faster and with lesser effort.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are essential words/concepts related to your research question/hypothesis or the focus of your case report, review article, editorial etc.

These ‘key’ words are used when searching through books (using indexes) and/or through electronic sources (search tools like search engines/directories). Electronic databases of medical literature possess very versatile search amenities. In the age of electronic database literature search is a fundamental method for initiating, conducting and publication of any research endeavor.

Keywords thereby play an enormous function in digging out the appropriate published research material. ‘Key’ words direct the researchers to appropriate research papers/articles/manuscripts that perhaps may not come to a researcher’s notice in the normal course of his or her appraisal. Your paper may be out of the radar for a researcher if it is not published in journals that most researchers read, hence may, unfortunately, escape their notice. In fact, even if your article is published in a reputed journal that the researcher does regularly browse through, they may not comprehend it as relevant because the title may fail to suggest its true relevance.

Keywords Research

Keywords for Research Article

Keyword density and placement are significant in optimizing your articles for search engines. Search engine spiders scan a page using optimized algorithms. Hence, it is imperative to place keywords where they will be perceived and documented, so that your article achieves a higher ranking the search results when somebody is looking for that ‘key’ word.

Why do the journals want you to provide keywords?

Various journals have different guidelines for the number and type of keywords required. Most journals would ask you to provide a list of 5 to 12 keywords.

  • Journals use them to classify, categorize and organize their content.
  • Keywords are also be used to match a specific editor to a manuscript and to identify peer reviewers with related research interests.

Sometimes, the journals provide a list of preferred terms, often specifically requesting keywords from the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s collection of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). By using the MeSH terms the journals certify that a “common vocabulary” is applied to index biomedical content, expediting literature searches.

Please keep in mind that some journals may require that particular keywords that cannot be used, for example, words that you have already integrated into your manuscript’s title be not used as keywords.

The logic behind Keywords and Search Engines

Good keywords being the primary words or short phrases, unambiguously define your topic and/or closely related topics. They should not run into long sentences. Using key-“words” while searching would more than often retrieve more results than phrases or sentences. While choosing keywords for your article, focus on those words that are associated with the main theme of your paper. Incorporating pertinent keywords can candidly recognize and search appropriate references and filter-out the unnecessary.

The search engines for most academic searches, such as library databases, use Boolean searching. It is named after 19th century British mathematician George Boole, who developed “Boolean Logic” that combines certain concepts and exclude certain concepts when searching databases. It is somewhat different from the searching used in Internet searches. A Boolean search uses “operators,” words (and, or, not, and near) that enable you to expand or restrict your search. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc., journals, indexing and abstracting services categorize manuscripts using keywords1,2,3,4. When a search engine spider sees that a word has been written several times in your article, it will define that your page may be useful to users that search for such a keyword.

Keywords have more relevance if they are included the title of your article or in the text of the abstract. MEDLINE searches for the selected keywords are in an apposite place, i.e. in the title and/or in the text of the abstract. In view of the algorithm used by many search engines keywords that are already within your manuscript title and/or abstract can help to promote the perceptibility of your article. Drafting an effective, representative title and abstract is, therefore, critical.

Search engines automatically index the words in the title, and keywords usually aid as additional pointers. A word that is not in the title and/or the abstract may also be used as a keyword. It may not be related to the main theme of the study but may still be relevant to the study subject. This ensures that the paper has more chances of being seen during Internet searches. Thus, an accurate list of keywords will ensure correct indexing and help showcase your research to interested groups1. This, in turn, will increase the chances of your paper being cited5.

How to chose the correct Keywords?

Keywords for Research Article

Try to incorporate the most significant nouns as your keywords so that they act as clues, leading the searcher to your article. Thinking strategically about your keyword search is very vital and here are a few tips to go about it:

  • Begin brainstorming lists of possible ‘key’ words and phrases.
  • Read your paper thoroughly and narrow down the terms/phrases that are used repeatedly in the text.
  • Consider if those terms match the most important concepts related to your topic.
  • Think about synonyms for the chosen words, and well as its variations (singular and plural, noun and adjective forms, for example).
  • Now, refer to a common vocabulary/term list or indexing standard in your discipline (e.g., GeoRef, ERIC Thesaurus, PsycInfo, ChemWeb, BIOSIS Search Guide, MeSH Thesaurus) and ensure that the terms you have used match those used in these resources.
  • Seek the help of your reference librarian.
  • If the paper focuses on a specific geographical, climatic, region use that as a keyword
  • Contemplate utilizing the specific phenomenon, experimental material and/or technique(s), or potential applications that you have used in your study as your keyword.
  • Finally, before you submit your article, type your keywords into a search engine and check if the results match the subject of your paper. This will help you to decide if the keywords chosen are appropriate for the topic of your article.

What NOT to do when selecting keywords?

  • Avoid using words that are used sparingly (once or twice) in the main text or not at all
  • Avoid using obscure terminologies, such as a rare abbreviation or a newly coined name
  • Avoid using very general search terms (such as “blood” or “HIV”), which make it challenging for a researcher to find your article amidst many other hits and for a journal to select an appropriate peer reviewers/editors.
  • Avoid outdated terms, particularly if you are researching a rapidly changing field.

Getting the right ‘key’ word is an art in which your skills develop with time and experience. Selecting the correct keyword requires an apt strategy and its execution by planning a list of possible ‘key’ words and phrases. Don’t be discouraged if you have difficulty with your initial search. Just remember to ask for help if you are really stuck.

We hope that our tips offer some useful direction in your endeavor of choosing effective keywords for your manuscript. If you have any problems that we could help you with or observations you wish to share, please leave a comment below.

Resources to select correct Keywords

References

  • Day R and GastelB. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 6thEdition. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006.
  • Koopman P. How to Write an Abstract. Available from:
  • SAGE Publications. Help Readers Find Your Article. Available from:
  • Fathalla M and Fathalla M. A Practical Guide for Health Researchers. Available from:
  • Taylor & Francis Author Services. Writing your article. Available from:

HOW TO WRITE A GREAT INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

An introduction is akin to the “trailer” for an upcoming movie, intended to generate interest in your work.

When you draft the introduction of your research article, you should try to defend why your research is an indispensable constituent of investigation in the field. You should endeavor to apprise the audience/peer reviewers about the justification for your work. Purdue Owl and other universities seem to agree that there is the best way to do a research paper introduction.

How to write the Introduction of your research paper

Various researchers/scientists prefer to write the introduction at the end, so as to confirm that they do include all the major points of their work. Unlike the abstract, introduction usually does not have a word limit/restriction. Hence, though tricky, try as much as possible to keep it succinct.

The introduction should not start off with a lead like a newspaper article; rather it should be designed to provide the topic so that people are aware of what they will be reading about. It is advisable to structure your introduction around an outline. Following are some of the ways you can really hit this research article introduction home, along with a few cautions.

Research Introduction

Introduction of Research Paper

The introduction should focus on the principle of presenting the topic of the paper and setting it into a comprehensive perspective, steadily zoom down to your research hypothesis. Therefore, a good introduction elucidates how you worked upon solving the premise for your research and creates ‘clues’ to make the peer reviewer/audience aspire to explore more into your manuscript.

How to Structure the Introduction of your manuscript

Set the stage for the paper. You are whetting the reader’s appetite for what is to come, so make sure you choose compelling words, especially adjectives

Perspective

A preferable start should put forth the historical perspective to your purpose of writing the paper. Remember it is not a literature review so stick to only the most relevant work in the same area of interest. Try using the “inverted triangle” approach1, where you begin with the bigger picture and narrow it down to the essentials.

Relevance

Now follow the background with the justification of your work and its relevance in future. Reveal the rationale why you researched and how it adds to the literature and will be useful to the audience. Explain how your research fills the existing lacunae in your field. You could elucidate your objectives and the methodology you adopted to achieve your aims, and if you were able to reject the null hypothesis. An attempt should be made to address the Practice Gap. Practice gap is the difference between our current knowledge in the field and the current practices. It should be outlined how the research article can attempt to bridge the difference between the two.

Modus Operandi

Let the audience of your paper know what general or specific assumptions you made in your methodology. Also in very brief statement explain what type of research have you embarked upon, e.g. it may include but not restricted to the type of sample studied, blinding, randomization, power analysis etc.

Drawbacks

It is always appreciated if you put forth the limitations in your study in the introduction so that the peer reviewers/readers can judge the strength of your research upfront.

Tips on crafting a good Introduction for your manuscript

Here are a few tips that can help you write an introduction, which would convince the peer reviewer/reader to go over your manuscript.

Introduction of Research Paper

  • Make it Concise

A lengthy and long-winded introduction will put the peer reviewer/reader off track. Stay close to the structure.

  • Abbreviations

Clearly declassify the abbreviations that you use for the first time.

  • Define the Hypothesis

At the conclusion of the introduction, the peer-reviewer/reader should understand precisely what you are trying to accomplish. Plausibly the introduction ought to end with your research hypothesis. If you clearly define the problem, it will be easier to conclude and defend yourself in the discussion section of your manuscript.

  • Avoid

Prefer not using personal pronouns, poignant or dramatic statements. Do not make false claims, which you cannot defend in the manuscript, or advocate the need for further research. Don’t squash the reader’s interest with an over-abundance of literature review, save it for later.

  • Revise, Correct, and Repeat

It would be foolhardy to not to emphasize the importance of using correct English grammar and syntax. Poor use of English will surely kill the interest in your paper. If possible have a person who has no background in the field read your introduction and comment on the message they received. This may sometimes help you catch certain unclear messages that you are trying to give.

By all means, don’t be mundane with your introduction. Think of it as a hook. To conclude let the reader know what they will gain by reading the entire paper. Be true to this, though, don’t over promise and then under deliver.

HOW TO FORMAT A METHODS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

Methods section includes the steps that have been taken to answer the research questions put forward at the start of the research or to prove the hypothesis developed initially. Methods or Methods and Materials section is an imperative section of a research article. This section should be written in the brief but comprehensive manner so that the readers may be able to understand the whole research and follow the same (if required).

Methods & Materials Section

Methods Section of Research Article and its Structure

The organization of the methodology must be in a very lucid and logical flow, such that the reader is able to comprehend it easily. However, extra details should be avoided. Only that information should be focused which is expected to have any type of impact on the result of the study.

Elements of Methods Section

There are 3 elements in which the methods section is classified. These 3 sections are:

  • Participants of the study
  • Apparatus or materials used in the study
  • Procedure

Sometimes, data analysis is also considered a sub-section of methods section while sometimes it is considered altogether a different section. Each sub-section has been explained in details below:

Participants of the study

This sub-section includes the details of the subjects that have taken part in the research. These participants of the research are also called as subjects. First, it should elucidate whether the subjects are humans, animals, plants or anything else. After the identification, the sample size of the population should be defined along with the number of participants dedicated for each experiment. Furthermore, the demographic features of the participants involved should be stated like their age, sex, nationality etc.

The way in which participants are inducted in the study may vary and that should be described. The participants may volunteer to join or they might have been offered compensation in any form. Assignment of participants to different experiments should also be defined whether all of the participants are assigned to the same experiment or different groups have been assigned to different experiments.

Apparatus/Materials used in the study

In this section, all the equipment used in the research study should be defined. The apparatus includes all the tools whether in the form of software or hardware. Often, apparatus refers to the mechanical devices used and materials refer to other non-technical tools used to run the experiments and acquire the data. Sometimes, the information regarding the apparatus in written in the text while sometimes it is written in the appendix.

Procedure

The procedure is the most important subsection of the methods section. It includes all the steps that were followed to carry out the research. The steps should be clearly defined, listing all the details in a comprehensive manner but extra details should be avoided to avoid overburdening the reader

Example: This is a very long and wordy explanation of a simple procedure, which is characterized by single actions per sentence and lots of extra details.

“Lid of the petri dish was raised a bit. Furthermore, the culture was shifted to agar surfacing by using an inoculating loop. Turntable was given a 90-degree rotation. In order to disperse the culture on the surface, the inoculating loop was moved to and fro. After that, the bacteria were shifted to the incubator. The temperature of the incubator was maintained at 37o C for 24 hours”.

Better Example: Superfluous detail and otherwise obvious information have been deleted while important missing information has been added.

Petri dish, containing the E. coli culture, placed on the turntable was moved back and forth by an inoculating loop. The bacteria were kept in the incubator at 37o C for 24 hours.”

Best: This statement is written under the assumption that the reader has initial knowledge of techniques of microbiology, therefore surplus information has been removed.

“Each dish was moved rapidly with overnight fresh E. coli culture and kept in the incubator at 37o C for a day.”

Avoid using ambiguous terms to categorize treatments or other parameters that require specific identifiers to be clearly understood.

All the statistical tools used to scrutinize the results should be identified. All the quantitative/qualitative analyses employed to explain the significance and the probability used to choose the significance should be incorporated.

An experiment may be divided as the time passes by but in the beginning, the order should be started as one. This is because the design part of the research and the procedure are most effectively presented as one unit since it would become difficult otherwise to divide. In general, sufficient quantitative detail should be provided regarding the ongoing experiment so that the other scientists can easily comprehend and reproduce the experiments.

Style

Effective use of Subheadings should be used to organize a flow for the research methodology. Everything is written in past tense, in the third person and mostly in the passive voice.

Description of the organism(s) observed in the research

(1) Complete source information from the organisms was procured should be given.

(2) The size of the organism(s) including their weight, length etc.

(3) Description on how the organism(s) were handled, kept and fed prior to the experiment

(4) Description on how the organism(s) were handled, kept and fed during the experiment

Only for field research

When the research is carried out in the field, the biological and physical features of the site should be stated, along with the date on which the research has been conducted. The identification of the location is important so that if someone else wants to replicate the experiment, it may be easy for him to do so.

Clear description of the experimental design

During the research, the hypotheses developed and tested, treatments, controls, variables measured; the number of replicates made, and the result, the final form of the data etc. should be included. Usage of vague and general name to identify treatments should be avoided and proper variable or treatment name should be used instead. When the paper includes multiple experiments, subheadings should be used for easy organization of the experiment.

In the research description, “quantitative” aspects of the study should come first, which include; the masses, concentrations, volumes, incubation times, etc. It is useless to waste your time in explaining the procedure if it has been carried out with standard lab equipment or known field methods. Focus should be on stating the necessary steps only and to avoid stating the obvious and overburdening the reader with the material.

Summary and analysis of data

An indication of the descriptive statistics types used and the analyses that were used to respond to the questions and determined statistical significance is also done.

The section should also include:

  • Name of the statistical software used to carry out the research.
  • Techniques used to summarize the data, whether is it mean, percent or something else.
  • Names of the data transformations used
  • Names of the statistical tests used

For example,

“A paired t-test was applied to evaluate the dissimilarities between younger and older adults on their perception on satisfied life.”

“One way ANOVA test was conducted to test how much safe the following three types of cars are: compact, midsize and full-size cars. For this purpose, a mean pressure on the head of the driver was applied at the time of the crash and checked whether each pressure corresponds to the car type.”

HOW TO STRUCTURE THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

The writing of the Result Section of your Research Article can be an intimidating ordeal for a lot of writers. The result section will reveal your findings to everyone. Following some simple approach in the planning of the result section will result in a succinct and comprehensible demonstration of your research.

Once you have collected the data, you need to analyze and interpret the results. Your analysis would comprise data summaries and statistical tests to authenticate your conclusions. Most researchers formulate their Tables and Figures after completion of the data analysis before they begin writing their Results section for the research article. Your results can only endorse or reject the hypothesis supporting your research. Nevertheless, formulating the results assists you to comprehend the research question from within, to break it into pieces, and to interpret the research problem from several standpoints.

Results Section

How to draft the Results Section of your Research Article

The background information you described in the introduction section should offer the reader with supplementary context or explanation needed to understand the results. A good strategy is to always go over the introduction and methods section of your paper after you have written up your results to confirm that the reader has sufficient perspective to appreciate your results.

What are your Results?

When you test a hypothesis or ask a question that can be answered experimentally or by collecting samples, you accumulate outcomes. You then analyze the outcomes using various pertinent statistical tools (means, range, standard deviation etc.). The analytic tests will provide you with your key results. Key results may comprise of observable trends, essential differences, comparisons, similarities, maximums, minimums, correlations, etc. These results inform of your observations are then examined to generate an answer to your hypothesis/question. It is imperative to consider that the results of research may or may not prove a thing.

Why write your Results?

The purpose of the Results section is to quantitatively describe the key results you observed, without any opinionated interpretation. It is important to use your writing abilities to empirically present your key outcomes in a systematic and rational structure using descriptive materials and text. Draft the results section of your research article in such a manner that it provides comprehensive information to the reader about the nature of differences or relationships.

If you testing for variances amongst groups, and you wish to report a significant difference, it is not enough to just state that “group I and II were significantly distinctive”. It is better to elucidate how are they different and how much is the difference? Thus, it becomes much more explanatory if you write something like, “Group I entities were 31% larger when compared to those in Group II”, or, “Group I had the problem at twice the incidence of Group II.” Please, always report the direction/trend (greater, larger, smaller, etc.) and the scale/magnitude of differences (% difference, how many times, etc.) when possible.

How to organize the results section of your Research Article?

The amount and types of data to be conveyed establish the length of the results section of your manuscript. A major purpose of your manuscript is to provide clarifying information. Draft the results of your research in a structure that will logically support or disapprove the hypothesis being tested, or answer your question, stated in the Introduction. The organization of the Results section of your research article should encompass a text-based presentation of the key findings of your study. This should include references to each of the Tables and Figures. The text should serve as a guide to the reader stressing the key results that specify the answers to the question(s) investigated by you. Kindly refer to each Table and/or Figure exclusively and in a chronological sequence, and distinctly imply to the reader the key results that each of them conveys.

Do not shy away from reporting negative results – they too are important! The absence of an effect may be very decisive in many circumstances. Many significant scientific breakthroughs could be traced to “bad data”.

If you did not get the predicted results, it may imply that your hypothesis was incorrect and needs to be reformulated, or perhaps you have found something surprising and unanticipated that deserves further research. Do not be dismayed if the results of your research were antagonistic to expectations and label them as “bad or unwanted data”. If you conducted your research work appropriately and have honest results, then it needs due interpretation. You never know, your results may be of consequence to others who did not support your research hypothesis.

How to formulate the statistics in the result section?

The summaries of the statistical test (test name, p-value) should be described parenthetically in combination with the biological results they support. Always explain your results with parenthetical reference to the statistical inference that supports your finding. This should include the statistical test used and the level of significance. If the summary statistics are shown in a table or a figure, your text need not describe them specifically, but your should include the reference to the table/figure where they are shown (i.e. Table/Figure number). Try not to draft whole, specific sentences to explain a statistical outcome alone.

When reporting data or statistical analysis it is prudent to constantly enter the appropriate units. Place the unit after the error value when you include a measure of variability.

How to avoid misuse of the word “Significant”?

Many authors are inclined to use and/or overuse the word ‘significant’ to justify their results after statistical analysis. In scientific research, the use of the word “significant” denotes that the statistical test was used to make a conclusion about the data. Please try to minimize the use of the word “significant”.

If your statistical evidence incorporates a p-value that indicates significance (usually when p< 0.05), it is pointless to use the word “significant” in the body of the sentence because the whole scientific community interprets the p-value with a universal understanding. Similarly, when you submit that one group mean is somehow dissimilar from another, (and specifically if you define a p-value < 0.05) it would be easily comprehended by the reader that you tested this and discovered the difference to be statistically significant.

Tables and Figures in the Result Section of research article

Each Table and Figure must be mentioned in the text of the results section, to direct the attention to your key result(s) of your research. It is better to formulate the Tables and Figures that you would be incorporating in the research article as soon as you have compiled and analyzed all the data. Arrange them in a logical sequence that best represents your research findings. Follow these easy tips related to Tables and Figures:

Tables and Figures are allocated numbers separately and in a chronological order of appearance in the text. For example, the first Table would be labeled as Table 1, followed by Table 2 and so forth. Correspondingly, the first Figure is Figure 1, the next Figure 2, and so on. Every Table or Figure must include its legend. A legend is a concise account of the results being presented along with other necessary information that would make the table/figure understanding easier.

Every journal has different specifications, but usually, the legends for tables go above the Table, as tables are read from top to bottom. Whereas, legends for Figures go below the figure, as figures are viewed from bottom to the top.

Make sure that the number of the table/figure is accurately provided in the text of the result section of the research article. Refer to a Figure in the standard abbreviation “Fig” in the text, but a Table has no abbreviation, e.g. use Fig. 1 and Table 1.

Summarizing what should you write in your Result section.

  1. Don’t succumb to the urge of including all the results. Determine which results to present by making a decision which results are significant to the questions available in the introduction irrespective of whether or not the results are in support of the hypothesis.
  2. Result section is best organized in the order of most to least important results.
  3. Decide how to present data description with the use of text, figures, graphs, or algorithms.
  4. It is important to avoid repetition of information and use of long cluttered sentences. The past tense should be used when referring to the results.
  5. Describe the results and data of the controls and include all the observations, which have not been presented in tables.
  6. Provide data interpretation for the readers about the magnitude of a response. Simplify things with the use of percentage of change rather than exact data.
  7. Ensure that data accuracy and consistency throughout the manuscript is followed.
  8. Number figures/tables in a sequential manner in the same sequence they are mentioned in the text first. Depending on the article, they should be in order at the end of the report after the works cited or located in the text of your results section.
  9. It is important to have headings for tables and figures. Depending on the article the table titles and figure legends should be listed as a separate entity or located above the table or below the figure. Each figure and table must be totally complete that it could stand alone, separate from the text.

The results section is like the heart of a paper, representing months of hard work. By writing direct, concise, and clear sentences the author leads the reader to his story. Avoid furnishing data that is not relevant to answering your research question. You must clearly differentiate evidence, and un-summarized raw data should not be included in the main text of your paper unless requested.

Citations:

  1. Elena D. Kallestinova. How to Write Your First Research Paper. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 84 (2011), pp.181-190.
  2. Silvia PJ. How to Write a Lot. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
  3. Swales JM, Feak CB. Academic Writing for Graduate Students. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 2004.

HOW TO WRITE A GREAT DISCUSSION SECTION ON YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

Researchers are often too enthusiastic writing about their findings that they do not realize that without making their key findings relevant to the real world, they may not be able to catch the attention of the reader; the reader is interested in the findings but not enthusiastic about them so he needs explanation.

Plainly narrating findings in the discussion section and stating, “these findings have made significant progression in the field” may not be adequate. The reader wants to know “how” that is true, and he wants to get the assurance that the author is not overpromising about his key findings.

Discussion for Research Paper

How to write the Discussion section of your Research Article

Importance of Discussion Section

The discussion section of a research is normally written when the researcher is already tired of writing too many sections. Yet, he cannot take the discussion section easy because it is all about his contribution in his field of research. Simply putting the facts and findings in the research section will not emphasize the value of the research being discussed so the writer has to show how this research is different and incremental as compared to the earlier researches.

Avoid Extra Details

The researcher needs to make an impression at the start of discussion section and this impression cannot be made through long wordy paragraphs. It is normally recommended to start the discussion section with one paragraph summary of results without giving overwhelming details in this paragraph. After that, the writer should add more paragraphs, each discussing and elaborating key findings and putting them into the context.

Include Implications of the Study

It is not enough to mention results in paragraph form in the discussion section. The author should also mention what are the implications of these findings. He has to make it interesting and relatable for the reader. How do these affect or influence the existing research and how can these findings be used for the betterment in the subject area. However, if the author feels like discussing every finding in a comprehensive manner, then it will become difficult for him to put every finding in perspective therefore, it is necessary to decide first which key findings should be discussed in detail and which should be briefly mentioned. It is better to emphasize on the positive size of the research findings and not to elaborate the negative implications; however, exaggeration about the key findings should also be avoided. If the study is based on relational conclusions then the researcher should not use language that implies that there is causality in the variables of research.

“Data, Data, Data”… Even Sherlock Holmes admitted the fact.

So, whatever implications are made in the discussion section, these should be supported by data. The discussion section should include the factor of humility by adding the limitations of the research work. However, it would be a mistake if the researcher starts the discussion section with limitations rather than the implications. Similarly, the researcher should not make strong claims about weak results. There is a huge challenge that every researcher faces while writing his discussion section, especially the challenge of sticking to the hypothesis and originally mentioned the scope of the study.

Make it Easy for the Reader

Randomly ordered data and facts won’t make sense. It is not easy for the researcher to easily communicate complex results to the readers so following a step-by-step and organized method is recommended. Sometimes there is some data in the research, which supports key findings, but it is not the focus of the research rather serves as peripheral. The researcher should report this data only briefly and the main discussion should be about the data that is relevant to the statistical assumptions. If the underlying assumptions of the research are violated then the researcher should rationally define and explain how that happened and why it is acceptable.

Importance of Tables and Figures

The researcher should realize the importance of correctly referring to tables and figures in the result section, or else the discussion section will be hard to understand. Tables and figures are effective only as long as they are properly referenced else they lose their relevance in the discussion section. Besides the discussion on available data, the researcher also has to discuss the missing data, however briefly he does that. Particularly the impact of missing data should be discussed so that the reviewers have a complete idea of its influence on research. If the researcher only focuses on how his research supports or negated the previous researches, then this won’t be enough. He has to prove the novelty of his research and this can be best done in the discussion section.

“Devil is in the details”…never forget.

Keep it brief but Comprehensive

A lengthy discussion section is not recommended. Keeping the discussion clear and concise is recommended, but it should not be too concise that it leaves many questions in the minds of reviewers. There should be enough commentary on all the results that reading the section is self-explanatory and the reviewers only ask a couple of questions which arise in their minds. The researcher should use one tense (past or present) and follow it throughout the discussion rather than changing the tense again and again. Similarly, he should not forget to re-estate the hypothesis in the beginning, and probably at the end too, of the discussion section.

Use of Language

In the discussion section, the researcher should avoid being verbose or repetitive. Use of jargons might confuse the readers so it should be avoided. The author should not forget to compare his results with the previous results and how they are similar or different in different aspects. At the end, the author should re-assure that his section is well-organized, properly referenced with tables and figures and clear in terms of meaning and implications.

Citations

  1. Azar, B. (2006). Discussing your Findings. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/01/findings.aspx
  2. Drotar, D. (2009). Editorial: How to Write an Effective Results and Discussion for the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(4), 339-343. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsp014
  3. Research Guides: The Discussion. (2008). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/discussion
  4. San Francisco Edit. (n.d.). Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.sfedit.net/discussion.pdf

HOW TO COMPILE THE REFERENCE SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH PAPER

Surely you have overcome great obstacles to finish a good research project; however, when it is time to write the paper and its references the problem continues, doesn’t it?

With this article, you can learn the most common and internationally accepted way to write the references of your research paper, the Vancouver Style that uses in-text citations and a Reference List at the end of the paper.

References Research Paper

How to Write References

You just need to follow these recommendations:

ORDER: A number should be assigned for each reference, in the chronological order that they are cited in the research paper; this number is important because this is the order in which they should appear in the list of references. When we desire to cite during the text, the reference numbers should be inserted immediately after punctuation marks and between brackets.

For example: …in the heart. [4]

When the same text contains more than one cited phrases all of them should be included in the same brackets, separating the numbers by a comma.

For example: …in the stomach. [2, 8, 4]

But, if the numbers that will be cited are in sequence, you should write the first and the last number separated by a hyphen.

For example: …during the last week. [1-5]

Or you can use a combination of both types.

For example: …in the past year. [1-3, 14, 20-23]

You should remember that web references and those references that appear in tables or legends, must be included in an order of appearance too.

INCLUDE ONLY PUBLISHED DATA: Articles, clinical trials registration records, and abstracts available or published in the press and public e-print/preprint servers should be cited. However, unpublished abstracts, unpublished data, and personal communications should not be included in the final references, but you can include them in the text and write there the name of the involved researchers and the year.

In the case of unpublished data, it is necessary to request the permission of the author or the site when it is published.

CITE ALL THE AUTHORS: When many authors have contributed and co-authored the research or the published paper, the references should include them all, only after naming the third author you can add ‘et al.’ However, some journals (as Journal of Medical Genetics) require all authors list.

STRUCTURE: The structure of the reference will depend on the type of source, journal, book, and abstract/supplement.

Books:

Author Surname Initials. Title: subtitle. Edition (if not the first). Place of publication: Publisher; Year.

For example:

  • Mason J. Concepts in dental public health. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005.

If the book has 2 to 6 authors/editors:

  • Miles DA, Van Dis ML, Williamson GF, Jensen CW. Radiographic imaging for the dental team. 4th ed. St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.

More than 6 authors/editors:

  • Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL, et al., editors. Harrison’s principles of internal medicine. 17th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2008.

Chapter in a book:

  • Alexander RG. Considerations in creating a beautiful smile. In: Romano R, editor. The art of the smile. London: Quintessence Publishing; 2005. p. 187-210. (You must specify the pages visited).

E-Books:

Articles in Journals:

Journal articles can be accessed in three different ways: from the print (paper) copy; from the journal’s website; or from an online article database like Medline. So, the reference will vary according to the source. But the standard scheme is:

Author Surname Initials. The title of the article. The title of the journal abbreviated. Date of Publication: Volume Number (Issue Number): Page Numbers.

For example:

  • Haas AN, de Castro GD, Moreno T, Susin C, Albandar JM, Oppermann RV, et al. Azithromycin as an adjunctive treatment of aggressive periodontitis: 12-months randomized clinical trial. J Clin Periodontol. 2008 Aug; 35(8):696-704

From a website:

  • Tasdemir T, Yesilyurt C, Ceyhanli KT, Celik D, Er K. Evaluation of apical filling after root canal filling by 2 different techniques. J Can Dent Assoc [Internet]. 2009 Apr [cited 2009 Jun 14];75(3):[about 5pp.]. Available from: http://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-75/issue-3/201.html

From an article database:

Erasmus S, Luiters S, Brijlal P. Oral hygiene and dental student’s knowledge, attitude and behavior in managing HIV/AIDS patients. Int J Dent Hyg [Internet]. 2005 Nov [cited 2009 Jun 16];3(4):213-7. Available from Medline: http://cclsw2.vcc.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db= cmedm&AN=16451310&site=ehost-live

Format of web references:

All the web links-URLs should be provided with the title of the site, the URL, and the date the date on which the publication was accessed in this format:

Author Surname Initials (if available). The title of Website [Internet]. Place of publication: Publisher; Date of First Publication [Date of the last update; cited date]. Available from: URL. If an author (or a group of them) can be easily associated with the web link information, his/her name should be included in the reference (this is called the website with or without author).

For example:

Website with author:

  • Fehrenbach MJ. Dental hygiene education [Internet]. [Place unknown]: Fehrenbach and Associates; 2000 [updated 2009 May 2; cited 2009 Jun 15]. Available from: http://www.dhed.net/Main.html

Website without author:

  • American Dental Hygienists’ Association [Internet]. Chicago: American Dental Hygienists’ Association; 2009 [cited 2009 May 30]. Available from: http://www.adha.org/

 

By following these recommendations your references will be ready to be accepted internationally! We admit this is not the most comprehensive suggestions and you could go to the journal’s website and decide how they want you to write the references for your manuscript, prior to submission.

Quick Style Guides Comprehensive Style Guides Other Citation Style Guides
APA In-text Quick Citation Guide OWL at Purdue Research and Citation Resources American Chemical Society ACS Style Guide (reference styles are in Part 2, chapter 14)
CSE Style Quick Citation Guide Chicago Manual of Style Online American Medical Association (AMA) Style
APA Style Quick Citation Guide Cartographic Citations: A Style Guide
Chicago Style Quick Citation Guide Harvard Style

We would like to hear your opinion and inputs, as we are sure it will help researchers increase their capability to format their references in a better and lucid manner.

Please comment below, and make us all wiser.

18May 2016
pub4sure

Methods section includes the steps that have been taken to answer the research questions put forward at the start of the research or to prove the hypothesis developed initially. Methods or Methods and Materials section is an imperative section of a research article. This section should be written in the brief but comprehensive manner so that the readers may be able to understand the whole research and follow the same (if required).

The organization of the methodology must be in a very lucid and logical flow, such that the reader is able to comprehend it easily. However, extra details should be avoided. Only that information should be focused which is expected to have any type of impact on the result of the study.

 

Methods Section

Methods Section of a Research Paper

Elements of Methods Section

There are 3 elements in which the methods section is classified. These 3 sections are:

  • Participants of the study
  • Apparatus or materials used in the study
  • Procedure

Sometimes, data analysis is also considered a sub-section of methods section while sometimes it is considered altogether a different section. Each sub-section has been explained in details below:

Participants of the study

This sub-section includes the details of the subjects that have taken part in the research. These participants of the research are also called as subjects. First, it should elucidate whether the subjects are humans, animals, plants or anything else. After the identification, the sample size of the population should be defined along with the number of participants dedicated for each experiment. Furthermore, the demographic features of the participants involved should be stated like their age, sex, nationality etc.

The way in which participants are inducted in the study may vary and that should be described. The participants may volunteer to join or they might have been offered compensation in any form. Assignment of participants to different experiments should also be defined whether all of the participants are assigned to the same experiment or different groups have been assigned to different experiments.

Apparatus/Materials used in the study

In this section, all the equipment used in the research study should be defined. The apparatus includes all the tools whether in the form of software or hardware. Often, apparatus refers to the mechanical devices used and materials refer to other non-technical tools used to run the experiments and acquire the data. Sometimes, the information regarding the apparatus in written in the text while sometimes it is written in the appendix.

Procedure

The procedure is the most important subsection of the methods section. It includes all the steps that were followed to carry out the research. The steps should be clearly defined, listing all the details in a comprehensive manner but extra details should be avoided to avoid overburdening the reader

Example: This is a very long and wordy explanation of a simple procedure, which is characterized by single actions per sentence and lots of extra details.

“Lid of the petri dish was raised a bit. Furthermore, the culture was shifted to agar surfacing by using an inoculating loop. Turntable was given a 90-degree rotation. In order to disperse the culture on the surface, the inoculating loop was moved to and fro. After that, the bacteria were shifted to the incubator. The temperature of the incubator was maintained at 37o C for 24 hours”.

Better Example: Superfluous detail and otherwise obvious information have been deleted while important missing information has been added.

Petri dish, containing the E. coli culture, placed on the turntable was moved back and forth by an inoculating loop. The bacteria were kept in the incubator at 37o C for 24 hours.”

Best: This statement is written under the assumption that the reader has initial knowledge of techniques of microbiology, therefore surplus information has been removed.

“Each dish was moved rapidly with overnight fresh E. coli culture and kept in the incubator at 37o C for a day.”

Avoid using ambiguous terms to categorize treatments or other parameters that require specific identifiers to be clearly understood.

All the statistical tools used to scrutinize the results should be identified. All the quantitative/qualitative analyses employed to explain the significance and the probability used to choose the significance should be incorporated.

An experiment may be divided as the time passes by but in the beginning, the order should be started as one. This is because the design part of the research and the procedure are most effectively presented as one unit since it would become difficult otherwise to divide. In general, sufficient quantitative detail should be provided regarding the ongoing experiment so that the other scientists can easily comprehend and reproduce the experiments.

 

 

Style

Effective use of Subheadings should be used to organize a flow for the research methodology. Everything is written in past tense, in the third person and mostly in the passive voice.

Description of the organism(s) observed in the research

(1) Complete source information from the organisms was procured should be given.

(2) The size of the organism(s) including their weight, length etc.

(3) Description on how the organism(s) were handled, kept and fed prior to the experiment

(4) Description on how the organism(s) were handled, kept and fed during the experiment

Only for field research

When the research is carried out in the field, the biological and physical features of the site should be stated, along with the date on which the research has been conducted. The identification of the location is important so that if someone else wants to replicate the experiment, it may be easy for him to do so.

Clear description of the experimental design

During the research, the hypotheses developed and tested, treatments, controls, variables measured; the number of replicates made, and the result, the final form of the data etc. should be included. Usage of vague and general name to identify treatments should be avoided and proper variable or treatment name should be used instead. When the paper includes multiple experiments, subheadings should be used for easy organization of the experiment.

In the research description, “quantitative” aspects of the study should come first, which include; the masses, concentrations, volumes, incubation times, etc. It is useless to waste your time in explaining the procedure if it has been carried out with standard lab equipment or known field methods. Focus should be on stating the necessary steps only and to avoid stating the obvious and overburdening the reader with the material.

Summary and analysis of data

An indication of the descriptive statistics types used and the analyses that were used to respond to the questions and determined statistical significance is also done.

The section should also include:

  • Name of the statistical software used to carry out the research.
  • Techniques used to summarize the data, whether is it mean, percent or something else.
  • Names of the data transformations used
  • Names of the statistical tests used

For example,

”A paired t-test was applied to evaluate the dissimilarities between younger and older adults on their perception on satisfied life.”

“One way ANOVA test was conducted to test how much safe the following three types of cars are: compact, midsize and full-size cars. For this purpose, a mean pressure on the head of the driver was applied at the time of the crash and checked whether each pressure corresponds to the car type.”

 

Methods & Materials Section

Methods Section of Research Article and its Structure

 

Authors

Anurag Tewari MD, Anna Winters, & Ajay Pal Singh MD (APtizer)  

Image Courtesy Imagebase

How to cite this article: Winters A, Tewari A, Singh AP. (May 18, 2016). How to Write the Methods Section of your Research Article. Retrieved from http://www.Pub4Sure.com/blog/ on [Month] [Day], [Year]

 

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

 

20Apr 2016
Pub4Sure Get Published

Researchers are often too enthusiastic writing about their findings that they do not realize that without making their key findings relevant to the real world, they may not be able to catch the attention of the reader; the reader is interested in the findings but not enthusiastic about them so he needs explanation.

Plainly narrating findings in the discussion section and stating, “these findings have made significant progression in the field” may not be adequate. The reader wants to know “how” that is true, and he wants to get the assurance that the author is not overpromising about his key findings.

 

Discussion for RESEARCH ARTICLE

How to write the Discussion section of your Research Article

 

Importance of Discussion Section

The discussion section of a research is normally written when the researcher is already tired of writing too many sections. Yet, he cannot take the discussion section easy because it is all about his contribution in his field of research. Simply putting the facts and findings in the research section will not emphasize the value of the research being discussed so the writer has to show how this research is different and incremental as compared to the earlier researches.

Avoid Extra Details

The researcher needs to make an impression at the start of discussion section and this impression cannot be made through long wordy paragraphs. It is normally recommended to start the discussion section with one paragraph summary of results without giving overwhelming details in this paragraph. After that, the writer should add more paragraphs, each discussing and elaborating key findings and putting them into the context.

Include Implications of the Study

It is not enough to mention results in paragraph form in the discussion section. The author should also mention what are the implications of these findings. He has to make it interesting and relatable for the reader. How do these affect or influence the existing research and how can these findings be used for the betterment in the subject area. However, if the author feels like discussing every finding in a comprehensive manner, then it will become difficult for him to put every finding in perspective therefore, it is necessary to decide first which key findings should be discussed in detail and which should be briefly mentioned. It is better to emphasize on the positive size of the research findings and not to elaborate the negative implications; however, exaggeration about the key findings should also be avoided. If the study is based on relational conclusions then the researcher should not use language that implies that there is causality in the variables of research.

“Data, Data, Data”… Even Sherlock Holmes admitted the fact.

So, whatever implications are made in the discussion section, these should be supported by data. The discussion section should include the factor of humility by adding the limitations of the research work. However, it would be a mistake if the researcher starts the discussion section with limitations rather than the implications. Similarly, the researcher should not make strong claims about weak results. There is a huge challenge that every researcher faces while writing his discussion section, especially the challenge of sticking to the hypothesis and originally mentioned the scope of the study.

 

Discussion RESEARCH ARTICLE

Discussion Section of Research Paper

 

Make it Easy for the Reader

Randomly ordered data and facts won’t make sense. It is not easy for the researcher to easily communicate complex results to the readers so following a step-by-step and organized method is recommended. Sometimes there is some data in the research, which supports key findings, but it is not the focus of the research rather serves as peripheral. The researcher should report this data only briefly and the main discussion should be about the data that is relevant to the statistical assumptions. If the underlying assumptions of the research are violated then the researcher should rationally define and explain how that happened and why it is acceptable.

Importance of Tables and Figures

The researcher should realize the importance of correctly referring to tables and figures in the result section, or else the discussion section will be hard to understand. Tables and figures are effective only as long as they are properly referenced else they lose their relevance in the discussion section. Besides the discussion on available data, the researcher also has to discuss the missing data, however briefly he does that. Particularly the impact of missing data should be discussed so that the reviewers have a complete idea of its influence on research. If the researcher only focuses on how his research supports or negated the previous researches, then this won’t be enough. He has to prove the novelty of his research and this can be best done in the discussion section.

“Devil is in the details”…never forget.

Keep it brief but Comprehensive

A lengthy discussion section is not recommended. Keeping the discussion clear and concise is recommended, but it should not be too concise that it leaves many questions in the minds of reviewers. There should be enough commentary on all the results that reading the section is self-explanatory and the reviewers only ask a couple of questions which arise in their minds. The researcher should use one tense (past or present) and follow it throughout the discussion rather than changing the tense again and again. Similarly, he should not forget to re-estate the hypothesis in the beginning, and probably at the end too, of the discussion section.

Use of Language

In the discussion section, the researcher should avoid being verbose or repetitive. Use of jargons might confuse the readers so it should be avoided. The author should not forget to compare his results with the previous results and how they are similar or different in different aspects. At the end, the author should re-assure that his section is well-organized, properly referenced with tables and figures and clear in terms of meaning and implications.

 

 

Citations

1. Azar, B. (2006). Discussing your Findings. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/01/findings.aspx

2. Drotar, D. (2009). Editorial: How to Write an Effective Results and Discussion for the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(4), 339-343. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsp014

3. Research Guides: The Discussion. (2008). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/discussion

4. San Francisco Edit. (n.d.). Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.sfedit.net/discussion.pdf

Authors: 

Anna Winters, Anurag Tewari MD & A. P Singh MD (APtizer)

Image Courtesy: ImageBase

How to Cite this Article: Winters A, Tewari A, Singh AP (April 2016).  How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Article.Retrieved on (Month/Date/Year) from  http://www.pub4sure.com/blog/tips-on-research-article/write-discussion-research-article/

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

 

02Apr 2016
Pub4Sure Get Published

The writing of the Result Section of your Research Article can be an intimidating ordeal for a lot of writers. The result section will reveal your findings to everyone. Following some simple approach in the planning of the result section will result in a succinct and comprehensible demonstration of your research.

Once you have collected the data, you need to analyze and interpret the results. Your analysis would comprise data summaries and statistical tests to authenticate your conclusions. Most researchers formulate their Tables and Figures after completion of the data analysis before they begin writing their Results section for the research article. Your results can only endorse or reject the hypothesis supporting your research. Nevertheless, formulating the results assists you to comprehend the research question from within, to break it into pieces, and to interpret the research problem from several standpoints.

The background information you described in the introduction section should offer the reader with supplementary context or explanation needed to understand the results. A good strategy is to always go over the introduction and methods section of your paper after you have written up your results to confirm that the reader has sufficient perspective to appreciate your results.

What are your Results?

When you test a hypothesis or ask a question that can be answered experimentally or by collecting samples, you accumulate outcomes. You then analyze the outcomes using various pertinent statistical tools (means, range, standard deviation etc.). The analytic tests will provide you with your key results. Key results may comprise of observable trends, essential differences, comparisons, similarities, maximums, minimums, correlations, etc. These results inform of your observations are then examined to generate an answer to your hypothesis/question. It is imperative to consider that the results of research may or may not prove a thing.

Results Section of Research Article

How to Write the Results Section for your Research Paper

Why write your Results?

The purpose of the Results section is to quantitatively describe the key results you observed, without any opinionated interpretation. It is important to use your writing abilities to empirically present your key outcomes in a systematic and rational structure using descriptive materials and text. Draft the results section of your research article in such a manner that it provides comprehensive information to the reader about the nature of differences or relationships.
If you testing for variances amongst groups, and you wish to report a significant difference, it is not enough to just state that “group I and II were significantly distinctive”. It is better to elucidate how are they different and how much is the difference? Thus, it becomes much more explanatory if you write something like, “Group I entities were 31% larger when compared to those in Group II”, or, “Group I had the problem at twice the incidence of Group II.” Please, always report the direction/trend (greater, larger, smaller, etc.) and the scale/magnitude of differences (% difference, how many times, etc.) when possible.

 

 

How to organize the results section of your Research Article?

The amount and types of data to be conveyed establish the length of the results section of your manuscript. A major purpose of your manuscript is to provide clarifying information. Draft the results of your research in a structure that will logically support or disapprove the hypothesis being tested, or answer your question, stated in the Introduction. The organization of the Results section of your research article should encompass a text-based presentation of the key findings of your study. This should include references to each of the Tables and Figures. The text should serve as a guide to the reader stressing the key results that specify the answers to the question(s) investigated by you. Kindly refer to each Table and/or Figure exclusively and in a chronological sequence, and distinctly imply to the reader the key results that each of them conveys.

Do not shy away from reporting negative results – they too are important! The absence of an effect may be very decisive in many circumstances. Many significant scientific breakthroughs could be traced to “bad data”.

If you did not get the predicted results, it may imply that your hypothesis was incorrect and needs to be reformulated, or perhaps you have found something surprising and unanticipated that deserves further research. Do not be dismayed if the results of your research were antagonistic to expectations and label them as “bad or unwanted data”. If you conducted your research work appropriately and have honest results, then it needs due interpretation. You never know, your results may be of consequence to others who did not support your research hypothesis.

How to formulate the statistics in the result section?

The summaries of the statistical test (test name, p-value) should be described parenthetically in combination with the biological results they support. Always explain your results with parenthetical reference to the statistical inference that supports your finding. This should include the statistical test used and the level of significance. If the summary statistics are shown in a table or a figure, your text need not describe them specifically, but your should include the reference to the table/figure where they are shown (i.e. Table/Figure number). Try not to draft whole, specific sentences to explain a statistical outcome alone.

When reporting data or statistical analysis it is prudent to constantly enter the appropriate units. Place the unit after the error value when you include a measure of variability.

How to avoid misuse of the word “Significant”?

Many authors are inclined to use and/or overuse the word ‘significant’ to justify their results after statistical analysis. In scientific research, the use of the word “significant” denotes that the statistical test was used to make a conclusion about the data. Please try to minimize the use of the word “significant”.

If your statistical evidence incorporates a p-value that indicates significance (usually when p< 0.05), it is pointless to use the word “significant” in the body of the sentence because the whole scientific community interprets the p-value with a universal understanding. Similarly, when you submit that one group mean is somehow dissimilar from another, (and specifically if you define a p-value < 0.05) it would be easily comprehended by the reader that you tested this and discovered the difference to be statistically significant.

Tables and Figures in the Result Section of research article

Each Table and Figure must be mentioned in the text of the results section, to direct the attention to your key result(s) of your research. It is better to formulate the Tables and Figures that you would be incorporating in the research article as soon as you have compiled and analyzed all the data. Arrange them in a logical sequence that best represents your research findings. Follow these easy tips related to Tables and Figures:

Tables and Figures are allocated numbers separately and in a chronological order of appearance in the text. For example, the first Table would be labeled as Table 1, followed by Table 2 and so forth. Correspondingly, the first Figure is Figure 1, the next Figure 2, and so on. Every Table or Figure must include its legend. A legend is a concise account of the results being presented along with other necessary information that would make the table/figure understanding easier.
Every journal has different specifications, but usually, the legends for tables go above the Table, as tables are read from top to bottom. Whereas, legends for Figures go below the figure, as figures are viewed from bottom to the top.
Make sure that the number of the table/figure is accurately provided in the text of the result section of the research article. Refer to a Figure in the standard abbreviation “Fig” in the text, but a Table has no abbreviation, e.g. use Fig. 1 and Table 1.

Summarizing what should you write in your Result section.

1. Don’t succumb to the urge of including all the results. Determine which results to present by making a decision which results are significant to the questions available in the introduction irrespective of whether or not the results are in support of the hypothesis.
2. Result section is best organized in the order of most to least important results.
3. Decide how to present data description with the use of text, figures, graphs, or algorithms.
4. It is important to avoid repetition of information and use of long cluttered sentences. The past tense should be used when referring to the results.
5. Describe the results and data of the controls and include all the observations, which have not been presented in tables.
6. Provide data interpretation for the readers about the magnitude of a response. Simplify things with the use of percentage of change rather than exact data.
7. Ensure that data accuracy and consistency throughout the manuscript is followed.
8. Number figures/tables in a sequential manner in the same sequence they are mentioned in the text first. Depending on the article, they should be in order at the end of the report after the works cited or located in the text of your results section.
9. It is important to have headings for tables and figures. Depending on the article the table titles and figure legends should be listed as a separate entity or located above the table or below the figure. Each figure and table must be totally complete that it could stand alone, separate from the text.

Results Section of Research Article

How to draft the Results Section of your Research Article

The results section is like the heart of a paper, representing months of hard work. By writing direct, concise, and clear sentences the author leads the reader to his story. Avoid furnishing data that is not relevant to answering your research question. You must clearly differentiate evidence, and un-summarized raw data should not be included in the main text of your paper unless requested.

Citations:

1. Elena D. Kallestinova. How to Write Your First Research Paper. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 84 (2011), pp.181-190.

2. Silvia PJ. How to Write a Lot. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

3. Swales JM, Feak CB. Academic Writing for Graduate Students. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; 2004.

Authors: Anurag Tewari MD & A. P Singh MD (APtizer)

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How to Cite this Article: Tewari A, Singh AP (April 2016). How to Draft the RESULT Section of your Research Article? Retrieved from (on date) http://www.pub4sure.com/blog/how-to-draft-the-result-section-of-your-research-article/

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

 

24Feb 2016

Keywords are the “keys” to unlock the required scientific articles from a mammoth assortment of correlated publications. The keywords used by you are the key to information or knowledge that you wish to dispense to the whole world. If you chose good keywords, people searching for information on a relevant subject/topic will find your article much faster and with lesser effort.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are essential words/concepts related to your research question/hypothesis or the focus of your case report, review article, editorial etc.

These ‘key’ words are used when searching through books (using indexes) and/or through electronic sources (search tools like search engines/directories). Electronic databases of medical literature possess very versatile search amenities. In the age of electronic database literature search is a fundamental method for initiating, conducting and publication of any research endeavor.

Keywords thereby play an enormous function in digging out the appropriate published research material. ‘Key’ words direct the researchers to appropriate research papers/articles/manuscripts that perhaps may not come to a researcher’s notice in the normal course of his or her appraisal. Your paper may be out of the radar for a researcher if it is not published in journals that most researchers read, hence may, unfortunately, escape their notice. In fact, even if your article is published in a reputed journal that the researcher does regularly browse through, they may not comprehend it as relevant because the title may fail to suggest its true relevance.

Keyword density and placement are significant in optimizing your articles for search engines. Search engine spiders scan a page using optimized algorithms. Hence, it is imperative to place keywords where they will be perceived and documented, so that your article achieves a higher ranking the search results when somebody is looking for that ‘key’ word.

Why do the journals want you to provide keywords?

Various journals have different guidelines for the number and type of keywords required. Most journals would ask you to provide a list of 5 to 12 keywords.

  • Journals use them to classify, categorize and organize their content.
  • Keywords are also be used to match a specific editor to a manuscript and to identify peer reviewers with related research interests.

Sometimes, the journals provide a list of preferred terms, often specifically requesting keywords from the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s collection of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). By using the MeSH terms the journals certify that a “common vocabulary” is applied to index biomedical content, expediting literature searches.

Please keep in mind that some journals may require that particular keywords that cannot be used, for example, words that you have already integrated into your manuscript’s title be not used as keywords.

The logic behind Keywords and Search Engines

Good keywords being the primary words or short phrases, unambiguously define your topic and/or closely related topics. They should not run into long sentences. Using key-“words” while searching would more than often retrieve more results than phrases or sentences. While choosing keywords for your article, focus on those words that are associated with the main theme of your paper. Incorporating pertinent keywords can candidly recognize and search appropriate references and filter-out the unnecessary.

The search engines for most academic searches, such as library databases, use Boolean searching. It is named after 19th century British mathematician George Boole, who developed “Boolean Logic” that combines certain concepts and exclude certain concepts when searching databases. It is somewhat different from the searching used in Internet searches. A Boolean search uses “operators,” words (and, or, not, and near) that enable you to expand or restrict your search. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc., journals, indexing and abstracting services categorize manuscripts using keywords1,2,3,4. When a search engine spider sees that a word has been written several times in your article, it will define that your page may be useful to users that search for such a keyword.

Keywords have more relevance if they are included the title of your article or in the text of the abstract. MEDLINE searches for the selected keywords are in an apposite place, i.e. in the title and/or in the text of the abstract. In view of the algorithm used by many search engines keywords that are already within your manuscript title and/or abstract can help to promote the perceptibility of your article. Drafting an effective, representative title and abstract is, therefore, critical.

Search engines automatically index the words in the title, and keywords usually aid as additional pointers. A word that is not in the title and/or the abstract may also be used as a keyword. It may not be related to the main theme of the study but may still be relevant to the study subject. This ensures that the paper has more chances of being seen during Internet searches. Thus, an accurate list of keywords will ensure correct indexing and help showcase your research to interested groups1. This, in turn, will increase the chances of your paper being cited5.

How to chose the correct Keywords?

Keywords Research

Keywords for Research Article

Try to incorporate the most significant nouns as your keywords so that they act as clues, leading the searcher to your article. Thinking strategically about your keyword search is very vital and here are a few tips to go about it:

  • Begin brainstorming lists of possible ‘key’ words and phrases.
  • Read your paper thoroughly and narrow down the terms/phrases that are used repeatedly in the text.
  • Consider if those terms match the most important concepts related to your topic.
  • Think about synonyms for the chosen words, and well as its variations (singular and plural, noun and adjective forms, for example).
  • Now, refer to a common vocabulary/term list or indexing standard in your discipline (e.g., GeoRef, ERIC Thesaurus, PsycInfo, ChemWeb, BIOSIS Search Guide, MeSH Thesaurus) and ensure that the terms you have used match those used in these resources.
  • Seek the help of your reference librarian.
  • If the paper focuses on a specific geographical, climatic, region use that as a keyword
  • Contemplate utilizing the specific phenomenon, experimental material and/or technique(s), or potential applications that you have used in your study as your keyword.
  • Finally, before you submit your article, type your keywords into a search engine and check if the results match the subject of your paper. This will help you to decide if the keywords chosen are appropriate for the topic of your article.

What NOT to do when selecting keywords?

  • Avoid using words that are used sparingly (once or twice) in the main text or not at all
  • Avoid using obscure terminologies, such as a rare abbreviation or a newly coined name
  • Avoid using very general search terms (such as “blood” or “HIV”), which make it challenging for a researcher to find your article amidst many other hits and for a journal to select an appropriate peer reviewers/editors.
  • Avoid outdated terms, particularly if you are researching a rapidly changing field.

Getting the right ‘key’ word is an art in which your skills develop with time and experience. Selecting the correct keyword requires an apt strategy and its execution by planning a list of possible ‘key’ words and phrases. Don’t be discouraged if you have difficulty with your initial search. Just remember to ask for help if you are really stuck.

We hope that our tips offer some useful direction in your endeavor of choosing effective keywords for your manuscript. If you have any problems that we could help you with or observations you wish to share, please leave a comment below.

Resources to select correct Keywords

References

  1. Day R and GastelB. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 6thEdition. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006.
  2. Koopman P. How to Write an Abstract. Available from:
  3. SAGE Publications. Help Readers Find Your Article. Available from:
  4. Fathalla M and Fathalla M. A Practical Guide for Health Researchers. Available from:
  5. Taylor & Francis Author Services. Writing your article. Available from:

Authors
Anurag Tewari MD & A. P Singh MD (APtizer)

Image Courtesy ImageBase

How to Cite this Article: Tewari A, Singh AP (Feb 2016). Keywords for your research article. Retrieved on (Month/Date/Year) from  http://www.pub4sure.com/keywords/keywords-for-your-research-article/

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE

TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?

TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE

HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE

HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?

WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL?

WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

26Jan 2016
Research Introduction

 An introduction is akin to the “trailer” for an upcoming movie, intended to generate interest in your work.

When you draft the introduction of your research article, you should try to defend why your research is an indispensable constituent of investigation in the field. You should endeavor to apprise the audience/peer reviewers about the justification for your work. Purdue Owl and other universities seem to agree that there is the best way to do a research paper introduction.

INTRODUCTION

How to write the Introduction of your research paper

Various researchers/scientists prefer to write the introduction at the end, so as to confirm that they do include all the major points of their work. Unlike the abstract, introduction usually does not have a word limit/restriction. Hence, though tricky, try as much as possible to keep it succinct.

The introduction should not start off with a lead like a newspaper article; rather it should be designed to provide the topic so that people are aware of what they will be reading about. It is advisable to structure your introduction around an outline. Following are some of the ways you can really hit this research article introduction home, along with a few cautions.

The introduction should focus on the principle of presenting the topic of the paper and setting it into a comprehensive perspective, steadily zoom down to your research hypothesis. Therefore, a good introduction elucidates how you worked upon solving the premise for your research and creates ‘clues’ to make the peer reviewer/audience aspire to explore more into your manuscript.

How to Structure the Introduction of your manuscript

Set the stage for the paper. You are whetting the reader’s appetite for what is to come, so make sure you choose compelling words, especially adjectives

Perspective

A preferable start should put forth the historical perspective to your purpose of writing the paper. Remember it is not a literature review so stick to only the most relevant work in the same area of interest. Try using the “inverted triangle” approach1, where you begin with the bigger picture and narrow it down to the essentials.

Relevance

Now follow the background with the justification of your work and its relevance in future. Reveal the rationale why you researched and how it adds to the literature and will be useful to the audience. Explain how your research fills the existing lacunae in your field. You could elucidate your objectives and the methodology you adopted to achieve your aims, and if you were able to reject the null hypothesis. An attempt should be made to address the Practice Gap. Practice gap is the difference between our current knowledge in the field and the current practices. It should be outlined how the research article can attempt to bridge the difference between the two.

Modus Operandi

Let the audience of your paper know what general or specific assumptions you made in your methodology. Also in very brief statement explain what type of research have you embarked upon, e.g. it may include but not restricted to the type of sample studied, blinding, randomization, power analysis etc.

Drawbacks

It is always appreciated if you put forth the limitations in your study in the introduction so that the peer reviewers/readers can judge the strength of your research upfront.

Tips on crafting a good Introduction for your manuscript

Here are a few tips that can help you write an introduction, which would convince the peer reviewer/reader to go over your manuscript.

Research Introduction

Introduction of Research Paper

  • Make it Concise

A lengthy and long-winded introduction will put the peer reviewer/reader off track. Stay close to the structure.

  • Abbreviations

Clearly declassify the abbreviations that you use for the first time.

  • Define the Hypothesis

At the conclusion of the introduction, the peer-reviewer/reader should understand precisely what you are trying to accomplish. Plausibly the introduction ought to end with your research hypothesis. If you clearly define the problem, it will be easier to conclude and defend yourself in the discussion section of your manuscript.

  • Avoid

Prefer not using personal pronouns, poignant or dramatic statements. Do not make false claims, which you cannot defend in the manuscript, or advocate the need for further research. Don’t squash the reader’s interest with an over-abundance of literature review, save it for later.

  • Revise, Correct, and Repeat

It would be foolhardy to not to emphasize the importance of using correct English grammar and syntax. Poor use of English will surely kill the interest in your paper. If possible have a person who has no background in the field read your introduction and comment on the message they received. This may sometimes help you catch certain unclear messages that you are trying to give.

Watch this video for some more help

By all means, don’t be mundane with your introduction. Think of it as a hook. To conclude let the reader know what they will gain by reading the entire paper. Be true to this, though, don’t over promise and then under deliver.

References

  • http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWsections.html

Authors

  • AP Singh MD (APtizer)
  • Anurag Tewari MD

Image Courtesy: Imagebase

How to cite this article: Singh AP, Tewari A. (Jan 24, 2016). Tips to Write the Introduction of Your Manuscript? Retrieved from http://www.Pub4Sure.com/blog/ on [Month] [Day], [Year]

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

 

21Dec 2015
Research Paper Title

The research paper title is perhaps the most read part of your manuscript and at times, unfortunately, the only part.

A good title is usually a compromise between being curt/concise and explicit or categorical. Drafting a perfect research paper title requires some serious thought. Researchers tend to be focused on their research versus the title because that is per se the general nature of people inclined towards discovery. Though it would appear to be a simple task, the process of choosing an appropriate research paper title deserves your undivided attention.

Title for Research Paper

How to Write Title for your Research Paper

Your readers worldwide look for research paper titles in online searches through databases and bibliography of the research papers. The audience deduces the relevance of the paper based on the research paper title. Bearing this in mind it is imperative that the title of your paper is of supreme importance as it governs how many people will read it.

One should explore titles of comparable papers that are relevant to your research. This will give you some idea of the accurate technical language used and how exclusively other researchers have described their research projects.

Therefore keeping this in mind, it is necessary to understand and learn the art of crafting a good research paper title. So let’s begin and get to know a few quintessential tips regarding how a good research paper title should look like.

An enticing title will surely lead the peer reviewer or the reader to your Abstract (learn how to write your Abstract) and from there to your manuscript.

To begin with, preferably write down your research paper hypothesis and then consider these ingenious tips that would help you in creating the best title for your research paper.

1- Keep it short and sweet.

A good title for a research paper should be restricted typically to around 10 to 12 words. Write it any longer and you risk the possibility of losing the focus of your potential reader. On the other had a very short title would be very general and non-specific.

2- Provide a precise summary of the paper’s content.

Try to keep the title attractive yet succinct and clear by using active verbs. Avoid use of complex noun-based phrases.

3- Describe your essence of your research

Try to use descriptive terms and phrases that precisely emphasize the fundamental content of your research paper. Conglomerate words/phrases defining the research problem or issue, nature of research investigation, settings involved in studies, the purpose of the research, study samples or populations, and/or variables and the causal relationship amongst them under investigation as appropriate.

4- Minimize use of abbreviations or slang.

Universally recognized abbreviations like AIDS, HIV etc. can be used in the research paper title, but lesser known or specific abbreviations and jargon that would not be unfamiliar to the readers should be avoided. Remember that even though you may use some vogue terms daily in your professional lingo, others may not be familiar with them. Instead, try using simple and commonly accepted substitutes that may convey the same meaning.

Research Paper Title

Steps to write the TITLE of your RESEARCH PAPER

5- Experiment with the research paper title

Crafting of an effective title is not magic. It will and should take time if you sincerely wish to have your readers read and follow your research. Once you have written down the tentative title, sit, think and try to juggle the words. Twisting the words or phrases may help you come up with a more attractive title. You could also try splitting one single title into two lines separated by a colon [:].

6- Grammar and capitalization

Correct grammar is very important. Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs appearing between the first and last words of the title. You may use a question mark but refrain from using an exclamation mark.

7- Be articulate and use descriptive words/phrases to convey the importance of your research

Always think about terms people would use to search for your research paper and aptly include those in your title. Incorporate correct keywords that were used in the manuscript and appropriately describe the nature of your study. Prefer to eschew words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding.

8- Search Engine Optimization of your Research Paper Title

A well-crafted research paper title utilizes SEO (search engine optimization) techniques to its benefit.

By now everyone has heard something about SEO and understands search engines. Medical databases like NIH use the same basic algorithms to locate appropriate research for those searching a particular topic. Other portals also have documents that are searchable by all major engines. When creating your research title ensure that words frequently searched upon by the general public are in the title. To explicate this further, the language you choose is important. What would the high school student search on? Would he or she use the term “comorbid” when searching on a topic like “dual diagnosis”? Your research title should, for best results, use terminology that lay people would search on for best optimization.

Further, a highly optimized research title will include more than one search term or keyword. Most algorithms and directories will match the keywords to the title first, versus the abstract. Understand that your research will be found in the title and abstract only, with title bearing more weight. Moreover, these are the two visible indicators to the public of what your research is about. Journals and other search engines will use the titles to display various research and articles for visitors based on which most accurately represents the search criteria.

 

At Pub4Sure we provide you with ready-made templates that are substantiated with how to draft, what errors to avoid, tips and examples to format your Title. This could be for Research Article, Case Report, Review Article, Thesis/dissertation, and/or Posters.

If you think we missed out on something, and you would like to add, please feel free to comment below.

Authors

A.P. Singh MD (APtizer)

Anurag Tewari MD

 Picture Courtesy Imagebase

How to cite this article: Singh AP, Tewari A. (Dec 21, 2015). Tips on writing a good research paper title. Retrieved from http://www.Pub4Sure.com/blog/ on [Month] [Day], [Year]

GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH ARTICLE

Also, read the following Articles that will help you write, organize and write an error-free manuscript that has high chances of getting accepted by the journal.

  1. TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PAPER TITLE
  2. TIPS: HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  3. TIPS TO WRITE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  4. HOW TO WRITE THE METHODS SECTION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  5. HOW TO DRAFT THE RESULTS SECTION OF YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  6. HOW TO WRITE THE DISCUSSION OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
  7. HOW TO WRITE REFERENCES IN YOUR RESEARCH ARTICLE
  8. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CASE REPORT FOR A JOURNAL?
  9. WHY PUBLISH YOUR SCIENTIFIC WORK IN A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL?
  10. WHY IS YOUR RESEARCH PAPER REJECTED BY THE JOURNAL?

 

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