Writing a Research Paper involves 11 basic steps to publish your research in long or short science articles.

This medical writer summarizes the 11 basic steps to writing a research paper as science journal articles. Most journals use the APA writing format.

Step 1: Writing a research paper begins with your idea or hypothesis that you’re testing. Research is usually designed to confirm the hypothesis. Experiments designed to disprove the hypothesis often yield the strongest data for supporting the hypothesis. The research described in short science articles focuses on a single aspect or hypothesis. Several experiments testing the hypothesis from different angles provide a solid foundation for writing a research paper.

Step 2: Data analyses help reveal key associations and correlates. Biostatistical analysis is usually an integral part to writing a research paper. It may also involve complex biostatistical analysis appropriate for the number of variables and type of experimental design. For example, interaction between 2 agents is often analyzed using isobologram, and reveals the probability that the agents interacted in a synergistic, antagonistic or additive manner. It should be noted that experiments should be designed in light of the recommended statistical methods to ensure sufficiently sized groups. Conclusions are drawn from the data sets and statistical analysis. Formatting the results in tables or figures should allow the reader to easily grasp the key associations or conclusions from each experiment.

Step 3: The order of the authors of the study should be based on their contributions. Determining the order of the authors can be a difficult part in writing a research paper. Here are some guidelines:

The first author has usually performed most of the work. Recently it is becoming more common to use an asterisk to show that the 1st and 2nd authors contributed equally.

The last author usually provided the most laboratory space and supplies. If several laboratories were involved, the laboratory chiefs were listed as the last, second last and third last based on their lab’s contribution.

The corresponding author is listed last usually. S/he had the main input into the experimental design, often provides much of the laboratory space and supplies, contributed most of the hypotheses, encouraged team work and input of research team, coordinated research teams as needed, decided when data required the hypotheses to be updated and designed additional experiments. The corresponding author has the final decision on the conclusions of the studies in my experience.

These first 3 steps (often the 4th step) of writing a research paper are usually performed before a medical writer becomes involved. If no medical writer is involved, then the first author usually writes the first draft, including relevant information from the co-authors. The corresponding author mentors the first author on style as well as rewriting it. All the authors read and make suggestions to the drafts. The corresponding author and first author work together to ensure the accuracy of the results, conclusions and interpretation, incorporate the suggestions, and rewrite the drafts until satisfied with the flow and readability of the research paper.

Step 4: Choosing a journal is a very important part of writing a research paper. Each journal lists the topics it publishes, and the criteria for reviewing the submitted manuscripts. As you’re aware, some journals are considered more prestigious. However, the visibility of science journal articles has vastly improved with the multiple online databases listing most journals.

Step 5: Writing an abstract involves following the strict guidelines of the journal for the length and format. The abstract usually summarizes why the research is significant, reviews its methods, describes the results and ends with conclusions and their implications in the appropriate scientific or clinical areas. Abstracts can also be submitted to meetings to convince the program committee members that your research should be presented to a large audience.

Step 6: Writing the body of the science journal articles follows the guidelines of the chosen journal. It's usually in APA writing format. The introduction summarizes the state of the art with appropriate references. The last paragraph usually describes the methods used to test the hypothesis.

Step 7: Material and Methods first describes the reagents, animal strain and sex, and / or clinical population. It then provides sufficient details of the techniques employed during research and biostatistical methods to enable a scientist skilled in the art to repeat the studies. Often, references are cited to give sufficient details.

Step 8: The results section often contains subheadings or paragraphs for each set of experiments that test the hypothesis, depending on the format of the journal. The results section usually shows the data compiled in tables and figures. The results section usually describes possible interpretations and the subsequent experiments test these possibilities so that the paper can make a solid conclusion about a focused issue. Only enough conclusions to logically lead the next experiment are usually included .

Step 9: The Discussion or Implications Section compare your results with research papers previously published. It is important to discuss both science articles that concur with your results and publications which came to different conclusions. In the latter case, authors usually discuss potential reasons for the disparate results.

Step 10: Writing a bibliography or listing the references cited should follow the journal’s guidelines. These guidelines are usually based on APA writing format. Science journal articles should only be cited when they have direct relevance to the hypothesis, methods, results, or implications of the discussed topic. Obviously, if the research provides novel insights to other fields, then its significance should be fully discussed.

Journal guidelines often state a limit on references.

Several software programs help manage the references by storing all their data and allowing reformatting with a few keystrokes. I have used Endnote for years and it simplifies formatting the references while writing a research paper.

Step 11: The cover letter details the significant findings and their implications in the paper. It also usually lists any potential conflicts of interest of the authors. Sometimes journals will request a list of peers that could serve as potential reviewers.

View my scientific writing style in the science journal articles in which I was the corresponding author.

I write science journal articles, reviews, case reports in APA writing format and following the journal's guidelines. My 50+ publications are listed on an accompanying page.

For your convenience, here are 9 of my corresponding author science articles with their Pubmed links (out of 17 corresponding author publications.) The #38, #42 and #44 links provide full length PDF versions of these research papers.

15. Molnar-Kimber, K.L., Jarocki-Witek, V., Vernon S.K., Conley, A.J., Davis, and Hung, P.P. (1988). Distinctive Properties of Hepatitis B envelope proteins expressed by Recombinant Adenoviruses. J. Virol. 62: 407-416.

26. Molnar-Kimber, K.L., Yonno, L., Heaslip, R.J. and Weichman, B.M. (1993). Modulation of TNFalpha and IL-1ß from endotoxin-stimulated monocytes by selective PDE isozyme inhibitors. Agents and Actions 39: C77-79.

28. Chen, Y., Chen, H., Rhoad, A.E. Warner, L., Caggiano, T., Failli, A., Zhang, H., Hsiao, C.L., Nakanishi, K. and Molnar-Kimber, K. L. (1994). Isolation of A Putative Sirolimus (Rapamycin) Effector Protein. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 203: 1-7.

33. Molnar-Kimber, K.L. (1996) Mechanism of Action of Rapamycin. Transplantation Proceedings 28: 964-969. No abstract available on Pubmed.

37. Molnar-Kimber, K.L., Sterman, D.H., Chang, M, ElBash, M, Elshami, A.E., Gelfand,K., Kang, E, Wilson, J.M., Kaiser, L.R., and Albelda, S.M. (1998) Impact of Pre-Existing and Induced Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses in an Adenoviral-based Gene Therapy Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Localized Malignancy (Mesothelioma) Human Gene Therapy 9: 2121-2133.

38. Coukos, G., Caparrelli, D.J., Makrigiannakis, A., Abbas, A.E., Kaiser, L.R., Rubin, S.C., Albelda, S.M., and K. L. Molnar-Kimber. (1999) Use of Producer cells to deliver a replication-selective herpes simplex virus-1 mutant for treatment of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer. Clinical Cancer Research 5:1523-1537.

41. Toyoizumi, T., Mick, R., Abbas, AE, Kang, EH, Kaiser, LR, Molnar-Kimber, KL. 1999. Combined therapy with Chemotherapeutic Agents and Herpes Simpex Type 1 ICP34.5 mutant (HSV-1716) in Human Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Human Gene Therapy 10(18):3013-29.

42. Coukos, G., Makrigiannakis, A., Kaiser, L.R., Rubin, S.C., Albelda, S.M., and K. L. Molnar-Kimber. (2000) Treatment of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer with Multi-attenuated Herpes Simplex Virus-1 Mutant, G207. Cancer Gene Therapy 7: 275-283.

44. Lambright, E.S., Kang, E.H., Force, S., Lanuti, M., Caparrelli, D.J., Kaiser, L.R., Albelda, S.M., and Molnar-Kimber, K.L. (2000). Effect of Pre-existing anti-herpes immunity on the efficacy of herpes simplex viral therapy in a murine intraperitoneal tumor model. Mol. Therapy 2:387-393.

Ask a reviewer of science articles to write or edit your next clinical manuscript or science journal articles

I have reviewed manuscripts as an ad hoc reviewer for the following journals: J. of Leukocyte Biology, J. Virol., Infection and Immunity, Human Gene Therapy, Cancer Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy, J. of Neuroscience, Lancet, Cancer Research, J. National Cancer Institute, and the International Journal of Cancer.

While your specific journal may not be listed, most journals request reviewers to score each submitted manuscript for similar criteria. My writing a research paper incorporates your answers to these criteria as well as presenting your ideas (hypotheses), research, discussion, and interpretation in an easy to understand manner.

"This candidate went beyond her excellent editing by searching the literature (doing a MEDLINE search) to remedy ... a deficiency in the manuscript." Senior Editor, Medasia.com

If you’d like to discuss a medical or science writing project with me, then fill out the convenient contact form or call me at 610-990-7713. I’m looking forward to writing a research paper such as science journal articles, review articles, or book chapters for you.