An abstract functions to summarize the major aspects of an entire report. It is positioned at the beginning of a paper (generally beneath the bibliograhic information) and is almost always included within the searchable records of a database. It essentially addresses the questions posed by the hypothesis and answered by the findings. It should be succinct (usually 200-300 words) and able to provide readers with the necessary details of the project. This can be seen below in the outline.
An introduction establishes the context of the project and states the purpose of the report. It includes the relevant background information regarding the topic and highlights the report's objective. Often it discusses the primary literature used, even summarizing the lit review, and then explains the rationale and approach to answering the questions raised by the objective. These questions mostly involve the following: What has been studied on the topic? Why is the current focus an important topic? What was known beforehand? What did we find? What are the study's implications and how will it affect future clinical studies?
This section is often titled "Methodology," "Methods," "Methods and Materials," "Methods/Design," or simply "Methods Used." It describes how the research was carried out. The two key things which must be clearly articulated are the study design and subjects used. Other things such as statistical models and data management should also be included.
The results section objectively presents the key findings without interpretation. It identifies the outcome(s) of the study in a well-organized and coherent manner. Generally, this is where most of the visualization tools (tables and figures) will be concentrated as all of the analyzed data must be textually and graphically shown. Each component of the statistical summary must be presented in a logical order with the tables or figures arranged to showcase this.
While the structure of your results may vary, some general guidelines should be observed:
Discussing the results of your research means interpreting how the quantitative and qualitative data should be considered in light of what was already known. It should then explain a new understanding of the problem after what has been discovered. It should answer the primary question raised by the purpose/objective and address the other questions from the introduction. It should then make inferences about the implications raised by the new findings in light of the recent findings.
Further References and Abstract Writing Resources
Other sections to consider include acknowledgments, annotated bibliographies, and appendices displaying key tables and figures. Certain publications may also require a formal "Conclusion" separate from the discussion. To see the alternate structure and format presentations for research, consult the below resources.
Peh, W.C.G. and Ng, K. H. (2009). Preparing the references. Singapore Medical Journal. (50)7: 11-4. PubMed ID: 19644619
- This is the official writing center for the Health Sciences Center to which both students and faculty can submit drafts for review, consult with trained technical writers, and engage in educational workshops and seminars. The Writing Center is especially useful for students and first-time writers who need help with usage and mechanics. Writing a research report can involve many intricate stylistics and technical phrasing, something the Center's staff can be very valuable for.
Elsevier's Research Academy - Elsevier's Research Academy is an online tutorial to help with both the research and writing process. Additional tools allow writers to navigate the journal allocation and peer review process.
Research4Life Training Portal - Research4Life allows users to download handouts and other materials for every step in the writing process. It also contains several interactive modules pertaining to the lit review and writing processes.
Coursera: Science Writing - While primarily a continuing education resource (sometimes requiring payment), the options on this website allow users to engage in feedback for their work with scientific writing.
UNC-Chapel Hill's Writing Center: Scientific Reports - UNC's Writing Center provides many tools for writers. Among them are materials geared toward the science disciplines such as this handout which focuses on language development for research reports.
Style and Format for Scientific Journals - This handout focuses on the structure, format, and style of writing research reports. Particular attention is given to how each section of a paper is to look.
Formatting Scientific Reports - This brief guide focuses on the official IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results, And Discussion), detailing the general procedure for articulating a research report.
Writing a Journal Manuscript - Springer Nature's guide to drafting a manuscript for a journal details the writing and publishing lifecycle and highlights important areas such as the placing of tables and figures within your draft.
- This component of the Equator Network shows one preferred method for describing data and statistics in your research.
Scientific Writing Research Guide - a Duke University guide similarly formatted to this one. It provides a provides help for writers experiencing difficulties with writing successfully coherent prose within their research reports.