Research reports: Scientific journal article

There are very clear rules for writing scientific journal reports. Most journals follow a particular style manual. A style manual is a handbook or guide that describes the accepted format for presenting the information and citing references in articles, theses, and term papers. More....

This section is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), a frequently-used style manual. Once you have mastered a style, it is not difficult to revise an article for another style. Bibliographic software programs will format the references in the appropriate style. More....

The report must have sufficient detail to allow replication of the study by an independent investigator. Only include what is needed. A journal article is not a place for elaborate prose. There is very little guesswork. The rules for coverage are straightforward, although sometimes the boundaries are fuzzy as to placement within each section.

The manuscript is typed double-spaced with 1-inch margins, using a 12-point font. If you plan on sending an article to a journal, consult the APA publication manual for detailed information.

Here is the outline of an APA-style paper with a brief description of each section's content. Click on each heading to get an expanded description of the section.

Journal article - APA style

  Section heading Contents
  Title page Title and author information
  Abstract Very concise (brief) summary (120 words maximum) of the report
  Introduction Question or issue, what is known or theorized about it, report's specific focus.
  Method What was done (direct and factual)
    Participants   to whom.
    Apparatus/materials   with what.
    Setting   where.
    Procedure   how.
  Results What was found (direct and factual).
  Discussion What it means (interpretation belongs here).
  References Whose information was included (list of articles and other information sources).









NOTE: The sections are not written in order. The Abstract is the last section to be written as it requires compressing the content of the entire report into a few words. The Introduction can be completed before the research data are collected. Once the research design is established and the participants selected, the Method section can be written.

Self-test #1 - What's wrong with this abstract?

Self-test #2 - Research report sections

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