30 Scientific Writing

Section Length (words) Purpose Verb Tense Elements
Title 8 - 15
Abstract 200-250 Paper’s summary

Simple past (work done)

Present (general fact, paper itself or analysis)

  • Objectives

  • Methods

  • Results

  • Conclusions

Introduction 500-1000 Rationale for the paper

Present (current state-of-art, general background)

Present perfect (previous research)

  • The problem
Literature Review 1000-2000 Understanding of the current knowledge landscape Present (current state-of-art)
  • Review of the literature

  • Hypothesis

Methods 500-1000 What was done

Simple past (work done)

Present (explain diagrams/figures)

  • Approach/ methods used

  • Data description

  • Procedure description

Results 500-1500 presents data, facts

Simple past (what was found)

present (explain diagrams/figures)

  • Results of analysis
Discussion 1000-1500 discuss relationships among constructs, and insights

Present (established knowledge)

past (summarize findings)

  • Relationships

  • Outliers

  • Comparison to previous studies

Conclusions 500 summarize findings

Present (implications and future search)

Past (completed research)

Rules of thumb:

  • Past: events that have been completed

    • We found

    • Method proposed by X was followed

  • Present Perfect: events that started in the past but are still ongoing

    • Many studied have researched on
  • Present: events that are general fact, and current


Journal paper types:

  1. Research Paper: hypotheses and findings
  2. Methods Paper: new method
  3. Review Paper: consolidate a domain
  4. Discussion Paper: opinions regarding other papers