What’s IMRaD? Why do scientific papers need a formal structure? – Publisher Pro

What’s IMRaD? Why do scientific papers need a formal structure?


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Organizing is something you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

— A.A. Milne

The structure of scientific papers is often described by the acronym IMRaD, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This structure makes it easy for readers to quickly determine the answers to 4 important questions:

  1. Introduction: Why did we start?
  2. Methods: What did we do?
  3. Results: What did we find?
  4. Discussion: What do our findings mean?

This predictable formal structure mirrors the 4 steps of scientific experimentation:

  1. Starting from premises and assumptions, including hypotheses, with the goal of closing knowledge gaps or responding to research openings.
  2. Designing a replicable experiment that tests hypotheses, fills knowledge gaps, or responds to research openings.
  3. Determining the results of that experiment.
  4. Drawing deductive or inductive conclusions, discussing the implications if findings, and suggesting next steps.

The predictability of the IMRaD structure is its strength.  We learn to quickly skim a scientific paper to extract the information we need, and we are relieved and happy when we find all this information in the correct place. Likewise, we don’t have to spend many hours deciding how to structure our scientific narrative, because our discipline (and our target journal) have already decided this for us. When the paper’s formal structure is clear, we are free to pay attention to what’s really important: getting our message across to our readers.

Well-structured papers are better papers — this is an underlying principle of Publisher Pro. And this is why we provide templates that guide you to follow best practices and conform to reporting guidelines for your study type. This is also why we also offer you a second set of style templates to format your paper to the specific requirements of your first target journal and reformat it quickly and easily for the second (or third) target journal on your list.

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