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Finally, the question should be of interest to others who work in the same scientific area.The latter requirement is more challenging for those who work in applied science than for basic scientists.You’ve spent months or years conducting your academic research. For some, this can become a daunting task because writing is not their forte. However, once you organize your thoughts and begin writing them down, the overall task will become easier. Perhaps one of the most important tasks before you even begin to write is to get organized. When suggesting that you organize your thoughts, we mean to take a look at what you have compiled.
Knowledge of the rules—some explicit, others implied—goes a long way toward writing a paper that will get accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.
A good research paper addresses a specific research question.
The idea is not to split results into ‘least publishable units’, a practice that is rightly decried, but rather into ‘optimally publishable units’. The key attributes are: (i) specificity; (ii) originality or novelty; and (iii) general relevance to a broad scientific community.
The research question should be precise and not merely identify a general area of inquiry.
It can often (but not always) be expressed in terms of a possible association between X and Y in a population Z, for example ‘we examined whether providing patients about to be discharged from the hospital with written information about their medications would improve their compliance with the treatment 1 month later’.
A study does not necessarily have to break completely new ground, but it should extend previous knowledge in a useful way, or alternatively refute existing knowledge.If a project allows you to explore several distinct research questions, write several papers.For instance, if you measured the impact of obtaining written consent on patient satisfaction at a specialized clinic using a newly developed questionnaire, you may want to write one paper on the questionnaire development and validation, and another on the impact of the intervention.In the Introduction, the authors should explain the rationale and background to the study.What is the research question, and why is it important to ask it?Writing research papers does not come naturally to most of us.The typical research paper is a highly codified rhetorical form [1,2].In such cases, authors should define the main research question and design the paper around it.Generally, only one main research question should be addressed in a paper (secondary but related questions are allowed).This is perhaps obvious when the paper reports on a well planned research project.However, in applied domains such as quality improvement, some papers are written based on projects that were undertaken for operational reasons, and not with the primary aim of producing new knowledge.