How to write a scientific article: a step-by-step guide for beginners

Writing a scientific article is quite a challenging and even overwhelming project. he article includes tables and a mental map that we prepare at Psyciencia so that your article has everything it needs to be approved by the scientific journal that you send it to or in your research project at the university.

When authors invest a lot of time, energy, and often money in their research, they often become emotionally invested in their work. They are naturally convinced of the value of their research and its importance to the scientific community. However, it can be difficult to step away from the subjectivity that goes hand in hand with deep involvement in the work and think clearly about the best way to present it so that it is clear and understandable so that others, probably non-experts in your field , they can also appreciate the importance of their findings. 

Even today, the old adage “publish or perish” still holds true. Many young researchers are under pressure to produce scientific publications, in order to improve their career prospects, to justify funding applications or as a requirement for university degrees such as master’s degrees or doctoral theses. Despite this, young PhDs often do not have much (if any) training in the art of writing a scientific article. For physicians in particular, the clinical workload can be such that scientific research and writing are seen as secondary activities that are not an immediate priority and to which they can only devote small amounts of time on an irregular basis. 

Don’t you think your work deserves to be judged on its scientific merit, rather than being rejected for poor writing or messy and confusing presentation of data?

With this in mind, we present here a step-by-step guide to writing a scientific article., which can be applied to the vast majority of scientific disciplines. We’ll start by outlining the main sections of the article, and then we’ll describe in more detail the most important elements that should appear in each section. Finally, we will also give some suggestions for the abstract and the title of the article. This guide is intended to help young researchers with little writing experience create a quality draft, which can then be distributed to co-authors and lead supervisors for further refinement, with the ultimate goal of journal publication. scientific. It is certainly not exhaustive, and many excellent resources can be found in the existing literature 1-7 and online 8.

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First steps: What you should do before writing the manuscript

You need to do a certain amount of preparatory work before writing your article. Typically, this background work should already be completed by the time you’re in the writing stage, because it also serves as the background for the research project you’re writing about. All the time you invest in preparing the protocol of your project is an advance in the writing of the article that will come out of your project. Therefore, you have probably already carried out an extensive review of the literature to establish the current state of knowledge on the subject and ensure the originality of your research when developing the protocol, and this can be used for your article. It is helpful, when reviewing the literature, to make notes of important points or phrases that you want to include in your article with the relevant references.PaperpileMendeley, etc.).

Usually, you will also have the final results of the statistical analysis of your data. This will form the basis of your results section. Some of the graphical representations of your results will serve as figures for the article, so it’s helpful to highlight the most important findings as you read them so you don’t forget anything important.

Before you start writing, you need to identify the target journal in which you want to submit your research. This will have consequences for the format, but more importantly for the orientation of your writing style, since the writing must be appropriate for the type of reader you are addressing. For example, are you targeting a specialized journal, where readers are expected to be experts in the field, or a general medicine journal, where readers may be experts in other disciplines? This will have implications for the amount and type of information you should include. In addition, you should also take into account the editorial policy of the destination magazine. For example, in a given area of ​​expertise, some journals favor articles that report on basic research, while other journals give priority to more clinical work. The choice of the destination magazine depends on a variety of factors, which are beyond the scope of this article. However, at a minimum, you should verify that your article falls within the scope of the journal you have chosen.

What are the main sections of a scientific article?

The vast majority of scientific journals follow the format called IMRAD, that is, introduction , method , results and discussion . Naturally, there are some exceptions to this rule, and you should always check the journal’s instructions to authors so that you can make sure that this is really the recommended format. For the purposes of this guide, we will only discuss the IMRAD format as it is the most widely used.

Therefore, the article should contain (in this order) an introduction, a methods section, a results section, and a discussion. Added to this will be the abstract, which is a brief commentary on these main sections and, of course, the title. At the end, there should be a list of bibliographical references, tables, and figure legends. Finally, there may also be some other optional sections, such as acknowledgments, conflicts of interest, or author contributions.

Below, we will discuss each of these sections in detail, outlining the main points to keep in mind when writing them.


The introduction is extremely important to capture the reader’s attention (Table 1). In particular, during the review process, the introduction should “hook” the reviewer, make him want to read more, and make him think: “how come I never thought of this?” In this section, you will explain why you undertook this study, what you were aiming to achieve, and how this constitutes a useful addition to the existing body of evidence on the subject. 

In concrete terms, it is convenient to start by explaining briefly, using appropriate references, what is already known on this topic. Next, you should narrow the field a bit and identify areas where there is still some uncertainty, citing, where appropriate, past (and possibly conflicting) data. This will logically lead to a description of an explicit knowledge gap that your study hopes to fill. 

Alex Musk
Author: Alex Musk

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