What is a difference?

For those unfamiliar with scientific, medical or research papers, the sections or parts included in many medical articles or science paper are very different than the traditional humanities or English papers.

Key to writing and effectively organizing or formatting the scientific research paper is to understand the different sections or parts that are typically included in a scientific research paper, journal article or medical manuscript.

Sections of a Scientific Research Paper or Medical Manuscript

The actual required sections may vary a bit depending on the journal or textbook, but most include the following sections in a scientific research paper:

  • Identifying Parts of a Scientific Research PaperTitle – Identifies the title of the paper.
  • Author – Identifies the author of the paper and any important affiliations like university or institution.
  • Abstract – Provides a brief overview of the article. Abstracts may be limited to 50 – 250 words. They may also be more formally structured depending on the journal.
  • Introduction – Clearly states the purpose of the paper with a hypothesis, thesis or topic sentence.
  • Review of Literature – Provides an extensive search of the literature to discover what is known about the subject to date. This also includes how the search of the literature was conducted.
  • Methodology or Materials and Methods – The section where key terms are described. Also included are the research instruments and procedures used in conducting the study, or researching the topic.
  • Results – This is where the findings are reported. This section may include tables and figures that summarize the data or information.
  • Discussion – This is the main body of the paper, the section for reporting findings, sharing thoughts and analysis of the results.
  • Conclusions – The conclusions presented in the paper are those supported by the data. They also reflect the original purpose for the paper from the introduction. Researchers often answer a few questions, but raise several more to pursue in future research projects.
  • Acknowledgments – A place to list, publicly thank or acknowledge the people who helped in the preparation of the paper. Reviewers, typists, other researchers or inspiration for writing may be acknowledged.
  • Conflict of Interests – The place to disclose any conflict between a person’s private interests and public obligations such as sources of research funding, drug company affiliations and stock ownership.
  • References – References should include an extensive list of relevant studies discovered reviewing the literature. Ideally key older studies are included along with current, newer ones.
  • Abbreviations – A list of all abbreviations (shortened form of a word or phrase used for brevity in place of the whole) used in the manuscript or paper.
  • Tables – A set of data organized and arranged in rows and columns.
  • Figures – A diagram, picture or photograph illustrating material from the text or research data.
  • Appendix – Supplementary material appended or added at the end of the paper such as research data, handouts. These may include tables, figures and multimedia sources.


Depending on the publisher the tables and figures may be submitted separately at the end of the article or in the manuscript at the location where they should appear in the final manuscript depending on the publisher. These materials are often included in the main flow of the text once the article is published.
Some larger papers or chapters may include a Table of Contents at the beginning to show the order in which the various sections of the paper or chapter appear.

Determining the Sections of a Scientific Research Paper or Medical Manuscript

The sections that need to be included when writing the science paper will depend on the requirements of the journal or the publication where the paper or manuscript will be submitted. The author needs to find the “Instructions for Authors” section in the journal where he or she would like to submit their paper. “Instructions for Authors” is an extensive list of directions often with a checklist provided by the publisher (or instructor) that the author must to follow when writing and formatting the paper.

By understanding that science and humanities papers differ and that there are different sections that might be included in a scientific research article or medical manuscript, the author can more effectively and efficiently organize and format his or her paper for publication.