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The research question—or study objective or main research hypothesis—is the central organizing principle of the paper.Whatever relates to the research question belongs in the paper; the rest doesn’t.Finally, the question should be of interest to others who work in the same scientific area.
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.
The study setting, the sampling strategy used, instruments, data collection methods, and analysis strategies should be described.
In the case of qualitative research studies, it is also useful to tell the reader which research tradition the study utilizes and to link the choice of methodological strategies with the research goals .
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).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.While strict adherence to such rules may not be necessary, following a plan such as that proposed in Table 1 may help the novice writer stay on track. Key assertions should be referenced, as well as the methods and instruments used.However, unless the paper is a comprehensive review of a topic, there is no need to be exhaustive.The Results section is typically fairly straightforward and factual.All results that relate to the research question should be given in detail, including simple counts and percentages.While it may safely be assumed that the human genome is the same worldwide, whether the results of a local quality improvement project have wider relevance requires careful consideration and argument.Once the research question is clearly defined, writing the paper becomes considerably easier. The key to successful scientific writing is getting the structure of the paper right.