Every article is unique, and the structure and the sections you need to include depends on the type of article you’re writing and the subject of study.
Here’s a helpful step by step guide to take you through the standard sections that many researchers need to include when writing a manuscript, in the order in which you would normally write them.
Prepare tables and figures (if required)
When creating tables and figures for your article, check the journal’s instructions for authors, which may specify artwork formatting guidelines such as layouts and use of color.
Write up the literature review (if required)
Literature reviews aren’t always needed, but often form an important part of Humanities and Social Sciences manuscripts. Typically, a literature review should discuss what’s already known about the topic of the article, identify gaps in current knowledge and present your approach to addressing those gaps.
Write the method
The method section gives the reader all the details of how you conducted your research. Check the instructions for authors for your target journal to see whether there are any specific requirements on how it should be presented. It’s also a good idea to review previously published papers in the journal or sample reports on the journal website.
Write up your results
In the results section, you’re answering the question ‘what have you found?’. You should state your findings, but don’t interpret the results or discuss their implications in this section.
Write the discussion and conclusions
Your discussion and conclusion are where you interpret your results. Discuss your conclusions in order of most to least important, and end by stating your main conclusions again.
Write the introduction
Your introduction should provide the background information needed to understand your study, and the reasons why you conducted your experiments. At the end of your introduction you should include a clear statement of your aims and a brief sentence or two on how you conducted your study. Although your introduction comes first in your article, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to write it once you’ve written the rest of your paper.
Write the abstract and create a compelling title
Your abstract is the shop window of your article – this is where customers (researchers) can sample your wares and decide whether to read and cite your content or look elsewhere. Follow our advice on writing the title and abstract for your article using keywords to set up your work to be easily discovered online.
What else should I include when writing my paper?
If you are using third-party material in your article, It is important to make sure that you are clear on the guidance you need to follow, as most journals need you to have written permission.
If you need to refer to a data set in your article, you’ll need to make sure that you cite the data appropriately. Read more in our how-to guide on citing data.
There are also specific guidelines to follow when including mathematical scripts and special characters.
Please make sure you read through the Taylor & Francis Editorial Policies which include important information about why and how you should cite sources in your article. These requirements apply to all journals published by Taylor & Francis Group.
Have you considered writing a Plain Language Summary? They can greatly help to communicate the significance of scientific research evidence to a broad audience.
Do you want your scientific paper to be shared with a non-scientific audience, such as policy makers? If so, the recently launched Key Policy Highlights scheme can support you with this.
Writing a review article?
A review article, also called a literature review, should give an overview of current thinking on the theme rather than presenting new results. Read our specific advice on writing a review article for more guidance.
Writing a manuscript in a more unusual format?
There may be specific resources available to help you structure and write the article – for example, F1000Research offer detailed instructions for authors for some of their article types, like Data Notes and Registered Report Stage 1 Study Protocols. It’s always worth exploring the journal or platform homepage to see if there are dedicated guides and resources to help you prepare your manuscript.