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I have seen a lot of information about the structure of an academic paper; and in summary the structure is as follows:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. State of the Art or Background
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Conclusions
  8. Future work or Recommendations
  9. References

Nevertheless, I found (in rare ocassions) some articles that look more like opinions; and, I am not confused with the Letters to the Editor or other sections that would correspond to a magazine. So my question is how to structure an article, to being submitted to a peer-review conference, that is aimed to express an opinion like in an essay?

or said in other words, which are the parts of an opinion article?

I ask this because the Professors that initiate me in research activities had always stated that the opinion is pointless in a research article. Therefore, only facts that could be proven should be put in an article for a peer-review process.

closed as unclear what you're asking by corey979, Thomas, Buzz, Solar Mike, scaaahu Dec 25 '18 at 2:23

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • which question are you asking ? – Solar Mike Dec 24 '18 at 23:19
  • the question I put in the last part: "how to structure an article, to being submitted to a peer-review conference, that is aimed to express an opinion like in an essay?" – Layla Dec 25 '18 at 12:02
  • So, not "how true is that?" then... – Solar Mike Dec 25 '18 at 12:18
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This kind of article is known under the name position paper.

First, the structure that you mention for research papers is indeed traditional, but it's not a rigid standard. It is important to emphasize that the structure of a paper is not predefined, it should be determined by the purpose of the authors. Typically if the contribution is a new method for solving problem X, then it makes sense to explain why problem X is important (motivation), what has been done to solve it (or similar problems) so far (state of the art), then explain the new method and propose some experiment or evidence to assess its validity.

The same logic applies for a position paper: it is not simply an opinion in the sense of a taste or a personal preference (probably what your professors were thinking about btw), it must be a motivated opinion (preferably a strongly motivated one, otherwise it might get rejected). The structure should therefore reflect the reasoning behind the opinion and present the arguments that support it in a logical manner.

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When writing a paper there are two things that you might want to achieve but, regrettably, in practice, they might be incompatible.

One thing you might reasonably want to achieve is to make your paper easy for your intended audience to read. A good way of doing that is to stick to a structure that your audience all know (even if they might not love it). The structure you describe certainly achieves that for an academic audience.

The other thing you might, with equal reasonableness, want to achieve is that the main messages of your paper should be rapidly understood. That wish would lead you to an entirely different structure: a title that foreshadows the conclusions, an abstract that summarises them, then the conclusions followed by detailed argument and finally methods, detail, and literature review (probably in an appendix).

During my career I have written many papers with one or the other of these purposes. What is the key to deciding which approach to take? If you want to show an academic audience how clever you are, then you probably have to go with the standard approach you have outlined. If, on the other hand you are writing for busy people who primarily want to know what you propose and secondarily, if interested enough, why, then you need to go for the sort of structure I have outlined.

I think there is a kind of middle way. Even with the traditional, and to my mind laborious, structure of an academic paper, you can still tell a story. Nothing engages a reader better than a story. So what you have to do is to see that your intended story is there all the way through. The danger comes if you see the headings in your list as separate sections that could be written in isolation from each other. That is a particular risk if you pay too much attention to the often repeated advice to doctoral researchers that you should start writing as early as possible in your research. Write when you are clear in your own mind what story you wish to tell.

Unless your paper comprises only the facts about your topic, but includes every single one of them (which I believe to be an impossibility) you cannot write a paper without selecting what you wish to include and therefore what you have to exclude. Your opinion inevitably enters into your choice. What you must avoid is expressing your opinion as if it were a fact, or claiming that your supposed facts comprise everything that is to be known about the subject.

  • Write when you are clear in your own mind what story you wish to tell. But how do you clear your mind without writing? – henning Dec 24 '18 at 23:36
  • @Henning There are lots of ways. Various forms of mind mapping work well. But if you really cannot think unless you write whole sentences then, having thought, throw away what you have written and start again with your ideas in some kind of logical sequence. It is simply unfair on your readers to expose your half-thought out scribblings on them. – JeremyC Dec 25 '18 at 10:03
  • absolutely. I think the advice to start writing from day one refers to "thinking-writing". A lot of rewriting, editing, and polishing go into the production of the final work. – henning Dec 25 '18 at 10:46
  • That is one way. In my experience, with a well thought-through and detailed structure the amount of rewriting and editing can be minimised. – JeremyC Dec 26 '18 at 15:19

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