I am trying to find a way to "systematize" the writing process of a paper by answering questions in each section of the paper. I am thinking of an example with the following sections (which I think are the most commons): Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions. Below are some ideas... But what questions do you think should be for the introduction section or the conclusions? Which ones do you think are missing?

The methods section should answer:

  • What kind of data are you using to answer the objectives?
  • How do you collect the data?
  • What is the composition of the data?
  • What is the main approach for answering the objectives?
  • Why do you choose this approach? What is different from other approaches?

The result section should answer:

  • What are the main results for each of the objectives?
  • What are the results for the secondary objectives?

The discussion section of a paper should answer:

  • Are the hypotheses/objectives confirmed?
  • What are the main implications of the findings?
  • Are you asking for papers in the natural sciences? At least it seems so from your suggested sections. In this case, usually there is no 'why' in the methods section, only a 'what'. Explanations go into the discussion. Nov 28, 2021 at 14:53
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    It is heavily field dependent, I suspect. In my one, if the hypothesis aren't confirmed, there is no paper. Or better, and honestly, one does something and often there is something to observe :)
    – Alchimista
    Nov 29, 2021 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


The structure of a scholarly paper differs too much for a general solution here. A pure math paper would look nothing like what you suggest. Likewise a work in literary criticism.

It is a good idea, however, for each person to keep a personal checklist of things that need to be covered and to check them off on a fresh copy as you go. And, that checklist can be extended/modified as you learn what works.

But not everything in any list will appear in every paper. Avoid the trap of boring writing by sticking too closely to an outline that may be too rigid for the work at hand. But such things can be checked off once they are considered even if the decision is not to include an item.

You have a good start for your own field, I suspect, but I think you may be missing "future directions" or "future work" from the discussion section. And something like "motivation" should appear somewhere, though it might be the introduction. (Not motivation for the methodology, but for doing the work in the first place)

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    "Avoid the trap of boring writing by sticking too closely to an outline that may be too rigid for the work at hand." Although this is generally good advice, in my field (chemistry) the structure suggested by the OP is what is used in practically all papers. There is usually no need to figure out an individual solution. Nov 28, 2021 at 14:59
  • Yes, I should definitely specify a field. At the time of asking I overlooked it. As you have answered I will not edit the question, I will take this answer as good and open a new one specifying the field.
    – Tito Sanz
    Nov 29, 2021 at 9:58

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