I did a survey on the demand for complementary medicine among patients of the gynaecologcial department here in Munich. We collected a couple of hundred questionnaires and I am currently writing my research paper. Since I do not know yet to which journal I am going to submit it, I wanted to adopt a very normal and standard structure/style. I was wondering now whether there are predefined standards of length concerning research papers, in particular regarding word count. I intuitively try to stay under 3000, but would it be ok to exceed that number? Moreover, is it fine to have, for example, a comparatively brief introduction and method section but a rather extensive discussion section? Or do the different sections have predefined standards too?

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    One of them asked Lincoln, "How long should a man's legs be in proportion to his body?" and Lincoln replied" "I have not given the matter much consideration, but on first blush I should judge they ought to be long enough to reach the ground." — Thomas Lawry, Personal Remembrances of Abraham Lincoln (1910) – JeffE Sep 14 '17 at 20:02
  • We cannot answer this without known which specific journal you are trying to publish. Also, most (all most all?) journals list length limits in the authors guidelines section. – Richard Erickson Sep 14 '17 at 20:13
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    My published papers range in length from 3 to 134 pages, and I don't consider any of them abnormal. – Andreas Blass Sep 15 '17 at 0:12
  • If you have a specific journal in mind -- why not just look at the articles in the past couple of years and average their lengths? Such data isn't very hard to find. – John Coleman Sep 15 '17 at 1:02

If you're trying to get a paper that you can publish in a journal, then it really depends on the journal, and if it has any specific requirements or constraints. There is no "standard" length for a paper. I've had papers that were 15 manuscript pages, and papers that were 50.

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    And it's very different between fields. In chemistry ~4 page papers are extremly common and all the raw data and experimental procedures are put into supplementary files. – DSVA Sep 14 '17 at 20:16

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