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7 tips to write your first research paper

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Writing a medical research paper can feel like a big task, with a multitude of components to consider. It is important to break the process down into achievable steps to ensure you can craft a sound piece of informative and original content that will add value to your field, while utilising reliable sources and presenting your thoughts in a clear, concise manner that will be well received and well respected. Our 7 simple tips are designed to bring clarity to the writing process.

1. Choose a novel research question to answer

1. Choose a novel research question to answer

Deciding on the topic for your paper is the critical first step. While you will likely have an area of interest, ensure you narrow your focus by researching your field and identifying an approach or unmet need that could be further explored.
Pick something you’re really interested in, find an unanswered question and seek a solution.

2. Create a plan ahead of starting

Once you have determined your topic, you need to decide what sort of research paper you’re going to write and then create a well-considered plan for your project. You’ll need to work out a realistic time frame, remembering to build this around submission deadlines.

Choose your research paper format and create a realistic plan, complete with timelines.

3. Conduct thorough research

Bring any necessary collaborators and/or mentors onboard who have special knowledge and expertise in the area of your paper. Start looking for credible sources to inform your research and take detailed notes, including citations.

Find a mentor who can add expert value to your research and immerse yourself in the topic.

4. Select the right journal for publication

Find a journal that aligns with your topic so that you can write with their style and aims in mind. Research the journal’s previous publications to identify where you can add something new. Review their impact factor to increase the chance of reaching your intended audience.

Select a journal that suits your topic of choice and aim for an impact factor of 10 or above.

5. Set out a clear structure that tells a story

Review author guidelines from your chosen publication to inform structure, length, format and writing tone. To engage the audience, weave a narrative into your structure to bring the reader on the journey of your research: from clearly defined aims to a robust conclusion. 

Use logical language choices to capture, and keep, the attention of your target audience.

6. Visualise your findings

Figures, graphs and tables can be used to visualise data and findings that will bring clarity to your paper and keep the reader engaged. Any visuals should be easy to interpret and be accompanied with any necessary headers and explanations.

Present your findings visually, where appropriate, to improve the clarity of your findings.

7. Gather feedback from peers, experts and journal editors

Utilise feedback from peers and mentors who can offer constructive criticism. Your chosen journal will review the paper internally, then have it externally peer reviewed. Action any pertinent comments and respond, in detail, to any feedback you have not addressed. Seek feedback from experts and use their comments to improve current and future work. 

Following these 7 simple tips will help you achieve a high-quality, well-respected manuscript that will be strongly considered for publication in the journal of your choice.

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7 Tips to Write your First Research Paper

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