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Writing the methods section of academic papers

In all scientific academic papers, the methods section is deemed to be vitally important if not the most important. You will find that tutors and teachers study the work presented in your methods section with a very keen eye. The reason the methods section is so important in any scientific paper is because it directs the reader to the heart of your paper.

It reveals two important things:

  • how the experiment or study was carried out
  • the reasoning for the choice of methods you chose

This rule applies to all academic papers when describing the methods section. Clarity is all. You must allow the reader, most likely your teacher or tutor, to receive an immediate and exact description of how your experiment or your study was conducted. You need to describe it in such exact detail that should another student or students care to copy the activity described in your methods section, they would do so with ease and reach exactly the same conclusion as you have.

So clear must your writing of the methods section be that whatever results and conclusions you draw from your activity, they must be abundantly clear to the reader. Not only must you have the detail of your activity precise, so too must be the written description. This precision of your description makes what you have done and the results you have elaborated, crystal clear to the reader.

Think of being a journalist

When a journalist is required to write a news item, they are often advised to think of the five Ws and the how. That means the who, what, where, when and why. If you follow this same rule or guidance in creating the methods section of your academic paper, and answer precisely and clearly, you are well on the way to producing an ideal academic paper.

Remember that it may be impossible to describe every single item of your activity in the methods section but certainly all the equipment used, the theory you proposed to test plus of course the results must all be completed in clear and the full detail.

Always remember too that the methods section requirements may vary from educational institution to teachers therein. Before you settle down to conduct your experiments and of course to produce the methods section of your academic paper, double check with your teacher or tutor to see that you meet their specific requirements.

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