University of Bonn, Germany


Many books and other published recommendations provide a large, sometimes excessive amount of information to be included, and of mistakes to be avoided in research papers for academic journals. However, there is a lack of simple and clear recommendations on how to write such scientific articles. To make life easier for new authors, we propose a simple hypothesis-based approach, which consistently follows the study hypothesis, section by section throughout the manuscript: The introduction section should develop the study hypothesis, by introducing and explaining the relevant concepts, connecting these concepts and by stating the study hypotheses to be tested at the end. The material and methods section must describe the sample or material, the tools, instruments, procedures and analyses used to test the study hypothesis. The results section must describe the study sample, the data collected and the data analyses that lead to the confirmation or rejection of the hypothesis. The discussion must state if the study hypothesis has been confirmed or rejected, if the study result is comparable to, and compatible with other research. It should evaluate the reliability and validity of the study outcome, clarify the limitations of the study and explore the relevance of the supported or rejected hypothesis for clinical practice and future research. If needed, an abstract at the beginning of the manuscript, usually structured in objectives, material and methods, results and conclusions, should provide summaries in two to three sentences for each section. Acknowledgements, declarations of ethical approval, of informed consent by study subjects, of interests by authors and a reference list will be needed in most scientific journals.