Dos and Don'ts for writing your scientific article as per the IMRAD Structure

In recent years, the structure and layout of academic research papers has become more standardised. The format commonly referred to as IMRAD now predominates, particularly in biomedical disciplines. However, many scientific disciplines use the same structure.

IMRAD explained

IMRAD is an acronym standing for:

When writing your paper, the IMRAD sections will compromise the main content and context of your article.

Here are some dos and don'ts for writing the various sections of an article.

Writing the Results section

Start writing your Results first (even though they will actually be written in the section that follows your Methods). Doing this will enable you to focus on your main findings, which is your primary purpose for writing. They also influence the structure of other sections that should relate to the results:

  • Introduction and Discussion should put results in the context of other research.
  • Your results will be more compelling when they are supported or contrasted with other research.

Additionally, your results guide your choice of the target journal.


  • Present your key results without interpretation.
  • Use graphs and tables (when possible, to save words).
  • Highlight the answers to study questions or hypotheses.
  • Report important negative results.
  • Order the results from the most known to the unknown.
  • Include unequivocal statements of statistical significance.


  • Re-state/repeat values from a figure or table in the text.
  • Present the same data in both a table and figure. Use the format that best shows the results.
  • Inflate or over-report statistically insignificant differences.

Writing the (Materials and) Methods section


  • Provide sufficient information about where, when and how your research experiments were carried out. You should include sufficient detail to enable another researcher to judge the experiment and even to be able to repeat the experiment itself.
  • Write it in the present tense (which is standard practise for this section).
  • Check your journal guidelines. (In general, though, this section should be written in chronological order.)
  • Include details of:
    • Location (if relevant)
    • Design (procedures and replications)
    • Materials and subjects used (give specific details and numbers)
    • Interventions
    • Outcome measures
    • Analysis and statistical methods
    • Any ethical considerations

Writing the Discussion section


  • Interpret your results: What is new/novel, either different or not different from what was known previously?
  • Describe how results have moved the knowledge of the problem ahead (related to Introduction).
  • Discuss relationship of new facts to theory or hypothesis.
  • Support conclusions with evidence.

Writing the Conclusions section

Note: This is not strictly part of the IMRAD structure, but Conclusions are an important and integral part of IMRAD-based articles.


  • Look at other papers to determine if including implications, or giving suggestions for future research, is appropriate. Journals differ on what they want you to include in the conclusions.
  • Read the instructions to authors carefully!


  • Repeat what you have previously stated, including over-summarising.
  • Over-reach with the conclusions.


Note: As Introduction is usually the most challenging section to write, as it has to lay the ground for the entire research, we have discussed it in a separate article here: How to write an Introduction to an academic article


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