Writing an Eff ective Methods Section

The methods section of our paper describes how the work was performed. A widely accepted benchmark for an adequate methods section is that another investigator familiar with the area of research in question should be able to duplicate the work based on the methods section of the paper (13, 14). In fact, investigations in the biomedical sciences tend to be incremental, building on the work of others who have gone before, and so other researchers will genuinely be relying on the detail of our methods section when they design and implement their own research.

Reviewers and research colleagues will scrutinize the methods section of our paper, looking for the strengths and weaknesses of our methodology. In the past, it might have been possible to conceal our methodological weaknesses by omitting information, or using vague expressions. This is no longer the case. Informed readers rely on detail in the methods section to reveal bias (in the scientifi c sense), and thereby evaluate the internal and external validity/generalizability of our study. Thankfully, due to the availability of detailed, genre-specifi c guidelines, knowing precisely what content to include in a paper does not present that much of a challenge to the average writer.


Method Section Research Colleague Widespread Acceptance Methodological Weakness Passive Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 2009

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