Manuscript Structure, Style, and Content Guidelines

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Updated 2/3/22

Manuscripts must be submitted in the style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, with the exception that figures and tables should be embedded within the main text near to where they are discussed rather than at the end of the manuscript. Other considerations regarding elements of Psychological Science submissions can be found below. Authors for whom English is not their first language or who have limited experience with APA style are advised to seek input from a skilled and knowledgeable English reader familiar with APA style.

The structure described here applies to all articles other than Commentaries.

Manuscript Main Text

The abstract should be on a separate page and be no longer than 150 words. Five to seven relevant keywords should be listed directly under the abstract on the same page.

Statement of Relevance

The Statement of Relevance should explain why the research reported in the submission is of interest and significance beyond the specific sub-area in which it is situated and, ideally, to the public at large. The aim of the Statement of Relevance is to broaden the impact of the science reported in the journal and make it easier for interested readers to appreciate and understand our efforts. It should make clear why the questions that motivated the study and the findings that bear on them matter beyond psychology laboratories and college and university campuses. The Statement of Relevance should be on a separate page and no longer than 150 words.


The introduction should explain the rationale behind the current study, placing the research topic and study within the context of the current research landscape. Authors should summarize and cite previous research relevant to the current study and highlight the gap in knowledge being filled by the present research. The introduction should clearly pose the research question, describe the experimental design, and outline the authors’ hypothesis.

This section (or sections: e.g., Participants, Materials, Procedure) should contain a clear and concise description and, when needed, justification of the conditions and procedures of the study, as well as the analytical tools or methodology used. All excluded observations, independent variables/manipulations, and dependent variables/measures must be reported, and authors should be sure to explain how the sample size was determined.

This section should present the collected data and analysis. Results for all measures should be reported in a concise, straightforward manner, using tables or figures when appropriate. Duplication of information that is presented in tables or figures should be minimal in the text, and all results should be reported in the text, rather than figure captions. We encourage authors to include effect sizes accompanied by 95% confidence intervals rather than standard deviations or standard errors. Authors should be particularly attentive to APA style when typing statistical details (e.g., N s for chi-square tests, formatting of df s) and mindful to exclude interpretation and discussion of the findings or any details related to methodology from this section.

This section should discuss the findings in the context of the research question initially posed and the authors’ hypothesis. The Discussion should also explore the broader implications and significance of the findings, as well as specific recommendations for the direction of future research on the topic.

A Note on Manuscripts Presenting Multiple Studies: For some Research Articles that include multiple studies, an alternate structure might be appropriate, e.g., general introduction – Study 1 introduction – Method – Results – Discussion – Study 2 introduction – Method – Results – Discussion – etc. – General Discussion. Authors who choose to structure their manuscript in this manner should note that Results and Discussion sections for each study should not be combined; a combined Results and Discussion section will be treated simply as a Discussion section and will be counted toward the word limit.

Every citation in the text should be listed in the reference list, and vice versa.  Note that online sources should be cited in the same manner as print sources (i.e., author and date in parentheses).  Be sure to cite sources for all software and include full reference information. References should be formatted in accordance with APA style. Relevant examples:

Journal article:

Russano, M. B., Meissner, C. A., Narchet, F. M., & Kassin, S. M. (2005). Investigating true and false confessions within a novel experimental paradigm.  Psychological Science ,  16 (6), 481–486. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.01560.x

Authored book:

Krumhansl, C. L. (1990).  Cognitive foundations of musical pitch . Oxford University Press.

Chapter in edited book:

Mazziotta, J. C., Toga, A. W., & Friston, K. J. (2000). Experimental design and statistical issues. In J. C. Mazziotta & A. W. Toga (Eds.),  Brain mapping: The disorders  (pp. 33–58). Academic Press.

Source with 21 or more authors:

Kalnay, E., Kanamitsu, M., Kistler, R., Collins, W, Deaven, D., Gandin, L., Iredell, M., Saha, S., White, G., Woollen, J., Zhu, Y., Chelliah, M., Ebisuzaki, W, Higgins, W, Janowiak, J., Mo, K. c., Ropelewski, c., Wang, J., Leetmaa, A., . . . Joseph, D. (1996). The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society , 77 (3), 437–471. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1996)077<0437:TNYRP>2.0.CO;2

Online source:

Nelson, D. L., McEvoy, C. L., & Schreiber, T. A. (1998).  The University of South Florida word association, rhyme, and word fragment norms . http://w3.usf.edu/FreeAssociation/

R Core Team. (2021). R: A language and environment for statistical computing (Version 4.1.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved from http://www.R-project.org

Author Contributions

Author Contributions must be uploaded as a separate file (“Additional File”) and not included in the manuscript document itself. Authorship implies significant participation in the research reported or in writing the manuscript, including participation in the design and/or interpretation of reported experiments or results, participation in the acquisition and/or analysis of data, and participation in the drafting and/or revising of the manuscript. All authors must agree to the order in which the authors are listed and must have read the final manuscript and approved its submission. They must also agree to take responsibility for the work in the event that its integrity or veracity is questioned.

Furthermore, as part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent, and fair peer review and publication process, APS journals have adopted the use of  CRediT  (Contributor Roles Taxonomy). CRediT is a high-level taxonomy, including 14 roles that can be used to represent the roles typically played by contributors to scientific scholarly output.

These roles describe the possible contributions to the published work:

Conceptualization : Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims

Methodology;  Development or design of methodology; creation of models

Software : Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components

Validation  Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/ reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs

Formal Analysis  Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal

techniques to analyze or synthesize study data

Investigation : Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection

Resources : Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools

Data Curation:  Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse

Writing – Original Draft : Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation)

Writing – Review & Editing:  Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision–including pre- or postpublication stages

Visualization : Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/ data presentation

Supervision : Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team

Project Administration:  Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution

Funding Acquisition : Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.

The submitting author is responsible for listing the contributions of all authors at submission. All authors should agree to their individual contributions prior to submission.

In order to adhere to SAGE’s authorship criteria authors must have been responsible for  at least one  of the following  CRediT  roles:

AND  at least one of the following:

Authors should indicate their contributions by role. For example:

“Conceptualization: D. Wu, A. Brown, and M. Augilera; Methodology: T. Sossou; Formal Analysis: D. Wu and H. Andreas; Investigation: M. Augilera, T. Sossou, and D. Wu; Writing – Original Draft Preparation: D. Wu and A. Brown; Writing – Review & Editing: D. Wu, A. Brown, M. Augilera, and T. Sossou; Supervision: D. Wu; Project Administration: M. Augilera and A. Brown.

Contributions will be published with the final article, and they should accurately reflect all contributions to the work. Any contributors with roles that do not constitute authorship (e.g., Supervision was the sole contribution) should be listed in the Acknowledgements.

Tables should be editable and created using the tables function in Word rather than using tabs to separate columns. There should be no empty rows or columns. Column heads cannot change partway down a table; in such cases, the new heads and the data under them must be placed in a separate table, with its own title. Tables should be embedded near to where they are discussed in the text. Example:

Title of Table 1

Other considerations:

For original submissions, figures should be embedded near to where they are discussed in the text. For revisions, authors should also submit separate production-quality figures. For a graph or other line art, we ask that authors submit a computer file in the native file format, which is the format of the program in which the figure was originally created. For example, if you created a graph in Excel, supply the original Excel file rather than an Excel file embedded in a Word document. Photographic images such as brain scans or photos of the experimental setup should be submitted in standard image formats, like JPEG. To avoid images appearing blurry or pixelated in print, use a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (PPI; more information about pixel density can be found here ). Do not submit images in TIFF format.

Please adhere to the following format when naming figure files: AuthorLastNameFigX.fileformat (e.g., SmithFig1.xls, SmithFig2.jpg, etc.). More details can be found in the APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines .

Figure Captions

Figure captions should be provided in the main text document; they should not be included in the figure files.   Each caption should begin with “ Fig. ” and then the appropriate number, following by a period (e.g., “ Fig. 1. ”). The text of the caption begins on a separate line.

A caption should be concise and describe only what is shown in the figure itself. Results should not be summarized. Each caption should begin with a sentence fragment that serves as a title and covers the entire content of the figure (not just selected panels), at least in a general way. All the text following this fragment should be in complete sentences.

Checklist for Submission Components

In Manuscript/Main Text File

__ Abstract (150 words or less)

__ Text organized according to above guidelines

__ Tables formatted according to guidelines (using the tables function in Word)

__ Tables and figures embedded near to where they are discussed in main text

__ Captions in main document rather than in figure files

__ References formatted in APA style

Other Submission Files

__ Separate figure files (revisions)

__ Supplemental Material, including reviewed supplemental online material (SOM), and supplemental materials meant only to aid in the review process

      __ Additional Files, including author contributions paragraph.

SAGEtrack Submission

__ E-mail and affiliation information for all coauthors, as well as CRediT roles

__ Answers to all required questions

__ Author Contributions section

__ Disclosure Statements

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How to write a scientific manuscript for publication

Giancarlo maria liumbruno.

1 Immunohaematology, Transfusion Medicine and Clinical Pathology Units, “San Giovanni Calibita” Fatebenefratelli Hospital, AFAR, Rome, Italy

Claudio Velati

2 Immunohaematology and Transfusion Medicine Department, Ospedale Maggiore Pizzardi, Azienda USL Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Patrizio Pasqualetti

3 Medical Statistics & Information Technology, Fatebenefratelli Association for Research, Isola Tiberina, Rome, Italy

Massimo Franchini

4 Department of Transfusion Medicine and Haematology, Carlo Poma Hospital, Mantua, Italy


The origins and development of the scientific and technical press can be traced back to 1665 when the first “modern” scientific papers appeared and were characterized by non standardised form and style 1 . Subsequently, nearly 300 years ago 2 , in an attempt to ensure that articles met the journal’s standards of quality and scientific validity, the peer-reviewed process for scientific manuscripts was born in England and France. Since then, there has been an enormous proliferation of scientific journals and manuscripts so that, at present, the numbers of biomedical papers published annually by over 20,000 journals, at a rate of 5,500 new papers per day, far exceeds 2,000,000 1 , 2 .

Published scientific papers and professional meetings are really essential to disseminate relevant information and research findings. However, most of the abstracts of presentations given at scientific meetings are usually available only in conference proceedings although they have the potential to be subsequently published as articles in peer-reviewed journals.

A recently published Cochrane review showed that only 44.5% of almost 30,000 scientific meeting abstracts were published as articles 3 . No association between full publication and authors’ country of origin was detected. Factors associated with full publication included acceptance vs rejection of abstracts for oral or poster presentations, acceptance for oral presentations rather than poster sessions, “positive” results, using the report authors’ definition of “positive”, randomised trial study design and basic rather than clinical research.

Possible reasons for failed publication include lack of time, research still underway, problems with co-authors and negative results 4 . Undoubtedly, lack of the necessary skills and experience in the process of writing and publishing is another possible contributing factor also in the field of Transfusion Medicine although the specialists in this discipline are currently adopting the principles and research methodologies that support evidence-based medicine 5 , and high-level research is actually being carried out at the same rate as in all medical specialties.

There are three broad groups of manuscripts: original scientific articles, reviews and case reports. Although case reports are part of the evidence hierarchy in evidence-based practice, albeit at a lower level, and case series are incorporated in a significant proportion of health technology assessments 6 , this article will address the multiple steps required in writing original articles and reviews with the aim of providing the reader with the necessary tools to prepare, submit and successfully publish a manuscript.

The anatomy of a paper: from origin to current format

The history of scientific journals dates from 1665, when the French “Journal des sçavans” and the English “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society” first began systematically publishing research results 7 . From then on, the initial structure of scientific papers evolved gradually from letters (usually by a single author, with a polite style and contemporarily addressing multiple subjects) and experimental reports (essentially descriptive and presenting experiences and effects in chronological order) to a better structured and more fluent form characterised by an embryonic description of methods and interpretation of results. This evolved way of reporting experiments gradually replaced the letter form.

It was not, however, until the second half of the 19 th century that the method description became fully developed and a comprehensive organisation of the manuscripts known as “theory-experiment-discussion” emerged 1 . At the beginning of the last century a gradual decrease of the use of the literary style coincided with a growing standardisation of the editorial rules that paved the way for the formal established Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (IMRAD) structure of scientific papers, which was adopted in the 1980s.

At present, IMRAD is the format encouraged for the text of observational (i.e. retrospective/descriptive) and experimental (i.e. randomised controlled) studies by the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” which have become the most important and widely accepted (by over 500 biomedical journals) guide to writing, publishing, and editing in international biomedical publications 8 . The Uniform Requirements are released by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), an evolution of the initial group of Journal Editors who met for the first time in Vancouver in 1978 and subsequently issued a number of editorial policy statements and guidelines for manuscript submission.

According to the ICMJE, “this so-called IMRAD structure is not an arbitrary publication format but rather a direct reflection of the process of scientific discovery” 9 . In addition it facilitates modular reading and locating of specific information, which is normally found in pre-established sections of an article 7 .

“Long articles may need subheadings within some sections (especially Results and Discussion) to clarify their content. Other types of articles, such as case reports, reviews and editorials, probably need to be formatted differently” 9 .

This format does not comprise other important and integral parts of the article, such as the Title Page, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Figures and Tables (comprising their legends) and References 8 .

There are often slight variations from one journal’s format to another but every journal has instructions to authors available on their website and it is crucial that authors download and comply with them.

The latest edition of the Uniform Requirements was updated in April 2010; it is available at the ICMJE website and is an essential guideline for all authors writing a biomedical manuscript 9 .

Consolidated standards of reporting trials

Medical science depends entirely on the transparent reporting of clinical trials 10 .

Unfortunately, several reviews have documented deficiencies in reports of clinical trials 11 – 15 .

In 1996, a group of scientists and editors developed the CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement which is intended to improve the reporting of a randomised, controlled trial (RCT), enabling readers to understand the design of a trial, its conduct, analysis and interpretation and to assess the validity of its results 16 . It emphasises that this can only be achieved through complete transparency from authors.

The CONSORT statement was updated in 2001 and after the 2007 meeting the statement was further revised and published as CONSORT 2010 which is the most up-to-date version and can be freely viewed and downloaded through one of the several link to Journals available at the CONSORT website under the section “CONSORT Statement - Downloads” 17 . The statement facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of RCT and many leading medical journals and major international editorial groups have endorsed it.

The statement consists of a checklist (25 items) and a flow diagram that authors can use for reporting a RCT. The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Other information. The flow diagram is intended to depict the passage of participants through a RCT (enrolment, intervention allocation, follow-up and analysis). It is strongly recommended that the CONSORT Statement be used in conjunction with the CONSORT Explanation and Elaboration Document which is available at the CONSORT website under the above mentioned section 17 .

Another major point to consider is the obligation to register clinical trials 9 .

In September 2004 the ICMJE changed their policy and decided they would consider trials for publication only if they had been registered before the enrolment of the first participant. The ICMJE accepts registration in the international registries listed in Table I .

International trial registries acceptable to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and relevant websites.

Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology

The reporting of observational studies frequently lacks details and is not clear enough 18 , 19 . Consequently the quality is poor although many questions in medical research are investigated in observational studies and overwhelming evidence is also extrapolated from them 20 . In fact, observational studies are more suitable for the detection of rare or late adverse effects of treatments, and are more likely to provide an indication of what is achieved in daily medical practice 21 .

To improve the reporting of observational studies (cohort, case-control or cross-sectional studies) a group of methodologists, researchers and editors developed a useful checklist of 22 items: the StrengThening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement 21 . The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Other information sections of articles. The STROBE checklists can be freely viewed and downloaded at the STROBE website under the section “Available checklists” 22 . They also include a draft checklist for conference abstracts (items to be included when reporting observational studies in a conference abstract) pertaining to the content of the following sections: Title, Authors, Study design, Objective, Methods, Results and Conclusion.

The STROBE Statement provides guidance to authors on how to improve the reporting of observational studies, it facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of studies and is widely supported by reviewers, a growing number of biomedical journal editors and readers.

The STROBE checklist is best used in conjunction with an explanation and elaboration article which discusses each of the 22 checklist items, gives methodological background, publishes examples of transparent reporting and is freely available at the STROBE Statement website under the above mentioned section through the link with the Journals in which the document has been published (PLoS Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology) 22 .

As review articles comprehensively cover a specific biomedical topic and justify future research directions, they require that the author extensively review and master the literature and then develop some general statements and conclusions with practical implications for patients’ care 23 , 24 . In addition, they should provide an updated reference for those readers interested in broadening their knowledge of critical issues. Review articles are, therefore, important not only for younger physicians early in their career but also for senior academic staff as they represent a tool for intellectual enrichment and enhancement of the standards of research. Writing a review requires knowledge and continuous improvement of qualifications in line with the accumulation of better and updated scientific literature evidence. For this reason, journals often invite experts on a specific topic to write a review article. However, authors can also ask Editors if they would be interested in publishing a review article on a particular, topical, relevant and debated issue.

As reviews are the most accessed among the various types of articles and contribute substantially to the impact factor of journals, obviously they are welcomed and encouraged by many journals and have become an inseparable part of the writing scientific culture.

The three basic types of literature reviews are narrative reviews (which include editorials, commentaries and narrative overviews or non-systematic narrative reviews), qualitative systematic reviews and quantitative systematic reviews (meta-analyses) ( Table II ) 25 .

Summary of the types of literature reviews.

Editorials, typically written by the editor of the journal or an invited guest, may be a narrative review if the author retrieves and summarises information about a particular topic for the reader 25 . Usually, these types of narrative reviews are based upon a short, select and narrowly focused review of only a few papers. However, editorials may be no more than the editor’s comments regarding a current issue of the journal or a current event in health care and do not, therefore, automatically qualify as narrative reviews.


Commentaries may also be written as a narrative review; however, they are typically written with a particular opinion being expressed 25 . Research methodology is not usually presented in these articles which reflect the author’s biased synthesis of other articles. Commentaries are usually shorter than a full-length review article and the author should be an expert in the content area of the commentary. Usually, the purpose of a commentary is to stimulate academic debate between the journal’s readers.

Narrative reviews

Non-systematic narrative reviews are comprehensive narrative syntheses of previously published information 26 . This type of literature review reports the author’s findings in a condensed format that typically summarises the contents of each article. Authors of narrative overviews are often acknowledged experts in the field and have conducted research themselves. Editors sometimes solicit narrative overviews from specific authors in order to bring certain issues to light. Although the bibliographic research methodology is an obligatory section in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, it is also becoming an inseparable part of narrative literature reviews. Providing information on the databases accessed, terms, inclusion and exclusion criteria and time limits adds objectivity to the main messages and conclusions. It is advisable to use only credible databases (at least two or three) which only select high-quality publications that contain the most up-to-date information (see Table III ) 24 . The best way to organise the analysis of the sources in the main text of a narrative biomedical review is to transform information from the retrieved publications into bibliographic cards with a short description of the main results, level of evidence, strengths and limitations of each study and relevance to each section of the manuscript. Furthermore, the readability of a review can be improved by including a few self-explanatory tables, boxes, and figures synthesising essential information and conveying original messages 24 . We also suggest the use of software packages for reference management, which saves time during the multiple revisions.

Main online libraries, catalogues and databases.

In conclusion, a successful narrative review should have the following characteristics: be well-structured, synthesise the available evidence pertaining to the topic, convey a clear message and draw conclusions supported by data analysis.

Qualitative systematic reviews

Qualitative systematic reviews are a type of literature review that employ detailed, rigorous and explicit methods and are, therefore, a more powerful evidence-based source to garner clinical information than narrative reviews, case reports, case series, and poorly conducted cohort studies. A detailed bibliographic research based upon a focused question or purpose is the peculiar characteristic of a systematic review 27 . These reviews are called qualitative because the process by which the individual studies are integrated includes a summary and critique of the findings derived from systematic methods, but does not statistically combine the results of all of the studies reviewed.

Quantitative systematic reviews

A quantitative systematic review or meta-analysis critically evaluates each paper and statistically combines the results of the studies 28 . The authors of a meta-analysis employ all of the rigorous methodology of qualitative systematic reviews and, in addition, gather the original patients’ data from each of the studies under review, pool it all together in a database and produce the appropriate statistics on this larger sample. While this process leads to a more powerful and generalizable conclusion, which is the strength of the meta-analysis, on the other hand it can pool together studies that are very heterogeneous which is the main drawback of a quantitative systematic review. Nevertheless, well-executed quantitative systematic reviews constitute the highest level of evidence for medical decision making 28 .

The recently published Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement aims to help improve reporting, focusing on systematic reviews of RCT. The Statement consists of a checklist of 27 essential items for transparent reporting and a flow diagram for the phases of study selection and is accompanied by the PRISMA Explanation and Elaboration Document, which, among other things, provides examples of good reporting for the various review sections 29 .

A further guidance on the reporting of systematic reviews has been published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organisation that prepares, updates and publishes systematic reviews of the effects of health-care interventions following a standardised format 30 .

Preparing to write a manuscript Background information

The question or hypothesis formulated by the investigator is the common starting point to search the relevant published literature for an answer 31 . Gathering the background information through an extensive literature search relevant to the topic of interest is the subsequent essential step. Peer reviewers are often experts and not citing important articles poses the manuscript at risk of rejection. It is advisable to consult at least two or three credible databases (see Table III ) to identify the crucial relevant articles and to track down “landmark” articles. In addition, avoid using papers published more than 10 years ago and do not rely on just the abstracts but obtain full-text articles. Articles relevant to the research topic and published in the journal in which the paper is to be submitted should be reviewed and cited 32 .

Last but not least, the bibliographical search should also aim at finding recently published articles similar to the one the author intends to submit. In fact, a journal can be less interested in publishing such a manuscript unless the results reflect new or different findings.

Target journal

It can be worth thinking about this issue before starting to write as a proper choice of the journal can affect not only the writing style but also the ease of publication and the prompt dissemination of research. Ideally, the target journal should be the one in which similar work has been published 32 .

Electronic and open-access journals are the latest resources for publishing and data dissemination available on the scientific journal horizon.

It is also worth considering an appropriate level of impact factor or journal quality. The impact factor of a journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in science and social science journals. It is determined by the ratio of the number of citations of papers from that journal in the whole of the biomedical literature over a 2-year period. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

It is also extremely important to read the instructions to authors section of the selected journal carefully. In fact, although there is a general style for most biomedical journals as agreed by the ICMJE in the Uniform Requirements 9 , individual journals may differ slightly in detail.

It is always best to sort out authorship before writing a manuscript as authorship order can be a source of problems once the paper has been written 23 .

Several guidelines relating to authorship are available and this issue has been extensively addressed in a recently published review article by Elizabeth Wager 33 . Most guidelines on the authorship of scientific articles are focused more on creative and intellectual aspects of research than on routine or technical contributions.

Alhough not universally accepted, the authorship criteria suggested by the ICMJE are the ones most widely promoted by medical journals 9 . According to these criteria, co-authors should: (i) substantially contribute to conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (ii) draft the article or revise it critically for important intellectual content; and (iii) approve the final version.

The authors are listed in decreasing order of their contribution and the senior author, or mentor, should be the last but this convention has never been codified 33 .

It is advisable to provide accurate affiliations and contacts as they will be published on PubMed as well as in the journal but it is also important to agree on the corresponding author who should have full access to the study data and through the provided e-mail address will be the link with the scientific community for the future 1 .

Ethical issues

In addition to the authorship discussed above, there are several ethical issues involved in writing a paper. These include fabrication of data, duplicate publication, plagiarism, misuse of statistics, manipulation of images and inadequate or obviously false citations 31 .

A must-read for all those who are involved in any editorial activity are the guidelines released by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which is a forum for editors and publishers of peer-reviewed journals to discuss all aspects of publication ethics 34 . COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct.

Writing the manuscript

Several models for the initial draft exist. A useful algorithm for writing a scientific manuscript is the one recently published by O’Connor and Holmquist 35 . According to these authors, the writing should start with making figures and tables, and then proceed with summary statements (the conclusions summarising the major contributions of the manuscript to the scientific community), identification of the audience, materials and methods, results, discussion, references, introduction, title and conclusion. The aim of this algorithm is to give the structural backbone to the manuscript and is designed to overcome writer’s block and to assist scientists who are not native English speakers.

A further and more general strategy to increase productivity during the early phases of manuscript writing is to ignore at the outset all the details that can be approached later such as structure, grammar and spelling.

The sequence of writing should address the following core sections of the paper in the order from first to last: methods, results, discussion and introduction 31 , 36 , 37 .

“Like every well-written story, a scientific manuscript should have a beginning (Introduction), middle (Materials and Methods), and an end (Results). The Discussion (the moral of the story) puts the study in perspective. The Abstract is an opening summary of the story and the Title gives the story a name” 38 . However, as correctly pointed out by Michael McKay, “writing is not necessarily in the temporal order of the final document (i.e. the IMRAD format)” 39 .

The take-home messages are, therefore: (i) a clear understanding of the essential components of each of these sections is critical to the successful composition of a scientific manuscript; (ii) the proper order of writing greatly facilitates the ease of writing; (iii) the approach to writing can be customised by authors on the basis both of the subject they are dealing with and their personal experience; (iv) the CONSORT 16 , 17 , STROBE 21 , 22 or PRISMA 29 statement must be used as a guidance document for the appropriate reporting of the type of study the authors are dealing with 31 , 32 , 38 .

In the following part of this paper the different sections of a manuscript will be dealt with in the order they are presented in the final document.

Title, keywords and abstract

The title is determinant for the indexing process of the article and greatly contributes to the visibility of the paper. It should reflect the essence of the article, its novelty and its relevance to the biomedical field it deals with 24 . It should be clear, brief, specific, not include jargon or non-standard and unexplained abbreviations, reflect the purpose of the study and state the issue(s) addressed rather than the conclusions 38 . Indicative titles are, therefore, better than declarative ones. Obviously, the title and abstract should correlate with each other.

Available evidence suggests that the presence of a colon in the title positively correlates with the number of citations 40 . In other words, the more specific and accurate the description of the content is, the more chance the manuscript has of being cited 38 .

The title of systematic reviews should ideally follow the participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes, and study design (PICOS) approach, and include the terms “systematic review”, “meta-analysis”, or both 41 .

The keywords enable the database searching of the article and should be provided in compliance with the instructions to authors. A careful choice from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles in PubMed greatly increases the chances the paper is retrieved and cited by other authors 42 .

The abstract is the last section to be written but it is the most important part of a paper because it is usually the first to be read and readers use the information contained in it to decide whether to read the whole article or not. It should be a concise summary of the manuscript and no longer than specified in the instructions to authors. Usually, abstracts do not contain references and abbreviations and acronyms are not always allowed. If required, it has to be structured in a specific way. For example, original articles submitted to Blood Transfusion, require an abstract of no more than 2,000 characters (including spaces), structured as follows: Background, Materials and methods, Results, Discussion 43 .

A good abstract should be easy to understand and broadly appealing, informative but not too detailed. It can start with a sentence or two outlining the work; then the disease and/or system studied must be introduced and what was previously unknown has to be stated in order to provide a brief overview of the current state-of-the art knowledge on the issue. The methods must be summarised without too many details; the major findings must be clearly indicated and followed by a sentence or two showing the major implications of the paper that must be consistent with the study conclusions without overestimating their possible relevance 44 . In the abstract the present tense should be used to refer to facts already established in the field, while the findings from the current study should be dealt with in the past tense.

The aim of the introduction is to introduce the topic to the readers in a straightforward way, avoiding excessive wordiness 42 . For this reason it should be short and focused, comprising approximately three paragraphs in one page 37 .

The first paragraph should mention the questions or issues that outline the background of the study and establish, using the present tense, the context, relevance, or nature of the problem, question, or purpose (what is known) 23 , 37 .

The second paragraph may include the importance of the problem and unclear issues (what is unknown).

The last paragraph should state the rationale, hypothesis, main objective, or purpose thus clearly identifying the hypothesis to be treated and the questions addressed in the manuscript (why the study was done).

One of the most common mistakes is the failure to make a clear statement of purpose. This is because many research projects, especially retrospective clinical studies, do not start at the beginning (with the identification of a specific question, followed by methods and data collection) but begin by collecting data without first identifying a specific question to be addressed that must in any case be established before beginning to write 38 . Data or conclusions from the study should not be presented or anticipated in the introduction section.

Writing the introduction at the end of the process prevents any block and it is easier after the methods, results and discussion have been completed.

Materials and methods

The methods section is one of the most important parts of a scientific manuscript and its aim is to give the reader all the necessary details to replicate the study.

CONSORT 16 , 17 , STROBE 21 , 22 and PRISMA 29 statements provide a guideline relevant to the particular type of study 2 , 42 .

The two essential elements of this section are a clear presentation of the study design and the identification and description of the measurement parameters used to evaluate the purpose of the study.

It is, therefore, necessary to provide a thorough explanation of the research methodology, including the study design, data collection, analysis principles and rationale. Special attention should be paid to the sample selection, including inclusion and exclusion criteria and to any relevant ethical considerations. A description of the randomisation or other group assignment methods used should be included, as should be the pre-specified primary and secondary outcome(s) and other variables.

According to the Uniform Requirements 9 , in the case of experimental/clinical reports involving patients or volunteers, the authors must provide information about institutional, regulatory and ethical Committee authorisation, informed consent from patients and volunteers and the observance of the latest release of the Helsinki Declaration 45 .

When reporting experiments on animals, authors should state which institutional authority granted approval for the animal experiments 9 .

Finally, in addition to describing and identifying all the measurement parameters used, it is also important to describe any unusual statistical methodology applied, how subjects were recruited and compensated and how compliance was measured (if applicable).

The results section consists of the organised presentation of the collected data. All measurements that the authors described in the materials and methods section must be reported in the results section and be presented in the same order as they were in that section 35 . The past tense should be used as results were obtained in the past. Author(s) must ensure that they use proper words when describing the relationship between data or variables. These “data relation words” should be turned into “cause/effect logic and mechanistic words” in the discussion section. A clear example of the use of this appropriate language can be found in the article by O’Connor 35 .

This section should include only data, including negative findings, and not background or methods or results of measurements that were not described in the methods section 2 . The interpretation of presented data must not be included in this section.

Results for primary and secondary outcomes can be reported using tables and figures for additional clarity. The rationale for end-point selection and the reason for the non-collection of information on important non-measured variables must be explained 35 .

Figures and tables should be simple, expand text information rather than repeat it, be consistent with reported data and summarise them 23 . In addition, they should be comprehensible on their own, that is, with only title, footnotes, abbreviations and comments.

References in this section should be limited to methods developed in the manuscript or to similar methods reported in the literature.

Patients’ anonymity is essential unless consent for publication is obtained.

The main objective of the discussion is to explain the meaning of the results.

This section should be structured as if it were a natural flow of ideas and should start with a simple statement of the key findings and whether they are consistent with the study objectives enunciated in the last paragraph of the introduction. The strengths and the limitations of the research and what the study adds to current knowledge should then be addressed 42 .

Through logical arguments, the authors should convert the relations of the variables stated in the results section into mechanistic interpretations of cause and effect using the present tense as these relations do exist at present 35 . In addition, they should describe how the results are consistent or not with similar studies and discuss any confounding factors and their impact.

They should avoid excessive wordiness and other commonly made errors such as 38 : (i) including information unrelated to the stated purpose of the article; (ii) repeating detailed data previously presented in the Results section; (iii) not interpreting and not critically analysing results of other studies reviewed and cited but rather just repeating their findings; (iv) presenting new data or new details about techniques and enrolment criteria, and (v) overstating the interpretation of the results.

Another common mistake is to forget to criticise the research described in the manuscript by highlighting the limitations of the study. The value of a scientific article is enhanced not only by showing the strengths but also the weak points of the evidence reported in the paper.

The conclusion is a separate, last paragraph that should present a concise and clear “take home” message avoiding repetition of concepts already expressed 32 . The authors should also avoid excessive generalizations of the implications of the study and remember that except for RCT there can only be testable hypotheses and observed associations, rather than rigorous proof of cause and effect 42 . Possible implications for current clinical practice or recommendations should be addressed only if appropriate.

Finally, the areas for possible improvement with future studies should be addressed avoiding ambiguous comments such as “there is a need for further research” and if there is a real need for further studies on the topic it is strongly advisable to be specific about the type of research suggested.


All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section 9 . The authors should, therefore, add a statement on the type of assistance, if any, received from the sponsor or the sponsor’s representative and include the names of any person who provided technical help, writing assistance, editorial support or any type of participation in writing the manuscript.

In addition, “when submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments” 9 .

The first suggestion is to follow the journal’s policies and formatting instructions, including those for books and web-based references. Other general considerations related to references, including the following ones, can be found in the Uniform Requirements 9 .

References to review articles are an efficient way to guide readers to a body of literature but they do not always reflect original work accurately. Papers accepted but not yet published should be designated as “in press” or “forthcoming” and information from manuscripts submitted but not accepted should be cited in the text as “unpublished observations”.

Avoid using abstracts as references and citing a “personal communication” unless it provides essential information not available from a public source. In this case the name of the person and date of communication should be cited in parentheses in the text. Do not include manuscripts “in submission”

In addition it is important to remember that “authors are responsible for checking that none of the references cite retracted articles except in the context of referring to the retraction. Authors can identify retracted articles in MEDLINE by using the following search term, where pt in square brackets stands for publication type: Retracted publication [pt] in PubMed” 9 . Last but not least, remember that if a reviewer does not have access to any references he or she can ask the author for a full (pdf) copy of the relevant works.

Tips for successful revision of a manuscript

Most papers are accepted after some degree of revision. In some cases, a manuscript may be rejected after internal and editorial review only.

The process of revising a manuscript and successfully responding to the comments of reviewers and Editor can be challenging. Little has been published addressing the issue of effectively revising a manuscript according to the (minor or major) comments of reviewers. This topic was recently extensively and pragmatically covered by James M. Provenzale 46 . The ten principles for revising a manuscript suggested by the author are reported in Table IV .

Ten principles for revising a manuscript suggested by James M. Provenzale 46 .

Many manuscripts are not published simply because the authors have not followed the few simple rules needed to write a good article. We hope that this paper provides the reader with the basic steps to build a draft manuscript and an outline of the process needed for publishing a manuscript. However, in Table V we summarise the ten principles we strongly recommend to comply with in order to improve the likelihood of publication of a scientific manuscript 47 .

Ten principles to improve the likelihood of publication of a scientific manuscript, suggested by James M. Provenzale 47 .

The Authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Enago Academy

How to Write a Successful Scientific Manuscript

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Writing a scientific manuscript is an endeavor that challenges the best minds, yet it is very rewarding once the body of work comes to fruition. Researchers carefully draft manuscripts allowing them to share their original ideas and new discoveries with the scientific community as well as to the general population. A significant amount of time and effort is spent during the investigative stages conducting the required research before it is released into the public domain. Therefore, the manuscript drafted to present this research must be thorough, logically presented, and factual. Scientific manuscripts must adhere to a specific language and format to communicate the results to the scientific community whilst adhering to ethical guidelines. When completed the final written product will allow colleagues to debate and reflect on the newly minted work embedded in the manuscript.


Scientific manuscripts are organized in a logical format, which fits specific criteria as determined by the scientific community. This methodology has been standardized in journals which communicate information to those in the field being discussed. Since the researcher has a storyline he or she is trying to transmit, it must be clear and upfront on the exact question and or problem that his research answers. Readers of the manuscript will be energized to review this work when its content is spelled out early in the paper. A well-written manuscript has the following components included: a clear title, abstract, introductory paragraph, methods and materials section, discussion of results, conclusion and a list of references. Each component of a journal article should follow a logical sequence, which members of the science community have become accustomed.

Related: Need some tips on manuscript drafting? Check out this section today!

Structural Contents

Title or heading.

Titles are extremely important. A crisp detailed title is the first element an audience notices when encountering your manuscript. The significance of a title cannot be overstated in that it introduces your reader to the subject matter you intend to discuss in the next thousand or more words. A poorly formatted title could dissuade a potential reader from delving into your manuscript further. In addition, your paper is indexed in a certain manner, which search engine algorithms will track. To rise to the top of the search index, keywords should be emphasized. Thinking of the right title could determine the size of your audience and the eventual success of your work.

Abstracts are abbreviated versions of your manuscript. Contained within the abstract’s structure should be the major premise of your research and the questions you seek to answer. Also included in the context of the abstract is a brief summary of the methods taken to achieve your goals along with a short version of the results. The abstract may be the only part of the paper read, therefore, it should be considered a concise version of your complete manuscript.


The Introduction amplifies certain aspects of the abstract. Within the body of the introduction, the rationale for the research is revealed. Background material is supplied indicating why the research performed is important along with the direction the research took. A brief summary (in a few sentences) discussing the technical aspects of the experimental approach utilized to reach the article’s stated conclusions is included here. Written well the introduction will influence readers to delve further into the body of the paper.

Methodology and Materials

In this section, the technical aspects of the research are described extensively. Clarity in this part of the manuscript is mandatory. Fellow researchers will glean from this section the methods and materials you utilized either to validate your work, reproduce it, and/or develop the concepts further. Detailed protocols are presented here, similar to a road map, explaining the experiments performed, agents or technologies used, and any biology involved. Statistical analysis and tests should be presented here. Do not approximate anything in this part of the manuscript. Suspicion may be cast in your direction questioning the validity of the research if too many approximations are detected.

Discussion of Results

This part of the manuscript may be considered its core. Elaboration on data generated, utilizing tables and graphs, communicating the essence of the research and the outcomes they generate. Once the results are given a lengthy discussion, it should follow by including the interpretation of data, implications of these findings, and potential future research to follow. Ambiguous findings and current controversies in this type of research should be analyzed and examined in this section.


This is the endpoint in the manuscript. Conclusions are written in a concise manner utilizing words not numbers. Information conveyed in this section should only be taken from the research performed. Do not place your references here. Full and complete interpretation of your findings in this part of the manuscript is imperative. Clarity of thought is also essential because misinterpretation of the results is always a possibility. Comparisons to similar work in your field may be discussed here. Absolutely avoid interpretation of your results that cannot be justified by the work performed.

Every journal has submission requirements. Journal guidelines should be followed for proper authentication of references. There exist several formats for reference creation. Familiarize yourself with them. In addition, the sequence of references listed should be in the order in which they appear in the research paper . A number, usually in parenthesis, follows the sentence where they are noted.

Production of a scientific manuscript is a necessity to introduce your research to a wide audience. The complexity of the research and the results generated must be written in a manner that is clear and concise, follows the current journal formats, and is verifiable. The guidelines embedded in this paper will help the researcher place his work in the best light possible. Never write anything that cannot be justified by the research performed. With these simple rules in mind, your scientific manuscript will be a success.

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A Guide on How to Write a Manuscript for a Research Paper

This article teaches how to write a manuscript for a research paper and recommended practices to produce a well-written manuscript.

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For scientists, publishing a research paper is a huge accomplishment; they typically spend a large amount of time researching the appropriate subject, the right material, and, most importantly, the right place to publish their hard work. To be successful in publishing a research paper, it must be well-written and meet all of the high standards.

Although there is no quick and easy method to get published, there are certain manuscript writing strategies that can help earn the awareness and visibility you need to get it published.

In this Mind The Graph step-by-step tutorial, we give practical directions on how to write a manuscript for a research paper, to increase your research as well as your chances of publishing.

research paper manuscript format

What is the manuscript of a research paper?

A manuscript is a written, typed, or word-processed document submitted to a publisher by the researcher. Researchers meticulously create manuscripts to communicate their unique ideas and fresh findings to both the scientific community and the general public. 

Overall, the manuscript must be outstanding and deeply represent your professional attitude towards work; it must be complete, rationally structured, and accurate. To convey the results to the scientific community while complying with ethical rules, scientific articles must use a specified language and structure.

Furthermore, the standards for title page information, abstract structure, reference style, font size, line spacing, margins, layout, and paragraph style must also be observed for effective publishing. This is a time-consuming and challenging technique, but it is worthwhile in the end.

How to structure a manuscript?

The first step in knowing how to write a manuscript for a research paper is understanding how the structure works. 

Title or heading

A poorly chosen title may deter a potential reader from reading deeper into your manuscript. When an audience comes across your manuscript, the first thing they notice is the title, keep in mind that the title you choose might impact the success of your work.

Abstracts are brief summaries of your paper. The fundamental concept of your research and the issues you intend to answer should be contained within the framework of the abstract. The abstract is a concise summary of the research that should be considered a condensed version of the entire article.


The purpose of the research is disclosed in the body of the introduction. Background information is provided to explain why the study was conducted and the research’s development.

Methods and materials

The technical parts of the research have to be thoroughly detailed in this section. Transparency is required in this part of the research. Colleagues will learn about the methodology and materials you used to analyze your research, recreate it, and expand concepts further. 

This is the most important portion of the paper. You should provide your findings and data once the results have been thoroughly discussed. Use an unbiased point of view here; but leave the evaluation for your final piece, the conclusion.

Finally, explain why your findings are meaningful. This section allows you to evaluate your results and reflect on your process. Remember that conclusions are expressed in a succinct way using words rather than figures. The content presented in this section should solely be based on the research conducted.

The reference list contains information that readers may use to find the sources you mentioned in your research. Your reference page is at the end of your piece. Keep in mind that each publication has different submission criteria. For effective reference authentication, journal requirements should be followed.

Steps on how to write a manuscript for a research paper

It is not only about the format while writing a successful manuscript, but also about the correct strategy to stand out above other researchers trying to be published. Consider the following steps to a well-written manuscript:

1. Read the author’s guide

Many journals offer a Guide for Authors kind of document, which is normally printed yearly and is available online. In this Guide for Authors, you will discover thorough information on the journal’s interests and scope, as well as information regarding manuscript types and more in-depth instructions on how to do the right formatting to submit your research.

2. Pay special attention to the methods and materials section

The section on methods and materials is the most important part of the research. It should explain precisely what you observed in the research. This section should normally be less than 1,000 words long. The methods and materials used should be detailed enough that a colleague could reproduce the study.

3. Identify and describe your findings

The second most crucial aspect of your manuscript is the findings. After you’ve stated what you observed (methods and materials), you should go through what you discovered. Make a note to organize your findings such that they make sense without further explanation.

4. The research’s face and body

In this part you need to produce the face and body of your manuscript, so do it carefully and thoroughly. 

Ensure that the title page has all of the information required by the journal. The title page is the public face of your research and must be correctly structured to meet publication requirements. 

Write an introduction that explains why you carried out the research and why anybody should be interested in the results (ask yourself “so what?”). 

Concentrate on creating a clear and accurate reference page. As stated in step 1, you should read the author’s guide for the journal you intend to submit to thoroughly to ensure that your research reference page is correctly structured.

The abstract should be written just after the manuscript is finished. Follow the author’s guide and be sure to keep it under the word limit.

5. Rapid Rejection Criteria double-check

Now that you’ve completed the key aspects of your research, it’s time to double-check everything according to the Rapid Rejection Criteria. The “Rapid Rejection Criteria” are errors that lead to an instantaneous rejection. The criteria are:

Rewrite your manuscript now that you’ve finished it. Make yourself your fiercest critic. Consider reading the document loudly to yourself, keeping an ear out for any abrupt breaks in the logical flow or incorrect claims.

Your Creations, Ready within Minutes!

Aside from a step-by-step guide to writing a decent manuscript for your research, Mind The Graph includes a specialized tool for creating and providing templates for infographics that may maximize the potential and worth of your research. Check the website for more information. 

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Submission guidelines

Format of articles, cover letter, revised manuscripts, tex/latex files, writing your manuscript, copy editing services, acknowledgements, author contributions, competing interests, data availability, ethics declarations, approval for animal experiments, approval for human experiments, consent to participate/consent to publish.

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Scientific Reports publishes original research in two formats: Article and Registered Report. For Registered Reports, see section below . In most cases, we do not impose strict limits on word count or page number. However, we strongly recommend that you write concisely and stick to the following guidelines:

For a definitive list of which limits are mandatory please visit the submission checklist page .

Please do not include any references in your Abstract. Make sure it serves both as a general introduction to the topic and as a brief, non-technical summary of the main results and their implications. Abstract should be unstructured, i.e. should not contain sections or subheadings.

Your manuscript text file should start with a title page that shows author affiliations and contact information, identifying the corresponding author with an asterisk. We recommend that each section includes an introduction of referenced text that expands on the background of the work. Some overlap with the Abstract is acceptable. Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT , do not currently satisfy our authorship criteria . Notably an attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs. Use of an LLM should be properly documented in the Methods section (and if a Methods section is not available, in a suitable alternative part) of the manuscript. For the main body of the text, there are no specific requirements. You can organise it in a way that best suits your research. However, the following structure will be suitable in many cases:

You should then follow the main body of text with:

Please note, footnotes should not be used. Please also do not include keywords, as these are not published in  Scientific Reports  articles.

You may include a limited number of uncaptioned molecular structure graphics and numbered mathematical equations if necessary. Display items are limited to 8 ( figures and/or tables ). However, to enable typesetting of papers, we advise making the number of display items commensurate with your overall word length. So, for Articles of 2,000 words or less, we suggest including no more than 4 figures/tables. Please note that schemes should not be used and should be presented as figures instead.

Your submission must also include:

For first submissions (i.e. not revised manuscripts), you may incorporate the manuscript text and figures into a single file up to 3 MB in size. Whilst Microsoft Word is preferred we also accept LaTeX, or PDF format. Figures can be inserted in the text at the appropriate positions, or grouped at the end.

Supplementary information should be combined and supplied as a single separate file, preferably in PDF format.

A submission template is available in the Overleaf template gallery to help you prepare a LaTeX manuscript within the Scientific Reports formatting criteria.

In your cover letter, you should include:

Finally, you should state whether you have had any prior discussions with a Scientific Reports Editorial Board Member about the work described in your manuscript.

For revised manuscripts, you should provide all textual content in a single file, prepared using either Microsoft Word or LaTeX. Please note, we do not accept PDF files for the article text of revised manuscripts. Make sure you:

If you do not wish to incorporate the manuscript text and figures into a single file, please provide all textual content in a separate single file, prepared using either Microsoft Word or LaTeX.

If you’re submitting LaTeX files, you can either use the standard ‘Article’ document class (or similar) or the wlscirep.cls file and template provided by Overleaf . For graphics, we recommend your use graphicx.sty. Use numerical references only for citations.

Our system cannot accept .bib files. If you prepare references using BibTeX (which is optional), please include the .bbl file with your submission (as a ‘LaTeX supplementary file’) in order for it to be processed correctly; this file is included automatically in the zip file generated by Overleaf for submissions. Please see this help article on Overleaf for more details.

Alternatively, you can make sure that the references (source code) are included within the manuscript file itself. As a final precaution, you should ensure that the complete .tex file compiles successfully on its own system with no errors or warnings, before submission.

Scientific Reports is read by a truly diverse range of scientists. Please therefore give careful thought to communicating your findings as clearly as possible.

Although you can assume a shared basic knowledge of science, please don’t expect that everyone will be familiar with the specialist language or concepts of your particular field. Therefore:

We strongly recommend that you ask a colleague with different expertise to review your manuscript before you submit it. This will help you to identify concepts and terminology that non-specialist readers may find hard to grasp.

We don’t provide in-depth copy editing as part of the production process. So, if you feel your manuscript would benefit from someone looking at the copy, please consider using a copy editing or language editing service. You can either do this before submission or at the revision stage. You can also get a fast, free grammar check of your manuscript that takes into account all aspects of readability in English.

We have two affiliates who can provide you with these services: Nature Research Editing Service and American Journal Experts . As a Scientific Reports author, you are entitled to a 10% discount on your first submission to either of these.

Claim 10% off English editing from Nature Research Editing Service

Claim 10% off American Journal Experts

Please note that the use of an editing service is at your own expense, and doesn’t ensure that your article will be selected for peer-review or accepted for publication.

We don't impose word limits on the description of methods. Make sure it includes adequate experimental and characterisation data for others to be able to reproduce your work. You should:

If you’re reporting experiments on live vertebrates (or higher invertebrates), humans or human samples, you must include a statement of ethical approval in the Methods section (see our detailed requirements for further information on preparing these statements).

We don’t copy edit your references. Therefore, it’s essential you format them correctly, as they will be linked electronically to external databases where possible. At Scientific Reports , we use the standard Nature referencing style. So, when formatting your references, make sure they:

Sorry, we cannot accept BibTeX (.bib) bibliography files for references. If you are making your submission by LaTeX, it must either contain all references within the manuscript .tex file itself, or (if you’re using the Overleaf template) include the .bbl file generated during the compilation process as a ‘LaTeX supplementary file’ (see the "Manuscripts" section for more details).

In your reference list, you should:

Published papers:

Printed journals Schott, D. H., Collins, R. N. & Bretscher, A. Secretory vesicle transport velocity in living cells depends on the myosin V lever arm length. J. Cell Biol . 156 , 35-39 (2002).

Online only Bellin, D. L. et al . Electrochemical camera chip for simultaneous imaging of multiple metabolites in biofilms . Nat. Commun . 7 , 10535; 10.1038/ncomms10535 (2016).

For papers with more than five authors include only the first author’s name followed by ‘ et al. ’.

Books: Smith, J. Syntax of referencing in How to reference books (ed. Smith, S.) 180-181 (Macmillan, 2013).

Online material:

Babichev, S. A., Ries, J. & Lvovsky, A. I. Quantum scissors: teleportation of single-mode optical states by means of a nonlocal single photon. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0208066 (2002).

Manaster, J. Sloth squeak. Scientific American Blog Network http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psi-vid/2014/04/09/sloth-squeak (2014).

Hao, Z., AghaKouchak, A., Nakhjiri, N. & Farahmand, A. Global integrated drought monitoring and prediction system (GIDMaPS) data sets.  figshare   https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.853801 (2014).

Please keep any acknowledgements brief, and don’t include thanks to anonymous referees and editors, or any effusive comments. You may acknowledge grant or contribution numbers. You should also acknowledge assistance from medical writers, proof-readers and editors.

You must supply an Author Contribution Statement as described in the Author responsibilities section of our Editorial and Publishing Policies .

Please be aware:

You must supply a competing interests statement . If there is no conflict of interest, you should include a statement declaring this.

Your statement must be explicit and unambiguous, describing any potential competing interest (or lack thereof) for EACH contributing author. The information you provide in the submission system will be used as the source of truth when your paper is published.

Examples of declarations are:

Competing interests The author(s) declare no competing interests.

Competing interests Dr X's work has been funded by A. He has received compensation as a member of the scientific advisory board of B and owns stock in the company. He also has consulted for C and received compensation. Dr Y and Dr Z declare no potential conflict of interest.

You must include a Data Availability Statement in all submitted manuscripts (at the end of the main text, before the References section); see ' Availability of materials and data ' section for more information.

If your research includes human or animal subjects, you will need to include the appropriate ethics declarations in the Methods section of your manuscript.

For experiments involving live vertebrates and/or higher invertebrates, your Methods section must include a statement that:

For experiments involving human subjects (or tissue samples), your Methods section must include a statement that:

Please note that:

Supplementary Information

You should submit any Supplementary Information together with the manuscript so that we can send it to referees during peer-review. This will be published online with accepted manuscripts.

It’s vital that you carefully check your Supplementary Information before submission as any modification after your paper is published will require a formal correction.

Please avoid including any "data not shown" statements and instead make your data available via deposition in a public repository (see ' Availability of materials and data ' for more information).

If any data that is necessary to evaluate the claims of your paper is not available via a public depository, make sure you provide it as Supplementary Information.

We do not edit, typeset or proof Supplementary Information, so please present it clearly and succinctly at initial submission, making sure it conforms to the style and terminology of the rest of the paper.

To avoid any delays to publication, please follow the guidelines below for creation, citation and submission of your Supplementary Information:

You can combine multiple pieces of Supplementary Information and supply them as a single composite file. If you wish to keep larger information (e.g. supplementary videos, spreadsheets [.csv or .xlsx] or data files) as another separate file you may do so.

Designate each item as Supplementary Table, Figure, Video, Audio, Note, Data, Discussion, Equations or Methods, as appropriate. Number Supplementary Tables and Figures as, for example, "Supplementary Table S1". This numbering should be separate from that used in tables and figures appearing in the main article. Supplementary Note or Methods should not be numbered; titles for these are optional.

Refer to each piece of supplementary material at the appropriate point(s) in the main article. Be sure to include the word "Supplementary" each time one is mentioned. Please do not refer to individual panels of supplementary figures.

Use the following examples as a guide (note: abbreviate "Figure" as "Fig." when in the middle of a sentence): "Table 1 provides a selected subset of the most active compounds. The entire list of 96 compounds can be found as Supplementary Table S1 online." "The biosynthetic pathway of L-ascorbic acid in animals involves intermediates of the D-glucuronic acid pathway (see Supplementary Fig. S2 online). Figure 2 shows...".

Remember to include a brief title and legend (incorporated into the file to appear near the image) as part of every figure submitted, and a title as part of every table.

Keep file sizes as small as possible, with a maximum size of 50 MB, so that they can be downloaded quickly.

Supplementary video files should be provided in the standard video aspects: 4:3, 16:9, 21:9.

If you have any further questions about the submission and preparation of Supplementary Information, please email: [email protected] .

Please begin your figure legends with a brief title sentence for the whole figure and continue with a short description of what is shown in each panel. Use any symbols in sequence and minimise the methodological details as much as possible. Keep each legend total to no more than 350 words. Provide text for figure legends in numerical order after the references.

Please submit any tables in your main article document in an editable format (Word or TeX/LaTeX, as appropriate), and not as images. Tables that include statistical analysis of data should describe their standards of error analysis and ranges in a table legend.

Include any equations and mathematical expressions in the main text of the paper. Identify equations that are referred to in the text by parenthetical numbers, such as (1), and refer to them in the manuscript as "equation (1)" etc.

For submissions in a .doc or .docx format, please make sure that all equations are provided in an editable Word format. You can produce these with the equation editor included in Microsoft Word.

You are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright, including figures published elsewhere and pictures taken by professional photographers. We cannot publish images downloaded from the internet without appropriate permission.

You should state the source of any images used. If you or one of your co-authors has drawn the images, please mention this in your acknowledgements. For software, you should state the name, version number and URL.

Number any figures separately with Arabic numerals in the order they occur in the text of the manuscript. Include error bars when appropriate. Include a description of the statistical treatment of error analysis in the figure legend.

Please do not use schemes. You should submit sequences of chemical reactions or experimental procedures as figures, with appropriate captions. You may include in the manuscript a limited number of uncaptioned graphics depicting chemical structures - each labelled with their name, by a defined abbreviation, or by the bold Arabic numeral.

Use a clear, sans-serif typeface (for example, Helvetica) for figure lettering. Use the same typeface in the same font size for all figures in your paper. For Greek letters, use a 'symbols' font. Put all display items on a white background, and avoid excessive boxing, unnecessary colour, spurious decorative effects (such as three-dimensional 'skyscraper' histograms) and highly pixelated computer drawings. Never truncate the vertical axis of histograms to exaggerate small differences. Ensure any labelling is of sufficient size and contrast to be legible, even after appropriate reduction. The thinnest lines in the final figure should be no smaller than one point wide. You will be sent a proof that will include figures.

In legends, please use visual cues rather than verbal explanations such as "open red triangles". Avoid unnecessary figures: data presented in small tables or histograms, for instance, can generally be stated briefly in the text instead. Figures should not contain more than one panel unless the parts are logically connected; each panel of a multipart figure should be sized so that the whole figure can be reduced by the same amount and reproduced at the smallest size at which essential details are visible.

At the initial submission stage, you may choose to upload separate figure files or to incorporate figures into the main article file, ensuring that any figures are of sufficient quality to be clearly legible.

When submitting a revised manuscript, you must upload all figures as separate figure files, ensuring that the image quality and formatting conforms to the specifications below.

You must supply each complete figure as a separate file upload. Multi-part/panel figures must be prepared and arranged as a single image file (including all sub-parts; a, b, c, etc.). Please do not upload each panel individually.

Please read the digital images integrity and standards section of our Editorial and Publishing Policies . When possible, we prefer to use original digital figures to ensure the highest-quality reproduction in the journal. When creating and submitting digital files, please follow the guidelines below. Failure to do so, or to adhere to the following guidelines, can significantly delay publication of your work.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

1. Line art, graphs, charts and schematics

For optimal results, you should supply all line art, graphs, charts and schematics in vector format, such as EPS or AI. Please save or export it directly from the application in which it was made, making sure that data points and axis labels are clearly legible.

2. Photographic and bitmap images

Please supply all photographic and bitmap images in a bitmap image format such as tiff, jpg, or psd. If saving tiff files, please ensure that the compression option is selected to avoid very large file sizes. Please do not supply Word or Powerpoint files with placed images. Images can be supplied as RGB or CMYK (note: we will not convert image colour modes).

Figures that do not meet these standards will not reproduce well and may delay publication until we receive high-resolution images.

3. Chemical structures

Please produce Chemical structures using ChemDraw or a similar program. All chemical compounds must be assigned a bold, Arabic numeral in the order in which the compounds are presented in the manuscript text. Structures should then be exported into a 300 dpi RGB tiff file before being submitted.

4. Stereo images

You should present stereo diagrams for divergent 'wall-eyed' viewing, with the two panels separated by 5.5 cm. In the final accepted version of the manuscript, you should submit the stereo images at their final page size.

If your paper contains statistical testing, it should state the name of the statistical test, the n value for each statistical analysis, the comparisons of interest, a justification for the use of that test (including, for example, a discussion of the normality of the data when the test is appropriate only for normal data), the alpha level for all tests, whether the tests were one-tailed or two-tailed, and the actual P value for each test (not merely "significant" or "P < 0.05"). Please make it clear what statistical test was used to generate every P value. Use of the word "significant" should always be accompanied by a P value; otherwise, use "substantial," "considerable," etc.

Data sets should be summarised with descriptive statistics, which should include the n value for each data set, a clearly labelled measure of centre (such as the mean or the median), and a clearly labelled measure of variability (such as standard deviation or range).

Ranges are more appropriate than standard deviations or standard errors for small data sets. Graphs should include clearly labelled error bars. You must state whether a number that follows the ± sign is a standard error (s.e.m.) or a standard deviation (s.d.).

You must justify the use of a particular test and explain whether the data conforms to the assumptions of the tests. Three errors are particularly common:

You should identify molecular structures by bold, Arabic numerals assigned in order of presentation in the text. Once identified in the main text or a figure, you may refer to compounds by their name, by a defined abbreviation, or by the bold Arabic numeral (as long as the compound is referred to consistently as one of these three).

When possible, you should refer to chemical compounds and biomolecules using systematic nomenclature, preferably using IUPAC . You should use standard chemical and biological abbreviations. Make sure you define unconventional or specialist abbreviations at their first occurrence in the text.

You should use approved nomenclature for gene symbols, and employ symbols rather than italicised full names (for example Ttn, not titin). Please consult the appropriate nomenclature databases for correct gene names and symbols. A useful resource is Entrez Gene .

You can get approved human gene symbols from HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC), e-mail: [email protected] ; see also www.genenames.org .

You can get approved mouse symbols from The Jackson Laboratory, e-mail: [email protected] ; see also www.informatics.jax.org/mgihome/nomen .

For proposed gene names that are not already approved, please submit the gene symbols to the appropriate nomenclature committees as soon as possible, as these must be deposited and approved before publication of an article.

Avoid listing multiple names of genes (or proteins) separated by a slash, as in 'Oct4/Pou5f1', as this is ambiguous (it could mean a ratio, a complex, alternative names or different subunits). Use one name throughout and include the other at first mention: 'Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1)'.

Scientific Reports is committed to publishing technically sound research. Manuscripts submitted to the journal will be held to rigorous standards with respect to experimental methods and characterisation of new compounds.

You must provide adequate data to support your assignment of identity and purity for each new compound described in your manuscript. You should provide a statement confirming the source, identity and purity of known compounds that are central to the scientific study, even if they are purchased or resynthesised using published methods.

1. Chemical identity

Chemical identity for organic and organometallic compounds should be established through spectroscopic analysis. Standard peak listings (see formatting guidelines below) for 1H NMR and proton-decoupled 13C NMR should be provided for all new compounds. Other NMR data should be reported (31P NMR, 19F NMR, etc.) when appropriate. For new materials, you should also provide mass spectral data to support molecular weight identity. High-resolution mass spectral (HRMS) data is preferred. You may report UV or IR spectral data for the identification of characteristic functional groups, when appropriate. You should provide melting-point ranges for crystalline materials. You may report specific rotations for chiral compounds. You should provide references, rather than detailed procedures, for known compounds, unless their protocols represent a departure from or improvement on published methods.

2. Combinational compound libraries

When describing the preparation of combinatorial libraries, you should include standard characterisation data for a diverse panel of library components.

3. Biomolecular identity

For new biopolymeric materials (oligosaccharides, peptides, nucleic acids, etc.), direct structural analysis by NMR spectroscopic methods may not be possible. In these cases, you must provide evidence of identity based on sequence (when appropriate) and mass spectral characterisation.

4. Biological constructs

You should provide sequencing or functional data that validates the identity of their biological constructs (plasmids, fusion proteins, site-directed mutants, etc.) either in the manuscript text or the Methods section, as appropriate.

5. Sample purity

We request evidence of sample purity for each new compound. Methods for purity analysis depend on the compound class. For most organic and organometallic compounds, purity may be demonstrated by high-field 1H NMR or 13C NMR data, although elemental analysis (±0.4%) is encouraged for small molecules. You may use quantitative analytical methods including chromatographic (GC, HPLC, etc.) or electrophoretic analyses to demonstrate purity for small molecules and polymeric materials.

6. Spectral data

Please provide detailed spectral data for new compounds in list form (see below) in the Methods section. Figures containing spectra generally will not be published as a manuscript figure unless the data are directly relevant to the central conclusions of the paper. You are encouraged to include high-quality images of spectral data for key compounds in the Supplementary Information. You should list specific NMR assignments after integration values only if they were unambiguously determined by multidimensional NMR or decoupling experiments. You should provide information about how assignments were made in a general Methods section.

Example format for compound characterisation data. mp: 100-102 °C (lit. ref 99-101 °C); TLC (CHCl 3 :MeOH, 98:2 v/v): R f = 0.23; [α] D = -21.5 (0.1 M in n-hexane); 1 H NMR (400 MHz, CDCl 3 ): δ 9.30 (s, 1H), 7.55-7.41 (m, 6H), 5.61 (d, J = 5.5 Hz, 1H), 5.40 (d, J = 5.5 Hz, 1H), 4.93 (m, 1H), 4.20 (q, J = 8.5 Hz, 2H), 2.11 (s, 3H), 1.25 (t, J = 8.5 Hz, 3H); 13 C NMR (125 MHz, CDCl 3 ): δ 165.4, 165.0, 140.5, 138.7, 131.5, 129.2, 118.6, 84.2, 75.8, 66.7, 37.9, 20.1; IR (Nujol): 1765 cm- 1 ; UV/Vis: λ max 267 nm; HRMS (m/z): [M] + calcd. for C 20 H 15 C l2 NO 5 , 420.0406; found, 420.0412; analysis (calcd., found for C 20 H 15 C l2 NO 5 ): C (57.16, 57.22), H (3.60, 3.61), Cl (16.87, 16.88), N (3.33, 3.33), O (19.04, 19.09).

7. Crystallographic data for small molecules

If your manuscript is reporting new three-dimensional structures of small molecules from crystallographic analysis, you should include a .cif file and a structural figure with probability ellipsoids for publication as Supplementary Information. These must have been checked using the IUCR's CheckCIF routine, and you must include a PDF copy of the output with the submission, together with a justification for any alerts reported. You should submit crystallographic data for small molecules to the Cambridge Structural Database and the deposition number referenced appropriately in the manuscript. Full access must be provided on publication.

8. Macromolecular structural data

If your manuscript is reporting new structures, it should contain a table summarising structural and refinement statistics. Templates are available for such tables describing NMR and X-ray crystallography data. To facilitate assessment of the quality of the structural data, you should submit with the manuscript a stereo image of a portion of the electron density map (for crystallography papers) or of the superimposed lowest energy structures (≳10; for NMR papers). If the reported structure represents a novel overall fold, you should also provide a stereo image of the entire structure (as a backbone trace).

Registered Reports are original research articles which undergo peer-review prior to data collection and analyses. This format is designed to minimize publication bias and research bias in hypothesis-driven research, while also allowing the flexibility to conduct exploratory (unregistered) analyses and report serendipitous findings. If you intend to submit a Registered Report to Scientific Reports , please refer to detailed guidelines here .

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Author Information

Manuscript template

We have prepared a manuscript template to help authors when submitting their manuscript to one of our journals.

Please click on the link below and 'Save As' the Word document onto your local computer.

When you are ready to submit your paper please go to our online submission form , which is designed to be as quick and easy as possible.

If you have any questions about submitting your manuscript please email our Editorial team  or use the green/red 'Live Support' button on the website.

Updated 28 June 2022

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Writing and Formatting Your Manuscript

General manuscript formatting, manuscript sections, reference style and formatting, supplemental material and multimedia.

All manuscripts submitted to the ASHA Journals should adhere to the following general formatting guidelines:

Line Numbering Instructions

Manuscripts submitted to the ASHA journals should include line numbers. Adding line numbers in Microsoft Word and many other major word processors is straightforward. 

Adding line numbering in Microsoft Word

To add line numbering in Microsoft Word, start by opening the document for your manuscript and then select the layout tab in the upper toolbar (circled below). 

research paper manuscript format

Then, select the “Line Numbers” option in the Page Setup panel (circled below).

research paper manuscript format

Finally, select the “Continuous” option from the Line Numbers drop-down menu (circled below) and the numbers will be automatically added. 

research paper manuscript format

Generally, scientific manuscripts should be organized as follows:


Acknowledgments, data availability statement, tables and figures, learning outcomes.

Because scientific papers are organized in this way, readers know what to expect from each part of the paper and they can quickly locate specific information.

Note: Page Limit

A guideline of 40 pages (including title page, abstract, text, acknowledgments, references, appendixes, tables, and figures) is suggested as an upper limit for manuscript length for most manuscript types. This page limit does not include supplemental materials. Please note that this is just a general guideline. Longer manuscripts, particularly for critical reviews and extended data-based reports, will be considered, but the author(s) should submit a cover letter providing a rationale for why the added length is needed. There is not a prescribed limit on the number of tables or figures that can be included.

The title should be short and clear, yet provide a sufficient description of the work. As the title becomes the basis for most online searches, it should contain the key words describing the work presented. If your title is insufficient, people will have difficulty finding your article. The title page should also include a list of the authors and their affiliations (see Authorship Criteria and Guidelines for more information).

The abstract helps readers scan through lists of articles or search results and is essential for helping users decide whether to read the rest of the article or save it for future reference. As a result, abstracts must be brief but also informative enough to be genuinely useful.

ASHA recommends that abstracts be 150–250 words. The size limit for what can be included in your submission is set above 300 words, but that is so that very detailed abstracts for specific types of studies can be accommodated (see, for example, the abstract for this  randomized controlled trial  reported according to the CONSORT framework)

Regardless of the type of manuscript, abstracts must be structured using the following sections:

Purpose:  The Purpose section must include a concise statement of the specific purposes, questions addressed, and/or hypotheses tested. Lengthy descriptions of rationale are not necessary or desirable.

Method:  The Method section must describe characteristics and numbers of participants and provide information related to the design of the study (e.g., pre–post group study of treatment outcomes, randomized controlled trial, multiple baseline across behaviors; ethnographic study with qualitative analysis; prospective longitudinal study) and data collection methods. If the participants have been assigned randomly to study conditions, this must be noted explicitly, regardless of the design used. If the article is not data-based, information should be provided on the methods used to collect information (e.g., computerized database search), to summarize previously reported data and to organize the presentation and arguments (e.g., meta-analysis, narrative review).

Results:  The Results section should summarize findings as they apply directly to the stated purposes of the article. Statistical outcomes may be summarized, but no statistics other than effect sizes should be provided within the abstract. This section may be omitted from articles that are not data-based.

Conclusions:  The Conclusions section must state specifically the extent to which the stated purposes of the article have been met. Comments on the generalizability of the results (i.e., external validity), needs for further research, and clinical implications often are highly desirable.

The introduction usually describes the theoretical background, indicates why the work is important, states a specific research question, and poses a specific hypothesis to be tested. This section should provide your statement of purpose and rationale.

The methods section must provide a clear and precise explanation of how you carried out the study and why specific experimental procedures were chosen. This section describes both the techniques and the overall experimental strategy used by the authors in order to address any questions the readers may have about the experimental design. The methods section must be written with enough information so that (1) the experiment could be repeated by others to determine if the results can be replicated and (2) the audience can judge the study’s validity.

The results section contains the data collected during your study and is the heart of a scientific paper. The body of the results section is a text-based presentation of the key findings which includes references to each of the Tables and Figures. Much of the important information may be in the form of tables or graphs. The text should guide the reader through the results stressing the key results that provide the answers to the question(s) investigated.

The discussion section should explain what the results mean and how the results relate to other studies. This section interprets your findings, evaluates the hypotheses or research questions, discusses unexpected results, and ties the findings to the previous literature (discussed first in the Introduction). Any possible objections to the work and/or suggestions of areas for improvement in future research can be addressed in this section.

Citation of grant or contract support of research must be given in an acknowledgments section at the end of the article (before the References). If any part of the research was supported by an institution not named on the title page, that institution should be acknowledged in this section. Individuals who assisted in the research may be acknowledged. Do not name individuals (editors and reviewers) who participated in the review process.

Effective January 1, 2022, all ASHA journals require authors to provide a data availability statement (DAS), detailing where data supporting the results reported in the article can be found, including, where applicable, hyperlinks to publicly archived datasets analyzed or generated during the study.

To learn more about ASHA journals’ research data standards and the data availability statement, visit the Research Data Standards page.  

All literature cited in the text, as well as test and assessment tools, ANSI and ISO standards, and specialized software, must be listed in this section. References should be listed alphabetically, then chronologically under each author. Journal names should be spelled out and italicized. Pay particular attention to accuracy and APA style for references cited in the text and listed in the references.

Tables present lists of numbers or text in columns, each column having a title or label. Figures are visual presentations of results, including graphs, diagrams, photos, drawings, schematics, maps, etc. Each table or figure should appear on its own page (i.e., don’t put more than one figure or table on the same page). Use arabic numerals to identify both tables and figures, and do not use suffix letters for complex tables. Instead, simplify complex tables by making two or more separate tables. Table titles and figure captions should be concise but explanatory. The reader should not have to refer to the text to decipher the information. Keep in mind the width of a column or page when designing tables and figures. In other words, consider whether legibility will be lost when reductions are made to fit a column or page width. Avoid “special effects” in figures (e.g., three-dimensional bar graphs) because they distort, rather than enhance, the data and distract the reader.


Additional materials.

Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups authors should—and other journal authors are encouraged to—include up to 3 learning outcomes in order to help create learning assessments for ASHA Continuing Education Units (CEUs ) . ASHA Continuing Education provides guidelines to crafting learning outcomes .

An appendix is an optional part of the paper that allows you to include detailed information that would interrupt the flow of the main body of the article. Examples of items you might have in an appendix include lists of words, a questionnaire or tool used in the study, a detailed description of an apparatus used in the research, etc.

Supplemental Material

Supplemental material is nonessential to understanding of the paper, but may present information that further enhances the article. Examples of the types of material and file formats accepted may be found on the  Supplemental Material and Multimedia section  of this page. Any files for supplemental materials should be submitted at the same time as the manuscript and will be subject to the normal peer review process. Please indicate clearly that the material is intended as supplementary, and be sure that it is referred to within the text of the manuscript. Also, please provide a concise (1- or 2-sentence) description for each file supplied.

The ASHA Journals use the  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.) for reference style and formatting. You can purchase your own copy of the APA  Publication Manual  directly through their website , or various other retailers. Please use the quick resources box to the right for various other online materials which may prove helpful when formatting your references.

ASHA has partnered with  Figshare  to enable authors to automatically archive data and supporting materials in an open access, public repository when submitting an article to an ASHA journal. Figshare provides unlimited data storage for a variety of file formats. All content is assigned a permanent web link (DOI) so you and other authors can link directly to it from future papers. You can easily upload supplemental files within the existing  Editorial Manager submission workflow . This supplemental material can consist of any of the following:

If you plan to take advantage of this service, then your data and other supplemental material must be submitted before your article is accepted. If your article is accepted for publication, then all of your supplemental files are automatically deposited into the ASHA Journals Figshare data repository without charge. Figshare is an open access repository using Creative Commons licenses for supplemental material hosted there. CC BY is the license used for most file types. CC0 is the standard license used for sharing data and databases. However, you can select another license to set access restrictions on your supplemental material if needed. Please review the explanation of  Creative Commons licenses  for more information.

Authors who have video or animation files that they wish to submit with their article are encouraged to include links to these within the body of the article. This can be done in the same way as a figure or table by referring to the video or animation content and noting in the body text where it should be placed. All submitted files should be properly labeled so that they directly relate to the file’s content. In order to ensure that your video, audio, or animation material is directly usable, please provide the files in one of our recommended file formats (see below). Video, audio, and animation files supplied will be published online in the electronic version of your article.

Please supply “stills” with your files: you can choose any frame from the video or animation or create a separate image. For audio clips, you can select a thumbnail image that you feel is representative of the content of the audio clip. These will be used instead of standard icons and will personalize the link to your multimedia data. Because video, audio, and animation cannot be embedded in the print version of the journal, please provide text for both the electronic and the print version for the portions of the article that refer to this content.

If the content being submitted is truly “supplementary” (not essential to the content of the article or only of supplementary interest to the reader), it can be included as Supplementary Content (i.e., accessible only electronically via an active link in the article). Multimedia files included as Supplementary Content should be referred to at an appropriate place in the text. If this is not done, any Supplementary Content will be referred to in an appendix without specifying exactly what it is. All submitted files should be properly labelled so that they directly relate to the file’s content. This will ensure that the files are fully searchable by users. If the author does not hold copyright to the video, the author must obtain permission for the video to be published in the journal. This permission must be for unrestricted use in all print, online, and licensed versions of the journal. Please see our  guide on seeking permission  for more information.

Acceptable File Formats

Figshare allows the upload of any file type and is able to visualize hundreds of different file types in the browser window. Please visit the Figshare Knowledge site for more information on file types for Figshare. 

If you are not sure what specifications to use to create a video, the following settings are recommended:

Image Recommendations 

Any files for supplemental materials should be submitted at the same time as the manuscript and will be subject to the normal peer review process. Please indicate clearly that the material is intended as supplementary, and be sure that it is referred to within the text of the manuscript. Also, please provide a concise (1- or 2-sentence) description for each file supplied. The material must be original content that has not been previously published. Where possible, the material will be copyedited. Please note: Recordings or images that involve identifiable participants require permission from those individuals. Please secure and provide that signed consent.

Consent for Publication

When publishing identifiable images, or video and audio recordings, from human research participants in ASHA journals, authors include a statement in the published paper affirming that they have obtained informed consent for publication of the images and/or recordings.

The consent form should cover both image and voice of the person (if both are used); should specifically grant consent for submitting the recording for publication in a scientific journal; and should include online publishing if the recording and/or still images from it for purposes related to promotion of the published study.

All reasonable measures must be taken to protect patient anonymity . Black bars over the eyes are not acceptable means of anonymization.  In certain cases, ASHA may insist upon obtaining evidence of informed consent from authors. Images and recordings without appropriate consent will be removed from publication.

ASHA Author Services

Take the success, visibility, and impact of your research to new heights with the ASHA Author Services Portal, powered by Editage.

research paper manuscript format

Author Resource Center

Related content, aja special issue: internet and audiology, select papers from the 45th clinical aphasiology conference, improved review process with new editorial board structure, now in effect, quick resources.


About the ASHA Journals

ASHA publishes four peer-reviewed scholarly journals and one peer-reviewed scholarly review journal pertaining to the general field of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) and to the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. These journals are the  American Journal of Audiology ;  American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology ;  Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research ;  Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools ; and Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups . These journals have the collective mission of disseminating research findings, theoretical advances, and clinical knowledge in CSD.

Connect with the ASHA Journals

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Educational resources and simple solutions for your research journey

How To Write A Manuscript? Step By Step Guide To Research Manuscript Writing

How to write a manuscript? Step-by-step guide to research manuscript writing

research paper manuscript format

Getting published for the first time is a crucial milestone for researchers, especially early career academics. However, the journey starting from how to write a manuscript for a journal to successfully submitting your scientific study and then getting it published can be a long and arduous one. Many find it impossible to break through the editorial and peer review barriers to get their first article published. In fact, the pressure to publish, the high rejection rates of prestigious journals, and the waiting period for a publication decision may often cause researchers to doubt themselves, which negatively impacts research productivity.

While there is no quick and easy way to getting published, there are some proven tips for writing a manuscript that can help get your work the attention it deserves. By ensuring that you’ve accounted for and ticked the checklist for manuscript writing in research you can significantly increase the chances of your manuscript being accepted.

In this step‐by‐step guide, we answer the question – ­­ how to write a manuscript for publication – by presenting some practical tips for the same.

As a first step, it is important that you spend time to identify and evaluate the journal you plan to submit your manuscript to. Data shows that 21% of manuscripts are desk rejected by journals, with another approximately 40% being rejected after peer review 1 , often because editors feel that the submission does not add to the “conversation” in their journal.  Therefore, even before you actually begin the process of manuscript writing, it is a good idea to find out how other similar studies have been presented. This will not only give you an understanding of where your research stands within the wider academic landscape, it will also provide valuable insights on how to present your study when writing a manuscript so that it addresses the gaps in knowledge and stands apart from current published literature.

The next step is to begin the manuscript writing process. This is the part that people find really daunting. Most early career academics feel overwhelmed at this point, and they often look for tips on how to write a manuscript to help them sort through all the research data and present it correctly. Experts suggest following the IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) structure that organizes research findings into logical sections and presents ideas and thoughts more coherently for readers.

research paper manuscript format

You can learn more about the IMRaD structure and master the art of crafting a well-structured manuscript that impresses journal editors and readers in this  in-depth course for researchers , which is available free with a Researcher.Life subscription.

When writing a manuscript and putting the structure together, more often than not, researchers end up spending a lot of time writing the “meat” of the article (i.e., the Methods, Results, and Discussion sections). Consequently, little thought goes into the title and abstract, while keywords get even lesser attention.

The key purpose of the abstract and title is to provide readers with information about whether or not the results of your study are relevant to them. One of my top tips on how to write a manuscript would be to spend some time ensuring that the title is clear and unambiguous, since it is typically the first element a reader encounters. This makes it one of the most important steps to writing a manuscript. Moreover, in addition to attracting potential readers, your research paper’s title is your first chance to make a good impression on reviewers and journal editors.  A descriptive title and abstract will also make your paper stand out for the reader, who will be drawn in if they know exactly what you are presenting. In manuscript writing, remember that the more specific and accurate the title, the more chances of the manuscript being found and cited. Learn the dos and don’ts of drafting an effective title with the help of  this comprehensive handbook for authors , which is also available on the Researcher.Life platform.

The title and the abstract together provide readers with a quick summary of the manuscript and offer a brief glimpse into your research and its scientific implications. The abstract must contain the main premise of your research and the questions you seek to answer. Often, the abstract might be the only part of the manuscript that is read by busy editors, therefore, it should represent a concise version of your complete manuscript. The practice of placing published research papers behind a paywall means many of the database searching software programs will only scan the abstract and titles of the article to determine if the document is relevant to the search keywords the reader is using. Therefore, when writing a manuscript, it is important to write the abstract in a way that ensures both the readers and search engines will be able to find and decide if your research is relevant to their study 2 .

It would not be wrong to say that the title, abstract and keywords operate in a manner comparable to a chain reaction. Once the keywords have helped people find the research paper and an effective title has successfully captured and drawn the readers’ attention, it is up to the abstract of the research paper to further trigger the readers’ interest and maintain their curiosity. This functional advantage alone serves to make an abstract an indispensable component within the research paper format 3 that deserves your complete attention when writing a manuscript.

As you proceed with the steps to writing a manuscript, keep in mind the recommended paper length and mould the structure of your manuscript taking into account the specific guidelines of the journal you are submitting to. Most scientific journals have evolved a distinctive style, structure, and organization. One of the top tips for writing a manuscript would be to use concise sentences and simple straightforward language in a consistent manner throughout the manuscript to convey the details of your research.

Once all the material necessary for submission has been put together, go through the manuscript with a fresh mind so that you can identify errors and gaps. According to Peter Thrower, Editor-in-Chief of  Carbon , one of the top reasons for manuscript rejection is poor language comprehension. Incorrect usage of words, grammar and spelling errors, and flaws in sentence construction are certain to lead to rejection. Authors also often overlook checks to ensure a coherent transition between sections when writing a manuscript. Proofreading is, therefore, a must before submitting your manuscript for publication. Double-check the data and figures and read the manuscript out loud – this helps to weed out possible grammatical errors.

You could request colleagues or fellow researchers to go through your manuscript before submission but, if they are not experts in the same field, they may miss out on errors. In such cases, you may want to consider using professional academic editing services to help you improve sentence structure, grammar, word choice, style, logic and flow to create a polished manuscript that has a 24% greater chance of journal acceptance 4.

Once you are done writing a manuscript as per your target journal, we recommend doing a  comprehensive set of submission readiness checks  to ensure your paper is structurally sound, complete with all the relevant sections, and is devoid of language errors. Most importantly, you need to check for any accidental or unintentional plagiarism – i.e., not correctly citing, paraphrasing or quoting another’s work – which is considered a copyright infringement by the journal, can not only lead to rejection, but also stir up trouble for you and cause irreversible damage to your reputation and career. Also make sure you have all the ethical declarations in place when writing a manuscript, such as conflicts of interest and compliance approvals for studies involving human or animal participants.

To conclude, whenever you find yourself wondering – how to write a manuscript for publication – make sure you check the following points:

Writing a manuscript and getting your work published is an important step in your career as it introduces your research to a wide audience. If you follow our simple manuscript writing guide, you will have the base to create a winning manuscript, with a great chance at acceptance. If you face any hurdles or need support along the way, be sure to explore these  bite-sized learning modules on research writing , designed by researchers, for researchers. And once you have mastered the tips for writing a research paper, and crafting a great submission package, use the comprehensive AI-assisted manuscript evaluation  to avoid errors that lead to desk rejection and optimize your paper for submission to your target journal.

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