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The study setting, the sampling strategy used, instruments, data collection methods, and analysis strategies should be described.In the case of qualitative research studies, it is also useful to tell the reader which research tradition the study utilizes and to link the choice of methodological strategies with the research goals .
The research question—or study objective or main research hypothesis—is the central organizing principle of the paper.
Whatever relates to the research question belongs in the paper; the rest doesn’t.
The Methods section should provide the readers with sufficient detail about the study methods to be able to reproduce the study if so desired.
Thus, this section should be specific, concrete, technical, and fairly detailed.
Writing research papers does not come naturally to most of us.
The typical research paper is a highly codified rhetorical form [1,2].
The idea is not to split results into ‘least publishable units’, a practice that is rightly decried, but rather into ‘optimally publishable units’. The key attributes are: (i) specificity; (ii) originality or novelty; and (iii) general relevance to a broad scientific community.
The research question should be precise and not merely identify a general area of inquiry.
It can often (but not always) be expressed in terms of a possible association between X and Y in a population Z, for example ‘we examined whether providing patients about to be discharged from the hospital with written information about their medications would improve their compliance with the treatment 1 month later’.
A study does not necessarily have to break completely new ground, but it should extend previous knowledge in a useful way, or alternatively refute existing knowledge.