This article is a short version of the comprehensive and freely available tutorial "How to write a research article for MRC", written by Paul Trevorrow and Gary E. Martin.
When choosing a title for an article, it is advisable to choose a title that best describes the work, is succinct, and free from excessive jargon. The title should entice the reader and authors should keep in mind that the first impression counts! A strong title will likely convince an editor (or reviewer) that the paper is important to the journal's readership. Titles should generally be short, not more than 15 words, and be informative; they need to convey the main message and/ or finding of the paper. Try to be precise without using vague language. It is recommended that authors of research articles and reviews avoid titles such as the following:
“Studies on …”
“Characterization of …”
“Optimization of …”
“Investigations on …”
“Review of …”
“… in review”
In some publications, references to “new” or “novel” appear frequently in article titles. Such phrases should be avoided where possible. The point of the academic journal is to
publish new research so stating new or novel in the title can appear somewhat redundant.
Your abstract is one of the most important elements of your article. Firstly, editors may not have time to read your entire manuscript when making initial screening decisions. If you can sell them on the importance of your research in the abstract, they will be able to make a decision on whether the article is acceptably within the scope of the journal quickly and easily. Secondly, when asked to review an article, referees are presented with the abstract in the initial invitation. A poorly structured abstract with unclear motivation is less likely to be accepted for review by an already fatigued referee. Finally, due to abstracting and indexing agencies, such as Web of Science, SciFinder, PubMed, ResearchGate (the list goes on), more people are going to view your abstract than will ever read your paper. If you can make it clear why your article is important, it is more likely to be discovered by the correct audience.
The abstract should be viewed as a self‐contained component and should not include references to external sources or supporting information. The abstract should also be concise so that editors, reviewers, or the eventual readers can quickly make an assessment on whether they want to read the full paper.
One should think of an abstract in sections, firstly state the problem, the reason for the research, and why it is important. Remember that your abstract is the biggest advert for your paper, so it is important to put the research in a broad context stating why the research is important to a broad public audience and not only your specialist NMR community. Secondly, introduce the procedure simply, describing the investigative technique and the samples involved. Thirdly, offer a brief and succinct account of the result followed by the final portion, the conclusion. The conclusion should convey the take‐home message of the research. In general, an optimal abstract should follow the following structure, which will ensure that all of the important points are covered and expressed logically:
- Rationale: state the problem, the reason for the research and why it is important to broad non‐specialist audience.
- Method: what procedure/analysis has been undertaken?
- Result: what was the outcome of the experiment?
- Conclusion: what are the key take‐home messages of the research?
All articles in this eBook give examples of well-structured abstracts. For example, the abstract of “Flexible Micropillar Electrode Arrays for In Vivo Neural Activity Recordings” (pp. 25-31) mimics the above mentioned, recommended structure:
“Flexible electronics that can form tight interfaces with neural tissues hold great promise for improving the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and advancing brain/machine interfaces.”
“Here, the facile fabrication of a novel flexible micropillar electrode array (μPEA) is described based on a biotemplate method.”
“The flexible and compliant μPEA can readily integrate with the soft surface of a rat cerebral cortex. Moreover, the recording sites of the μPEA consist of protruding micropillars with a nanoscale surface roughness that ensures tight interfacing and efficient electrical coupling with the nervous system. As a result, the flexible μPEA allows for in vivo multichannel recordings of epileptiform activity with a high signal-to-noise ratio.”
The ease of preparation and high flexibility make the μPEA an attractive tool for in vivo spatiotemporal mapping of neural activity.”
When reading an article, the abstract appears as the first element; however, it may be prudent to compose this last when writing up the manuscript. This will enable one to keep consistent with the findings of the research and prevent rewriting as the investigative components of the article develop.
Copyright: Trevorrow, P, Martin, GE. How to write a research article for MRC . Magn Reson Chem. 2020; 58: 352– 362. https://doi.org/10.1002/mrc.5012
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