Derntl explains that for most journals, the “hourglass” is the most accepted format for an academic paper: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Body, Discussion/Conclusion, References. There are several key points he outlines in title creation. The title should:
- identify the main issue of the paper
- begin with the subject of the paper
- be accurate, unambiguous, specific and complete
- not contain unfamiliar abbreviations
- be attractive
- Motivation: Why do we care about the problem and the results?
- Problem: What problem is being solved?
- Solution: What was done to solve the problem?
- Results: What is the answer to the problem?
- Implications: What implications does the answer imply?
- Establish a territory: bring out the importance of the subject and/or make general statements about the subject and/or present an overview on current research on the subject
- Establish a niche: oppose an existing assumption or reveal a research gap or formulate a research question or problem or continue a tradition
- Occupy the niche: sketch the intent of the own work and/or outline important characteristics of the own work; outline important results; and give a brief outlook on the structure of the paper
The empirical paper: describes the material and data used for the study, the methods used to answer the research questions, and the results obtained. It should be written so that others can attempt to reproduce the experiment
- The case study: describes the application of existing methods, theory or tools and reflects on experience and relevance to others in the same or related fields
- The methodology paper: describes a new method and so serves as a “how to” for the specified target readership
- The theory paper: describes principles, concepts or models on which work in the field (empirical, experience, methodology) is based and provides the context against a backdrop of related frameworks and theories
- A presentation of background information as well as recapitulation of the research aims of the study
- A brief summary of the results
- A comparison of results with previously published work
- Conclusions or hypotheses drawn from the results, with summary of evidence for each conclusion
- Proposed follow-up research questions and outlook on further work
As a footnote to the references reference, one must also take into account the need for footnotes and follow the journal’s housestyle as to whether these are to be avoided, interspersed in the body text or aggregated with the references. And, speaking of housestyle, the overall hourglass structure of a paper must be adjusted to conform with the target journal’s instructions to authors too and, again, the classic cliché of “know your audience” must be followed in the actual writing of the paper, avoiding ambiguity, sticking to grammatical and spelling conventions and aiming to be concise rather than verbose.
The open access source from Derntl can be found here: Derntl, M. (2014) ‘Basics of research paper writing and publishing’, Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.105–123.