When I first started in Science I can’t say anyone every sat down with me and told me how to write a paper. In reading papers, obviously something reasonably linear is easier. If one knows the background well, one can skip the Introduction and go right to the results. In writing a paper, I find it easier to think of it a little different. To that end I wrote up a template to help me order my thoughts and ideas. I will not say this it the only way to do it, nor the best. I find this way simple for me.
Below is the text. Attached here is a paper_outline one can print out.
The primary objective of this template is to help you organize your thoughts on the contents of a scientific paper. The standard format of a scientific paper is: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions. There are many modifications to this (e.g. inculde a Theory section or combine the Results and Discussion sections). Below is the likely order that one should work through to organize your paper, which can then be translated into the standard format (order). Try to move through each section in order, one follows naturally from the previous. Typically, each bullet point that you write below one of the sections is going to be a paragraph (though maybe not).
1 Primary Objectives
List the primary objective(s) of the work. Probably one primary objective and several secondary objectives.
2 Results to Fulfill Objectives
List the primary results that will fulfill the objectives. Will the results be shown by a figure, table or in the
3 Discussion – Anomolies
List each discussion item. For each result, was there an anomoly about the result that needed to be described
further? Outliner in the data? Simple re-analysis with different starting conditions (e.g. curve fitting)?
4 Discussion – Pertaining to Previous Work
List each discussion item. For each result, how does it pertain to previous work? Are your results better? If
5 Discussion – Future Work
List each extension to this work. How can the work be extended?
6 Describe the Methods
List each method that needs to be described. A method could be apparatus setup. Data analysis (and statistical tests). Participants (entry criterion, exclusion criterion). You will likely have several points here, again, each point will likely end up being a paragraph.
7 List the areas to Introduce
Given the results and discussion, what are the main areas that need to be introduced?
7.2 Previous Work
7.3 Restate objectives