The abstract is a precise summary of the entire research paper. It should entice the reader into reading the full paper, so authors spend substantial amount of time and effort into crafting an abstract that provides a gist of the entire experimental study.
In conferences, an abstract is presented to keynote speakers and reviewers. They judge the entire quality of a research paper only on the basis of the abstract. If the abstract is good, the entire paper would be selected for presentation to the audience. An abstract is considered as an indicator of the quality of content in a research paper.
Let’s understand the purpose of writing a good abstract for a scientific research paper. An abstract should provide a brief overview of the entire research paper. A reader must be provided with the following content: background, objective, methods, results, and conclusion.
In general, an abstract has to be not more than 250 to 300 words. The objective should state clearly what was the motive of conducting the research study. The methods should describe how the experimental research study was conducted. The results should mention the novel findings of this study. Finally, the conclusion must state the significance of the research study.
In general, just two to three sentences must be included in the background of the study. They should effectively guide the reader into the investigational methods used in the study. Next, the objective of the study should not be more than one sentence in length. Thereafter, the methods section should clearly describe the research study design.
The results section must be written in detail and include all the important information about the findings in the study. It is the longest section of the abstract; however, the word count limit of the abstract must be kept in mind while writing the results. Finally, the conclusion of the abstract should include the three important components: the significance of the study, additional important findings, and the perspective of the study.
An introduction is the first section of a research paper after the abstract. It summarizes the rationale behind the topic of a research study. The background information is presented to induce the reader into understanding the hypothesis and methodology of the experiment. An introduction has to be written in a simple, lucid language, making a good impression on the reader. An introduction should present general information on the topic of the research study in the initial paragraph. Then, the specific context of the study should be explained. The introduction should have the statement of purpose of the study in the concluding paragraph. It should also include potential outcomes of the study.
Information related to the topic of study would include the significance of the topic, the general background of the topic, and an overview of current research studies on the topic. There would be a niche problem associated with the topic of a research study. Then, develop a research question that would confront the existing assumptions. Thereafter, identify gaps in existing research studies. Now, that the research topic is aligned with the niche of research, it is mandatory to explain the objective of the research study. The highlights of the study may be summarized along with important results. Finally, the authors should describe the structure of the study in a concise, succinct manner.
A research problem may be dealt with many methodologies. However, the reader must be informed in the introduction section why alternative methodologies have not been considered and why authors have chosen a specific approach to deal with the research problem. In other words, every introduction section should describe how a research problem is being investigated within the scope and boundaries of the study.
The introduction section of a research paper should have a narrative flow. Firstly, the subject area of interest should be identified clearly. For this purpose, the keywords presented in the Abstract section should be used in the title of the paper. The same keywords should also be used in the initial few sentences of the introduction section. Thus, although general information would develop the background, the subject area of interest would also be presented in a focused manner.
The context of the study would include a critical and rational review of all published studies related to the subject area of interest. There may be known facts about the research problem, and these must be presented in the introduction section. Thus, this information would help readers understand key elements associated with the research problem. The hypothesis that is going to be investigated must be stated clearly toward the end of the introduction section. The rationale behind this research problem must also be stated at the end of the introduction. In conclusion, the goal of the introduction is to compel the readers to peruse through the paper.
While submitting a manuscript to a journal, it is very important to include an impressive cover letter to the editor-in-chief. The cover letter provides a glimpse of the results and data presented in the manuscript, including the experimental study design. Based on the content of the cover letter, the journal editor would make an important decision of accepting the article with revisions or directly publishing it. In most cases, the paper is forwarded to reviewers based on the content of the cover letter and manuscript. A cover letter should be typically of 1-2 pages. In this article, we guide you on how to write a professional yet persuasive cover letter that attracts the attention of the journal editor.
Salient features of a cover letter to a journal editor:
- A cover letter must include the name of all authors, including the names of corresponding authors. Contact details of authors, such as email addresses and the actual address must be provided at the start of the cover letter. In most cases, authors prefer to use the institute’s letterhead. In general, letterhead is standardized and contact details have to be provided at the end of the cover letter. Always write your signature at the end of the cover letter. Contact details are necessary as the editor would contact you based on their decision, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.
- In some journals, the editors of different regions are different. For example, the European version of the journal would have an editor that is different from the American version of the journal. In this case, please ensure that the correct editor is addressed in the cover letter. The title and the name of the editor should be written correctly and in full form. A journal’s webpage usually enlists the names of editors. Never write “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” as a salutation. In case the name is not provided on the journal’s webpage, then the salutation would be “Dear Editor” or “Dear Editor-in-chief.”
- The cover letter has to be written in a unique style. As an author of a manuscript, you cannot simply include important results as copied paragraphs. The important findings and results should be reworded in simple and short sentences. The journal editor should be convinced that you spent time drafting the cover letter.
- Before drafting a cover letter, please double-check whether the topic of your research study is compliant with the journal’s theme, scope, and subject. A cover letter should be written in a constructive tone and style. The title of the manuscript should be presented as it is in the cover letter. The title should be the one that’s presented in the final draft of the manuscript. Then, declare the type of work that is presented in the manuscript. It could be any one of the following: an article, a meta-analysis, short communication, or a perspective.
- There may be instances where the authors have submitted the article to another journal earlier. In that case, authors must take into account the current journal’s submission criteria, theme, and interests. Thus, they should address the current journal’s editor by his or her proper name, and change the wordings of the cover letter. In case the article has been rejected by a previous journal, then the authors must mention the reason for rejection in the cover letter. The authors should never submit a manuscript to two or more journals simultaneously. Most journal editors do not review a manuscript that has been already submitted elsewhere for publication.
- The important content of the cover letter is just one or two paragraphs that summarize the novelty of the scientific research. All important points of the research findings must be included in this cover letter. These two paragraphs should neither be too long nor very short. The experimental study design and the special techniques used in the research study should be presented concisely. All innovative results of the study should also be included.
- The cover letter must include the significance of the study and the rationale behind experimentation. It must explain why the paper is suitable for publication in a specific journal. The explanation must include why the paper is relevant to the scope of the journal. Moreover, the authors must also explain the importance of the research study and how it will entice the readers of the journal. The editor must be convinced that the paper will have a high impact in the particular field of study.
- In the cover letter, authors must also include the list of documents that they are submitting. For example, the final draft of the manuscript, supporting information, author information forms, answers to the comments provided by reviewers (This is done when a revised form of the manuscript is submitted to the editor). Please note that the cover letter is like a sales pitch that needs to be persuasive yet concise.
- In a cover letter, refrain from mentioning and defining abbreviations. Ensure that the content is correct in terms of grammar and punctuation. Avoid having spelling mistakes in the document. Carefully read the cover letter to ascertain its worthiness. After all, it is meant to be submitted to an editor of an international journal. The esteemed editor would be glad to know that the authors are eager to answer any queries related to the manuscript. Finally, place a note stating that the decision of the editor would be held in high esteem.
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