• Communicating in STEM Disciplines
  • Features of Academic STEM Writing
  • STEM Writing Tips
  • Academic Integrity in STEM
  • Strategies for Writing
  • Science Writing Videos – YouTube Channel
  • Educator Resources
  • Lesson Plans, Activities and Assignments
  • Strategies for Teaching Writing
  • Grading Techniques

IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion)

Academic research papers in STEM disciplines typically follow a well-defined I-M-R-A-D structure: Introduction, Methods, Results And Discussion (Wu, 2011). Although not included in the IMRAD name, these papers often include a Conclusion.


The Introduction typically provides everything your reader needs to know in order to understand the scope and purpose of your research. This section should provide:

  • Context for your research (for example, the nature and scope of your topic)
  • A summary of how relevant scholars have approached your research topic to date, and a description of how your research makes a contribution to the scholarly conversation
  • An argument or hypothesis that relates to the scholarly conversation
  • A brief explanation of your methodological approach and a justification for this approach (in other words, a brief discussion of how you gather your data and why this is an appropriate choice for your contribution)
  • The main conclusions of your paper (or the “so what”)
  • A roadmap, or a brief description of how the rest of your paper proceeds

The Methods section describes exactly what you did to gather the data that you use in your paper. This should expand on the brief methodology discussion in the introduction and provide readers with enough detail to, if necessary, reproduce your experiment, design, or method for obtaining data; it should also help readers to anticipate your results. The more specific, the better!  These details might include:

  • An overview of the methodology at the beginning of the section
  • A chronological description of what you did in the order you did it
  • Descriptions of the materials used, the time taken, and the precise step-by-step process you followed
  • An explanation of software used for statistical calculations (if necessary)
  • Justifications for any choices or decisions made when designing your methods

Because the methods section describes what was done to gather data, there are two things to consider when writing. First, this section is usually written in the past tense (for example, we poured 250ml of distilled water into the 1000ml glass beaker). Second, this section should not be written as a set of instructions or commands but as descriptions of actions taken. This usually involves writing in the active voice (for example, we poured 250ml of distilled water into the 1000ml glass beaker), but some readers prefer the passive voice (for example, 250ml of distilled water was poured into the 1000ml beaker). It’s important to consider the audience when making this choice, so be sure to ask your instructor which they prefer.

The Results section outlines the data gathered through the methods described above and explains what the data show. This usually involves a combination of tables and/or figures and prose. In other words, the results section gives your reader context for interpreting the data. The results section usually includes:

  • A presentation of the data obtained through the means described in the methods section in the form of tables and/or figures
  • Statements that summarize or explain what the data show
  • Highlights of the most important results

Tables should be as succinct as possible, including only vital information (often summarized) and figures should be easy to interpret and be visually engaging. When adding your written explanation to accompany these visual aids, try to refer your readers to these in such a way that they provide an additional descriptive element, rather than simply telling people to look at them. This can be especially helpful for readers who find it hard to see patterns in data.

The Discussion section explains why the results described in the previous section are meaningful in relation to previous scholarly work and the specific research question your paper explores. This section usually includes:

  • Engagement with sources that are relevant to your work (you should compare and contrast your results to those of similar researchers)
  • An explanation of the results that you found, and why these results are important and/or interesting

Some papers have separate Results and Discussion sections, while others combine them into one section, Results and Discussion. There are benefits to both. By presenting these as separate sections, you’re able to discuss all of your results before moving onto the implications. By presenting these as one section, you’re able to discuss specific results and move onto their significance before introducing another set of results.

The Conclusion section of a paper should include a brief summary of the main ideas or key takeaways of the paper and their implications for future research. This section usually includes:

  • A brief overview of the main claims and/or key ideas put forth in the paper
  • A brief discussion of potential limitations of the study (if relevant)
  • Some suggestions for future research (these should be clearly related to the content of your paper)

Sample Research Article

Resource Download

Wu, Jianguo. “Improving the writing of research papers: IMRAD and beyond.” Landscape Ecology 26, no. 10 (November 2011): 1345–1349. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-011-9674-3.

Further reading:

  • Organization of a Research Paper: The IMRAD Format by P. K. Ramachandran Nair and Vimala D. Nair
  • George Mason University Writing Centre’s guide on Writing a Scientific Research Report (IMRAD)
  • University of Wisconsin Writing Centre’s guide on Formatting Science Reports

Copyright- Creative Commons

Structure of a Research Paper

Phillips-Wangensteen Building.

Structure of a Research Paper: IMRaD Format

I. The Title Page

  • Title: Tells the reader what to expect in the paper.
  • Author(s): Most papers are written by one or two primary authors. The remaining authors have reviewed the work and/or aided in study design or data analysis (International Committee of Medical Editors, 1997). Check the Instructions to Authors for the target journal for specifics about authorship.
  • Keywords [according to the journal]
  • Corresponding Author: Full name and affiliation for the primary contact author for persons who have questions about the research.
  • Financial & Equipment Support [if needed]: Specific information about organizations, agencies, or companies that supported the research.
  • Conflicts of Interest [if needed]: List and explain any conflicts of interest.

II. Abstract: “Structured abstract” has become the standard for research papers (introduction, objective, methods, results and conclusions), while reviews, case reports and other articles have non-structured abstracts. The abstract should be a summary/synopsis of the paper.

III. Introduction: The “why did you do the study”; setting the scene or laying the foundation or background for the paper.

IV. Methods: The “how did you do the study.” Describe the --

  • Context and setting of the study
  • Specify the study design
  • Population (patients, etc. if applicable)
  • Sampling strategy
  • Intervention (if applicable)
  • Identify the main study variables
  • Data collection instruments and procedures
  • Outline analysis methods

V. Results: The “what did you find” --

  • Report on data collection and/or recruitment
  • Participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)
  • Present key findings with respect to the central research question
  • Secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

VI. Discussion: Place for interpreting the results

  • Main findings of the study
  • Discuss the main results with reference to previous research
  • Policy and practice implications of the results
  • Strengths and limitations of the study

VII. Conclusions: [occasionally optional or not required]. Do not reiterate the data or discussion. Can state hunches, inferences or speculations. Offer perspectives for future work.

VIII. Acknowledgements: Names people who contributed to the work, but did not contribute sufficiently to earn authorship. You must have permission from any individuals mentioned in the acknowledgements sections. 

IX. References:  Complete citations for any articles or other materials referenced in the text of the article.

  • IMRD Cheatsheet (Carnegie Mellon) pdf.
  • Adewasi, D. (2021 June 14).  What Is IMRaD? IMRaD Format in Simple Terms! . Scientific-editing.info. 
  • Nair, P.K.R., Nair, V.D. (2014). Organization of a Research Paper: The IMRAD Format. In: Scientific Writing and Communication in Agriculture and Natural Resources. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-03101-9_2
  • Sollaci, L. B., & Pereira, M. G. (2004). The introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) structure: a fifty-year survey.   Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA ,  92 (3), 364–367.
  • Cuschieri, S., Grech, V., & Savona-Ventura, C. (2019). WASP (Write a Scientific Paper): Structuring a scientific paper.   Early human development ,  128 , 114–117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2018.09.011


Research Paper Basics: IMRaD

  • Finding Databases in GALILEO
  • Finding Journals in GALILEO
  • Finding Materials in GIL-Find
  • ProQuest Research Companion
  • How to Search JSTOR
  • Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed vs. Popular
  • Tutorial: Why Citations Matter
  • Literature Review
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Podcast Studio
  • Reserve a Room
  • Share Your Work
  • Finding Images
  • Using RICOH Boards
  • Writing Guides
  • The Research Process

What is IMRaD?

IMRaD is an acronym for Introduction , Methods , Results , and Discussion . It describes the format for the sections of a research report. The IMRaD (or IMRD) format is often used in the social sciences, as well as in the STEM fields.

Credit: IMRD: The Parts of a Research Paper by Wordvice Editing Service on YouTube

Outline of Scholarly Writing

With some variation among the different disciplines, most scholarly articles of original research follow the IMRD model, which consists of the following components:


  • Statement of Problem (i.e. "the Gap")
  • Plan to Solve the Problem

Method & Results

  • How Research was Done
  • What Answers were Found
  • Interpretation of Results (What Does It Mean?)
  • Implications for the Field

This form is most obvious in scientific studies, where the methods are clearly defined and described, and data is often presented in tables or graphs for analysis.

In other fields, such as history, the method and results may be embedded in a narrative, perhaps describing and interpreting events from archival sources. In this case, the method is the selection of archival sources and how they were interpreted, while the results are the interpretation and resultant story.

In full-length books, you might see this general pattern followed over the entire book, within each chapter, or both.

Creative Commons License

Credit: Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University. This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License .

IMRAD Format

  • Writing Center | George Mason University
  • IMRAD Outlining | Excelsior College
  • Florida Atlantic University Libraries
  • << Previous: Annotated Bibliography
  • Next: Group Project Tools >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 12, 2023 1:42 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.ccga.edu/researchbasics

Gould Memorial Library College of Coastal Georgia One College Drive Brunswick, GA 31520 (912) 279-5874 Library Hours Camden Center Library College of Coastal Georgia 8001 Lakes Blvd / Wildcat Blvd Kingsland, GA 31548 (912) 510-3332 Library Hours

English Editing Research Services

parts of research paper imrad

Tips for Writing a Research Paper – IMRaD Structure

parts of research paper imrad

Peer-reviewed academic journals publish a variety of article types, such as research articles that report original research, reviews of the literature, and case reports of a small number of interesting cases. Each article type has its own specific format, and it is important that you use the appropriate one.

1. Know IMRaD

Original research papers usually use the  IMRaD formula. This acronym includes the four main sections of a research paper, which answer four basic questions, as follows: 

  • I ntroduction:  Why did you do the study?
  • M ethods:  What did you do?
  • R esults:  What did you find? a nd…
  • D iscussion:  What do your findings mean? How do you advance your field?

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors , the “[ IMRaD ] structure is not an arbitrary publication format but a reflection of the process of scientific discovery.” The full structure is actually  TA-IMRaD-RAS , because research papers begin with a Title and Abstract , end with the References, and often also have an Acknowledgment and various Statements. Some features of these additional sections are as follows: 

  • Title:  usually part of the submitted Title Page, which also contains authors’ details and often the word count and number of illustrations (tables and figures)
  • Abstract: a summary of the study with or without subheadings such as Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion; usually ends with key words
  • References: two commonly used styles are numbering in order of appearance (Vancouver) and alphabetical by surname and in date order (Harvard); the style and the position of the reference list depend on the journal
  • Acknowledgments : here, you thank people who do not qualify for authorship but who helped you with the research or its analysis, reporting, and presentation
  • Statements: declarations of, for example, work contributed by each author, funding source/s, conflicts of interest (reasons for any perceived bias), ethics approval , whether the data can be accessed by others, any supplementary methods/results files online, and whether any of the work has been previously presented; these declarations are sometimes made on the submitted Title Page and may appear at the beginning or end of the published article

Get the full details on using IMRaD in this handy infographic you can download from the Edanz Learning Lab eBooks and infographics .

IMRAD structure for research writing

2. Find a target journal early 

Refer to the author guidelines of your target journal early on in the writing process. These guidelines explain the journal’s requirements for manuscript preparation, for example:• Word count of the main text• Word count and format of the abstract• Variations of IMRaD structure:o Methods may be at the end or combined with Resultso Results may be combined with Discussion

o Methods, Results, and Discussion may all be combined as one or more sections, with different headings for different parts of the study

  • IMRaD section names (for example, Introduction, Background, or no heading for the first section of IMRaD)
  • Extra sections: some journals require a Literature Review or Related Work section between the Introduction and Methods; some require Conclusion and Future Work sections after the Discussion
  • Number and style of references
  • Number and formatting of illustrations and associated text, and placement of illustrations within the main text, at the end, or in separate files
  • What statements to include and if there are special online forms to complete
  • General formatting (such as double line spacing)
  • UK or US spelling

Using the free  Edanz Journal Selector will help you find a suitable journal and its online author guidelines. 

3. Use the “write” order 

To increase your writing efficiency, use  TA-MRDI  order instead of  TA-IMRaD . Otherwise, you may waste time at the start by writing an Introduction that is too long or unrelated to the rest of the paper.

The “write” order of TA-MRDI, with the Introduction written at the end, will allow you to build a focused academic argument and help convince the reader of the need for and importance of your study. The recommended order for writing your research paper is actually based on your illustrations and can be summarized in these 10 steps: 

1. Preparation

  • Draft your illustrations, put them in a logical order
  • Summarize each illustration’s key point
  • Use the key points and notes from your initial reading to make a brief IMRaD outline to answer the questions: Why did you do the study? What did you do? What did you find? What does it all mean?

2. Title

Announce the most important feature of your research.  

3. Abstract

Summarize the key messages of your IMRaD outline in the abstract ; input text into the Edanz Journal Selector to find a target journal.  

4. Methods

Describe the materials/samples, procedures, and analytical methods in the order of your illustrations to allow others to repeat your study.  

5. Results

Finalize your illustrations and highlight their main features in the main text.  

6. Discussion

Evaluate your results in the context of the published literature, identify strengths and weaknesses, draw conclusions, and include implications and future directions.  

7. Introduction

Present enough information for readers to understand your study’s aim, design, conclusions, implications, and importance; the amount of background depends on the target journal readership (for example, generalists vs. specialists).  

8. References, etc.

Prepare the References  and any  Acknowledgment/s  and  Statements .  

Finalize the Title .  

10. Finally…the abstract again

Finalize the Abstract .The “write” order of TA-MRDI will allow you to save time and start writing even while you are still performing the research. As soon as you have analyzed your results, prepare the illustrations and make sure they have corresponding descriptions in the  Methods  section of the main text. The Methods are factual, recent, and familiar to you, so they should be relatively easy to describe.

In the main text of the  Results , you highlight the main features of your data and illustrations, making sure to describe relationships between the data instead of just repeating what is already shown in the illustrations.

In the  Discussion , you compare your findings with those already published, and you identify strengths and weaknesses of your research. In this way, you evaluate your results in the context of what is already known in your field, and you can draw conclusions and propose practical and conceptual implications and future research directions.

While you read the relevant literature , you can decide which published articles will help frame your research in the  Introduction , especially if your study design and data are of a higher quality than those in the literature.

After writing the Discussion, you will also have a clear idea of the key findings, variables, concepts, theories, and topics that need to be explained to the reader in the Introduction. By writing the Introduction last, you will provide readers with a logical and convincing rationale for your study and help them to understand the relevance and usefulness of your findings.

Complying with the author guidelines of your target journal and being familiar with IMRaD and the “write” order of TA-MRDI will help you prepare your manuscript efficiently and completely.

Finally, after drafting your manuscript, remember to revise, edit, and proofread your manuscript. You’re well on your way to outperforming your competition and raising your publication rate .

The Visual Communication Guy

Learn Visually. Communicate Powerfully.

The Visual Communication Guy

  • About The VCG
  • Contact Curtis
  • Five Paragraph Essay
  • IMRaD (Science)
  • Indirect Method (Bad News)
  • Inverted Pyramid (News)
  • Martini Glass
  • Narrative Format

Rogerian Method

  • Toulmin Method
  • Apostrophes
  • Exclamation Marks (Points)
  • Parentheses
  • Periods (Full Stops)
  • Question Marks
  • Quotation Marks
  • Plain Language
  • Information Design Rules
  • Arrangement
  • Organization
  • Negative Space
  • Iconography
  • Photography
  • Which Chart Should I Use?
  • “P” is for PREPARE
  • "O" is for OPEN
  • "W" is for WEAVE
  • “E” is for ENGAGE
  • The Six Types of Résumés You Should Know About
  • Why Designing Your Résumé Matters
  • The Anatomy of a Really Good Résumé: A Good Résumé Example
  • What a Bad Résumé Says When It Speaks
  • How to Write an Amazing Cover Letter: Five Easy Steps to Get You an Interview
  • Make Your Boring Documents Look Professional in 5 Easy Steps
  • Business Letters
  • Course Syllabi
  • Checklists and Peer Reviews (Downloads)
  • Communication
  • Poster Prints
  • Poster Downloads
  • Handout & Worksheet Downloads
  • QuickGuide Downloads
  • Downloads License Agreements

How to Organize a Paper: The IMRaD Format

IMRaD Format

What is the IMRaD Format?

The IMRaD (often pronounced “im-rad”) format is a scientific writing structure that includes four or five major sections: introduction (I); research methods (M); results (R); analysis (a); and discussion (D). The IMRaD format is the most commonly used format in scientific article and journal writing and is used widely across most scientific and research fields.

When Do I Use the IMRaD Format?

If you are writing a paper where you are conducting objective research in order answer a specific question, the IMRaD format will most likely serve your purposes best. The IMRaD format is especially useful if you are conducting primary research (such as experimentation, questionnaires, focus groups, observations, interviews, and so forth), but it can be applied even if you only conduct secondary research (which is research you gather from reading sources like books, magazines, journal articles, and so forth.)

The goal of using the IMRaD format is to present facts objectively, demonstrating a genuine interest and care in developing new understanding about a topic; when using this format, you don’t explicitly state an argument or opinion, but rather, you rely on collected data and previously researched information in order to make a claim.

While there are nuances and adjustments that would be made to the following document types, the IMRaD format is the foundational structure many research-driven documents:

  • Recommendation reports
  • Plans (such as an integrated marketing plan or project management plan)

How Does the IMRaD Format Work?

As mentioned above, the IMRaD format includes four or five major sections. The little “a” has had multiple interpretations over the years; some would suggest it means nothing other than “and,” as in “Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion,” but others have argued that the “a” should be viewed as “Analysis” in papers where the “Results” section may not be immediately clear and a section that analyzes the results is important for reader comprehension. Either way, the “a” often remains in lower-case to indicate that, while it’s often important, it isn’t always necessary. Below, we’ll review the five major sections, with “a” given equal weight to the other sections.

Note that these five sections should  always  go in the order listed below:

  • Statement of the topic you are about to address
  • Current state of the field of understanding (often, we call this a literature review and it may even merit having its own section)
  • Problem or gap in knowledge (what don’t we know yet or need to know? what does the field still need to understand? what’s been left out of previous research? is this a new issue that needs some direction?)
  • Forecast statement that explains, very briefly, what the rest of the paper will entail, including a possible quick explanation of the type of research that needs to be conducted
  • Separate each type of research you conducted (interviews, focus groups, experiments, etc.) into sub-sections and only discuss one research method in each sub-section (for clarity and organization, it’s important to not talk about multiple methods at once)
  • Be very detailed about your process. If you interviewed people, for example, we need to know how many people you interviewed, what you asked them, what you hoped to learn by interviewing them, why chose to interview over other methods, why you interviewed those people specifically (including providing they demographic information if it’s relevant), and so forth. For other types of data collection, we need to know what your methods were–how long you observed; how frequently you tested; how you coded qualitative data; and so forth.
  • Don’t discuss what the research means. You’ll use the next two sections–Analysis and Discussion–to talk about what the research means. To stay organized, simply discuss your research methods. This is the single biggest mistake when writing research papers, so don’t fall into that trap.
  • Results:  The results section is critical for your audience to understand what the research showed. Use this section to show tables, charts, graphs, quotes, etc. from your research. At this point, you are building your reader towards drawn conclusions, but you are not yet providing a full analysis. You’re simply showing what the data says. Follow the same order as the Methods section–if you put interviews first, then focus groups second, do the same in this section. Be sure, when you include graphics and images, that you label and title every table or graphic (“ Table 3: Interview Results “) and that you introduce them in the body of your text (“As you can see in  Figure 1 , seventy-nine percent of respondents…”)
  • Analysis:  The analysis section details what you and others may learn from the data. While some researchers like to combine this section with the Discussion section, many writers and researchers find it useful to analyze the data separately. In the analysis section, spend time connecting the dots for the reader. What do the interviews say about the way employers think about their employees? What do the observations say about how employees respond to workplace criticism? Can any connections be made between the two research types? It’s important in the Analysis section that you don’t draw conclusions that the research findings don’t suggest.  Always  stick to what the research says.
  • Discussion:  Finally, you conclude this paper by suggesting what new knowledge this provides to the field. You’ll often want to note the limitations of your study and what further research still needs to be done. If something alarming or important was discovered, this is where you highlight that information. If you use the IMRaD format to write other types of papers (like a recommendation report or a plan), this is where you put the recommendations or the detailed plan.

Back to the Organization Memo

Other Formats

Indirect Method

Proposal Format

Shop for your perfect poster print or digital download at our online store!

Improving the writing of research papers: IMRAD and beyond

  • Published: 05 November 2011
  • Volume 26 , pages 1345–1349, ( 2011 )

Cite this article

  • Jianguo Wu 1  

71k Accesses

35 Citations

71 Altmetric

Explore all metrics

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

figure a

Publishing in peer-reviewed journals is essential to scientific research. “A scientific experiment, no matter how spectacular the results, is not completed until the results are published” (Day and Gastel 2006 ). Advances in science depend on the rigorous process of scientific publishing. Justified or not, journal impact factors and article citations have become the buzzwords in today’s academic world, and have been used increasingly as metrics to evaluate the performance of research projects, journals, scientists, and institutions. As scientific journals and published articles continue to proliferate, we as editors, reviewers, and scientists all are faced with increasing challenges to communicate science more effectively and efficiently.

In this series of editorials, we focus on the question: How can we improve our writing of research papers for Landscape Ecology and other professional journals to increase their readability and facilitate the process of their evaluation? Obviously, this is not a new question; nor do we promise to have revolutionary answers. Experts have written numerous books and journal articles addressing this very topic. The main goal here is to discuss several key issues on the organization of research papers—particularly on the structure of IMRAD (introduction-methods-results-and-discussion)—the predominant format of scientific writing. I hope that our editors, reviewers, and authors will benefit from this discussion.

IMRAD as an outcome of the evolution of scientific publishing

Everyone in science may know something about IMRAD—the introduction-methods-results-and-discussion structure (Fig.  1 ). But its history is rather brief when compared to that of scientific writing as a whole. The first scientific journals appeared in the 17th century, when articles were published mainly in the form of descriptive letters and narratives structured chronologically (Meadows 1985 ; Day 1989 ). For more than two centuries, scientific papers were published without a generally accepted format. During this period of time, however, the idiosyncrasy in scientific publishing gradually withered as both the journals and the papers in them became increasingly formalized by developing some form of organization in structure (Meadows 1985 ). Day ( 1989 ) argued that it was Louis Pasteur who invented the first IMRAD-like writing structure in his classic book, Etudes sur la Biere (studies on fermentation), originally published in 1876. Pasteur’s book had identifiable sections of “introduction”, “methods”, and “discussion”—although such headings were not explicitly used (Day 1989 ). However, IMRAD did not become the “standard” until the 1970s, when the American national standard for the preparation of scientific papers for written or oral presentation (ANSI Z39.16-1972) was published in 1972 and again 1979 (Day 1989 ; Day and Gastel 2006 ).

Diagrammatic representation of the IMRAD structure of research papers (modified from a diagram at http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/asu/writing/ ). The basic structure of IMRAD has only four sections: introduction (I), methods (M), results (R), and discussion (D). Most original research papers today have 6–10 sections, with those in dotted-lined boxes being optional. The shape of each section is meaningful as it suggests how that section should proceed in terms of specificity (focusing on your study) and generality (relating to studies by others). The size of each box is roughly proportional to the relative length of each section. The text with arrows indicates what main questions each section should address

IMRAD began to be adopted by scientific journals around the 1940s, and quickly became the dominant format for research papers in a majority of leading scientific journals by the late 1970s. For example, for leading journals in medical research IMRAD was adopted in the 1950s, became predominant in the 1960s, and has been the standard since the 1980s (Sollaci and Pereira 2004 ). In physics, IMRAD was already employed extensively in the 1950s (Bazerman 1984 ). Research papers in two of the most prominent ecological journals, Journal of Ecology (published by British Ecological Society since 1913) and Ecology (published by Ecological Society of America since 1920), began to adopt IMRAD in the 1950s. For instance, Lindeman’s ( 1942 ) seminal article on trophic dynamics in Ecology was organized by topics, but the classic paper on vegetation continuum by Curtis and McIntosh ( 1951 ) in the same journal clearly was IMRAD-structured. In Journal of Ecology, Watt’s ( 1947 ) masterpiece on pattern and process in plant communities was also organized with topical headings, but Pielou’s ( 1957 ) paper—one of the earliest about scale effects on characterizing spatial patterns—had the appearance of IMRAD. Today, IMRAD is the standard for all major journals in ecology, including this one—Landscape Ecology.

Why has IMRAD been adopted by almost all research journals so widely and quickly, with no sign of being abandoned anytime soon? According to Meadows ( 1985 , 1998 ), changing the internal organization of research papers is one way for the scientific community to respond to the exponential growth of scientific information, and thus IMRAD is a result of that evolutionary process. Most, if not all, editors and scientists agree that IMRAD provides a consistent framework that guides the author to address several questions essential to understanding a scientific study (Fig.  1 ): Introduction—Why did you do it in the first place? Methods—How did you do it exactly? Results—What did you find? Discussion—What does it mean after all and so what? According to experts who specialize in the history and practice of scientific writing, IMRAD offers several benefits (Meadows 1998 ; Sollaci and Pereira 2004 ; Day and Gastel 2006 ). The modular structure of IMRAD helps the author to organize ideas and remember critical elements; it makes easier for the editor and the reviewer to evaluate manuscripts; and it improves the efficiency of the scientist to locate specific information without going through the entire paper.

IMRAD as an adaptable structure for research papers

IMRAD is primarily for original research articles, and has little relevance to other types of papers commonly seen in scientific journals, such as reviews, perspectives, and editorials. Even for research papers, IMRAD is silent about several other components of a modern research paper: title, abstract, acknowledgments, and references. It does not even say anything about how the sections of I, M, R, and D should each be constructed. So, IMRAD is not really a straightjacket. It has plenty of room for creativity and innovation.

Dozens of books and hundreds of articles have been published on scientific writing, and most if not all of them offer advice on what each element of IMRAD ought to include. One problem to new writers, however, is that these different guides seem to differ in the details. After handling hundreds of manuscripts for Landscape Ecology, I observed that a considerable portion of them had various structural problems. Two of them are major. One is the lack of clearly identified research problems and questions in the introduction (or elsewhere). The other is the lack of organization within each section (particularly results and discussion)—the reader needs to see a building, not a pile of bricks! I have seen manuscripts with an introduction section running several pages long without mentioning the research question of the study, and a discussion section of more than 3 pages without any headings.

How should one resolve the above-mentioned problems? There is no panacea, but I have two suggestions for improvements. First, I find the diagrammatic representation of IMRAD (Fig.  1 ) quite useful because it captures the essence of the structure. The shape and the size of each section are heuristic and easy to remember. My second suggestion is to consult a good writing guide for specifics of each section, from the title to the references. Every experienced author may have a favorite, and mine is Day and Gastel ( 2006 ). Another excellent guide is Gustavii ( 2008 ), which is a comprehensive yet succinct account of the essentials of scientific writing (particularly helpful to authors whose native language is not English). Also, for those who prefer more detailed instructions about key elements within each section, Hartley’s ( 1999 ) “modest proposal”—IMRAD nested with topical headings/subheading in each section—should be helpful. In addition, being precise and concise in language is quintessential in scientific writing. This is a tall order. To get help, a must-have reference is the timeless “little book”—The Elements of Style (Strunk and White 2000 ).

Don’t try to read every guide that you can find. Don’t read it and rest it. Keep it handy, and consult it frequently while writing.

IMRAD as an evolutionary process

As discussed above, the format of scientific papers has evolved during the past several centuries, and will continue to evolve. The evolution of the article format is more than just a way of coping with the ever-increasing kinds and amount of information. As Meadows ( 1985 ) stated:

“The construction of an acceptable research paper reflects the agreed view of the scientific community on what constitutes science. A study of the way papers are constructed at any point in time therefore tells us something about the scientific community at that time.”

As science and information technology continue to advance, IMRAD will undoubtedly evolve as well. In fact, changes have already taken place. For example, abstract, keywords, acknowledgments, and references have become common parts of the IMRAD structure. Even the sequential order of the sections is altered in some journals (e.g., Nature places the methods section, in smaller font size, at the end of a research paper).

Since the early 1990s, structured abstracts—which are organized into several sections with headings or sequential numbers—have become increasingly common in scientific journals. A common format of structured abstracts is: Abstract [background, aims (or objectives), methods, results, conclusions (or synthesis)]. Many leading journals in medical and physical sciences now have them. Some ecology journals have also jumped on this bandwagon, such as those of British Ecological Society. Studies have shown that structured abstracts have several advantages for both authors and readers. For example, Hartley ( 2003 ) found that structured abstracts tend to be significantly more informative, more readable, and clearer than unstructured, traditional abstracts. Hartley and Betts ( 2007 ) concluded that “… spatial organization, together with the greater amount of information normally provided in structured abstracts, explains why structured abstracts are generally judged to be superior to traditional ones.” This should make immediate sense to landscape ecologists—isn’t this another example of pattern affecting process?

A good abstract should be complete, concise, and clear. That is, an abstract should have all the components necessary for a short but complete story. A condensed version of IMRAD, with greater emphasis on results and discussion, is commonly assumed in an abstract. While being complete, an abstract must also be succinct because most journals require that it be no longer than 250–300 words. In addition, a good abstract must have a clear message—what’s the story and so what? Assuming it is a solid study, the abstract should not be difficult to write after all sections of the paper are completed. In reality, however, it is too easy to find abstracts that are either empty in contents or devoid of any recognizable organization. I think that structured abstracts can help improve upon these problems. The structured format guides the author to tell a complete story in a nutshell, and facilitates a faster search for relevant information by either a human reader or a computerized search engine. A useful message for authors is this: always write your abstract following the logical order of structured abstracts even if your target journal does not require a structured abstract.

There are certainly other ways to improve the adaptive application of IMRAD. A number of experts in linguistics and scientific writing have done a great deal of research on this subject. For example, Hartley ( 1999 ) proposed to go “from structured abstracts to structured articles” with a more elaborated IMRAD organization. Sharp ( 2002 ) advised the application of the six W’s (what, why, when, how, where, and who) in each section of IMRAD as a way of providing more structuring.

More relevant to the readers of this journal, Gustafson ( 2011 ) made several thought-provoking suggestions for improving scientific writing in landscape ecology. The 7-section structure that he proposed may be considered a modification to the traditional IMRAD. The headings and subheadings in the 7 sections can fit into the IMRAD structure and provide more organization in a way similar to Hartley ( 1999 ). As discussed earlier, structuring scientific writing helps avoid missing important elements and facilitates fast retrieval of information. As Riitters ( 2011 ) warned, however, too much structuring may hinder the creative process of writing. In addition, because spatiotemporal patterns are central to most landscape ecological studies, graphical communication and metadata documentation are critically important to scientific publishing in our field. Henebry ( 2011 ) provided a brief but resourceful guide to improving the quality of graphs (particularly maps) and ensuring valuable metadata to persist. I highly recommend writers to bear his advice in mind: “Structure your story around the graphs and enable the captions to capture the key points of your paper.”

Concluding remarks

Peter Medawar, the British biologist and a Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, famously said that the scientific paper is a fraud “because it misrepresents the processes of thought that accompanied or gave rise to the work that is described in the paper” (Medawar 1964 ). He argued that discussion in an IMRAD-structured paper should be placed at the beginning, which then is followed by results and methods. Meadows ( 1985 ) disagreed, and argued that the scientific paper is an archaeological artifact indicative of how scientists generally view their science at a particular time.

It is true that IMRAD does not always represent the order of actual research activities, but that alone does not make the scientific paper fraudulent. While IMRAD seems reflective of the currently dominant view of what is scientific, the format of the scientific paper may be influenced increasingly by technological advances in information processing and publishing as well as the pace of knowledge production. For now, IMRAD still rules, and modifications will continue.

Riitters ( 2011 ) had a great line: “creativity abhors prescription and well-documented junk is still junk.” While this statement is fundamentally correct, I believe that scientific writing should be disciplined and structured for all the reasons that I have discussed earlier. I also believe that it has been, and will continue to be, true that “the best papers combine the science …… with the art of writing” (Southgate 1995 ). Properly using IMRAD improves the art of writing as well as the communication of the science. No, “Good prose cannot correct bad work” (Sharp 2002 ), but good prose can make good work better—sometimes, so dramatically better!

Bazerman C (1984) Modern evolution of the experimental report in physics: spectroscopic articles in physical review, 1893–1980. Soc Stud Sci 14:163–196

Article   Google Scholar  

Curtis JT, McIntosh RP (1951) An upland forest continuum in the prairie-forest border region of Wisconsin. Ecology 32:476–496

Day RA (1989) The origins of the scientific paper: the IMRAD format. AMWA Journal 4:16–18

Google Scholar  

Day RA, Gastel B (2006) How to write and publish a scientific paper (6th ed). Greenwood Press, Westport. (Also, Day RA (1998) How to write and publish a scientific paper, 5th ed. Oryx Press, Phoenix)

Gustafson EJ (2011) Publishing landscape ecology research in the 21st century. Landscape Ecol. doi: 10.1007/s10980-011-9638-7

Gustavii B (2008) How to write and illustrate a scientific paper, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Hartley J (1999) From structured abstracts to structured articles: a modest proposal. J Tech Writ Commun 29:255–270

Hartley D (2003) Improving the clarity of journal abstracts in psychology. Sci Commun 24:366–379

Hartley J, Betts L (2007) The effects of spacing and titles on judgments of the effectiveness of structured abstracts. J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol 58:2335–2340

Henebry GM (2011) Beyond words: effective graphics and metadata are keys to concise scientific communication. Landscape Ecol. doi: 10.1007/s10980-011-9672-5

Lindeman RL (1942) The trophic-dynamic aspect of ecology. Ecology 23:399–418

Meadows AJ (1985) The scientific paper as an archaeological artifact. J Inf Sci 11:27–30

Meadows AJ (1998) Communicating research. Academic Press, San Diego

Medawar PB (1964) “Is the scientific paper fraudulent?” Saturday Review, 1 August 1964, 42–43

Pielou EC (1957) The effect of quadrat size on the estimation of the parameters of Neyman’s and Thomas’s distributions. J Ecol 45:31–47

Riitters K (2011) Creativity abhors prescription. Landscape Ecol. doi: 10.1007/s10980-011-9673-4

Sharp D (2002) Kipling’s guide to writing a scientific paper. Croatian Med J 43:262–267

Sollaci LB, Pereira MG (2004) The introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) structure: a fifty-year survey. J Med Libr Assoc 92:364–367

PubMed   Google Scholar  

Southgate DAT (1995) The structure of scientific papers. Br J Nutr 74:605–606

Article   CAS   Google Scholar  

Strunk W Jr, White EB (2000) The Elements of style, 4th edn. Allyn & Bacon, Boston

Watt AS (1947) Pattern and process in the plant community. J Ecol 35:1–22

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

School of Life Sciences and Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287, USA

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jianguo Wu .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Wu, J. Improving the writing of research papers: IMRAD and beyond. Landscape Ecol 26 , 1345–1349 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-011-9674-3

Download citation

Published : 05 November 2011

Issue Date : December 2011

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-011-9674-3

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings
  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • J Med Libr Assoc
  • v.103(2); 2015 Apr

How to write an original research paper (and get it published)

The purpose of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) is more than just archiving data from librarian research. Our goal is to present research findings to end users in the most useful way. The “Knowledge Transfer” model, in its simplest form, has three components: creating the knowledge (doing the research), translating and transferring it to the user, and incorporating the knowledge into use. The JMLA is in the middle part, transferring and translating to the user. We, the JMLA, must obtain the information and knowledge from researchers and then work with them to present it in the most useable form. That means the information must be in a standard acceptable format and be easily readable.

There is a standard, preferred way to write an original research paper. For format, we follow the IMRAD structure. The acronym, IMRAD, stands for I ntroduction, M ethods, R esults A nd D iscussion. IMRAD has dominated academic, scientific, and public health journals since the second half of the twentieth century. It is recommended in the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” [ 1 ]. The IMRAD structure helps to eliminate unnecessary detail and allows relevant information to be presented clearly in a logical sequence [ 2 , 3 ].

Here are descriptions of the IMRAD sections, along with our comments and suggestions. If you use this guide for submission to another journal, be sure to check the publisher's prescribed formats.

The Introduction sets the stage for your presentation. It has three parts: what is known, what is unknown, and what your burning question, hypothesis, or aim is. Keep this section short, and write for a general audience (clear, concise, and as nontechnical as you can be). How would you explain to a distant colleague why and how you did the study? Take your readers through the three steps ending with your specific question. Emphasize how your study fills in the gaps (the unknown), and explicitly state your research question. Do not answer the research question. Remember to leave details, descriptions, speculations, and criticisms of other studies for the Discussion .

The Methods section gives a clear overview of what you did. Give enough information that your readers can evaluate the persuasiveness of your study. Describe the steps you took, as in a recipe, but be wary of too much detail. If you are doing qualitative research, explain how you picked your subjects to be representative.

You may want to break it into smaller sections with subheadings, for example, context: when, where, authority or approval, sample selection, data collection (how), follow-up, method of analysis. Cite a reference for commonly used methods or previously used methods rather than explaining all the details. Flow diagrams and tables can simplify explanations of methods.

You may use first person voice when describing your methods.

The Results section summarizes what the data show. Point out relationships, and describe trends. Avoid simply repeating the numbers that are already available in the tables and figures. Data should be restricted to tables as much as possible. Be the friendly narrator, and summarize the tables; do not write the data again in the text. For example, if you had a demographic table with a row of ages, and age was not significantly different among groups, your text could say, “The median age of all subjects was 47 years. There was no significant difference between groups (Table).” This is preferable to, “The mean age of group 1 was 48.6 (7.5) years and group 2 was 46.3 (5.8) years, a nonsignificant difference.”

Break the Results section into subsections, with headings if needed. Complement the information that is already in the tables and figures. And remember to repeat and highlight in the text only the most important numbers. Use the active voice in the Results section, and make it lively. Information about what you did belongs in the Methods section, not here. And reserve comments on the meaning of your results for the Discussion section.

Other tips to help you with the Results section:

  • ▪ If you need to cite the number in the text (not just in the table), and the total in the group is less than 50, do not include percentage. Write “7 of 34,” not “7 (21%).”
  • ▪ Do not forget, if you have multiple comparisons, you probably need adjustment. Ask your statistician if you are not sure.

The Discussion section gives you the most freedom. Most authors begin with a brief reiteration of what they did. Every author should restate the key findings and answer the question noted in the Introduction . Focus on what your data prove, not what you hoped they would prove. Start with “We found that…” (or something similar), and explain what the data mean. Anticipate your readers' questions, and explain why your results are of interest.

Then compare your results with other people's results. This is where that literature review you did comes in handy. Discuss how your findings support or challenge other studies.

You do not need every article from your literature review listed in your paper or reference list, unless you are writing a narrative review or systematic review. Your manuscript is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the topic. Do not provide a long review of the literature—discuss only previous work that is directly pertinent to your findings. Contrary to some beliefs, having a long list in the References section does not mean the paper is more scholarly; it does suggest the author is trying to look scholarly. (If your article is a systematic review, the citation list might be long.)

Do not overreach your results. Finding a perceived knowledge need, for example, does not necessarily mean that library colleges must immediately overhaul their curricula and that it will improve health care and save lives and money (unless your data show that, in which case give us a chance to publish it!). You can say “has the potential to,” though.

Always note limitations that matter, not generic limitations.

Point out unanswered questions and future directions. Give the big-picture implications of your findings, and tell your readers why they should care. End with the main findings of your study, and do not travel too far from your data. Remember to give a final take-home message along with implications.

Notice that this format does not include a separate Conclusion section. The conclusion is built into the Discussion . For example, here is the last paragraph of the Discussion section in a recent NEJM article:

In conclusion, our trial did not show the hypothesized benefit [of the intervention] in patients…who were at high risk for complications.

However, a separate Conclusion section is usually appropriate for abstracts. Systematic reviews should have an Interpretation section.

Other parts of your research paper independent of IMRAD include:

Tables and figures are the foundation for your story. They are the story. Editors, reviewers, and readers usually look at titles, abstracts, and tables and figures first. Figures and tables should stand alone and tell a complete story. Your readers should not need to refer back to the main text.

Abstracts can be free-form or structured with subheadings. Always follow the format indicated by the publisher; the JMLA uses structured abstracts for research articles. The main parts of an abstract may include introduction (background, question or hypothesis), methods, results, conclusions, and implications. So begin your abstract with the background of your study, followed by the question asked. Next, give a quick summary of the methods used in your study. Key results come next with limited raw data if any, followed by the conclusion, which answers the questions asked (the take-home message).

  • ▪ Recommended order for writing a manuscript is first to start with your tables and figures. They tell your story. You can write your sections in any order. Many recommend writing your Result s, followed by Methods, Introduction, Discussion , and Abstract.
  • ▪ We suggest authors read their manuscripts out loud to a group of librarians. Look for evidence of MEGO, “My Eyes Glaze Over” (attributed to Washington Post publisher Ben Bradlee and others). Modify as necessary.
  • ▪ Every single paragraph should be lucid.
  • ▪ Every paragraph should answer your readers' question, “Why are you telling me this?”

The JMLA welcomes all sizes of research manuscripts: definitive studies, preliminary studies, critical descriptive studies, and test-of-concept studies. We welcome brief reports and research letters. But the JMLA is more than a research journal. We also welcome case studies, commentaries, letters to the editor about articles, and subject reviews.


The work is hard. The rush is real.

Education , Student

Writing IMRAD: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion

Writing IMRAD: Introduction Methods Results and Discussion

The Guts of the Research Paper

Even if you never write a research paper, as a nurse you will be reading them. They are a crucial part of evidence-based practice in nursing and medicine and it’s important to know what you’re reading.

The most common types of professional articles are research articles, evidence-based articles, clinical articles, quantitative and qualitative articles, literature reviews, nursing narratives, and case studies.

Scientific writing is orderly and direct. Research papers in APA format that are reporting on experimental research will most likely contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. Here we’ll focus on IMRAD: the guts of the research paper.

Click here for information on Writing the Scholarly Nursing Paper .

Research articles report on original data, results, and findings. They summarize a study logically by following the typical format of IMRAD — introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

Here we’ll focus on these parts of a research article. Understanding the purpose of each section will help you know how to read and write a research article.


This section introduces the problem or gaps in present knowledge and discusses the purpose of the paper with a statement called a hypotheses. It immediately follows the abstract and sometimes isn’t labeled as an introduction. But you should recognize it by its key features:

Central concepts. A statement about the concepts and variables being studied is the start of an introduction. A general description of the concepts of interest is all that’s needed here.

Hypotheses. This is based on the research questions posed and is intended to predict expected outcomes. The research questions identify the concepts and variables to be investigated and ask how the variables are related. What relationship does the author expect to find between the concepts? The hypotheses takes it one step further by predicting an answer to that question.

Theoretical or conceptual framework. This is typically an explicit statement of the theoretical concepts that will connect and direct the researcher to existing knowledge on the topic. It provides the basis for the research and informs the choice of research methods.

Review of the literature. The introduction sometimes includes a brief literature review in which existing research on the topic is presented. Sometimes the literature review is a separate section that follows the introduction.

Need. The intro should always discuss the significance of this study such as a need for more information on the topic.

APA headings

Methods Section

The methods section discusses the methods of answering the research questions. It includes a description of the research design and plan, as well as the methods for measuring variables and collecting the data. It will include any procedures associated with the research such as procedures for protecting human rights.

Design. This section will specify the variables and the levels of those variables, which are identified as independent, dependent, control, or extraneous variable. It will describe if the research is within-groups or between-groups.

Participants and subjects. This part will describe who the participants were, how many, and how they were selected. It’s a good place to discuss the features that make these participants unique and separate from the general population. A detailed description of efforts to protect and enhance the integrity of the subjects and the study is an important part of qualitative research.

If humans are involved in research, the participants part of the methods sections should always include whether this study was reviewed and approved by the ethics committee or institutional review board and/or whether informed consent (either oral or written) from the patients or the guardians was obtained.

The following parts of the methods section should be presented chronologically.

Instruments and measures. This section will describe the research tools used in the study, why they were chosen, and if they are reliable, valid, and appropriate. It will also outline the unique measures appropriate to this specific research environment, thus it will include details about the study setting and context.

Procedure . This is where the researcher explains what they did and how they did it. In detail it describes the procedures used: what the participants did, how the data was collected including step-by-step details. This section is detailed but concise.

Data analysis methods. This section describes the statistical analysis completed. In a narrative summary format, it includes the statistical tests, levels of significance, and software used to complete the analysis. This part will include whether a statistician was used in the analysis and will justify the preferred statistical method used for the study. No results are discussed here.

HOT TIP: Statistical significance measures whether a result is likely due to chance or some other factor of interest. When a finding is significant, it means you can feel confident that it’s real, not that you just got lucky (or unlucky) in choosing the sample. The significance level is an expression of how rare the results are, under the assumption that the null hypothesis is true. It is expressed as a “p-value.” The lower the p-value, the less likely the results are due purely to chance.

parts of research paper imrad

Results Section

This is where the findings from the data analysis are presented. It addresses the purpose of the study and answers the research questions. The main findings are presented first, followed by secondary findings. The results sections includes only the results, not a discussion of the results. The implications of the the results are for the discussion section.

Discussion Section

The discussion section is where the conclusions and results are interpreted. In light of the original hypotheses, it discusses the meaning and implications of the results.

This section will include a statement interpreting the results along with specific clinical and research implications. What do the findings mean? How can they be used in practice? Are the results consistent with previous research?

This is where researchers will acknowledge limitations and deficiencies of the study and make recommendations for future research. This section will end with a clear statement regarding the importance of the findings.

Click here for information on Writing the Scholarly Nursing Paper . And don’t forget to download your FREE PDFs: APA Headings and Research Paper Checklist.

That’s it! Questions? Need help? Find me here .

Julie don't forget your power

You may also like

parts of research paper imrad

Retention for the Nurse Practitioner Student

removing race from nursing

Removing Race From Nursing

The Nursing Process

3 Things Students Should Know About The Nursing Process

parts of research paper imrad

IMRAD Format For Research Papers: The Complete Guide

parts of research paper imrad

Thank you for reading DrAiMD’s Substack. This post is public so feel free to share it.

Writing a strong research paper is key to succeeding in academia, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s where the IMRAD format comes in. IMRAD provides a clear structure to help you organize and present your research logically and coherently. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the IMRAD format, why it’s so important for research writing, and how to use it effectively. Follow along to learn the ins and outs of crafting papers in the gold-standard IMRAD structure. In this article, I’ll walk you through the IMRAD format step-by-step. I’ll explain each section, how to write it, and what to avoid. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to write a research paper that is clear, concise, and well-organized.

What is IMRAD Format?

IMRAD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion . It’s a way of organizing a scientific paper to make the information flow logically and help readers easily find key details. The IMRAD structure originated in medical journals but is now the standard format for many scientific fields.

Thanks for reading DrAiMD’s Substack! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Here’s a quick overview of each section’s purpose:

Introduction : Summary of prior research and objective of your study

Methods : How you carried out the study

Results : Key findings and analysis

Discussion : Interpretation of results and implications

Most papers also include an abstract at the beginning and a conclusion at the end to summarize the entire report.

Why is the IMRAD Format Important?

Using the IMRAD structure has several key advantages:

It’s conventional and familiar. Since I MRAD is so widely used , it helps ensure editors, reviewers, and readers can easily find the details they need. This enhances clarity and comprehension.

It emphasizes scientific rigor. The methods and results sections encourage thorough reporting of how you conducted the research. This supports transparency, credibility, and reproducibility.

It encourages precision. The structure necessitates concise writing focused only on the core aims and findings. This avoids rambling or repetition.

It enables efficient reading. Readers can quickly skim to the sections most relevant to them, like only reading the methods. IMRAD facilitates this selective reading.

In short, the IMRAD format ensures your writing is clear, precise, rigorous, and accessible – crucial qualities in scientific communication.

When Should You Use IMRAD Format?

The IMRAD structure is ideal for:

Primary research papers that report new data and findings

Review papers that comprehensively summarize prior research

Grant proposals requesting funding for research

IMRAD is not typically used for other paper types like:

Editorials and opinion pieces

Popular science articles for general audiences

Essays analyzing a topic rather than presenting new data

So, if you are writing a scholarly scientific paper based on experiments, investigations, or observational studies, the IMRAD format is likely expected. Embrace this conventional structure to help communicate your exciting discoveries.

Now that we’ve covered the key basics let’s dive into how to write each section of an IMRAD paper.

The abstract is a succinct summary of your entire paper, typically around 200 words. Many readers will only read the abstract, so craft it carefully to function as a standalone piece highlighting your most important points.

Elements to include:

Research problem, question, or objectives

Methods and design

Major findings or developments

Conclusions and implications

While written first, refine the abstract last to accurately encapsulate your final paper. A clear precise abstract can help attract readers and set the tone for your work. Take a look at our complete guide to abstract writing here !


The Introduction provides the necessary background context and sets up the rationale for your research. Start by briefly summarizing the core findings from previous studies related to your topic to orient readers to the field. Provide more detail on the specific gaps, inconsistencies, or unanswered questions in the research your study aims to address. Then, clearly state your research questions, objectives, experimental hypotheses, and overall purpose or anticipated contributions. The Introduction establishes why your research is needed and clarifies your specific aims. Strive for a concise yet comprehensive overview that lets readers learn more about your fascinating study. Writing a good introduction is like writing a good mini-literature review on a subject. Take a look at our complete guide to literature review writing here!

parts of research paper imrad

The methods section is the nuts and bolts, where you comprehensively describe how you carried out the research. Sufficient detail is crucial so others can assess your work and reproduce the study. Take a look at our complete guide to writing an informative and tight literature review here!

Research Design

Start by explaining the overall design and approach. Specify:

Research types like experimental, survey, observational, etc.

Study duration

Sample size

Control vs experimental groups

Clarify the variables, treatments, and factors involved.


Provide relevant characteristics of the study population or sample, such as:

Health status

Geographic location

For human studies, include recruitment strategies and consent procedures.

List any instruments, tests, assays, chemicals, or other materials utilized. Include details like manufacturers and catalog numbers.

Chronologically explain each step of the experimental methods. Be precise and thorough to enable replication. Use past tense and passive voice.

Data Analysis

Describe any statistical tests, data processing, or software used to analyze the data.

The methods section provides the roadmap of your research journey. Strive for clarity and completeness. Now we’re ready for the fun part – the results!

This section shares the key findings and data from your study without interpretation. The results should mirror the methods used.

Report Findings Concisely

Use text, figures, and tables to present the core results:

Focus only on key data directly related to your objectives

Avoid lengthy explanations and extraneous details

Highlight the most groundbreaking findings

Use Visuals to Present Complex Data

parts of research paper imrad

Tables and figures efficiently communicate more complex data:

Tables organize detailed numerical or textual data

Figures vividly depict relationships like graphs, diagrams, photos

Include clear captions explaining what is shown

Refer to each visual in the text

Reporting your results objectively lays the groundwork for the next section – making sense of it all through discussion.

Here, you interpret the data, explain the implications, acknowledge limitations, and make recommendations for future research. The discussion allows you to show the greater meaning of your study.

Interpret the Findings

Analyze the results in the context of your initial hypothesis and prior studies:

How do your findings compare to past research? Are they consistent or contradictory?

What conclusions can you draw from the data?

What theories or mechanisms could explain the outcomes?

Discuss the Implications

Address the impact and applications of the research:

How do the findings advance scientific understanding or technical capability?

Can the results improve processes, design, or policies in related fields?

What innovations or new research directions do they enable?

Identify Limitations and Future Directions

No study is perfect, so discuss potential weaknesses and areas for improvement:

Were there any methodological limitations that could influence the results?

Can the research be expanded by testing new variables or conditions?

How could future studies build on your work? What questions remain unanswered?

A thoughtful discussion emphasizes the meaningful contributions of your research.

The conclusion recaps the significance of your study and key takeaways. Like the abstract, many readers may only read your opening and closing, so ensure the conclusion packs a punch.

Elements to cover:

Restate the research problem and objectives

Summarize the major findings and main points

Emphasize broader implications and applications

The conclusion provides the perfect opportunity to drive home the importance of your work. End on a high note that resonates with readers.

The IMRAD format organizes research papers into logical sections that improve scientific communication. By following the Introduction-Methods-Results-and-Discussion structure, you can craft clear, credible, and impactful manuscripts. Use IMRAD to empower readers to comprehend and assess your exciting discoveries efficiently. With this gold-standard format under your belt, your next great paper is within reach.

parts of research paper imrad

Ready for more?

How To Write A Research Paper Using The IMRaD Format?

by Statistics Explained Research Paper Help

When writing an academic paper, the entire process may appear to be a daunting task due to the complexities the process poses. Any good research paper encompasses several components that are organized succinctly. Having an outline aids the author to not only present ideas in a structure that can facilitate the readers to understand the key findings of the paper but also describe all the essential elements that a research paper must contain. Here, we attempt to help you in your compositions by listing a step-by-step process of how to write a scientific paper following the IMRaD format. 

The first identifiable instance of IMRaD format being adopted can be traced back to the publication of Louis Pasteur’s  Etudes sur la Biere  (Studies on Fermentation). While specific headings were not used in his writings, however, this format began to be slowly recognized and accepted till it became a “standard” in scientific paper format from the 70s. With the rapid growth in the literature being produced in the science and social science disciplines, this format has also witnessed evolution and changes. Despite the definition of the four sections, the guidelines for how these sections need to be constructed are not rigid thus, leaving plenty of room for flexibility and creativity.    

Once these strategies are understood and assimilated, writing an assignment, thesis, report, or paper will no longer appear to be an insurmountable challenge that had previously taken hours and days of your time. By placing a system in place, absorbing, and reproducing prior research or presenting new data will be a smooth process. 

Integral to the pursuit of research in sciences and social sciences is the writing of academic or research papers that may require you to follow a particular formatting style one of which may be the IMRaD format. The name is an acronym for the Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. This form of structure presents research findings to conform to a specific outline. 

More details about the IMRaD format for research papers

The IMRaD format is a common structure for research papers and reports, especially in the fields of science and technology. IMRaD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

The Introduction section provides a context for the research and explains the purpose and significance of the study. It should include a review of relevant literature and a statement of the research question or hypothesis being tested.

The Methods section describes the study design, participants, and materials used, as well as the procedures followed to collect and analyze the data.

The Results section presents the findings of the study, including any statistical analyses and tables or figures to illustrate the results.

The Discussion section interprets the results in the context of the research question or hypothesis and relates them to the broader literature on the topic. It should also discuss the implications of the findings and any limitations of the study.

The IMRaD format is used to help readers understand the research and to evaluate the validity and reliability of the study. It is also useful for researchers to organize their thoughts and present their work in a logical and structured way.


parts of research paper imrad

Broadly, the IMRaD format consists of the following elements:


Research question

Significance of the research question 

Background and literature review of the research topic 

Research methods employed to collect information

Sources of information such as primary, secondary, qualitative, or quantitative 

Research methodology or theoretical framework 

Presentation of the data collected 

Discuss the implications of the information obtained 

Situate results within a theoretical framework and support thesis statement 

Delineate limitation or gaps in the study 


The introduction section is a significant section of any academic journal writing. In addition to a description of the research problem or objective, its context or background are also expounded. 

Previous studies, findings, theoretical underpinnings are summarized in this part of the essay such that any “gaps” in the existing body of literature are highlighted to direct the need to “fill those gaps”. The aim of this exercise so to put forward the question of “what” from your research problem. Once a problem has been constituted, if deemed necessary, a hypothesis may be proposed based on a review of the literature and preliminary secondary data research.

The question of how the study was conducted is answered in this section of the study. In other words, the methods used to collect information about the population through various sampling tools and techniques such interview, questionnaire, case studies based etc. are communicated to the reader. The aim is to make known how scientifical, verifiable and value-neutral data has been collected for the study. Methodology or the procedure for how to approach the research problem and choose appropriate tools for data collection, analysis and presentation of results is also included in this section of the paper. 

The data collected is presented under the heading of “results”. With the use of past tense and in the passive voice, only the information relevant to the study is objectively illustrated using tables and figures. However, commentary and further analysis of these findings are not portrayed here. 

Once the data has been presented, the next task for a researcher is to connect the key findings with the research problem. Every question that had been raised keeping the research objective in perspective, are answered, and rationalized in this section. As responsible and ethical researchers, any limitations of the study also need to be depicted in a few lines under this section. This may also serve to chalk out the scope for further research in the future. 

Results vs. Discussion

Researchers commonly get confounded when trying to distinguish between these two sections. But the misplacement of the information can result in disorganized writing, repetition, and lack of coherence when this order is not maintained. The results section only report the data collected. An objective description of the values and figures to demonstrate trends is demonstrated under this segment. On the other hand, when discussing the results, an evaluation needs to be forwarded while attempting to answer the research questions that were raised in the earlier sections. That is, trends need to be explained, contrasted against prior research such that you can support or contrast against the study’s hypothesis. 

The abstract is indispensable to any research article where a succinct summary of the study is offered to the readers of not more than 250 words. Hence, it should be written only in the last stage. Due to the compact nature of the section, one must only highlight the key aspects that can convey what, why and how questions of the study. This overview should broadly consist of purpose, significance, major findings, and implications of the research to your field. Listing of 10-12 keywords is also often mandated by journals during submission. 


Finally, give a title to your paper. This has also been considered as one of the most challenging parts of academic writing. You need to not only encompass all the key elements of your study but also make it summative and engaging simultaneously. By following the title, abstract, keywords, introduction, methods, results and discussion formula, journal writing can be then systematically tackled in an organized manner.

At  Statistics Explained , with in-house team of geniuses, offer professional services beyond measures, combining, learning, understanding, acquiring skills, and solving problems. The smart move to save time while learning to excel at the subject lies with Statistics Explained. The road to success is the hardest one and all we do is, give you a little push so that you can equip yourself better for the bigger battle. 

Say goodbye to worries and say ‘hi’ to Statistics Explained!

You May Also Like…

How to create an impactful economics master’s thesis (4 minutes read).

Jan 14, 2023

What is an economics master's thesis? An economics master's thesis is a valuable opportunity for a graduate student to...

Top Behavioural Questions of 2023 – Prepare for Behavioural round now!

Jan 9, 2023

Behavioural questions are questions that ask about an individual's past behaviour or performance in specific...

Sociology Online Quiz Help (Solution & Explanation Included)

Jan 8, 2023

In this post we have shared over the sociology quiz, apart from giving you are answers we have also listed here the...

Management of Financial Services Most Popular Questions Solutions

In this post we will be solving some of the most popular question in Management of Financial Services. Let us start....

How to use DAX in Power BI (2023)

Jan 7, 2023

In this post we learn about DAX  (Data Analysis Expressions) in Power BI. We will cover the basic concepts and...

School Invention to Modern Schooling in 3 Minutes (Read)

Jan 1, 2023

The concept of school as a place for children to receive education has been around for a long time, and it has evolved...

Looking for customised assignment help?

Are you searching for customised assignment help services online?

Then you are at right place. We serve exactly what you need and you have to pay for only that.


+1(863)240-2673, [email protected], pin it on pinterest.


  1. imrad structure

    parts of research paper imrad

  2. Tips for Writing a Research Paper

    parts of research paper imrad

  3. Imrad Examples / How To Organize A Paper The Imrad Format The Visual Communication Guy

    parts of research paper imrad

  4. Diagrammatic representation of the IMRAD structure of research papers...

    parts of research paper imrad

  5. Imrad Introduction Examples / Doc Irf Thesis Dissertation Outline Kristinemae Sagubanguanzon

    parts of research paper imrad

  6. Example Of Imrad Paper / Outline for writing a lab report / Abstract the abstract is a short

    parts of research paper imrad


  1. Operation Research(OR) Section(1)


  3. How to Write a Scientific Research Paper

  4. How to Write your First Research Paper

  5. Essential PARTS OF A RESEARCH PAPER Tagalog English // Research Guru Ph

  6. Secret To Writing A Research Paper


  1. IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion)

    Academic research papers in STEM disciplines typically follow a well-defined I-M-R-A-D structure: Introduction, Methods, Results And Discussion (Wu, 2011). Although not included in the IMRAD name, these papers often include a Conclusion. Introduction Introduction

  2. The Writing Center

    "IMRaD" format refers to a paper that is structured by four main sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This format is often used for lab reports as well as for reporting any planned, systematic research in the social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering and computer sciences. Introduction - Make a case for your research

  3. PDF IMRAD FORMAT Orientation

    For participants to be familiarized on the parts of the IMRAD format as an institutional guideline for research For participants to level off on the key requirements needed to complete their research manuscripts or protocols following the IMRAD format IMRaD

  4. The introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) structure: a

    Methods: In a cross-sectional study, the frequency of articles written under the IMRAD structure was measured from 1935 to 1985 in a randomly selected sample of articles published in four leading journals in internal medicine: the British Medical Journal, JAMA, The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

  5. Research Guides: Structure of a Research Paper : Home

    Structure of a Research Paper: IMRaD Format I. The Title Page Title: Tells the reader what to expect in the paper. Author (s): Most papers are written by one or two primary authors. The remaining authors have reviewed the work and/or aided in study design or data analysis (International Committee of Medical Editors, 1997).

  6. Research Paper Basics: IMRaD

    With some variation among the different disciplines, most scholarly articles of original research follow the IMRD model, which consists of the following components: Introduction Literature Review Statement of Problem (i.e. "the Gap") Plan to Solve the Problem Method & Results How Research was Done Data What Answers were Found Discussion

  7. IMRAD

    Writing, compliant with IMRaD format (IMRaD writing) typically first presents " (a) the subject that positions the study from the wide perspective", " (b) outline of the study", develops through " (c) study method", and " (d) the results", and concludes with " (e) outline and conclusion of the fruit of each topics", and " (f) the meaning of the ...

  8. IMRAD Outlining

    Introduction provide research question explain the significance review of background or known information on your topic Methods describe your methods for gathering information explain your sources of information, both primary and secondary Results describe what you found out from your research.

  9. The IMRAD Structure

    Abstract. IMRAD refers to the format in which most biomedical journals publish an original research paper. This framework for a scientific paper spells out how a manuscript should be presented. The letter I stands for Introduction, the M for Methods, the R for Results, the A for And and the D for Discussion.

  10. Organization of a Research Paper: The IMRAD Format

    Most scientific papers are prepared according to a format called IMRAD. The term represents the first letters of the words Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, And, Discussion.

  11. Tips for Writing a Research Paper

    Original research papers usually use the IMRaD formula. This acronym includes the four main sections of a research paper, which answer four basic questions, as follows: I ntroduction: Why did you do the study? M ethods: What did you do? R esults: What did you find? a nd… D iscussion: What do your findings mean?

  12. How to Organize a Paper: The IMRaD Format

    The IMRaD (often pronounced "im-rad") format is a scientific writing structure that includes four or five major sections: introduction (I); research methods (M); results (R); analysis (a); and discussion (D).

  13. The Writing Center

    Introduction Sections in Scientific Research Reports (IMRaD) Download this guide as a PDF Return to all guides The goal of the introduction in an IMRaD* report is to give the reader an overview of the literature in the field, show the motivation for your study, and share what unique perspective your research adds.

  14. IMRD: The Parts of a Research Paper

    2.8K 210K views 6 years ago Academic Writing Resources The scientific research paper follows a specific order and structure, and the core parts that compose this structure are the...

  15. Improving the writing of research papers: IMRAD and beyond

    IMRAD as an adaptable structure for research papers. IMRAD is primarily for original research articles, and has little relevance to other types of papers commonly seen in scientific journals, such as reviews, perspectives, and editorials. Even for research papers, IMRAD is silent about several other components of a modern research paper: title ...

  16. How to write an original research paper (and get it published)

    Other parts of your research paper independent of IMRAD include: Tables and figures are the foundation for your story. They are the story. Editors, reviewers, and readers usually look at titles, abstracts, and tables and figures first. Figures and tables should stand alone and tell a complete story.

  17. Writing IMRAD: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion

    Click here for information on Writing the Scholarly Nursing Paper. IMRAD. Research articles report on original data, results, and findings. They summarize a study logically by following the typical format of IMRAD — introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Here we'll focus on these parts of a research article.

  18. The Writing Center

    Abstracts in Scientific Research Papers (IMRaD) Download this guide as a PDF. Return to all guides ­­Abstracts in Scientific Research Papers (IMRaD) An effective abstract in an IMRaD* report provides the reader with a concise, informative summary of the entire paper. An IMRaD abstract should stand on its own; it is not a part of the ...

  19. IMRAD Format For Research Papers: The Complete Guide

    Results: Key findings and analysis Discussion: Interpretation of results and implications Most papers also include an abstract at the beginning and a conclusion at the end to summarize the entire report. Why is the IMRAD Format Important? Using the IMRAD structure has several key advantages: It's conventional and familiar.

  20. How To Write A Research Paper Using The IMRaD Format?

    The IMRaD format is a common structure for research papers and reports, especially in the fields of science and technology. IMRaD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Introduction section provides a context for the research and explains the purpose and significance of the study. It should include a review of relevant ...

  21. (PDF) The introduction, methods, results and discussion (IMRAD

    There were 209 articles found with the earliest from 1990 to latest in 2007 of which 48.3% were authored by faculty only teams, 41.1% were authored by student only teams, 6.2% were authored by...

  22. Parts of A Research Paper

    Parts of A Research Paper - IMRAD Format | PDF | Taste | Sucrose Parts-of-a-Research-Paper_IMRAD-Format - Read online for free.


    IMRAD format An acronym for Introduction - Method - Results - and - Discussion. The IMRaD format is a way of structuring a scientific article. It is often used in health care and the natural sciences. Unlike theses in the social sciences, the IMRaD format does not include a separate theory chapter. 1 of 8.