What is the Method Section of a Research Paper?

The method section represents the various procedures used to prove the research question or hypothesis.  It represents the experimental procedure conducted during the course of study in a detailed manner so that the reader can understand and if needed can reproduce. The method section is a specific and integral part of a research paper.

  • Importance of method in a research paper?

It provides the opportunity to judge the authenticity and reproducibility of the experimental procedures.

  • The framework of Method Section

The integral components that make a method section are participants, apparatus, and procedure.

Participant: It represents the animal, human being, or every specific substance on which experiments were conducted. It also represents the structural, functional, or any specific attribute of any entity that is examined.

Apparatus: It is the instrument used to conduct the study.

Procedure: It’s the step-by-step process of doing some activity to obtain results. The outcome whether positive or negative is reported. Generally, the procedure is repeated multiple times to ascertain the reproducibility of the results.

  • An important point to be mentioned while writing the methods?

Experiments conducted on human subjects should have clearance from the ethical committee. Some journals ask for ethical approval numbers as a mandate criterion for the submission of the article. Also, informed consent from the patient is a mandate in the case reports and other types of manuscripts as it may contain pictures from recognizable parts of the body.

Also, the Manuscript should comply with the Declaration of Helsinki and IRB guidelines. The former is a set of ethical guidelines from the world medical association while the latter protects the rights of human subjects participating in any research venture.

  • Extensive Literature searches

Databases such as Medline, PubMed, Google Scholar are pioneer repositories to get explore relevant Methods as per the research question of your article. The collection of context-specific and precise keywords is the important component that ascertains successful outcomes without being carried away from the topic.

  • What should be incorporated in a Method Section

Provide in-text citation

The past work that has been referred to for using a particular method should be cited in the method section to give due acknowledgment to the concerned author.

Source of participants

The details from where the non-human subjects came from should be mentioned. Details such as the total number of animals, Number of male/ female counterparts, sex, age, mating history, medical history are few attributes that should be mentioned. In the case of human subjects, the place of study such as hospital, medical college details should be mentioned. If any database or repository was used to procure medical records of participants then the details should be provided.

Inclusion / Exclusion

The basis for the elimination or incorporation of any parameter should be mentioned.

Grouping of participants or subgroup formation

Any subgroups that were formed for specific testing or any modification of protocol to emphasize some facts are also mentioned in the method section.

Study Design

An author should in detail, describes the step-by-step preparation conducted during the course of the study. The particular chemicals, Drugs, instruments, kits, dyes used along with their brand details should be mentioned. It should give a detailed overview of each and every step such as the number of washings, incubation time, amount of solvent, etc. The aim is to provide necessary details so that the study can be reproducible.

Statistical analyses

Details of statistical tests used in the study should be mentioned.

  • Pits fall in writing Methods

Unnecessary information should be avoided. The background of the study should be in the introduction and not in the methods.

An author should emphasize how the methods helped them to address the research question.

Any hindrances that were faced while performing the experiments and how modification helped to overcome the same should be mentioned.

  • Conclusion

During the course of experimentation, an author should not overemphasize the instruments and should write the methods as and when the experiments were performed to avoid missing any details.