Editors favor manuscript with complete and concise Materials & Methods section

Researchers prepare for the group presentation on Writing the Materials and Methods Exercise.

“Explaining the materials and methods used in research is the most important aspect of a scientific manuscript. Flaws in this portion will lead to instant rejection of the paper,” said Dr. Wilfred Peh, Executive Vice President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) during the 2nd National Writing and Peer Review Workshop in Davao City last July 26- 27, 2012.

A good Materials and Methods section clearly explains how the study was conducted to enable the readers to evaluate research performed and permit replication of the study.To achieve this, authors are urged to marry completeness and brevity in writing. According to Dr. Peh, “Completeness means sufficient description on research process to enable repetition and verification of the results while brevity is not going into description on every technical detail.”

To avoid confusion and ambiguity in explaining the research performed, following the three-step process is encouraged. “In this process, the research plan is described first followed by the materials or subjects description then explanation on the methods used,” said Dr. Peh.

In ensuring appropriateness of data and suitability of statistical analysis used, it is strongly recommended that the author seeks statistical consultation before and during the manuscript preparation. Dr. Peh advised, “Seek the aid of a biostatistician during the study planning stage and during manuscript preparation to guarantee accuracy of statistical tests used.”

According to Dr. Peh, it is ideal to write the Materials and Methods section before the start of the study. Writing this section first helps researchers establish understanding of the work process which will draw a smooth discussion on other parts of the manuscript.

As a final reminder, Dr. Peh said, “It is always a must to read and follow the Instruction to Authors. Journals have different requirements. It is best to review the journal’s Instruction to Authors or Author Guidelines before beginning to write the Materials and Methods.”