Q: How do I get started on my manuscript?
How do I write a manuscript? I am having problems with how to start my manuscript for research.
Hello Dr Amna – Welcome to the forum!
Yes, starting off on a manuscript is perhaps the toughest part of writing the manuscript. Some would say it’s because of writer’s block, and some others that they don’t know where to begin. However, before we respond to this, we would like to be sure of one thing: that you are looking for help only on starting the manuscript and not starting the research. We believe it’s very much the former, but in case it’s the latter, you may refer to the following resources:
- Don't know where to start? 6 Tips on identifying research gaps
- Finding the right research question is the first step to successful publication
Now, before you start writing, it’s best to organize the manuscript into a certain structure. The structure or sequence recommended for research publications is: Introduction > Methods > Results > Discussion This is simply known as the IMRaD structure. You may learn more about it here: Tips for writing the perfect IMRAD manuscript
Once you have this structure, it’s usually best to start with the Methods section for several reasons: it’s more straightforward, therefore easier to write, and at the heart of the research. You should then proceed in the remaining sequence, that is, Results next and then Discussion. It is usually best to write the Introduction after the other sections, again, for various reasons: it involves setting the context, citing related studies (literature), and discussing the why of your research. It therefore involves building a bit of a narrative. This usually becomes easier to do once you’ve talked about the actual study. For the same reasons, it’s best to also write the title at the end.
However, some people prefer having a working title and a working Introduction, and then refining it after writing the rest of the paper. Whatever works for you. For help with writing the various sections and, in fact, the entire paper, you may refer to this all-inclusive resource: The complete guide to writing a brilliant research paper
About the mechanics of writing, it’s best to write a bit each day. This will help you see how the manuscript is progressing and will also help you gradually gain confidence. For more about writing and growing academic resilience, you may go through this inspiring article (incidentally, by a fellow countrywoman): 7 Secrets to help you build academic resilience
Hope that helps. All the best for getting started and for gradually taking your manuscript toward the finish line!
Before we end though, two points of note. We were going through your bio, and we found it quite impressive. Just a couple of inputs though. In your short bio, you have mentioned the word ‘concupiscent.’ The word has a slightly different meaning that what is possibly intended. So, you may prefer to instead go with ‘passionate’ or even simply ‘enthusiastic.’ (‘I am passionate about intellectual and scholastic literature…’ or ‘I am enthusiastic about intellectual and scholastic literature…’) Also, as you have mentioned that you enjoy sharing your knowledge with researchers from across the world, you may wish to check out Researcher Voice, our group on Facebook for researchers, academics, and scholars from across the world, where they share thoughts and inputs about various aspects of the researcher life. You may learn more about the group here: Researcher Voice