Many academic authors start writing manuscripts with their methods section. This is a great way to start getting words on the page and is something most bench scientists are comfortable explaining. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you start writing!
- Be brief
Readers don’t need to know that you block for exactly 47 minutes because that’s your lucky number or that washes last the length of your favorite song. The research community wants to know what reagents you used and how.
- Check the author guidelines
Some journals include the methods section as part of the word count and some do not. Be sure to check the ‘author guidelines’ section of any journal you submit to. The journal may have rules about how long methods sections should be as well as how to format them.
- Use citations
If your lab pioneered a new technique and already has a full length manuscript describing it, cite it! Likewise you can also cite other methods sections from your lab’s publications or others. Using citations saves space and time.
- Include part numbers
As researchers we know that not all antibodies are created equal. If you found an antibody that works really well for your experiments, include the part number in your methods section. Your fellow scientists will be grateful.
- Start small
Writing a methods section can sometimes be intimidating. Start with an experiment you perform daily, like your western blot protocol. This will help you tackle the longer, more complex experiments.