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Manuscript structure

Research Papers should include the traditional sections of a scientific manuscript, including Title, Authors, Keywords, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgements, References, Tables, and Figures. Brief reports of interesting observations or simple research findings (classified as Short Communications) may not require this level of structuring. Likewise, manuscripts that fall under categories such as Synthesis/Review, Perspective, Forum, or Book/Thesis Review should adopt a structure that logically follows from their content.

We suggest authors may benefit from checking whether their paper adheres to these “10 simple rules for structuring papers”.

Below, we provide a brief description of the main sections of a Research Paper:

Title – This should briefly describe the main subject and outcome of your study in approximately 10–25 words. Although this will vary with the type of study and personal preferences of the authors, typical components of a title include the primary research aim, study species, geographic region, some indication of the nature of the data collected, and the most important results.

Authors – Please provide the names of all authors (spell out given name and family name and include any other initials where appropriate), with the primary institutional affiliation(s) and/or current mailing address for each (use a superscript number to refer to affiliations). An email address should be provided for the corresponding author only (Example 1); if they share a mailing address with one or more other authors, then put a * after their affiliation superscript and put * and email address below the final mailing address (Example 2).

Example 1:

Mary Anne Bishop1, Joseph B. Buchanan2, Brian J. McCaffery3,5 & James A. Johnson4

1Prince William Sound Science Center, P.O. Box 705, Cordova, AK 99574, USA.
2Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, Washington 98501, USA
3U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 346, Bethel, Alaska 99559, USA
4U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management, 1011 E. Tudor Road, MS 201, Anchorage, Alaska 99503, USA
5Current address: 53980 County Highway D, Grand View, WI 54839, USA

Example 2:

Roberto Carmona1,2*, Victor Ayala-Pérez1,2, Nallely Arce1, José Alfredo Castillo-Guerrero3, Cynthia Carmona Islas4, Gerardo Marrón1 & Gabriela Gutiérrez-Morales1

1Marine Biology Department, Birds Laboratory, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Apartado postal 19-B, La Paz, Baja California Sur, CP 23000 México
2Pronatura Noroeste A.C. Calle Décima No 60, Ensenada, Baja California, CP 22800, México
3Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, Unidad Mazatlán. Av. Sábalo-Cerritos s/n. Estero del Yugo Mazatlán Sinaloa 82000, México
4Instituto Tecnológico de Boca del Río, Carr. Veracruz-Córdoba Km.12, Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico
*Corresponding author:

Keywords – This is a list of terms (5–8 for a full paper, 3–6 for a Short Communication) that highlight the subject and content of your paper. These are used by on-line search engines to help direct people who may be interested in your paper. Please put them in order of importance and don’t repeat the words in the title.

Abstract (full papers only) – A short summary, under 300 words in length, briefly describing the context, main questions, key results, and general implications of your work.

Introduction – Provide all background that readers may need to understand the subject and aims of your study. This typically includes a review of the current state of knowledge concerning your question or system, with references to previous literature in the field. Justify the relevance of your study with regard to gaps in current knowledge or specific research or management objectives. Make sure to clearly explain the questions, objectives, and foreseeable outcomes of your study.

Methods – This section should include all information necessary for another researcher to replicate your study. Describe any critical aspects of the study species, study area, field methods, equipment, data sources, assumptions, and analysis (statistical methods). Include only methods relevant to information appearing in the Results section.

Results – This section details all important findings of the study, and should follow logically from questions posed in the Introduction and procedures described in the Methods; do not introduce new questions or procedures of data collection here. This should adopt a concise, narrative style, with inclusion and reference to figures and tables whenever patterns in the data can be more clearly or more economically conveyed in a form other than descriptive text. Although some interpretation and synthesis of results might be appropriate, avoid subjective statements, recommendations, or elaborate discussion here.

Discussion – This is the place for interpretation of your results in the context of the study aims, and speculation on their potential importance and implications. Start with a brief summary of the Results and the main conclusions (i.e., the main message you want readers to take away from your paper). The Discussion should review the results in relation to your predictions and expectations, honestly consider caveats and limitations of the data, compare your findings with those of other published literature and popular wisdom, and provide future research and conservation recommendations, as appropriate. In general, it is not appropriate to introduce new data from your study that are not covered in the Methods and Results, although relevant anecdotal observations may be best placed here.

Acknowledgements – Here, you mention all important non-author contributions, sources of funding, acquired permits for land use and other procedures, and applicable (ethics) approvals. It is customary to thank colleagues and known reviewers that provided inspiration, logistical assistance, and helpful comments or suggestions for the manuscript. It is not necessary to thank the editor.

Data accessibility – We support making data and code available through an online repository. If you wish to do so you can mention it at the end of the paper.

References – All references cited in the text must be included in the References section and vice versa. Please check all information in this section against the original publications (not citations by other authors), as typographical errors and omissions tend to proliferate in this manner. See below for specific formatting details.

Tables & Figures – Make sure all tables and figures are referenced in the text, and appear in the order in which they are first mentioned. Each should have an informative caption, including explanation of all categories, axes, symbols, units, and abbreviations necessary to understand the material. Do not place tables and figures in the text, but as separate sheets for each table or figure after the References. See below for more details regarding technical specifications for figures.

Appendices – If you have extensive data tables or methodology, it may be appropriate to include these as appendices that can be made available as Supporting Online Materials. The corresponding editor will advise on this.

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