How to Compose Materials and Methods in a Research Paper

Materials and methods section is considered the easiest part of a research paper as you have to provide details about your equipment, tools, participants, materials, and variables that were used to carry out research. Scientific data is contextual, not absolute that makes sense only in the context of procedures used to produce experimental data. Here are the steps to write the materials and methods section in a research paper. 

Make a lab notebook

You should start writing this section along with your experimental results as technical details are fresh in your mind. List down all tools, instruments, apparatus, contrivances, techniques, appliances and solutions. Record every single item you used to carry out your experiments and include details although you can remove unnecessary details later at editing stage. 

Use Algorithms

Algorithms are well-defined programmes to define the necessary steps taken to move from one point to another point. Don’t summarise your algorithms, for example, “the location of the axon tip was measured accurately every 10 min”. Instead, you should write it as follows:

“At 10 minutes intervals, the location of the axon tip was measured on a transparent plastic grid of 10 square centimeters.” The materials and methods section must be unequivocal therefore don’t use uncertain terms such as sometimes, maybe, approximately. For instance, don’t write,  “Measurements were taken when the temperature was approximately below 37-degree Celsius”. Instead, you should write this statement as follows: “Measurements were taken when the temperature was 36-degree Celsius”. 

Below is an excerpt of materials and methods Section from a research paper titled “the role of juvenile hormone during larval-pupal transformation”.

Introduce statistical data

If your experiments produce numerical data, you have to describe them statistically. You will explain your statistical methods in details along with describing abbreviations, terms, symbols and citation. The materials and methods section is the place where you will explain your statistical experimental design. 


An appendix is an addition to the materials and methods section in a research paper, although it is an essential part of the text. An appendix provides detailed information that is not easy to fit in the materials and methods section. An appendix will include detailed chemical preparations and reactions, construction of apparatus, mathematical formulas, and detailed description of a diagram. 

Presenting the materials and methods part of your research in a clear, transparent and detailed manner can be the most beneficial step for your research. It lends the much needed reliability and validity scores. The way you collect data, the tools you use for it and the reasons behind it are crucial determinants to overall credibility factor of a good research paper.  

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