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PARTS & SECTIONS

Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar 

   www.OnlineGrammar.org
 
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 Study Questions
     

 

                                                         

Chapter 50: IMRaD Report & Proposal

                 
How does this paper work in the sciences and related disciplines?

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An IMRaD Paper

IMRaD Sample Papers

IMRaD Scientific Proposal

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An IMRaD Paper

This chapter is a very brief introduction to the "IMRaD" science paper. Students often first encounter it in an introductory college laboratory course, where reporting a lab experiment is required using this format.  However, IMRaD is also used throughout the sciences in its basic format or in related formats in some of the most complex and lengthy scientific reports, proposals, and many other types of papers, as well.  "IMRaD" stands for

Introduction

Methods/Materials

Results

and

Discussion

The purpose of an IMRaD paper is to show whether or not a set of data supports--or does not support--an idea, opinion, or other possibility that is formed into a "hypothesis."  A "hypothesis" is a scientific question formed as a tentative statement--an idea that has not yet been proven or supported by accurate scientific data. 

For example, here is a scientific hypothesis: "The pitch of the mating call of a bullfrog changes according to the type and amount of pesticides in its environment."  This statement has not, at the writing of this textbook chapter, been shown to be supported--or unsupported--by sufficient scientific data. For this reason, it might be a good hypothesis for conducting research and writing an IMRaD report.  Likewise, here is a social sciences hypothesis: "People who walk to work, ride bicycles to work, and drive cars to work each have different voting habits in state elections."  At the writing of this textbook chapter, this statement has not been tested to be supported--or unsupported--by scientific data.

A hypothesis is formed somewhat like a proposal of an idea.  In fact, some hypotheses are used for repeated experiments, with different scientists sometimes reaching different results.  This is because the data applied to the hypothesis can differ, as can locations, subjects, and other background facts.  These possible differing results from applying data to one hypothesis is why in most cases, the results do not "prove" the hypothesis true or false, but rather the data either "supports" or "does not support" the data.  This is true even--and especially--in the most important scientific, social, and psychological testing: the more important and general the hypothesis, the more data, confirmation, and reconfirmation of the results is needed before the hypothesis can move from the realm of opinion or possibility to proven fact. 

It also is important to understand that in the world of pure scientific method, discovering data does not support a hypothesis is considered just as important as discovering that data does support a hypothesis: the goal of scientific research is to aid in the discovery of what is true (just as in medical practice the goal is to heal, no matter who or what the patient).  A result, whether proven supported or not supported, is valuable either way.  The result is new knowledge that helps us better understand the relationships between true cause and effect.  Science then can then proceed to build on previous experiments by using new data and/or new hypotheses.

Below is an expanded visual map of what an IMRaD paper looks like.  The first major section, the "Introduction," is very different from the brief, one-paragraph intro to the entire paper.  The "Introduction" body section instead provides several paragraphs of related research or problems, and sometimes many quotations or paraphrases.

SCIENCE PAPER (USING IMRaD)

    

Brief, Detailed

Title

     

Introductory Paragraph

A brief paragraph with a sentence summarizing each of the four IMRaD sections.  Sometimes this introduction is not separate, but rather is at the very beginning of the "Introduction" section below.  

             

Introduction

The issue, needs, specific problem, and way of addressing it in this experiment or study, often described in several paragraphs  

Methods and/or Materials

Description of the specific materials and/or methods used to carry out the research in several paragraphs

Results

Description of the results or findings in several paragraphs

Discussion

Extended discussion of the results--what they mean, what will or can happen next, what other experiments might be fruitful, etc.

             

Conclusion    

A brief paragraph summarizing the "Discussion" section, sometimes with a sentence suggesting future directions.  This conclusion may not be separate but rather a final paragraph in "Discussion" above. 

       

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IMRaD Sample Papers

This chapter does not have a sample lab report.  However, In this section of WritingforCollege.org are two examples of a slightly different form of the IMRaD paper.  These two examples use a form of IMRaD that is more popular in the social sciences and related sub-disciplines of the medical sciences.  For these two samples, see "Case Study Samples."  For additional lessons about--and several samples of--IMRaD papers, see OnlineGrammar.org's part in Chapter 20 called "Science."

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IMRaD Scientific Proposal

Using the IMRaD structure and method, you can also write a scientific proposal.   Here are details about each major section:

(1) Abstract: This serves as the introduction. Write one paragraph which contains (1) the purpose of the paper (i.e., to propose a project), and one or two sentences from each of the IMRaD sections, "2"-"5" below,--usually the beginning content- topic sentence of the section and possibly one other useful sentence. Remember to keep the abstract brief: it is not a place to describe and detail, but rather a place to give the reader a brief but whole taste of each important section to come.  In scientific writing, it also serves as a brief summary for science readers who need to know what your proposed experiment is, how you will conduct it, and what its outcomes may be.

(2) Introduction: The introduction to a scientific proposal should contain much the same pattern as does a final scientific paper itself: i.e., an overview of the project and a good deal of background information explaining the project's need, value, and/or place in its field.  This section requires a thorough, thoughtful, and concise overview and background of what has led to your proposed project and why it will be helpful or necessary.  As you start this section, Be sure to include brief statements about the type of paper you are writing (a proposal), the subject (what you are proposing), and the reason (why you are proposing the project). Be sure to fully describe the nature and scope of the need or problem. In addition, you should present a thorough review of the relevant literature: it can be extremely important to justify the need for your proposal by research. A scientific proposal often may be, in this regard, a research paper. Some people to whom you are making an application or proposal may also wish to you complete the other parts of an Introduction to a scientific paper: the method of examination and why you have chosen it, the results you hope to obtain, and the conclusions which the results may imply. However, in a briefer and therefore more efficient proposal, you may discuss these elements in the remaining proposal sections, #3-#6 below. 

In short, your introduction needs, at a minimum, these parts:

(a) Type of paper,
(b) what you are proposing, and
(c) why you are proposing it.
(d) Nature and scope of need or problem.
(e) Thorough review of literature, including proper citation of sources.

(3) Methods (or Materials and Methods): In this section you will need many specific details organized in several sub-sections. These include the methods and/or materials you plan to use, and three items from a standard proposal--BUDGET or COSTS, SCHEDULE or TIMELINES, and the PERSONNEL (including their job descriptions; who will experiment and who will tabulate results; how many hours, days, or weeks each will work; and the credentials of the primary experimenters). Usually, each of these several subsections is required.  Any or all may require substantial development using descriptions, lists, charts, and/or diagrams, as required.  Be sure to look at a sample scientific proposal, especially one that your instructor or lab supervisor can provide for your particular professional sub-discipline or course.  If you wish, you may use sub-subtitles for the items; however, make them less noticeable than the primary subtitles: e.g., you can printing them in bold or in caps with no underlining. Each sub-subtitle may be printed on a line of its own, like a subtitle (e.g., "BUDGET" or "Budget") or printed as the first word on a line that starts the content, along with a colon (.e.g., "BUDGET: The following items and amounts...." or "Budget: The following items and amounts....").

In the scientific world, grant proposals are what fund most scientists with major projects.  Such proposals are notorious for requiring a time-consuming and even maddening amount of details, which include costs, times, dates, numbers, and amounts. A good scientific proposal predicts exactly the technical and physical needs to complete, record, and report the experiment.  Therefore, you should be as complete and thorough as you can--so there will be no unpleasant surprises concerning additional materials and/or costs. A well-planned Methods section gains respect and acceptance; a poorly planned one is an immediate indication to a reader that the author of the proposal is not sufficiently prepared to receive funding for the project. For any methods peculiar to specific researchers--methods not considered universal or standard--cite your sources.  

(4) Results: What results are possible from this experiment? Because you have not yet carried out the experiment, there are both positive and negative results to consider. Both usually are important because both have important and valuable implications. Because you are writing a proposal, it is appropriate to develop your Results section by fully describing both the possible positive and possible negative results. Give sufficient details such that your reader will understand how both (or all) variants of results might occur. You may begin to mention the implications of both types of results; however, save your full discussion of the implications for the Discussion section.

(5) Discussion: Plainly and efficiently discuss the meanings of the possible results, both positive and negative. Be clear and to the point, but also develop this section sufficiently. Remember that you have implications to discuss for at least two different sets of results: positive and negative. Tie possible results to previously published materials and current experiments or projects by comparing and/or contrasting. Express the need or possibility for future experiments. Explain theoretical implications in your field for both (or all) possible results. You also may consider and discuss a variety of important implications for related professional fields and/or for the public sphere. This section may involve research as does section #2: in this section, your research ties your possible results and implications to the results and/or implications of other research studies.

(6) Conclusion: a brief paragraph restating the project proposal and its value.

(7) Bibliography of cited sources (see the "Research" section of this Web site or the OnlineGrammar.org for methods of citation and documentation).

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I. WRITING FOR MAJORS & WORK

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Chapters:

 49. Case Study

 50. IMRaD Science Report

 51. Magazine/Nwsltr. Article

 52. News Article/Release

 53. Story Writing
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 54. Applying for Jobs

 55. Process/Instructions

 56. Professional Report

 57. Professional Proposal

 58. Recommendation Report

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Related Chapters/Pages:

Details & Images

Creating Websites

Leading Writing Groups

                    

                    

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 Related Links in
OnlineGrammar.org:

  16. Research Writing

  17. Citation & Documentation

  18. References & Resources

  19. Visual/Multimodal Design

  20. Major/Work Writing              

 

Updated 24 Oct. 2013

  

   

 

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Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998; CollegeWriting.info, 1998-2012
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