The methods caboose

Sep 17 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

It seems that more and more journals (or perhaps just more I am writing for) are migrating to a "methods last" text arrangement for their articles. Although I don't mind this as a reader, it's kind of a PITA from a writing perspective. Occasionally one has some key piece of information that belongs in the methods section, but informs data interpretation. Tossing it in the back forces either an awkward mention higher up in the text or the assumption that readers who care will flip to the back. Both seem sub-optimal.

14 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    The Mullet of Journal Article structure.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Ok, that observation went better with your Twitt than your actual title...

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Are you saying it is more common journal style among hockey players?

  • gerty-z says:

    Way to not let the actual title mess up your schweet comment, tho! Also, the order of things has never bugged me. I always write things all out-of-order and so the results/discussion have to stand on its own.

  • rs says:

    In my opinion this makes sense. It will make article more readable and if you are interested in details of method, you can always flip back. More and more people now skim the article instead of reading it thoroughly. Also, in today's LSP unit philosophy adopted by most of the scientist, method section doesn't change much from one to another article coming out from the same group.

  • drugmonkey says:

    in today's LSP unit philosophy adopted by most of the scientist

    oh yes? evidence?

  • MCA says:

    I detest this trend. Given the frequency I see of incorrectly used statistics or shoddy methods, I'd like to know whether I can trust any of the results before reading them.

  • crystaldoc says:

    IMO whether results come before or after, the Results should always be written with the assumption that the reader has not/will not read the Methods. If some piece of info is critical to understanding the study, that needs to be incorporated into Results. As a reader, I skip the Methods all the time unless it is specifically for a method that I am looking at the article.

  • Extra bonus points if the journal makes the methods section in tiny font. Overall I think it works well---there's some amount of repetition required in writing each section anyway.

  • Confounding says:

    I mind it as a reader too - as MCA says, I'd rather read how you got to your results before I hear what you think they say.

  • rs says:

    oh yes? evidence?

    DM, I remeber you advocating LSP approach in one of your post.

  • Drugmonky says:

    The fact that I bother to argue for it is probably evidence against your theory that most scientists hold this philosophy.

  • rs says:

    you can not avoid using this approach unless you are 60 and no longer care about number of publications/citations.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Whenever I mention the LPU the responses seem to indicate that you are incorrect. I see a lot of defending of a "complete story". Well "defending" is inaccurate...but let's just say "claiming"

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