How to Write a Clinical Paper
A clinical paper is scholarly document that discusses the methods and findings of a research study in the health sciences. Clinical papers are typically authored by the primary investigators in a particular study, with the objective of publishing the work in a scholarly journal. Prior to publication, clinical papers undergo a process known as peer review, in which other experts in the field assess the validity and merits of the work. Unlike essay composition, writing a clinical paper requires following specific steps in order to clearly describe the research subject, investigation techniques and findings.
Develop an effective title. The title should be appropriate to the work, and not inflate the study's result or make invalid claims. A proper title will use relevant scientific terms and not include jargon. While titles should be descriptive, they should also be as succinct as possible.
Compose an abstract. An abstract offers an overview of the clinical paper, and describes in no more than a paragraph the study's objectives, methods and conclusions. Abstracts provide the reader with information to help her decide if she will read the entire document. Therefore, abstracts should be broadly appealing and written in an accessible language. Additionally, the contents of an abstract should be precise and informative, but not overly detailed.
Identify similar studies that have been conducted and write a background statement. A clinical paper discusses the other research that has been done on the study topic, and briefly summarizes the the methods, findings and pertinent theories.
Introduce the research subject. The background section of a clinical paper sets the stage for describing the importance of the research study under consideration. The introduction can explain how this particular study differs from similar research, or describe how other projects generated research questions that this study endeavors to answer. The introduction should also discuss what, if any, theories have influenced the research, and why they are useful for understanding the subject.
Describe the research methods. The methods section of a clinical paper provides a comprehensive explanation of how the researchers collected and analyzed the data. For every method used, a clinical paper needs to justify why this approach was the most appropriate for the purposes of the study . The methods section should be sufficiently detailed so that another researcher could precisely replicate the study. If the study used survey instruments or assessment tools, the paper should describe how these tools were developed, as well as provide a brief quantitative overview of their validity and reliability. When submitting to a scholarly journal, be sure to include the complete detail on all instruments used.
Describe the results. Briefly discuss the findings of the data analysis, and provide relevant graphs and figures for illustration. Take care to highlight any statistically significant results.
Interpret the results. The discussion section of a clinical paper evaluates the study findings and describes why the study produced the results it did. Analyze the particular strengths and limitations of the study and mention any unanticipated events that might have affected data collection or quality. Conclude the discussion by raising questions for future investigation based on the study findings.
Helen Anderson has been writing and editing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in scholarly and popular publications, such as "Foreign Affairs" and "The New York Times." Anderson holds a master's degree in public health from Columbia University, where she is currently completing a Ph.D.