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Research Paper Writing: 5. Methods / Materials

Methods / Materials Overview

These sections of the research paper should be concise. The audience reading the paper will always want to know what materials or methods that were used. The methods and materials may be under subheadings in the section or incorporated together. The main objective for these sections is to provide specialized materials, general procedures, and methods to judge the scientific value of the paper.

What to include in the sections


  • Described separately
  • Include the chemicals, biological, and any equipment
  • Do not include common supplies, such as test tubes, pipette tips, beakers, etc. or standard lab equipment
  • Single out sources like a specific type of equipment, enzyme, or a culture
  • These should be mentioned in a separate paragraph with its own heading or highlighted in the procedure section if there is one
  • Refer to solutions by name and describe


  • Describes in detail how the analysis was conducted
  • Be brief when presenting methods under the title devoted to a specific technique or groups of procedures
  • Simplify and report what the procedure was
  • Report the method by name


  • Use third person passive voice, and avoid using first person
  • Use normal text in these sections
  • Avoid informal lists
  • Use complete sentences

Example of a Methods Section

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Sixth Ed. 2010