Editing Tips: Editing IMRaD Essays

If you do a lot of academic editing or proofreading, chances are you will come across an IMRaD essay. Indeed, you may have worked on several without even knowing it!

The term IMRaD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, which is a method of structuring essays. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with this structure because it’s extremely common in scientific essays. In this post, then, we’ll look at what those letters stand for, what they mean for an essay’s structure, and what to keep in mind when editing IMRaD essays.

The Structure of an IMRaD Essay

The IMRaD essay’s structure creates a logical flow of information that mimics the scientific research process. It indicates clearly where readers can find certain types of information.

We’ve already noted what IMRaD stands for, but in practice that will look like this:

  • The introduction details the purpose of the research, the research question, and the hypothesis or hypotheses. This may include a discussion of the current state of research in the field, with an explanation of how the author’s study augments or fills a gap in that research.
  • The methods section describes the manner in which the author conducted their study. This may include when and where the study was done, what materials were used, who was involved, and whether quantitative or qualitative methods (or a mixture of the two) were used.
  • The results section reports the research findings. This may include tables and/or graphs, with the text pointing the reader to the most important or noteworthy information. It may also comment on the meaning of the data, but analysis is usually reserved for the discussion.
  • The discussion summarizes and analyzes the main research findings and connects these findings to existing research. The author may acknowledge the flaws and limitations of the study and posit any necessary future research.

Keep in mind that this is a very basic structure, though! More complex documents, such as a journal article or dissertation, may also include other sections, such as an abstract, a literature review, or a conclusion. Additionally, most IMRaD essays should include a references section.

As a result, it is important to check any style guide or author instructions your client provides for advice on the correct structure to use. If required, you can then advise them on any additional sections or changes to the basic structure above they’ll need to make.

Tips for Editing IMRaD Essays

When editing IMRaD essays, it can be useful to ask yourself:

  • Are the sections focused? Make sure that each part of the essay covers the relevant information and that everything is presented in a logical order.
  • Is the writing clear and concise? This is an issue to look out for in all documents, but the key in scientific writing is balancing clarity against technical precision.
  • Is the tone impersonal and unbiased? IMRaD essays should not include personal opinions. Nor should the author draw conclusions that are not sufficiently backed up by data.
  • Are the correct tenses used? For the most part, the introduction and discussion should use the present tense, while the methods section should use the past tense. The results section, meanwhile, may use a mix of both. Use your judgment to determine whether the use of a particular tense is appropriate in context, and make edits or suggest alternatives if not.
  • Are the passive and active voices used appropriately? An IMRaD essay may use the passive voice to maintain an objective tone, but the active voice is often clearer and more concise.

Academic documents should also follow the standard conventions for formal writing.

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