|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 199-200
Materials and method: The “Recipe” of a research
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Lamphelpat, Imphal-795004, Manipur, India
|Date of Web Publication||02-May-2022|
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Lamphelpat, Imphal-795004, Manipur
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kumar A. Materials and method: The “Recipe” of a research. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2022;26:199-200
In any research article, the detailed description and process of an experiment is provided in the section termed as “Materials and Method.” The Materials and Method section is also called Method section in few journals. This section describes how the experiment was conducted to arrive at the results. The aim of this section in any research article is to describe the process in detail for “reproducibility” which means that procedure of the experiment and related materials should be adequately described so that the other researchers working on the similar topic/area, should be able to conduct a similar experiment and replicate the results to allow corroboration of the inferences of the research. The reproducibility of the results is crucial for their scientific merit. This section has been equated to “recipe section” which describes what to use, how much to use and how to use to come to the final product.
Vital details of the research need to be described in this section. At the beginning of the section, the study design needs a description in terms of well-defined commonly used nomenclature (longitudinal, cross-over study”, “randomised controlled trial”, etc). The mention of the study design in the initial part of materials and method section is important as it helps the readers understand the research based on the merits and limitations of study design. The inclusion of study designs also help in understanding the type of statistical tests that can be appropriately applied in evaluating the data. Randomisation being a crucial aspect of many clinical studies, has to be defined clearly.
The information about sample size, inclusion and exclusion criteria (sample characteristics) also should find a description in this aspect of the material and method section. An adequate sample size of a study would be able to provide the precision of our estimates and thus have adequate power of study to draw conclusions and justify answers to query being explored in the research. The information of the sample characteristics is important to accomplish the aims of the experiment (hypothesis). Apart from this, the details of the approval from ethical board and trial registration should be mentioned here.
The next aspect of Materials and Method should incorporate the description of materials in terms of quantity, precise technical descriptions and the method of preparations, if any. The details of the manufacturers of chemical reagents and equipment should also find a mention here. Generic names should be preferred over trade names. If study has usage of microorganisms or experimental animals, a clear description of such entities in terms of species/strains or genus species is required.
The description of the method of the experiment should be accurate, concise but complete. The process should be written as a explanation of a process, not as a laboratory manual procedure. If the methods, devices, or techniques which have been used by authors, are in routine usage, and are widely known and published, then such methods do not require detailed description. But the authors should compulsorily mention the original article or references from where the readers can get information about the method in detail to replicate the procedure. If any treatment is being investigated, then exact treatment protocol should be described. Techniques/method which are new or uncommon should be explained fully and any related references should also be mentioned.
The statistical aspects should mention the statistical tests and the statistical computer packages that were used for data analysis. Use of an uncommon statistical test needs an explanation of its usage in the context of the study and a reference to the method for readers to refer.
The material and method section may or may not have subheadings, depending upon the journal guidelines. The subdivisions can be: Study design, setting, subjects, data collection and data analysis or overall design of the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, sample sizes and statistical power.
It is of paramount importance that a consistency is maintained between the “Materials and Method” section and “Results” section of the article. Procedures described in Methods section should correlate with the results described in the Results section for readers to understand the association of the specific methodology to results.
Often, few issues arise while writing Materials and Method like inclusion of unnecessary details or results. Limitations on number of references that can be cited in journals, many times, leads to this section being extremely concise and lacks details required for the “reproducibility”. The details of the procedure are not completely mentioned by authors sometimes because of commercial reasons. These situations result in compromise with the basic principle of “reproducibility” while writing this section.
In certain cases, the authors are apprehensive of results being reproduced and validity of their results being challenged. To avoid any questions being raised on the methodology and results, the authors provide insufficient details in this section to avoid reproducibility.
The aim of any research is progression of knowledge in that particular field. One of the essential requirement for progression of scientific knowledge is “reproducibility” and the assessment of the validity of available results. This is achievable only if the authors provide sufficient details in the “Materials and Method section”.
Writing this section should be simple and easy especially when this part is written after the completion of the study, as the authors would have performed the experiment themselves. This is one of the first sections written while writing a research article.
“History has repeatedly shown that when a new method or material becomes available, new uses for it arise.”
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