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Ask yourself how you would need to explain the general gist of your paper to your friend who studies a different discipline, or to your aunt.A good structure tends to make sense even to ‘uninformed’ people.
However, when it comes to more complex jobs, such as full-fledged scientific magazine articles intended for peer review, the situation becomes a bit more complicated.
It is much more difficult to find a place to buy journal articles – at least if you want to be sure they are going to be good enough to get a positive evaluation.
Check your subheadings – if, without any further information, they tell a logical story, you’ve probably worked out a useful structure. Again, there is a lot of flexibility for how exactly those are prepared, and it depends a lot on which journal you’re writing for.
It’s worth noting that in ecology and conservation science, journals are increasingly keen on quantitative reviews or meta-analyses (a statistical approach to extract patterns out of multiple case studies).
tend to follow a standard structure: introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, acknowledgements, references.
Sub-headings are common (and useful) within methods and discussion, in particular, but sometimes also in the results section. They have no set rules, which makes it even more important that they follow a logical, and clearly understandable thread.
The other general principle is that you must not assume background knowledge beyond the obvious in your discipline.
In other words, your chain of argument must not leave out steps that are actually important for the reader.
The challenge of writing is to turn the multi-facetted nature of the content (where everything is related and linked to everything else, like the internet) into a simple, one-directional argument. At the most general level, it’s a good idea to start your paper broad, have specific aims at the end of your introduction, and then have a detailed ‘meaty’ part in the middle.
Towards the end, you need to get back to the big picture, preferably the same context that you started with.