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How to Write Highlights for a Paper

Last Updated: March 20, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 48,739 times.

The highlights for a scientific paper make it easier for people to find it using a search engine. Ideally, your highlights serve as a sort of "elevator pitch" for your paper, describing the results and any new methods you used. Although it depends on the publisher, the highlights for a paper will usually be no more than 3 or 4 bullet-point phrases. You typically don't need to worry about your highlights until the final editing stages before your paper is published. However, strong highlights can get your paper noticed online more quickly, which can give your research a tremendous advantage. [1] X Research source

Drafting the Highlights for Your Paper

An essay open on a laptop with the main elements highlighted.

  • Conversely, good highlights also keep a potential reader from wasting their time. If your paper doesn't cover information that they need to know or are interested in, highlights let them know immediately so they don't have to read through half your paper before they find that out.

Step 2 Use active voice to keep your writing concise.

  • For example, you would write "UV rays affect skin's overall health" rather than "skin's overall health is affected by sun exposure."
  • Research papers often use passive voice, which is more wordy and difficult to understand. Because highlights have a strict length requirement, using active voice allows you to stay within the character limits while including the most important information from your article. For example, you might write: "Prolonged exposure to light damages skin cells."

Step 3 Revise for a general audience rather than your peers.

  • Use the simplest words possible, even if they aren't technically accurate. For example, instead of referring to "squamous cells," you could say "skin cells" or simply "skin." Your paper will get into the specific cells studied.

Tip: If you know a child or teenager, read your highlights to them and ask if they can understand what your paper is about. If they don't, ask them what they didn't understand and keep revising.

Step 4 Proofread highlights carefully.

  • One method of proofreading is to read your highlights backward, moving word by word. This encourages you to focus on each individual word rather than the phrase as a whole.
  • It's also a good idea to let someone else give your highlights a read-through. Someone completely unfamiliar with your highlights or your paper might notice errors you've repeatedly overlooked because you know what you meant to say.

Using Proper Formatting for Your Highlights

Step 1 Ask the publisher what type of document to use for your highlights.

  • For example, the National Science Foundation wants each highlight on an individual Microsoft PowerPoint slide.
  • Highlights were introduced by the publisher Elsevier and many journals and publishers use similar procedures. If the journal or publisher tells you to use Elsevier's requirements, you can get those at https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/highlights .

Step 2 Check the length requirements.

  • If you're providing your highlights in bullet points, the bullet point itself typically isn't considered a character. However, all other spaces and punctuation are.
  • Some journals or publishers may also have a minimum length. Even if a specific minimum length isn't given, having a highlight that's only 2 or 3 words typically doesn't provide enough information to a potential reader to be helpful.

Tip: You can typically adjust the settings of your word processing program to count characters rather than words. This will make it easier, as you're revising, to ensure your highlights stay within the length requirements.

Step 3 Complete any required forms to grant permission to use highlights.

  • Double-check to make sure you've met all the publisher's requirements before you submit your highlights. Violations of the publisher's protocol could delay the publication of your paper.

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Write a News Article

  • ↑ https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/highlights
  • ↑ https://author.miguelpanao.com/writing-meaningful-highlights-in-scientific-papers/
  • ↑ https://www.nsf.gov/mps/che/nuggets/highlight-writing.pdf

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How do I include Highlights with my manuscript?

Highlights are a short collection of three to five bullet points that:

  • Provide readers with a quick textual overview of the article.
  • Convey the core findings.
  • Describe the essence of the research (i.e. results or conclusion).
  • Highlight what's distinctive about it.

Highlights will be displayed in online search result lists, the contents list and in the online article, but won't (yet) appear in the article PDF file or print.

Answer Highlights are mandatory for some journals and optional for others. You can check the requirements for the journal you're submitting to by reading the Guide for Authors. To find the Guide for Authors:

  • Navigate to the journal's Homepage. To find the journal's Homepage search for the journal using the search box under 'Find by journal title' on the journal author's page .
  • Click on 'Guide for Authors' in the left-hand menu.

Highlights should be submitted in the following way:

Unless otherwise instructed in the Guide for Authors, Highlights should be included as a separate source file (i.e. Microsoft Word not PDF).

  • Select 'Highlights' from the drop-down file list when uploading files.
  • Use 'Highlights' as the file name.

With these specifications:

  • Include 3 to 5 highlights.
  • Each individual Highlight should be a maximum of 85 characters long, including spaces.
  • Only the core results of the paper should be covered.

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), Bioenergetics, Volume 1807, Issue 10, October 2011, 1364-1369  

  • A conformational two-state mechanism for proton pumping complex I is proposed.
  • The mechanism relies on stabilization changes of anionic ubiquinone intermediates.
  • Electron-transfer and protonation should be strictly controlled during turnover.

Learning and Instruction, Volume 21, Issue 6, December 2011, 746-756  

  • Fading of a script alone does not foster domain-general strategy knowledge.
  • Performance of the strategy declines during the fading of a script.
  • Monitoring by a peer keeps performance of the strategy up during script fading.
  • Performance of a strategy after fading fosters domain-general strategy knowledge.
  • Fading and monitoring by a peer combined foster domain-general strategy knowledge.  

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How To Write Highlights for an Academic or Scientific Paper

Posted by Rene Tetzner | Sep 7, 2021 | Paper Writing Advice | 0 |

How To Write Highlights for an Academic or Scientific Paper

How To Write Highlights for an Academic or Scientific Paper Although some academic and scientific journals have a long tradition of requesting summaries of key findings from the authors of articles accepted for publication, highlights are, for the most part, a relatively recent development in scholarly publishing. Elsevier first introduced highlights in some of its scholarly journals less than a decade ago, with its other journals and many produced by other publishers soon picking up this feature as well. The increasing popularity of highlights for research articles can be explained by their usefulness and appeal for both readers and authors in an online publishing environment. Readers are able to find and view in an extremely concise format the results presented in a published manuscript and thus determine very quickly whether they want to read the paper or not. With the Elsevier Research Highlights app, they can easily do this on their smartphones and even have the articles they wish to read sent to their inboxes. Authors benefit because their papers are given the advantage of greater visibility and discoverability, which can lead to more readers and higher citation counts. In addition, condensing the key elements of a research article into a few highlights can help an author focus more effectively on the primary contributions of his or her research.

what is highlights in a research paper

The content, length and format of highlights for a research paper differ somewhat among academic and scientific journals, so one journal may simply want a bulleted list of keywords or key phrases, whereas another will require a thorough summary of the research results in the form of a brief paragraph. Elsevier journals ask for a list of bullet points that communicate the core findings of an article, conveying the essence of the research as well as its distinctiveness, but eliminating the background, methodology and other information that might appear in an abstract. Between three and five highlights are usually required, with each one not exceeding 85 characters, including spaces. The Elsevier model may be a good one to use if the journal to which you are submitting a paper indicates that highlights are desirable but provides no specific instructions or guidelines. Yet varying preferences mean that it is always wise to take a close look at the highlights in papers the journal has recently published, particularly any papers that are very similar to your own. In some cases, highlights will not be required until a paper is accepted for publication, so be sure to note when highlights should be submitted as well what form they should take.

what is highlights in a research paper

Regardless of the exact format of the highlights required, they will almost certainly need to be concise in order to condense a great deal of complex information into a very little textual space. Shortening phrases, simplifying vocabulary, eliminating redundant words and using the active voice will help with observing word and character limits, and replacing long words with shorter synonyms will also help with the latter. These are good writing strategies when addressing a wide or general audience in any case, and this tends to be a desirable goal in highlights for a research paper, as does avoiding jargon and highly technical language. Do note, however, that a few journals will want authors to assume an audience of specialist readers for their highlights, in which case the guidelines will probably specify this. Keywords and key phrases are often encouraged in highlights, but nonstandard abbreviations are best avoided and must be spelled out when first used if they prove necessary. Highlights are usually written in full sentences even when they are presented as bullet points, and it is essential to write clearly and correctly if you wish to communicate effectively with potential readers and hold out the prospect of an excellent paper, so errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and logic must be eliminated. A logical approach to highlights that begins with clarifying the nature of the research, proceeds with clear statements about the most important results and finishes with outlining the paper’s contribution to the field will generally prove successful.

what is highlights in a research paper

Keeping both your readers and your research firmly in mind as you write your highlights is vital. Simplifying language and tucking everything you need to say into short and engaging highlights can lead to oversimplifying or exaggerating research findings, especially since the highlights must stand alone without any of the explanations, nuances and complications offered in the main paper. It is therefore imperative to give your highlights serious thought, ensuring that they accurately represent for readers the primary or most exciting results presented in your paper, and also that the paper itself lays emphasis on the findings prioritised in your highlights. For this reason, highlights are best drafted after the paper is written, and some authors will even go back after the highlights are written and revise their papers to achieve a clearer focus on the highlighted results. The process of writing appropriate highlights can therefore enable effective editing and help an author produce a better paper. However you choose to work at writing the highlights for your academic or scientific paper, remember that they will probably be the first thing after the title that a prospective reader encounters and they may even appear in the journal’s table of contents, so you want your highlights to make the best possible impression and lead readers to a paper that lives up to their claims.

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Effective Highlighting: Drawing Attention to Your Important Information

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The use of summaries of key findings by many academic and scientific journals is well established[1]. Once an article is accepted for publication the author is required to submit those key findings. What isn’t so widely established, but has undoubtedly spread in popularity is the use of highlights. The purpose of highlights is to draw attention to important information in a paper. Highlights are 3 to 5 short sentences containing the core findings of the research[2]. Effective highlights allow the reader to find and view in an extremely concise format the presented results, therefore providing the opportunity to quickly determine whether they want to read the paper or not.

highlights

While the highlights are only available online, the purpose is designed to create greater visibility and discoverability, which tends to lead to greater readership and a possible higher citation count. In a word, the highlights give a paper advantage in the digital publication. They make it possible for search engines to find a manuscript and match it to an interested audience. In terms of discoverability, the highlights widen the reach of the research by making interested colleagues across a larger spectrum aware of the article. Aside from distribution, greater awareness and accessibility creates the opportunity for further collaboration. If an author understands the relevance of highlights to lead readers to their research, then it is important enough to know how to effectively prepare them. To start, the length, content, and format of highlights for a research paper differ slightly among academic and scientific journals. Where one journal requires a bulleted list of keywords and phrases, another may require a complete summary of the research results. For this article, we will focus on the former.

When creating the highlights an effective method to keep in mind is to use the following key criteria:

  • Communicate the core findings

Convey the essence

  • Express the distinctiveness of the research

A good model to follow is to provide three to five highlights, with each one not exceeding 85 characters, including spaces.

Communicating the Core

In research, the details tend to be the focus of the writing. Yes, details are important, especially if they are challenging, much more so to allow a peer to reproduce the experience in the research. However, the details of the process or experiments are not the nature of the research. It is for this reason that the details shouldn’t be the highlights. The nature is the WHY factor.

Why is the research taking place in the first place? What is the ultimate answer the research is trying to provide? What is driving this research?

Having a clear view of the WHY factor is essential for writing the highlights.

When communicating your findings, it is important to keep in mind the audience. A common flaw in writing highlights is the lack of thought for those readers who are not experts in the field. Highlights are the window to the world. If the content is not clear, your message is not understood. The essence of your research must be prepared with the idea that the audience knows little about the topic, and the highlights must express the complexity of the research in simple, clear, and concise words.

Evidence of distinctiveness

Typically, you have less than ten seconds before a reader decides it’s time to click away. Therefore, it’s imperative to make use of the highlights to provide evidence of the research contribution in a succinct point. The following are two examples ineffective and effective highlights:

“a hollow-cone spray is used in an impinging process occurring on a flat surface”

Consider that research in impinging sprays occurs on a surface, “Why is this a highlight?” The example does not explain the nature of the research, nor does it express any contribution in the field[3]. However, the sentence can be structured to state the distinctiveness of the research and in turn create an effective highlight.

“Hollow-cone sprays in cooling processes address heterogeneities in the temperature field.”

The sentence meets the required 85 characters and contains the nature of the research. The effective example introduces the type of spray in a cooling process and states the impact, which is the cooling of the surface and addressing heterogeneities in a temperature field. A small change can make a difference between ineffective and effective highlights. Depending on the journal you are submitting a manuscript, they may not specific instructions or guidelines for an author to develop the highlights. The varying preferences simply mean that it is wise to review the published material, in particular, any papers similar to the subject matter. Take note of the form the highlights are required and when.

Concise and to the point

Regardless of the required format, highlights need to be concise to communicate complex information in a limited textual space. Shortening phrases, simplifying vocabulary, eliminating redundant words, and using the active voice will help with observing word and character limits, and replacing long words with shorter synonyms will also help with the latter.

Proofread your highlights

An important step that should never get overlooked in the process is the proof. Any error in spelling, grammar, or logic in the highlights reflects on the rest of the paper. The reader will expect the manuscript to be poorly written if there is an error staring at them in the face. Consider having a colleague review the section to catch any errors you may have missed. If you have your manuscript professionally edited, be sure to write the highlights before you submit the manuscript for editing so they are included in the professional revision. Keeping both the reader and the research firmly in mind as you write the highlights is the key. It is not possible to simply shorten the language and throw away thought to create form-fitting and engaging highlights. This can lead to oversimplifying or exaggerating research findings, especially since the highlights must stand alone without any of the explanations of the main paper. It is therefore imperative to draft the highlights after the manuscript is written and serious thought is given to their development, ensuring an accurate representation for the readers the core findings, the essence, and also distinctiveness presented in the paper.

The highlights will probably be the first thing after the title that a prospective reader will read, so you want the highlights to make a great first impression and draw attention to your important information.

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If you like our articles, try our MasterCourses. Our training courses and webinars are based on the material from our scientific writing workshops, which cover these and many other topics more thoroughly, with more examples and discussion. We offer on-site workshops for your event or organization, and also host workshops that individual participants can attend. Our on-site scientific writing workshops can range from 1-2 hours to several days in length. We can tailor the length to suit your needs, and we can deliver a writing workshop as a stand-alone activity or as part of scheduled meetings. Our scientific writing workshops consistently receive high praise from participants including graduate students, post-docs, and faculty in diverse fields. Please see our MasterCourses page for details. If you found this article helpful or if there is a topic you want us to address in a future article, please use our online comment submission form , or contact us directly. Your comments and suggestions are valuable!

References:

  • Guyatt G, Sackett DL, Sinclair JC, Hayward J. Cook DJ, et al. User’s Guides to the medical literature: IX. A method for grading health care recommendations . J AM Med Assoc 1995;274 (22):1800-04
  • Green B, Johnson CD. How to write a case report for publication . J Chiropr Med 2006;5(2):72-82 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647062
  • Panao M, Writing meaningful highlights in scientific papers

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Writing meaningful Highlights in scientific papers

One novelty in scientific papers in the last decade was Elsevier’s introduction of highlights. Are authors paying sufficient attention to highlights writing?

what is highlights in a research paper

Highlights are 3 to 5 short sentences containing core findings of the research described in the paper. Highlights are available only online with the purpose of driving a person’s attention toward reading the paper. Therefore, when we’re invited to review a paper, the core findings are one of the first things we need to review and … what a mess!

Instead of core findings we read a short version of the title, operating conditions, etc. It’s like we’re reading an abstract divided into short sentences. So I wondered, is it possible to find guidelines to write more meaningful highlights by ourselves, instead of paying someone else to do it for us?

I find highlights a very important step in scientific articles. Thus, these are my 6 “Highlights” for writing more meaningful highlights based on experience, Journals’ recommendations and the little advice we can find in the web.

1. Understand Highlights Meaning

When I read the highlights in a paper I review, my first question was –  “do authors understand what highlights mean?”

I think if authors realized how important highlights are, they would pay a lot more attention to them. Besides the title, highlights are the first thing a person reads while searching the web for any publications in a certain field. It’s my opportunity as an author, or co-author, to capture someone attention to read my research.

Things are changing in the scientific articles publishing industry, and there is a movement toward the relevance of having more “reads” of your paper, rather than publishing in high impact factor journals.

If you understand what highlights may represent in leading people to read your paper then you realize how important it is to know their meaning.

According to Elsevier, the publisher which introduced highlights, these convey the core findings and provide readers with a quick textual overview of the article . Highlights describe the essence of the research (e.g. Results, conclusions) and highlight what is distinctive about it.

Core Findings.

Quick overview.

The essence of research. 

These are the keywords to understand highlights meaning. The challenge is how to express them in sentences shorter than a tweet…

2. Clear view of the nature of your research

When details in our research work are challenging, we tend to focus our writing describing them. Details are important, especially if challenging, because someone else might want to reproduce your experience and needs those details. But the details of your thought process, or experiments are not the nature of your research. Therefore, they shouldn’t be highlights.

The nature of your research is your WHY .

What is the ultimate question your research is trying to answer?

Why are you researching on a certain topic in the first place?

What drives your research?

Some topics are easier than others, but having a clear view of the WHY in your research is essential for writing meaningful highlights.

3. Realize people know little about your topic

I remember speaking to a small audience and feel I’m not making myself understood. This is a common flaw. Even if you have one, two or more experts in your field in front of you, when presenting an article at a conference, you should always assume there’s someone in the audience who is not an expert in your field. And when you prepare your presentation, you are speaking to this person, not the experts.

Highlights audience is the world. Therefore, you are 100% sure people which know little about your topic will read your highlights. You must write to them. 

This is a major challenge because, ideally, you should be able to express the complexity of your topic in simple, clear and concise words. A way to test these highlights is asking a friend from another field for an opinion.

4. Evidence your contribution in the field

I struggle when people literally waste their highlights with things that don’t provide the nature of their research or evidence their contribution. Let me give you an example. 

If I write 

“a hollow-cone spray is used in an impinging process occurring on a flat surface”

Why is this a highlight? Actually, this is close to what I read recently in a paper I reviewed. In all research about impinging sprays, isn’t it logical this impingement occurs in a surface? Why is this a highlight? The surface can be flat, curved, dried, wetted, structured or not, but this sentence does not explain the nature of research, nor expresses any contribution in the field. 

If we wanted to change this sentence to something more meaningful, it could be 

“Hollow-cone sprays in cooling processes address heterogeneities in temperature field.” 

The sentence is not perfect, but it has 85 characters (after 2 iterations) and contains the nature of research. It introduces the type of sprays; if they’re used in cooling processes, it means their impact on a surface is logical; and it states the purpose of that impact, which is cooling the surface and addressing heterogeneities in temperature fields, thus pointing to the challenge. Let me repeat, this is not a perfect example, but illustrates what I mean.

Another example where a small change can make a difference, at least from my viewpoint. Again, close to what I’ve read recently.

“The effect of drop dynamics, surface temperature and spray height on the liquid film formed after spray impact.”

First, it’s too long, so it needs to be shorten. But it contains what’s included in the paper’s scope, when the journal requires the core findings. Suppose the authors found these three parameters produced an effect on the outcome, a small change can resolve the issue,

“Drop dynamics, surface temperature and spray height affects liquid film formation.”

While the highlight in the first example contextualised the reader, spray cooling involves the formation of liquid films. And through this highlight, the reader knows which parameters affect the outcome and, if interested, he will read the paper to know how.

5. Be clear, concise, and go straight to the point

A non-negligible number of papers I reviewed doesn’t pay much attention to the 85 characters limitation. It forces us to seek clarity in our statements. Be concise in the words used to convey meaning. And go straight to the point because that’s what highlights are for, right? Lead the potential reader to make a quick assessment whether he should read the paper or not.

A good exercise is to distance yourself from your paper. Put yourself in the reader shoes and be critical. Would you read this paper about a topic in your field with these highlights?

6. Use simple terms

This is probably the greatest challenge. But it is important to understand what we mean by simple terms. Some research topics involve words which are not simple because their part of the lexical used in the field. Simple terms come naturally when we have a mature and clear view of our main breakthroughs.

Highlights help you refine the message in your research, evidencing only what really matters. And when we express what matters in simple terms, a reader should experience clarity and the desire to know more. 

These reflections are not exhaustive and I hope these “guidelines” motivated you to be more careful in writing meaningful highlights.

QUESTION: Are there any other suggestions, based on your experience, that would help authors write more meaningful Highlights?

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what is highlights in a research paper

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what is highlights in a research paper

Research Highlight

Research highlights are usually commissioned from recognized experts in a particular field. Suggestions and ideas for articles may be submitted by email .

Key aims of Research highlights are to highlight one or more exciting research article or clinical trial, recently published in Genome Medicine or another journal, and to place the new findings into the context of the current literature.

Research highlights should be around 1200 words with up to 10 references. The Abstract should be a maximum of 75 words.

Preparing your manuscript

The information below details the section headings that you should include in your manuscript and what information should be within each section.

Please note that your manuscript must include a 'Declarations' section including all of the subheadings (please see below for more information).

The title page should:

  • "A versus B in the treatment of C: a randomized controlled trial", "X is a risk factor for Y: a case control study", "What is the impact of factor X on subject Y: A systematic review"
  • or for non-clinical or non-research studies: a description of what the article reports
  • if a collaboration group should be listed as an author, please list the group name as an author. If you would like the names of the individual members of the group to be searchable through their individual PubMed records, please include this information in the “Acknowledgements” section in accordance with the instructions below
  • Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT , do not currently satisfy our authorship criteria . Notably an attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs. Use of an LLM should be properly documented in the Methods section (and if a Methods section is not available, in a suitable alternative part) of the manuscript
  • indicate the corresponding author

Please minimize the use of abbreviations and do not cite references in the abstract. The abstract should briefly summarize the aim, findings or purpose of the article. The Abstract should not exceed 250 words.

Three to ten keywords representing the main content of the article.

This should contain the body of the article, and may also be broken into subsections with short, informative headings.

List of abbreviations

If abbreviations are used in the text they should be defined in the text at first use, and a list of abbreviations should be provided.

Declarations

All manuscripts must contain the following sections under the heading 'Declarations':

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Consent for publication, availability of data and materials, competing interests, authors' contributions, acknowledgements.

  • Authors' information (optional)

Please see below for details on the information to be included in these sections.

If any of the sections are not relevant to your manuscript, please include the heading and write 'Not applicable' for that section. 

Manuscripts reporting studies involving human participants, human data or human tissue must:

  • include a statement on ethics approval and consent (even where the need for approval was waived)
  • include the name of the ethics committee that approved the study and the committee’s reference number if appropriate

Studies involving animals must include a statement on ethics approval and for experimental studies involving client-owned animals, authors must also include a statement on informed consent from the client or owner.

See our editorial policies for more information.

If your manuscript does not report on or involve the use of any animal or human data or tissue, please state “Not applicable” in this section.

If your manuscript contains any individual person’s data in any form (including any individual details, images or videos), consent for publication must be obtained from that person, or in the case of children, their parent or legal guardian. All presentations of case reports must have consent for publication.

You can use your institutional consent form or our consent form if you prefer. You should not send the form to us on submission, but we may request to see a copy at any stage (including after publication).

See our editorial policies for more information on consent for publication.

If your manuscript does not contain data from any individual person, please state “Not applicable” in this section.

All manuscripts must include an ‘Availability of data and materials’ statement. Data availability statements should include information on where data supporting the results reported in the article can be found including, where applicable, hyperlinks to publicly archived datasets analysed or generated during the study. By data we mean the minimal dataset that would be necessary to interpret, replicate and build upon the findings reported in the article. We recognise it is not always possible to share research data publicly, for instance when individual privacy could be compromised, and in such instances data availability should still be stated in the manuscript along with any conditions for access.

Authors are also encouraged to preserve search strings on searchRxiv https://searchrxiv.org/ , an archive to support researchers to report, store and share their searches consistently and to enable them to review and re-use existing searches. searchRxiv enables researchers to obtain a digital object identifier (DOI) for their search, allowing it to be cited. 

Data availability statements can take one of the following forms (or a combination of more than one if required for multiple datasets):

  • The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS]
  • The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  • All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].
  • The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due [REASON WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  • Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
  • The data that support the findings of this study are available from [third party name] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [third party name].
  • Not applicable. If your manuscript does not contain any data, please state 'Not applicable' in this section.

More examples of template data availability statements, which include examples of openly available and restricted access datasets, are available here .

BioMed Central strongly encourages the citation of any publicly available data on which the conclusions of the paper rely in the manuscript. Data citations should include a persistent identifier (such as a DOI) and should ideally be included in the reference list. Citations of datasets, when they appear in the reference list, should include the minimum information recommended by DataCite and follow journal style. Dataset identifiers including DOIs should be expressed as full URLs. For example:

Hao Z, AghaKouchak A, Nakhjiri N, Farahmand A. Global integrated drought monitoring and prediction system (GIDMaPS) data sets. figshare. 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.853801

With the corresponding text in the Availability of data and materials statement:

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS]. [Reference number]  

If you wish to co-submit a data note describing your data to be published in BMC Research Notes , you can do so by visiting our submission portal . Data notes support open data and help authors to comply with funder policies on data sharing. Co-published data notes will be linked to the research article the data support ( example ).

All financial and non-financial competing interests must be declared in this section.

See our editorial policies for a full explanation of competing interests. If you are unsure whether you or any of your co-authors have a competing interest please contact the editorial office.

Please use the authors initials to refer to each authors' competing interests in this section.

If you do not have any competing interests, please state "The authors declare that they have no competing interests" in this section.

All sources of funding for the research reported should be declared. If the funder has a specific role in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript, this should be declared.

The individual contributions of authors to the manuscript should be specified in this section. Guidance and criteria for authorship can be found in our editorial policies .

Please use initials to refer to each author's contribution in this section, for example: "FC analyzed and interpreted the patient data regarding the hematological disease and the transplant. RH performed the histological examination of the kidney, and was a major contributor in writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript."

Please acknowledge anyone who contributed towards the article who does not meet the criteria for authorship including anyone who provided professional writing services or materials.

Authors should obtain permission to acknowledge from all those mentioned in the Acknowledgements section.

See our editorial policies for a full explanation of acknowledgements and authorship criteria.

If you do not have anyone to acknowledge, please write "Not applicable" in this section.

Group authorship (for manuscripts involving a collaboration group): if you would like the names of the individual members of a collaboration Group to be searchable through their individual PubMed records, please ensure that the title of the collaboration Group is included on the title page and in the submission system and also include collaborating author names as the last paragraph of the “Acknowledgements” section. Please add authors in the format First Name, Middle initial(s) (optional), Last Name. You can add institution or country information for each author if you wish, but this should be consistent across all authors.

Please note that individual names may not be present in the PubMed record at the time a published article is initially included in PubMed as it takes PubMed additional time to code this information.

Authors' information

This section is optional.

You may choose to use this section to include any relevant information about the author(s) that may aid the reader's interpretation of the article, and understand the standpoint of the author(s). This may include details about the authors' qualifications, current positions they hold at institutions or societies, or any other relevant background information. Please refer to authors using their initials. Note this section should not be used to describe any competing interests.

Footnotes can be used to give additional information, which may include the citation of a reference included in the reference list. They should not consist solely of a reference citation, and they should never include the bibliographic details of a reference. They should also not contain any figures or tables.

Footnotes to the text are numbered consecutively; those to tables should be indicated by superscript lower-case letters (or asterisks for significance values and other statistical data). Footnotes to the title or the authors of the article are not given reference symbols.

Always use footnotes instead of endnotes.

Examples of the Vancouver reference style are shown below.

See our editorial policies for author guidance on good citation practice

Web links and URLs: All web links and URLs, including links to the authors' own websites, should be given a reference number and included in the reference list rather than within the text of the manuscript. They should be provided in full, including both the title of the site and the URL, as well as the date the site was accessed, in the following format: The Mouse Tumor Biology Database. http://tumor.informatics.jax.org/mtbwi/index.do . Accessed 20 May 2013. If an author or group of authors can clearly be associated with a web link, such as for weblogs, then they should be included in the reference.

Example reference style:

Article within a journal

Smith JJ. The world of science. Am J Sci. 1999;36:234-5.

Article within a journal (no page numbers)

Rohrmann S, Overvad K, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Jakobsen MU, Egeberg R, Tjønneland A, et al. Meat consumption and mortality - results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. BMC Medicine. 2013;11:63.

Article within a journal by DOI

Slifka MK, Whitton JL. Clinical implications of dysregulated cytokine production. Dig J Mol Med. 2000; doi:10.1007/s801090000086.

Article within a journal supplement

Frumin AM, Nussbaum J, Esposito M. Functional asplenia: demonstration of splenic activity by bone marrow scan. Blood 1979;59 Suppl 1:26-32.

Book chapter, or an article within a book

Wyllie AH, Kerr JFR, Currie AR. Cell death: the significance of apoptosis. In: Bourne GH, Danielli JF, Jeon KW, editors. International review of cytology. London: Academic; 1980. p. 251-306.

OnlineFirst chapter in a series (without a volume designation but with a DOI)

Saito Y, Hyuga H. Rate equation approaches to amplification of enantiomeric excess and chiral symmetry breaking. Top Curr Chem. 2007. doi:10.1007/128_2006_108.

Complete book, authored

Blenkinsopp A, Paxton P. Symptoms in the pharmacy: a guide to the management of common illness. 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Science; 1998.

Online document

Doe J. Title of subordinate document. In: The dictionary of substances and their effects. Royal Society of Chemistry. 1999. http://www.rsc.org/dose/title of subordinate document. Accessed 15 Jan 1999.

Online database

Healthwise Knowledgebase. US Pharmacopeia, Rockville. 1998. http://www.healthwise.org. Accessed 21 Sept 1998.

Supplementary material/private homepage

Doe J. Title of supplementary material. 2000. http://www.privatehomepage.com. Accessed 22 Feb 2000.

University site

Doe, J: Title of preprint. http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/mydata.html (1999). Accessed 25 Dec 1999.

Doe, J: Trivial HTTP, RFC2169. ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc2169.txt (1999). Accessed 12 Nov 1999.

Organization site

ISSN International Centre: The ISSN register. http://www.issn.org (2006). Accessed 20 Feb 2007.

Dataset with persistent identifier

Zheng L-Y, Guo X-S, He B, Sun L-J, Peng Y, Dong S-S, et al. Genome data from sweet and grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). GigaScience Database. 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.5524/100012 .

Figures, tables and additional files

See  General formatting guidelines  for information on how to format figures, tables and additional files.

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Genome Medicine

ISSN: 1756-994X

  • Effective Teaching Strategies

How Highlighters Can Help Students Write Better Research Papers

  • June 22, 2022
  • Susan M. Plachta, MA, MS

For decades, students have used highlighters to color-code notes and to indicate key passages of research sources, but there is another, less common but equally important, use for highlighters in the research writing process: highlighting research essay drafts.

As a composition professor, each semester I teach students the art of writing a research paper, but no matter how much I stress to students the importance of balancing cited information with their own writing, many drafts either contain far too few citations or are overpowered with paragraphs composed almost entirely of cited content. Even after further lectures and feedback on drafts, it still doesn’t always click with students. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different strategies, all with varying degrees of success. Frustrated with the results, I knew there must be another way to help students write a better research paper.

Enter the humble highlighter.

The process

Highlighting drafts in a face-to-face class

In addition to a hard copy of their draft, I ask students to bring a highlighter with them on peer review day. I never tell them why, as we make it a lighthearted guessing game of what we will be doing with highlighters. (Two of my favorite student guesses: using highlighters to create visuals for their research paper and using highlighters to create tattoo designs.)

Students don’t draw any images on peer-review day but instead use highlighters in a much more traditional sense; they highlight any information that they learned through reading a source. In other words, they highlight any information that requires citation.

After they’ve finished highlighting, I remind my students of two points:

  • If they haven’t highlighted anything (or have highlighted very little), the draft doesn’t contain enough cited evidence.
  • If highlighting has changed the color of their paper, the draft includes too many citations.

Highlighting drafts in an online class

Adapting draft highlighting in the virtual classroom can take different forms. In a synchronous class, a live video conference can replicate highlighting just as it would in a face-to-face course. If teaching asynchronously, some of the immediacy of the interaction is lost, but the experience can be replicated by walking students through the process with a short video. Though many online students may prefer to simply highlight their drafts on the screen, I encourage them to print whenever possible, as seeing the printed page provides a visual of an entire document at once.

The follow-up

After students highlight their drafts, we again discuss the importance of balancing arguments and cited evidence. I ask for volunteers to share their drafts to provide a visual of what too little or too much citation may look like. I also share a sample student paper with an appropriate amount of citation.   

Even though students have practiced citation and examined student samples before writing their drafts, when they directly apply the concept to their own writing, they develop a better understanding of how to effectively incorporate evidence and are less-likely to submit a paper composed almost entirely of quotes from research sources.

How highlighting benefits students and helps them write better research papers

Highlighting builds community

Research has shown that creating a sense of community within the classroom benefits students emotionally, academically, and socially. Students who feel a sense of community are also better at managing stress and are less likely to drop out (Berry, 2019).  I teach at a community college, and my courses may have dual-enrolled high school students as well as older, returning students. A larger disparity in age can sometimes make it more difficult for students to connect with each other, but this low-stakes activity is easily completed by everyone. The shared learning experience means that students are more likely (and more willing) to share their writing with classmates and form connections with each other as they navigate the research essay assignment.

Highlighting engages students of various learning styles

As teachers, we often teach in ways that match our own learning styles; however, by including classroom activities that engage varied learning styles, the academic achievement of those students who have learning styles that differ from our own will likely increase (Ovez and Uyangor, 2016). Highlighting drafts engages the four learning styles of the VARK model (visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic). Highlighting engages visual learners by creating a visible representation of how much information they have cited. Auditory learners benefit from highlighting by listening to directions and then discussing results with classmates. Reading/writing learners become further engaged with their own writing as they develop their arguments through highlighting, revising, and editing. Highlighting helps kinesthetic learners, as they feel connected by physically working with their drafts.

This exercise also benefits students with learning styles in the expanded model. It engages logical learners by providing another way to organize their thoughts and practice the detailed procedures of citation. It can also engage both social (extroverted) and solitary (introverted) learners, as the exercise may be set up to allow students to work in groups or work individually.

Highlighting helps prevent accidental plagiarism

Students who are new to research writing sometimes mistakenly believe that a paraphrase or statistic from a source doesn’t need to be cited. During this exercise, I remind them that if they’re highlighting any part of their drafts, they learned the information from a source, and thus it must be followed by an in-text citation. While students in upper division courses might not need this reminder, highlighting can still be a useful tool to double-check correct citation.

Highlighting provides a quick way to create a reverse outline

A reverse outline allows writers to examine the focus, content, and organization of their drafts. By highlighting cited evidence in each paragraph, students strip away supporting details and can easily identify the topic sentence in each paragraph (or note where topic sentences may be missing).

More experienced writers may simply need to quickly review each paragraph to double-check the focus; however, less-experienced writers may wish to develop their reverse outline more completely by choosing another color highlighter to mark the thesis statement and topic sentences or even use a separate document to complete a reverse outline.

The takeaway

Don’t rule out the simplicity or effectiveness of low-tech options. In a world where seemingly almost every aspect of our lives is immersed in technology, one where online learning platforms and digital solutions can feel like the only solution, using a low-tech or traditional teaching strategy can often result in not only building community in the classroom but also creating a positive learning environment for all students.

Susan M. Plachta, MA and MS, is an English professor at St. Clair County Community College with 20+ years teaching experience.

Berry, Sharla (2019). “Teaching to Connect: Community-Building Strategies for the Virtual Classroom.” Online Learning. 23, no. 1: 164-183. doi:10.24059/olj.v23i1.1425.

Övez, Filiz T.D. and Sevinc M. Uyangör (2016). “The effect of the match between the learning and teaching styles of secondary school mathematics teachers on students’ achievement,” Journal of Education and Practice . 7 no. 29: 125-132. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1118892.pdf

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Write a Research Highlight

Research highlights are short layman-style summaries of peer-reviewed research papers surrounding climate and climate change.

If you are associated with the UW, and have a recent paper that informs climate, we will work with you to create a research highlight. Contact Miriam Bertram ( uwpcc@uw.edu ).

Research Highlight Format:

See a great example here.

Subtitle: one line clarification statement

Contributor of Research Highlight: you (remember to send us a picture of yourself too!)

Key Points: two or three bullet points that summarize work

Overview: two or three paragraphs that describe the significance of the work in the broad context of understanding climate change, climate impacts.  

Feel free to add a personal touch about what this research means to you, how long it took, etc.

Relevant images: these could be pictures of you/your team doing fieldwork, working on the project, etc. Include caption and credit. 

Authors & Affiliations:

Publication Date:

Publication Journal:

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How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

what is highlights in a research paper

What is the research paper Results section and what does it do?

The Results section of a scientific research paper represents the core findings of a study derived from the methods applied to gather and analyze information. It presents these findings in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation from the author, setting up the reader for later interpretation and evaluation in the Discussion section. A major purpose of the Results section is to break down the data into sentences that show its significance to the research question(s).

The Results section appears third in the section sequence in most scientific papers. It follows the presentation of the Methods and Materials and is presented before the Discussion section —although the Results and Discussion are presented together in many journals. This section answers the basic question “What did you find in your research?”

What is included in the Results section?

The Results section should include the findings of your study and ONLY the findings of your study. The findings include:

  • Data presented in tables, charts, graphs, and other figures (may be placed into the text or on separate pages at the end of the manuscript)
  • A contextual analysis of this data explaining its meaning in sentence form
  • All data that corresponds to the central research question(s)
  • All secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

If the scope of the study is broad, or if you studied a variety of variables, or if the methodology used yields a wide range of different results, the author should present only those results that are most relevant to the research question stated in the Introduction section .

As a general rule, any information that does not present the direct findings or outcome of the study should be left out of this section. Unless the journal requests that authors combine the Results and Discussion sections, explanations and interpretations should be omitted from the Results.

How are the results organized?

The best way to organize your Results section is “logically.” One logical and clear method of organizing research results is to provide them alongside the research questions—within each research question, present the type of data that addresses that research question.

Let’s look at an example. Your research question is based on a survey among patients who were treated at a hospital and received postoperative care. Let’s say your first research question is:

results section of a research paper, figures

“What do hospital patients over age 55 think about postoperative care?”

This can actually be represented as a heading within your Results section, though it might be presented as a statement rather than a question:

Attitudes towards postoperative care in patients over the age of 55

Now present the results that address this specific research question first. In this case, perhaps a table illustrating data from a survey. Likert items can be included in this example. Tables can also present standard deviations, probabilities, correlation matrices, etc.

Following this, present a content analysis, in words, of one end of the spectrum of the survey or data table. In our example case, start with the POSITIVE survey responses regarding postoperative care, using descriptive phrases. For example:

“Sixty-five percent of patients over 55 responded positively to the question “ Are you satisfied with your hospital’s postoperative care ?” (Fig. 2)

Include other results such as subcategory analyses. The amount of textual description used will depend on how much interpretation of tables and figures is necessary and how many examples the reader needs in order to understand the significance of your research findings.

Next, present a content analysis of another part of the spectrum of the same research question, perhaps the NEGATIVE or NEUTRAL responses to the survey. For instance:

  “As Figure 1 shows, 15 out of 60 patients in Group A responded negatively to Question 2.”

After you have assessed the data in one figure and explained it sufficiently, move on to your next research question. For example:

  “How does patient satisfaction correspond to in-hospital improvements made to postoperative care?”

results section of a research paper, figures

This kind of data may be presented through a figure or set of figures (for instance, a paired T-test table).

Explain the data you present, here in a table, with a concise content analysis:

“The p-value for the comparison between the before and after groups of patients was .03% (Fig. 2), indicating that the greater the dissatisfaction among patients, the more frequent the improvements that were made to postoperative care.”

Let’s examine another example of a Results section from a study on plant tolerance to heavy metal stress . In the Introduction section, the aims of the study are presented as “determining the physiological and morphological responses of Allium cepa L. towards increased cadmium toxicity” and “evaluating its potential to accumulate the metal and its associated environmental consequences.” The Results section presents data showing how these aims are achieved in tables alongside a content analysis, beginning with an overview of the findings:

“Cadmium caused inhibition of root and leave elongation, with increasing effects at higher exposure doses (Fig. 1a-c).”

The figure containing this data is cited in parentheses. Note that this author has combined three graphs into one single figure. Separating the data into separate graphs focusing on specific aspects makes it easier for the reader to assess the findings, and consolidating this information into one figure saves space and makes it easy to locate the most relevant results.

results section of a research paper, figures

Following this overall summary, the relevant data in the tables is broken down into greater detail in text form in the Results section.

  • “Results on the bio-accumulation of cadmium were found to be the highest (17.5 mg kgG1) in the bulb, when the concentration of cadmium in the solution was 1×10G2 M and lowest (0.11 mg kgG1) in the leaves when the concentration was 1×10G3 M.”

Captioning and Referencing Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are central components of your Results section and you need to carefully think about the most effective way to use graphs and tables to present your findings . Therefore, it is crucial to know how to write strong figure captions and to refer to them within the text of the Results section.

The most important advice one can give here as well as throughout the paper is to check the requirements and standards of the journal to which you are submitting your work. Every journal has its own design and layout standards, which you can find in the author instructions on the target journal’s website. Perusing a journal’s published articles will also give you an idea of the proper number, size, and complexity of your figures.

Regardless of which format you use, the figures should be placed in the order they are referenced in the Results section and be as clear and easy to understand as possible. If there are multiple variables being considered (within one or more research questions), it can be a good idea to split these up into separate figures. Subsequently, these can be referenced and analyzed under separate headings and paragraphs in the text.

To create a caption, consider the research question being asked and change it into a phrase. For instance, if one question is “Which color did participants choose?”, the caption might be “Color choice by participant group.” Or in our last research paper example, where the question was “What is the concentration of cadmium in different parts of the onion after 14 days?” the caption reads:

 “Fig. 1(a-c): Mean concentration of Cd determined in (a) bulbs, (b) leaves, and (c) roots of onions after a 14-day period.”

Steps for Composing the Results Section

Because each study is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing a strategy for structuring and writing the section of a research paper where findings are presented. The content and layout of this section will be determined by the specific area of research, the design of the study and its particular methodologies, and the guidelines of the target journal and its editors. However, the following steps can be used to compose the results of most scientific research studies and are essential for researchers who are new to preparing a manuscript for publication or who need a reminder of how to construct the Results section.

Step 1 : Consult the guidelines or instructions that the target journal or publisher provides authors and read research papers it has published, especially those with similar topics, methods, or results to your study.

  • The guidelines will generally outline specific requirements for the results or findings section, and the published articles will provide sound examples of successful approaches.
  • Note length limitations on restrictions on content. For instance, while many journals require the Results and Discussion sections to be separate, others do not—qualitative research papers often include results and interpretations in the same section (“Results and Discussion”).
  • Reading the aims and scope in the journal’s “ guide for authors ” section and understanding the interests of its readers will be invaluable in preparing to write the Results section.

Step 2 : Consider your research results in relation to the journal’s requirements and catalogue your results.

  • Focus on experimental results and other findings that are especially relevant to your research questions and objectives and include them even if they are unexpected or do not support your ideas and hypotheses.
  • Catalogue your findings—use subheadings to streamline and clarify your report. This will help you avoid excessive and peripheral details as you write and also help your reader understand and remember your findings. Create appendices that might interest specialists but prove too long or distracting for other readers.
  • Decide how you will structure of your results. You might match the order of the research questions and hypotheses to your results, or you could arrange them according to the order presented in the Methods section. A chronological order or even a hierarchy of importance or meaningful grouping of main themes or categories might prove effective. Consider your audience, evidence, and most importantly, the objectives of your research when choosing a structure for presenting your findings.

Step 3 : Design figures and tables to present and illustrate your data.

  • Tables and figures should be numbered according to the order in which they are mentioned in the main text of the paper.
  • Information in figures should be relatively self-explanatory (with the aid of captions), and their design should include all definitions and other information necessary for readers to understand the findings without reading all of the text.
  • Use tables and figures as a focal point to tell a clear and informative story about your research and avoid repeating information. But remember that while figures clarify and enhance the text, they cannot replace it.

Step 4 : Draft your Results section using the findings and figures you have organized.

  • The goal is to communicate this complex information as clearly and precisely as possible; precise and compact phrases and sentences are most effective.
  • In the opening paragraph of this section, restate your research questions or aims to focus the reader’s attention to what the results are trying to show. It is also a good idea to summarize key findings at the end of this section to create a logical transition to the interpretation and discussion that follows.
  • Try to write in the past tense and the active voice to relay the findings since the research has already been done and the agent is usually clear. This will ensure that your explanations are also clear and logical.
  • Make sure that any specialized terminology or abbreviation you have used here has been defined and clarified in the  Introduction section .

Step 5 : Review your draft; edit and revise until it reports results exactly as you would like to have them reported to your readers.

  • Double-check the accuracy and consistency of all the data, as well as all of the visual elements included.
  • Read your draft aloud to catch language errors (grammar, spelling, and mechanics), awkward phrases, and missing transitions.
  • Ensure that your results are presented in the best order to focus on objectives and prepare readers for interpretations, valuations, and recommendations in the Discussion section . Look back over the paper’s Introduction and background while anticipating the Discussion and Conclusion sections to ensure that the presentation of your results is consistent and effective.
  • Consider seeking additional guidance on your paper. Find additional readers to look over your Results section and see if it can be improved in any way. Peers, professors, or qualified experts can provide valuable insights.

One excellent option is to use a professional English proofreading and editing service  such as Wordvice, including our paper editing service . With hundreds of qualified editors from dozens of scientific fields, Wordvice has helped thousands of authors revise their manuscripts and get accepted into their target journals. Read more about the  proofreading and editing process  before proceeding with getting academic editing services and manuscript editing services for your manuscript.

As the representation of your study’s data output, the Results section presents the core information in your research paper. By writing with clarity and conciseness and by highlighting and explaining the crucial findings of their study, authors increase the impact and effectiveness of their research manuscripts.

For more articles and videos on writing your research manuscript, visit Wordvice’s Resources page.

Wordvice Resources

  • How to Write a Research Paper Introduction 
  • Which Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Title
  • Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  • Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
  • Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
  • 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
  • Tips for Paraphrasing in Research Papers

Online Tesis

Research Highlights

by Bastis Consultores | Apr 30, 2021 | Thesis Development | 0 comments

what is highlights in a research paper

The research highlights concisely summarize the main results and provide readers with an overview of the thesis or article. They include three to five vignettes that describe the spirit of the research (e.g., results or conclusions) and highlight what is unique in the study (Ciambella, 2008),

Understand the meaning of highlights

Things are changing in the world of research and there is a movement towards the relevance of having more “readings” of your article or thesis, rather than publishing in high impact factor journals.

If you understand what the featured ones can represent to lead people to read your article or thesis, you will realize how important it is to know its meaning.

These convey the main findings and give readers a quick overview of the article’s text. Highlights describe the essence of the research (e.g., results and conclusions) and highlight what sets it apart.

Main results.

Quick summary.

The essence of research.

These are the key words to understand the meaning of the highlights. The challenge is how to express them in shorter sentences than a tweet.

Clear view of the nature of your research

When the details of our research work are challenging, we tend to focus our writing on describing them. Details are important, especially if they are challenging, because someone else might want to reproduce your experience and needs those details. But the details of your thought process or your experiments are not the nature of your research. Therefore, they should not stand out.

The nature of your research is your WHY.

What is the ultimate question your research is trying to answer?

Why are you researching a certain topic in the first place?

What drives your research?

Some topics are easier than others, but having a clear view of why your research is essential to writing meaningful summaries.

Realize that people know little about your topic

I remember speaking to a small audience and feeling like I don’t make myself understood. This is a common flaw. Even if you have one, two or more experts in your field in front of you, when presenting an article at a conference, you should always assume that there is someone in the audience who is not an expert in your field. And when you prepare your presentation, you’ll be talking to this person, not the experts.

The most prominent audience is the world. Therefore, you are 100% sure that people who know little about your subject will read your highlights. You must write to them.

This is a big challenge because, ideally, you should be able to express the complexity of your topic in simple, clear and concise words. One way to test these highlights is to ask for the opinion of a friend from another field.

Evidence your contribution in the field

Researchers often waste their highlights with things that do not contribute to the nature of their research or evidence its contribution. Here are several examples.

If we write: “A hollow cone spray is used in an impact process that occurs on a flat surface” Why is this a highlight? In all research on impact aerosols, is it not logical that this impact should occur on a surface? Why is this a highlight? The surface may be flat, curved, dry, wet, structured or not, but this sentence does not explain the nature of the research, nor does it express any contribution in the field.

If we wanted to change this sentence to something more meaningful, it could be; “Hollow cone aerosols in cooling processes address heterogeneities in the temperature field.”

The sentence is not perfect, but it has 85 characters (after 2 iterations) and contains the nature of the research. Introduces the type of aerosols; if they are used in cooling processes, it means that their impact on a surface is logical; and sets out the purpose of that impact, which is to cool the surface and address heterogeneities in temperature fields, thus signaling the challenge.

Another example where a small change can make a difference.

“The effect of drop dynamics, surface temperature, and spray height on the liquid film formed after spray impact.”

Firstly, it is too long, so it needs to be shortened. But it contains what is included in the scope of the article, when the journal requires the main findings. Suppose the authors find that these three parameters produce an effect on the result, a small change can solve the question,

“Droplet dynamics, surface temperature, and spray height affect the formation of the liquid film.”

While the highlighting of the first example contextualizes the reader, spray cooling involves the formation of liquid films. And through this highlighting, the reader knows which parameters affect the result and, if interested, will read the article to know how.

Be clear, concise and get straight to the point

A not inconsiderable number of works I’ve reviewed doesn’t pay much attention to the 85-character limitation. It obliges us to seek clarity in our statements. You have to be concise in the words used to convey the meaning. And get straight to the point because that’s what the standouts are for, right? It leads the potential reader to make a quick assessment on whether to read the article or not.

A good exercise is to distance yourself from your article. Put yourself in the place of the reader and be critical.

Use simple terms

Schonlau et al (2004) point out, this is probably the biggest challenge. But it’s important to understand what we mean by simple terms. Some research topics include words that are not simple because they are part of the lexicon used in the field. Simple terms arise naturally when we have a mature and clear view of our major advances.

The advances help refine the message of the research, highlighting only what really matters. And when we express what matters in simple terms, the reader should experience clarity and the desire to know more.

These reflections are not exhaustive and I hope these “guidelines” motivate you to be more careful when writing meaningful summaries.

How to do it?

Powell and Lynn (2004), point out the following aspects:

Include the most important part of your research in your highlights.

The highlight is the first thing anyone online will read. Use the highlights to tell that potential reader what’s best about your article and why they want to read it.

Conversely, good highlights also prevent a potential reader from wasted time. If your article doesn’t cover the information they need to know or are interested in, the highlights let them know immediately so they don’t have to read half the article before discovering it.

Use the active voice to make your writing concise.

Take the important ideas from your research work and reformulate them so that the sentences are in subject-verb-object order. Use active verbs, such as “show” and “affect,” to describe what your study has discovered.

For example, write “UV rays affect overall skin health” instead of “Overall skin health is affected by sun exposure.”

Research papers often use the passive voice, which is more verbose and difficult to understand. Since featured articles have a strict length requirement, using active voice allows you to stay within the character limit while including the most important information in your article. For example, you may write, “Prolonged exposure to light damages skin cells.”

Review for a general audience and not for your peers.

When you write the highlights, your audience is the world at large, not other researchers in your field. Remove jargon, acronyms, and other art terms from your summaries. They should explain their work the way they would explain it to a child.

Use the simplest words possible, even if they are not technically accurate. For example, instead of referring to “squamous cells,” you could say “skin cells” or simply “skin.” Your work will enter the specific cells studied.

Carefully correct the highlights.

Because the highlights are so brief, a typo will stand out like a sore thumb. Errata in featured texts can also cause it to not appear in as many search results as it should, nullifying the purpose of featured texts.

One method of correction is to read the featured texts backwards, word for word. This encourages you to focus on each of the words rather than the sentence as a whole.

It’s also a good idea to let someone else read your featured texts. Someone unfamiliar with your highlights or your work might notice mistakes that you’ve repeatedly overlooked because you know what you meant.

What should and should not be included in the research highlights?

The following are the points that should and should not be written in the summaries:

Include 3 to 5 highlights.

A maximum of 85 characters in each highlight, including spaces.

Only the main results of the work should be included.

Write down the highlights of the research in the present tense.

Be concise and specific.

Provide an overview of the study.

Describe the distinctive results and conclusion of the work.

Cover only the essential results.

What not to do

Do not provide unnecessary information on research highlights.

It should not be too long.

Don’t describe all of your findings in the highlights.

Example of research highlights

Applied Catalysis A: General

Volumes 411-412, January 16, 2012, pages 7-14

Highly oriented ZnO nanowires were cultured on the c-axis on glass using aqueous solutions.

The growth temperature does not exceed 95 °C at any step of the synthesis.

The photocatalytic and wetting properties after UV irradiation have been studied.

ZnO nanowires show superior photocatalytic activity.

Our specialists wait for you to contact them through the quote form or direct chat. We also have confidential communication channels such as WhatsApp and Messenger. And if you want to be aware of our innovative services and the different advantages of hiring us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

If this article was to your liking, do not forget to share it on your social networks.

Bibliographic References

Schonlau, Matthias, Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., and Marc N. Elliott. 2002. Conducting research surveys via e-mail and the web. Santa Monica, CA: Rand. 118 pp.

Ciambella, C. 2008. Review of Research Methods in Information. Legal Information Alert 27.1 (Jan.): 11-12.

Powell, Ronald R., and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. 2004. Basic research methods for librarians. 4th ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. 360 p.

You may also be interested in: APA Standards 7th Edition

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April Research Highlights New research from the Loon Project receives national coverage

April 30, 2024

Noelle Clark '24

Noelle Clark ‘24, a biological sciences major, will begin her Ph.D. in the Integrated Life Sciences Program at the University of Georgia this fall.

Lorena Munoz ’24, Noelle Clark ’24 and Emma Kocik ’22 were among a select group of students nationwide recognized with honorable mentions for their applications for Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. 

Oliver Lopez , instructional associate professor of mathematics, has been appointed as a primary member of Kaiser Permanente’s Institutional Review Board for southern California and Hawaii. The Institutional Review Board ensures that biomedical and social science research carried out within Kaiser Permanente’s system protects the rights and welfare of those humans participating as subjects in the studies. Lopez brings deep expertise in the application of statistics to biomedical research .  

Faculty from the Schmid College of Science and Technology have been all over the news this month. Professor of Biology Walter Piper’s recent paper on the effects of declining water quality on the reproductive success of the Common Loon was covered by the BBC , ABC News , the Chicago Tribune , and Minnesota Public Radio , among other outlets. Gregory Goldsmith , associate professor of biology and associate dean for research and development, is quoted in a recent Scientific American article on new developments in solar geoengineering and Professor of Food Science Lilian Senger was profiled in the Quality Assurance and Food Safety Magazine . 

Uyen Phan was awarded funding from the California Milk Advisory Board to pursue new research on dietary fiber fortification in milk products. Phan is an assistant professor of food science with deep experience in studying consumers’ sensory experience when consuming a food . Phan is not the only faculty member engaged in studying milk. Assistant Professor of Food Science John Miklavcic continues to pursue research on its nutritional benefits; he has a recent study on the subject in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition . 

Finally, Whitney Wood and Lorenzo Leiva, postdoctoral scholars in the lab of Dean Michael Ibba, have published a new article describing the molecular mechanisms underlying antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli. 

what is highlights in a research paper

An adult male Common Loon feeds a small fish to one chick while the other rides on the back of the female parent. Photo by Linda Grezner.

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March 29, 2024 by Katy Gilbertson | Research

Recent publications by faculty, alumni, and undergraduate students in the Schmid College of Science and Technology demonstrate the breadth of research activity across the college. Richelle Tanner, assistant professor of environmental science and policy, has been awarded a new grant from the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation. The two-year award, which

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February 27, 2024 by Katy Gilbertson | Research

There’s an explosion of new research in the month of February from students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty in the Schmid College of Science and Technology. Among the new papers:  Desiree Forsythe, a Grand Challenges Initiative postdoctoral fellow, has published a new study in the Journal of Higher Education. Titled Committing to Racial Justice as a

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  • NATURE INDEX
  • 01 May 2024

Plagiarism in peer-review reports could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’

  • Jackson Ryan 0

Jackson Ryan is a freelance science journalist in Sydney, Australia.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Time pressures and a lack of confidence could be prompting reviewers to plagiarize text in their reports. Credit: Thomas Reimer/Zoonar via Alamy

Mikołaj Piniewski is a researcher to whom PhD students and collaborators turn when they need to revise or refine a manuscript. The hydrologist, at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, has a keen eye for problems in text — a skill that came in handy last year when he encountered some suspicious writing in peer-review reports of his own paper.

Last May, when Piniewski was reading the peer-review feedback that he and his co-authors had received for a manuscript they’d submitted to an environmental-science journal, alarm bells started ringing in his head. Comments by two of the three reviewers were vague and lacked substance, so Piniewski decided to run a Google search, looking at specific phrases and quotes the reviewers had used.

To his surprise, he found the comments were identical to those that were already available on the Internet, in multiple open-access review reports from publishers such as MDPI and PLOS. “I was speechless,” says Piniewski. The revelation caused him to go back to another manuscript that he had submitted a few months earlier, and dig out the peer-review reports he received for that. He found more plagiarized text. After e-mailing several collaborators, he assembled a team to dig deeper.

what is highlights in a research paper

Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papers

The team published the results of its investigation in Scientometrics in February 1 , examining dozens of cases of apparent plagiarism in peer-review reports, identifying the use of identical phrases across reports prepared for 19 journals. The team discovered exact quotes duplicated across 50 publications, saying that the findings are just “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to misconduct in the peer-review system.

Dorothy Bishop, a former neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, UK, who has turned her attention to investigating research misconduct, was “favourably impressed” by the team’s analysis. “I felt the way they approached it was quite useful and might be a guide for other people trying to pin this stuff down,” she says.

Peer review under review

Piniewski and his colleagues conducted three analyses. First, they uploaded five peer-review reports from the two manuscripts that his laboratory had submitted to a rudimentary online plagiarism-detection tool . The reports had 44–100% similarity to previously published online content. Links were provided to the sources in which duplications were found.

The researchers drilled down further. They broke one of the suspicious peer-review reports down to fragments of one to three sentences each and searched for them on Google. In seconds, the search engine returned a number of hits: the exact phrases appeared in 22 open peer-review reports, published between 2021 and 2023.

The final analysis provided the most worrying results. They took a single quote — 43 words long and featuring multiple language errors, including incorrect capitalization — and pasted it into Google. The search revealed that the quote, or variants of it, had been used in 50 peer-review reports.

Predominantly, these reports were from journals published by MDPI, PLOS and Elsevier, and the team found that the amount of duplication increased year-on-year between 2021 and 2023. Whether this is because of an increase in the number of open-access peer-review reports during this time or an indication of a growing problem is unclear — but Piniewski thinks that it could be a little bit of both.

Why would a peer reviewer use plagiarized text in their report? The team says that some might be attempting to save time , whereas others could be motivated by a lack of confidence in their writing ability, for example, if they aren’t fluent in English.

The team notes that there are instances that might not represent misconduct. “A tolerable rephrasing of your own words from a different review? I think that’s fine,” says Piniewski. “But I imagine that most of these cases we found are actually something else.”

The source of the problem

Duplication and manipulation of peer-review reports is not a new phenomenon. “I think it’s now increasingly recognized that the manipulation of the peer-review process, which was recognized around 2010, was probably an indication of paper mills operating at that point,” says Jennifer Byrne, director of biobanking at New South Wales Health in Sydney, Australia, who also studies research integrity in scientific literature.

Paper mills — organizations that churn out fake research papers and sell authorships to turn a profit — have been known to tamper with reviews to push manuscripts through to publication, says Byrne.

what is highlights in a research paper

The fight against fake-paper factories that churn out sham science

However, when Bishop looked at Piniewski’s case, she could not find any overt evidence of paper-mill activity. Rather, she suspects that journal editors might be involved in cases of peer-review-report duplication and suggests studying the track records of those who’ve allowed inadequate or plagiarized reports to proliferate.

Piniewski’s team is also concerned about the rise of duplications as generative artificial intelligence (AI) becomes easier to access . Although his team didn’t look for signs of AI use, its ability to quickly ingest and rephrase large swathes of text is seen as an emerging issue.

A preprint posted in March 2 showed evidence of researchers using AI chatbots to assist with peer review, identifying specific adjectives that could be hallmarks of AI-written text in peer-review reports .

Bishop isn’t as concerned as Piniewski about AI-generated reports, saying that it’s easy to distinguish between AI-generated text and legitimate reviewer commentary. “The beautiful thing about peer review,” she says, is that it is “one thing you couldn’t do a credible job with AI”.

Preventing plagiarism

Publishers seem to be taking action. Bethany Baker, a media-relations manager at PLOS, who is based in Cambridge, UK, told Nature Index that the PLOS Publication Ethics team “is investigating the concerns raised in the Scientometrics article about potential plagiarism in peer reviews”.

what is highlights in a research paper

How big is science’s fake-paper problem?

An Elsevier representative told Nature Index that the publisher “can confirm that this matter has been brought to our attention and we are conducting an investigation”.

In a statement, the MDPI Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team said that it has been made aware of potential misconduct by reviewers in its journals and is “actively addressing and investigating this issue”. It did not confirm whether this was related to the Scientometrics article.

One proposed solution to the problem is ensuring that all submitted reviews are checked using plagiarism-detection software. In 2022, exploratory work by Adam Day, a data scientist at Sage Publications, based in Thousand Oaks, California, identified duplicated text in peer-review reports that might be suggestive of paper-mill activity. Day offered a similar solution of using anti-plagiarism software , such as Turnitin.

Piniewski expects the problem to get worse in the coming years, but he hasn’t received any unusual peer-review reports since those that originally sparked his research. Still, he says that he’s now even more vigilant. “If something unusual occurs, I will spot it.”

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-01312-0

Piniewski, M., Jarić, I., Koutsoyiannis, D. & Kundzewicz, Z. W. Scientometrics https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-024-04960-1 (2024).

Article   Google Scholar  

Liang, W. et al. Preprint at arXiv https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2403.07183 (2024).

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Study highlights need for improvement of patient safety in outpatient settings

by Mass General Brigham

Nurse

Over the last several decades, research has brought nationwide awareness to issues of patient harm in the "inpatient" setting, where patients receive care as part of an overnight stay at a hospital.

A new study reveals that patient safety events are also prevalent and persistent in the outpatient setting— primary care visits, specialty care appointments, day surgeries, visits to the emergency room and other settings where patients receive most of their care. To better understand patient safety in the outpatient setting, a team from Boston area hospitals used data from the SafeCare Study to analyze the care of patients seen in outpatient practices from four health care systems in Massachusetts in 2018.

Led by investigators from Mass General Brigham and sponsored by CRICO, the medical professional liability insurer for the Harvard medical community and its affiliated organizations, the study provides insights into the most common forms of adverse events and populations most at risk, pointing to where interventions are needed most to improve patient safety. Results are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine .

"Our study is an alarm bell. About 1-in-4 people every month are touched by outpatient care, yet we do not know enough about its safety. If we do not measure outpatient safety, we cannot start to improve care for all patients," said corresponding author David Levine, MD, MPH, MA, of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding member of Mass General Brigham. "Our study focuses on data that highlights what is a national and international issue for patients."

Despite how frequently patients receive outpatient care, few studies have focused on this setting, and most of the studies that have done so to date have been limited and their findings have been imprecise.

"While there have been calls to look at safety issues related to inpatient care, we need to examine outpatient care, too," said co-author Luke Sato, MD, of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at the Brigham and SVP and CMO at CRICO. "Health care organizations everywhere need to take the first step of measuring patient safety in both inpatient and outpatient settings. This work is groundbreaking, but it's also just the beginning."

For the current study, researchers conducted a retrospective review of adverse events that occurred in the outpatient setting in 2018. They used all available data found in 3,103 electronic health records (EHR) for a random sample of patients aged 18 and over from 11 outpatient care facilities.

Seven nurse reviewers identified possible adverse events by identifying relevant triggers noted in the EHRs. If a nurse found an adverse event in the EHR, they would hand the information to a physician adjudicator who determined whether it was indeed an adverse event. They then ranked the severity of the adverse event, assessed whether it was preventable and rated their confidence using a six-point scale.

They found 7% of patients experienced at least one adverse event in the outpatient setting and 1.9% of patients experienced at least one preventable adverse event. The most common adverse events were adverse drug events (63.8%), health care-associated infections (14.8%), surgical/procedural adverse events (14.2%), patient care adverse events (8.3%) and perinatal/maternal adverse events (0.7%).

The team also found almost half of the adverse events occurred in the physician's office, where patients more frequently receive care—for every 100 ED visits, approximately two adverse events occurred, while adverse events occurred in the physician's office for about one out of every 100 ambulatory encounters.

The researchers also found that adverse events disproportionately affected older adults . Among patients over 85 years old, many had preventable (8.7%) and serious (4.4%) adverse events.

Investigators noted several limitations in the study. Since they analyzed and collected data retrospectively, some patient information may not have been captured in the EHRs. In addition, the team couldn't access relevant data from patients who left the institutions from which the study data was collected. The investigators did not include the safety implications for telemedicine, which is an important aspect of practicing medicine today, but was infrequently practiced in 2018.

"Our results call for urgent measures to curtail outpatient harm," said Levine. "They also have the potential to help inform evidence-based interventions, pointing us to where change could be most effective to help protect patients and prevent adverse events from occurring."

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Distressed woman holds her head in her hands

Our research shows a strong link between unemployment and domestic violence: what does this mean for income support?

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Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne

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Disclosure statement

David Johnston receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Karinna Saxby and Rachel Knott do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Monash University and University of Melbourne provide funding as founding partners of The Conversation AU.

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Increasing income support could help keep women and children safe according to new work demonstrating strong links between financial insecurity and domestic violence.

Our mapping of local government areas in Melbourne and Sydney reinforces the relationship between unemployment and the greater risk of violence.

At a time when the nation is speaking out against the killing of women by men – with at least 27 deaths recorded since the start of this year – the federal government is under increasing pressure to help those at greatest risk.

How money might help

Financial dependence can trap people in abusive relationships. The dependency creates barriers to leaving , as victim-survivors may not have the money necessary for alternative housing, legal help and basic living expenses.

Higher income support for women can change the dynamics within relationships by enhancing their financial decision-making and bargaining power within the household.

However, the relationship between economic factors and domestic violence is complex.

While higher income generally corresponds with lower domestic violence, overseas evidence suggests higher unemployment benefits may lengthen unemployment spells. In such situations, joblessness could lead to violence due to increased exposure between perpetrators and victim-survivors at home.

Economic downturns and personal financial crises can also cause uncertainty and household stress, which may escalate into abuse .

These economic patterns are clear in Australia. Areas with low-income and high-unemployment tend to have the highest levels of domestic violence.

Problem areas

The graphics below illustrate this by mapping unemployment and violence rates across local government areas in greater Sydney and greater Melbourne. The patterns are striking. High rates, marked in darker red, often occur in similar locations.

In Melbourne, the areas with the highest levels of both unemployment and domestic violence are greater Dandenong, Frankston, Casey, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton and Hume. They are marked in red.

In Sydney, the highest rates are in Campbelltown, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Penrith, Cumberland, Blacktown and Hawkesbury.

The economic disparities in domestic violence have also increased in recent years. In 2001, rates of violence in the most disadvantaged parts of New South Wales were about 5.6 times higher in the most advantaged suburbs. In 2023, these differences were almost 6.5 times higher.

Long lasting impact

Domestic violence disproportionately impacts women and children and can create significant long lasting social, health, psychological and financial damage.

Estimates suggest the lifetime cost of domestic violence for every victim-survivor is in the tens of thousands of dollars. Healthcare costs alone are close to A$50,000 for every person directly affected.

And the broader costs are staggering.

National data from 2016 which looked at costs including medical care, lost productivity, legal fees, and extended social services, puts the total annual costs at about $22 billion .

This shows the problem is not just a critical social and health issue, but a major economic challenge for victim-survivors and the nation.

Helping to solve the problem

Providing adequate financial support to vulnerable people during times of economic uncertainty is critical to reduce domestic violence and its harmful effects.

But unemployment benefits in Australia are much lower than in other OECD countries. JobSeeker is only $386 per week – 43% of the full-time minimum wage. Australia is ranked among the lowest of all OECD countries when it comes to unemployment benefits, second only to Greece.

International evidence , based on more generous support schemes, suggests raising benefits may lead to extended periods out of work and therefore greater exposure to violence at home.

But this is unlikely to occur in Australia if JobSeeker payments are raised. Given the current low rate, there will still be a considerable financial incentive for JobSeeker recipients to get paid work if the rate is increased.

Analysis of the almost doubling of payments during 2020 supports this conclusion.

Improving economic safety nets could help prevent environments that breed violence. Investing in safety is an essential step towards combating Australia’s domestic violence crisis.

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  26. How can academics generate great research ideas? Inspiration from

    Highlights • Marketing and business school academicians can learn new ideation processes and tools from companies, as they seem to be more advanced in leveraging ideation methods than the average academician. ... The scope of this paper is on research ideation and not on research execution post-ideation. This paper is intended to be a ...

  27. Research Highlights

    This video will tell you what is #ResearchHighligths and how we writeOther videos @DrHarishGargHow to Download Books freely: https://youtu.be/e-A-0j_MyvkHow ...

  28. Study highlights need for improvement of patient safety in outpatient

    Over the last several decades, research has brought nationwide awareness to issues of patient harm in the "inpatient" setting, where patients receive care as part of an overnight stay at a hospital.

  29. Our research shows a strong link between unemployment and domestic

    Domestic violence is not just a critical social and health issue, but a major economic challenge for victim survivors and the nation.

  30. NeurIPS 2024 Call for Papers

    Paper checklist: In order to improve the rigor and transparency of research submitted to and published at NeurIPS, authors are required to complete a paper checklist. The paper checklist is intended to help authors reflect on a wide variety of issues relating to responsible machine learning research, including reproducibility, transparency ...