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Postgraduate Education Corner: MEDICAL WRITING TIPS |

Materials and Methods*: A Recipe for Success

MaryAnn Foote, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From M.A. Foote Associates, Westlake Village, CA.

Correspondence to: MaryAnn Foote, PhD, M A Foote Associates, 4284 Par Five Court, Westlake Village, CA 91362; e-mail: fmawriter@aol.com



Chest. 2008;133(1):291-293. doi:10.1378/chest.07-2382
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Recipes for some dishes, such as stew, can be followed with a bit of culinary leeway, while those for other dishes, such as soufflés, must be followed with a bit more care if the cook hopes to produce something esculent and attractive. Woe is the baker who omits a critical ingredient from the cake recipe transcribed for an admirer! These culinary caveats are relevant because the Materials and Methods section of a hypothesis-testing article often is compared to a recipe. Like the intricate soufflé, the Materials and Methods “recipe” must be described precisely as followed. This precise description assures readers that the correct supplies and processes were used to answer the research question posed in the Introduction of the article and ensures that other researchers have the information necessary to replicate the study. The bulk of the Materials and Methods section is, therefore, a detailed description of all materials and methods used during the conduct of the study. Because hypothesis-testing studies usually are prospectively planned, an overview of the experiments (ie, the study design) must be included.

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