Publication type tells the reader the paper structure to expect, such as:
- Theoretical. Has no method section.
- Review. A state–of–the–art summary of existing research.
- Empirical. Collects physical data with a method and results section.
- Proposal. Outlines proposed research with a method but no results.
For a complex paper, it can help to outline the main sections to follow at the end of the introduction: “This paper will first … then …” Indicate the publication type in the introduction so readers know what to expect.
Scientific knowledge in general has three sources, namely:
- Domain evidence. The new evidence the researcher has gathered.
- Logical analysis. Combining concepts to deduce new knowledge.
- Past research. Agreed “facts” already established in the past.
Different publication forms focus on these sources differently. For example, a review summarizes past research but presents no new data nor is it expected to create a new theory. Theory papers also have no data but are expected to propose theory changes. A proposal is expected to review past research and by analysis derive a research question and method but no data is expected.
Stating publication type helps manage reader expectations. Identify the research type early, so readers know what to expect, e. g. don’t introduce a research proposal that has no data with words like “This paper investigates differences between …” as readers may be disappointed to find no data is given. If you present a new theory, then say so in the introduction so readers are prepared for that. The unexpected is normal in comedy and in the arts people like variety but in academia no-one likes to be surprised.