How to Write a Perspective and Opinion Article
Authors usually consider writing a perspective, or opinion article when:
- Research has been done, but the data are preliminary, not very significant, or not strong enough to convey the author’s message.
- The topic is of broad concern to a wider audience or to the scholarly community in general.
- The author wishes to present opinions and ideas or describe an innovation that has not yet been implemented.
Perspectives discuss one or a cluster of recently published papers or a current research topic of high interest in which an author's perspective sheds an incisive light on key findings in research. These articles typically have one or two authors whose task is to inform our interdisciplinary readership about exciting scientific developments in the author's area of expertise. Other appropriate topics include discussions of methods, books, or meeting highlights.
The Perspective presenting the author's opinion and insights regarding current research or other topics of interest to scientists should be concise and stress a new and unique viewpoint on existing problems, fundamental concepts, or prevalent notions on a specific topic, propose and support a new hypothesis, or discuss the implications of a newly implemented innovation. Perspective pieces may focus on current advances and future directions on a topic, and may include original data as well as personal opinion.
Perspectives are usually between 2000 and 4000 words total (including abstract, main text, references and figure legends). They should have a short pithy title, an abstract of 50 words or less, no more than 35 references, and 1 or 2 figures (with figure legends) or tables.
Opinion articles present the author’s viewpoint on the strengths and weaknesses of a hypothesis or scientific theory. Opinion articles are generally based on constructive criticism and should be backed by evidence. However, opinion articles do not contain unpublished or original data. These articles promote scientific discourse that challenges the current state of knowledge in a particular field.
Opinion pieces are also relatively short articles, of around 2000-2500 words, typically with a short abstract of about 150 words, at least five references, and one or two figures or tables.
How to Structure
A perspective or opinion is based on ideas, opinions, and insights, and hence does not follow a strict structure like the IMRaD. As long as the ideas flow logically, the author is free to structure the article as he feels. Broadly, these articles have an introduction, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
should be informative, thought-provoking, and inviting and should be no more than 100 characters in length (including spaces).
should include about 150 words.
The aim of the abstract is to draw in the interested reader and provide an accurate reflection of the content of the paper. It should follow the given structure:
- Introduction: Authors are required to describe the significance of the topic under discussion.
- Areas covered: Authors are required to describe the research discussed and the literature search undertaken.
- Expert opinion: The author’s expert view on the current status of the field under discussion.
- Keywords: A brief list of 4-10 keywords, in alphabetical order, is required to assist indexers in cross-referencing.
Begins with an introductory paragraph that immediately presents the issues under discussion in a way that captures the reader's interest. If the paper discusses a particular research paper, that paper should be mentioned in this first paragraph.
The introduction should be general enough to orient the reader not familiar with the specifics of the field being discussed. The introduction provides background information and usually includes a brief review of the literature. The thesis or statement of purpose is presented towards the end of the introduction.
Here, and throughout the article, the author should avoid the jargon and special terms of his or her field or system. If the language of specialists is necessary, define terms for the general reader. It should be written in clear, declarative tone that avoids the passive tense, tangled constructions, and needless detail. Avoid asides that interrupt the flow of the text.
The body comprises several coherent paragraphs. Each paragraph supports the thesis statement and builds on the previous paragraph. The logical flow of the argument is of utmost importance in a perspective, opinion, or commentary article. The author should ensure that each paragraph flows smoothly into the next.
Section headings can be used when necessary and should be short and snappy (no more than 30 characters).
The final paragraph should draw the piece to a concise conclusion, without simply restating the text. It should be a conclusion and not a summary. Tell the reader about future prospects and implications. What are the unanswered questions? Where is the field going?
The conclusion summarizes the arguments provided in the body paragraphs and supports the thesis. Implications of the proposed ideas or opinions are discussed, future directions for research are proposed, and drawbacks or limitations are mentioned.
- How could the advances or research being discussed impact real world outcomes? Can changes be realistically implemented into research practice?
- What are the key areas for improvement in the area being discussed and how can current problems and limitations be solved? Are there any technical, technological, or methodical limitations that prevent research from advancing as it could?
- What potential does further research hold? Is there a definitive end-point?
- Does the future of study lie in this area? Are there other more promising areas in the field which could be progressed?
- How will the field evolve in the future?
There should be clear transitions between the introduction, each of body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Ensure that all key work relevant to the topic under discussion is cited in the text and listed in the bibliography. Reference to unpublished data should be kept to a minimum and authors must obtain a signed letter of permission from cited persons to use unpublished results or personal communications in the manuscript.