The good news is that scientific papers do not have a hard line format. There is a generalised format that can be customised and modified as per the requirements of the researcher. However you need to follow the guidelines that the institute provides as the requirements vary from one to another.
The format depends largely on the type of research that one is doing and there are a couple of sources from which guidelines for format can be sought:
- Modules by International Associations: for all scientific subjects, there is a body of international association that exists that works as a model for the relevant discipline which is followed internationally in all institutions that teach that discipline. For instance, psychology researchers need to follow the guideline of APA( American Psychology Association)
- Manual by the university/institution: A lot of universities, in an attempt to create their own distinguishing mark, create their own subjective research standards. They give a detailed set of guidelines to the researchers to follow. You need to go through the manual to understand which format to follow, these days the universities do give online access to research paper formats as well.
- Research guide: research guide, particularly an experienced research guide is someone who can guide you in following the proper format. They know the requirements of the university and in addition they also know the rules of research with all the publications they may have in their kitty and the previous supervisions they might have done. It indeed is first hand guidance in terms of format that you can get and it is an informal source if your supervisor is accessible and you have informal relations with him.
- Journal: if you have your journal chosen where you want to try sending your paper for publication, then you need to follow the specific format they have set for themselves as otherwise you may not be able to get approval from the journal for publication. Sometimes the journals reject the paper because or formatting issues and sometimes they may resend to incorporate formatting guidelines, in whichever case, o you must meticulously follow the research guidelines that have been set by the chosen journal.
The type of research: The type of research that you undertake will also determine the format you are going to follow. Qualitative research may have a different format as compared to the requirements of a quantitative research. Keep that in mind when you structure your research.